Dim Bulbs in the City of Lights: Savage Garden – “Truly Madly Deeply”

We start out with brief shots of a fancy statue, lead singer Darren, some woman hopping off a train and running away like she’s done something naughty, and an impatient man checking his watch while looking darkly handsome. Then we’re back to Darren walking down a street and bursting into song, because that’s something that just happens in Paris, it can’t be helped.

While Darren warbles, we get more shots of Running Woman and Impatient Man, and it becomes clear that he’s waiting for her to get her ass to wherever he is. Apparently Running Woman (let’s call her Claire) is not the best at directions or remaining focused, because she just keeps stampeding around and looking frazzled. Impatient Man (let’s call him Biff) not only doesn’t like to be kept waiting, he also doesn’t care for nearby couples at cafes who perform public displays of affection, because he keeps glaring at them, dark condemnation in his eyes.

Darren just keeps walking and singing while pretty leaves fall from the trees and old buildings get older.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is basically the whole video. Claire runs and runs and runs and Biff waits and waits and waits. This is the part where you forget about the boring couple and just start looking at all the pretty sights of Paris. Conveniently, Claire manages to run past quite a few of the more popular destinations, so we have a nice mini-tour without having to sit on a crowded bus where other people smell bad and keep blocking your view out the window.

Oh, and Darren is also serving as Julie the Cruise Director, wandering by some famous places as well. If he would just stand still for a minute, surely Claire will come running along and he can give her some directions, or at least hand her a bottle of water for the next leg of the marathon. (“Pace yourself, girl. Ain’t no mountain high enough if you rest in the valleys.”)

Eventually, Biff gets fed up and leaves the café, which is not a good move. Claire obviously has issues finding a stationary target, so she’s really going to fall apart attempting to find a moving one. Biff climbs some pretty stairs that look ominously like those mean steps in The Exorcist where people died, so who knows where this is going. If a priest walks up, tossing holy water about in a frenzy of exorcism, we’re in trouble.

Claire runs. Darren sings. Biff makes it harder for Claire to find him. The citizens of Paris ignore all of this, because tourists are constantly doing stupid things in their town and they’re over it. (“How do you get to the Eiffel Tower? Mon cher, if you can’t figure out how to walk toward the ginormous tower on your own, you need to go back home.”)

Claire finally stops to ask for directions, something I would have done three days ago, but Claire is young and pretty and logic isn’t important to her yet. Then she goes running up those Exorcist stairs, so perhaps she’s getting warmer, managing to at least get in the right part of town. Then again, there are a lot of stairs in Paris, because don’t mind exercise in France. Unlike America, where some people get enraged if their doctors suggest that they get off the couch once a decade or so.

Oh, maybe those stairs proved to be a breaking point for Claire, because she stops halfway up them and just sits, letting the camera twirl around her, capturing her messy but cute hairdo. While she catches her breath, we get another montage of Darren marching along in his I’m-still-in-the-closet couture and Biff not staying in one place, making things harder for Claire and the attention span of the viewing audience.

At one point, Claire climbs up the most-important hill in Montmartre so we can get some nice views of the city and she can plot her next pointless move in the quest for Waldo. Darren, apparently thirsty, goes into a Bohemian little bistro where the rest of his band is conveniently playing, allowing him to continue with the singing. And who knows what Biff is doing, we stopped caring.

Claire comes down off the hill, pausing to stare at the famous carousel situated at the base, an apt symbol of her going in circles and not getting anything done while music plays. Then she heads off to wander through more of the city, not running now, because that was clearly getting her nowhere. Darren keeps singing in the bistro, not bothering to order anything, so you know the staff hated him for taking up one of their limited tables and jacking with their tip flow. (“Monsieur, if you not desire the escargots fresh, why here? If not wanting of the food, go to place not having food, like final resting grave of Jim Morrison or Catacombs with skulls beaucoup.”)

Finally, after glumly strolling past tons of historic places where Biff isn’t, Claire turns a corner and there’s her man, magically slumped up against an ancient wall, looking like a strung-out junkie with disappointment issues, probably not the vision the producers were going for, but these things happen with poor set-design planning. They happily embrace one another while Darren hits some especially high notes in the song, proving that if you just try hard enough you can eventually find a man who doesn’t really want you in the first place.

We end the video with Clair and Biff meandering through the few parts of the city that we haven’t already visited, Darren either leaving or getting kicked out of the bistro (“Escargots!”), and the people of Paris quietly waiting for another city to become more popular so they can finally eat their croissants in peace without some fool asking “parlez-vous anglais?”…

 

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Originally published in the original “Backup Dancers from Hell” on 09/28/11.

