Despite being hidden behind a fencing mask, you can sense the glee on Jake Gyllenhaal’s face as he dices a couple to death. First the tension as he sucks a cigarette, their slurred up slow dance feeding him ammunition and purpose, then the rampage. All American Psycho, a touch of Kubrik and a slow burn intensity that flashes through every slasher film you’ve ever seen, The Shoes’ music video for their track ‘Time to Dance’ is a cinematic odyssey. Daniel Wolfe’s eight minute epic challenges you to remember the reference – every time you view it another filmic nod appears. The real joy, though, is Hollywood holding hands with the music industry, a tradition that’s seen the best of both worlds and provided plenty. ‘Time to Dance’ is Gyllenhaal’s second video, he also played tennis for Vampire Weekend’s ‘Giving up the Gun’, but it’s normally from behind the camera where the magic happens. A creative bed, just look what it did for Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry’s careers. Both could be floundering if it wasn’t for co-directing jobs on Sonic Youth’s ‘100%’ or Bjork’s eye for talent after seeing Gondry’s debut video for his own band Oui Oui.

Sideway auteurs are ushered in from the leftfield but even the biggest studio blunderbusses have touched base with a musical background. Michael Bay’s currently throttling the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle legacy, but it wasn’t so long ago he made Meatloaf an alien. Yes, Bay directed ‘I Would Do Anything for Love’, and when you watch it back it shows.

Cynicism aside, culturally this relationship has produced the goods. Recently, The American, The Social Network and Never Let Me Go have been produced by Anton Corbijn, David Fincher and Mark Romanek, all schooled in the music promo world, and one of this summer’s biggest blockbusters comes from Marc Webb, a man who brought us videos from Good Charlotte, Green Day and Backstreet Boys. The Amazing Spider-Man though has a cerebral feel, and his previous film, 500 Days of Summer, arrived with a musically driven backbone that permeated the love story and added clout to an otherwise shaky-in-parts rom-com. Stylistically the entire film read like a music video, in this case a good thing as it’s bustling with quirks and ideas. Plus the man (or his music advisor) is clearly into The Smiths, so we can look past his flirtation with Maroon 5 and Miley Cyrus.

Of course, it slides both ways. Directors often race back to the relative confines of a 3-minute window, the freedom to express a visual intent regardless of narrative. Like Daniel Wolfe’s epic, David Lynch recently returned with a seven-minute freewheeling clip dragged from the Lynchian well of inertia, the man’s vision uninterrupted through time. As if ‘Crazy Clown Time’ wasn’t barking enough on record, the wonderfully straight forward (well, they’re just doing as Lynch sings) imagery adds yet another anarchic layer to his experimental music. So Suzie who tore her shirt off does so in explicit fashion in front of us, as an American footballer frantically runs for the touchdown that will never be. Lynch has described it as barbecue with beers and sure they look like they’re hunting a good time until one punk sets fire to his Mohican and our percussionists, and bare breasted ladies start lapping the fire. This is the Eraserhead director at his unsettling best and the first time he’s exposed himself on the mainstream since Inland Empire. One hopes we’ll see more music videos from Lynch and his peers over time as it’s clearly a thrill that bonds both industries.

By Ian Roebuck

Originally published in issue 37 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. April 2012.