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Greg Veis, YouTube Hunter Gives You Jonathan Glazer

In this the third part of our ongoing 433-part series, Better Know a Director, we'll do a once-over on the work of Jonathan Glazer. The Fightin' Glazer. Undoubtedly, you've seen some of his work before. Sexy Beast was a pretty big deal, although Birth, rightfully, was less of one. He's also directed a bunch of music videos, including Jamiroquai's once ubiquitous "Virtual Insanity." But as I discovered at a not-that-recent Resfest, watching his work in isolation doesn't do the man justice. Themes emerge. Patterns develop. More than other directors who've cut their teeth on adverts and music videos, he's a storyteller—enamored with visual trickery, yes, but more interested in a piece's emotional impact. Not until the last few years, for instance, have Spike Jonze's music videos, brilliant as they are, elicited more of a response than "Whoa, cool." (To his credit, Jonze's "Weapon of Choice" deals more elegantly with the psychic difficulties of aging than any other video ever.) Glazer, on the other hand, has always gone for the deep stuff. His videos are four-minute meditations on death ("Street Spirit"), the dangers of vengeance ("Karma Police") and dystopia ("The Universal"). And if there's a music video more uncomfortable to watch than Nick Cave's "Into My Arms," I'm not too keen on seeing it. Here they all are, back-to-back:

It's even more difficult to pack a wallop within the confines of an advertisement. For one, an ad is shorter. Also, you're tasked with selling something. But Glazer glides easily into high art in this medium, too. Watch these three Guinness commercials and try to figure out how he does it (or disagree with me if you don't think he pulls it off at all). I'll share my guesses with you first: 1) Each commercial, though only a minute long, has a very clear narrative arc—beginning, middle, end. Lots of commercials don't, or if they do, they seem hastily scraped together and meaningless. These are rich stories he's telling, the kind you'd expect a Irishman to tell you after five Guinnesses, which, come to think of it, is the product he's shilling. Funny how that works out. 2) He uses animals and mob scenes to set mood. The horses in the surfer video, the screaming dogs in the dreamer one, the crowd in the last—these images aren't evocative of anything in the specific, but they stick. They seem primal somehow, almost ancient. Again, perfect notes to hit if you're selling a famous and famously old beer. Art and commerce, baby. Glazer knows the alchemy.

More Glazer after the jump.

Anyway, there's much more of his work to check out. His Palm Director's Series DVD is a great place to start. But since I can't buy you all a copy, I'll end with his latest advertisement. It was filmed last summer and is for the Sony Bravia. It's not his best work (because it doesn't tell a story!), but it's cool lookin'...

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
Original image
Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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