 

The Astounding Aftermath of Poor Choices in Dimly Lit Places: The Cars – “Drive”

We start out with a close-up of a billiards ball falling into a side pocket, which could mean absolutely anything, so this is already a tricky video. The camera pans up and then slowly zooms over the pool table so we can see one of The Cars sitting in the distance. We appear to be in an empty nightclub, with stools and such overturned, indicating some unknown disagreement has transpired, and it seems we have a jockstrap tossed with abandon on the bar. That’s a nice touch.

The camera takes forever to get all the way to the band member (one of the blond ones, don’t remember his name) as he sits forlornly at a table. He’s singing the song, but other than that we don’t know why he’s here or what might have happened to cause his left leg to stick out like that. The camera swivels around a bit so that we can see what might be another piece of broken furniture in the distance. Or it might be an injured Mongol Warrior waving an axe. The lighting kind of sucks in this place so it’s not real clear.

Now we switch to a pretty girl having issues in the corner of another room. (I think it’s Paulina Porizkova, the supermodel who stunned everybody when she married Ric Ocasek around this time. But don’t quote me.) Paulina is expressing her dissatisfaction about something by sitting in a weird position and scribbling on the wall over her head. Maybe that Revlon contract fell through? She doesn’t seem to be too upset, though, smiling a bit, so it’s possible that she just missed an important art class and doesn’t understand that she’s doing things in the wrong way.

Back to the Blond Car still at that table, and still singing. He shifts around in his chair, but he still looks sad, so there might not be anything we can do for him and eventually he’ll have to be admitted to a rehabilitation program of some kind. This happened a lot in the 80’s. Probably too much chlorine in the water. Or drugs. It was hard to tell what was happening when Reagan was president.

Oh look, there’s Ric Ocasek himself, also sitting in a chair and looking sad, but at least he has a cigarette that he can use as a prop. (I don’t know who dressed him, but they didn’t do a very good job.) Cut to Paulina, clutching her left arm as if trying to determine what it might be. (Ric’s shadow is on the wall behind her, indicating that he’s to blame in some way. This is probably true. Anybody who has an aggressive haircut like that is automatically suspicious.)

Now the bar is suddenly crammed with people, although some of the folks appear to be dead and/or mannequins, which might be commentary on a certain political party. The creepy bartender is presumably wearing roller skates by the way he glides to the other end of the bar and serves a cocktail to a bald-headed frozen woman. Is she supposed to be Margaret Thatcher?

Back to Paulina, who is now lying on a random bed in her nightie, and her hand appears to be stuck in her hair. Poor thing. No telling how this happened. Then she glances to the side and sees somebody wearing an unnerving mask. Instead of screaming and bolting for the Caribbean, she calmly turns the other way, and we get a shot of Ric, also wearing an unnerving mask. Oh wait, he’s not actually wearing one. Sorry.

Back to the Blond Car still at that table, singing and looking like he will never see Joy again. (Maybe because she moved and didn’t leave a forwarding address. This is what happens when you insist on doing stupid crap that nobody understands.) I’m starting to think that if he would just get away from that damn table, he might feel a little bit better. Or at least not have to sing anymore. The camera pans around to show us that the odd mannequin people are still sitting around the bar and trying to be served, even though they don’t have working mouths where you can insert the alcohol. (And that’s just not a life worth living, right?)

Now we have Ric and Paulina standing somewhere, neither of them very thrilled about doing so. They are having a discussion that we can’t hear, but it seems to be causing Paulina to do odd things with her hands and scrunch her face. She might be sharing a sordid story about that time at band camp, or she’s begging him to cut his hair. Who knows. He doesn’t seem to be very supportive, so I’m going to blame him for everything.

Back to just Paulina, in that bed again, having an emotional breakdown. She keeps laughing and crying and holding her face. (I’m used to seeing this at family reunions over the years, so I’m something of an expert at identifying the warning signs. If I had a nickel for every time one of my relatives went to the dark side after too much Pabst Blue Ribbon, well…)

And we’re in the bar again (maybe, not sure) and The Cars are all standing around with their band instruments, but they aren’t playing them or even moving. (Have they become emotionless mannequins as well? Is this a staff meeting for the Trump Administration?) But at least the Blond Car has moved away from that damn table that was causing him so much pain. And his hair looks pretty good, which is a positive development. The first step on the road to recovery is admitting that you’ve been going to the wrong stylist for too many years.

The camera pans across the room to Paulina, who appears to be standing in front of frosted glass, or it might be a piece of art by those people who throw a can of paint against a canvas and suddenly they are world famous for no fathomable reason. The camera zooms in on her, letting us see that she is still sad, and that someone has spilled coffee all over her right shoulder. She holds her pose for a long time (she’s a supermodel, so this is really not an issue) until the song ends, then she turns to walk away, most likely to call her agent and complain. It’s so much more fun dancing around in tiny swimsuits while disco music plays and Vogue photographers snap away, instead of pretending to cry and scribbling on walls in a bar where nobody knows your game.

And this video was directed by Timothy Hutton. Yes, that Timothy. I know, right?

Those wacky 80s…

 

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Originally published in the original BDFH on 10/09/10. Considerable changes have been made.

 

An Unfortunate Mishap at the Pharmaceutical Counter: Matchbox Twenty – “Unwell”

matchbox-twenty-unwell

We start out with lead singer Rob screwing around with a model airplane, using one hand to make it fly over and around the coffee table. (The other hand appears to be busy doing something else, but we won’t really go there.) Then we get a close-up of Rob and that haircut I never understood staring at us staring at him. He has a hurtful and disappointed look in his eyes, making us feel guilty about something we may have done fifteen years ago but we’ve had too much beer since then to really recall.

The camera pops back so we can get a full-frontal of Rob, and he’s seated in a chair whilst wearing a t-shirt asking us to “love him”. (I’m sure that can be arranged, Rob. So you’ve forgiven us for whatever you didn’t like about us five seconds ago? Great.) Quick bit with Rob watching a tennis match that we can’t see, and then a dog that clearly wasn’t on the floor last time we looked suddenly gets up, twirls around and walks away. The camera angle makes the dog look bigger than Rob. Actually, it looks bigger than Atlanta. I’m starting to get concerned about the things in Rob’s apartment and whether or not he has full control of them.

We get a shot of a green teddy bear on the coffee table. He seems to share our concerns because he’s got one little arm raised, as if pleading for us to help him. But we haven’t had time to run a background check on him, and it’s very possible that he’s a serial-killer teddy. Best let him be for now.

More images of Rob fiddling with his toys and glancing around the room in a despondent manner, including a long shot that lets us see he’s all alone in this startlingly-large room (well, except for his little stuffed friend, the potential sociopath with Poppa Bear issues). We also see that whoever selected the wallpaper on the back wall might have an obsession with eyeballs. This does nothing to help us relax and want to know Rob better. Nor does the banjo on the floor that appears to have been violated in some way.

Rob flops his head back to look at the ceiling, and as we follow his gaze, it seems that the ceiling stretches out into infinity and then snaps back. Okay, then. This is about our third sign that something is not right up in this grill, so maybe we should just get our coat and call a taxi, lying to Rob that we just remembered an important ukulele recital in the next city. Or state.

Close-up on Rob again, as he starts to sing the song that we’ve actually forgotten about, what with the stretchy architecture and such. Things are rather calm for a few moments, and we start to put our coat back down, intending to stay for at least a one drink. But then we cut to Rob standing in front of some walls that appear to be breathing like they just ran a marathon, then the walls start rapidly sliding away while a bright light appears and seems intent  on swallowing Rob’s head. Then the light just as quickly disappears.

Okay, that’s it. Time for all the smart people to run like hell and let our more simple companions stay behind and serve as monster snacks, giving us more time to reach safety and call our lawyers. (As we learned from watching Scream 14: Drew Barrymore Returns and She’s Really, Really Pissed, the smartest thing to do when facing potentially-lethal situations is sacrifice your less-popular friends and run for Jesus, not stick around and try to open locked doors, enter buildings with no electricity, or pause to have sex with people you just met.)

Oh wait, now Rob is lying on his couch with his teddy bear, and he looks even more blue. We can’t just leave him like that, can we? We start to say something comforting, but then we get another image of the ceiling reaching toward the sun and walls reaching toward Yonkers. Then everything is back in place, and he’s singing tenderly again. This relationship with Rob is turning into too much work, and I don’t know if I have enough anxiety pills to go around, especially if the bear wants some.

Suddenly, Rob does this teleporting thing where he’s standing right by us and then he’s across the room, a movement accompanied by a flash of light just like in the old-school Star Trek series where William Shatner always said his lines with much more enthusiasm than was necessary. Maybe we don’t need to leave just yet, because flash-travel would be an interesting skill to have, like when you’re running from the po-po or your mother-in-law rings the doorbell. Maybe Rob can show us how it’s done?

I guess not, because he chooses instead to sit in a chair and make a grimace-face that causes his bare feet to become super-huge. This is a little disappointing. The ability to grow my feet is so far down on my bucket list that it will never get crossed off. But wait, if Rob can show me how to apply that magic to other parts of my body, then maybe I’ll sign up for classes and-

But no, Rob is singing again, first to us, and then to a bathroom mirror, where we catch the reflection of another stuffed animal watching Rob watch himself. Then the little guy disappears. This is far more creepy than the melting walls and Rob’s bangs. Then a pig briefly pops his head out of an oversize bathtub and then hides again. Instead of being mature and looking for an exit, Rob goes to investigate Porky in the Tub, to find that it’s been replaced by Frank Zappa or perhaps his stand-in. The sanity train has now officially left the station.

The giant dog jumps into an equally giant toilet, and Rob decides that the only appropriate thing to do is shove his face into the toilet water and see where Fido might have gone. The plumbing leads to an elevator shaft, and after a bit of fancy camerawork, we’re inside an elevator with Rob, what might be the other band members, and the green bear, who has apparently taken steroids and is now almost ceiling high. (What is up with all these people and toys and commodes wanting to be ultra-big? Now they’ll have to shop in special clothing stores and they’ll have to pay for two seats on airplanes. Is it really worth it?)

Rob’s not sure, either, so he backs out of the elevator and onto a subway car. (Brief shot of a spinning skull zooming toward us through the walls of several other speeding subways. As if we need another warning sign that we knocked on the wrong door when trying to sell our Twirl Scout cookies. But then the skull goes somewhere else for a while, and that’s fine by me.) Rob glances around his subway car, and he spies the other band members just hanging out and reading newspapers. Are we safe now?

Of course not. As the subway car rolls along, and an annoying flashing light splashes over everything, we get little snatches of the passengers’ faces turning into monster heads for a split-second and then back again. (Does this mean they are all Republicans?) Even the band members are having these little flash-morphing episodes, so Rob needs to think very carefully before renewing their contracts. Then the giant green bear appears and runs to stand next to Rob, all cute but still not right. Rob proceeds to grab the bear and throw him to the ground before stomping out of the subway car, so he probably won’t be getting a Christmas card from PETA.

Rob exits out of a phone booth (wait, how did we get here?) onto a plaza of some kind, where a couple of the band members teleport in and then slide out of sight along with the phone booth/subway exit. (What, they’re too busy to appear in a video for their own song? Better keep an eye on them, Rob, they might be secretly working on solo careers. Oh wait, you went solo shortly after this. My bad.) Then we’re back in Rob’s stretchy apartment, not because we want to be but because the pushy director thinks we need another visit. While Rob sings in the chair we don’t like because it’s the one he uses to make his feet annoyingly big, we get interspersed scenes of the band members (I think) back on that plaza, doing things with fire and walking sticks while Rob gazes around in confusion like his house just landed in the color part of The Wizard of Oz.

Then a dog drops from the sky, a disturbing kind of cartoon dog where we can sometimes see his canine skeleton. Bone Doggie hands Rob a special newspaper that transports them into one of those tiny European cars that are so compact you don’t dare toot or the doors will blow off. They’re racing down an unnamed highway, with the car in color and all the things they pass (odd buildings, cows) in black-and-white. This might be a political statement or solid evidence of a budgetary issue with the video. Who knows.

I guess Rob commits some type of vehicular violation (perhaps singing to the not-real dog instead of keeping his eyes on the road?) and we soon have a police car in pursuit, a car driven by two band members with giant noses. The chase goes on for a bit, with noses flapping in the wind, Rob wrenching on the steering wheel but never actually looking out the front window, and the dream dog doing nothing of real value, other than occasionally letting us see his bones and waiting for a chew toy.

Then Rob hits a special ramp, one that allows the tiny car to disappear into some mountains and Rob to appear in a passenger seat on a plane. Oh, and we can see Fido out the plane window, struggling to stand up on one of the wings. (Dude, what have you got against animals? Or having a respectful part in your hairdo?) But Rob isn’t explaining anything (maybe he can’t) and we roll into a montage of Rob and the Big-Nose Boys on the plane, Rob and his Big-Ass Feet in the melting apartment, and Rob singing directly into the camera and trying to appear charming, but we can no longer trust him after he shoved his face into the toilet, because there are just certain things you don’t do on a first date.

We close things out back in the origami apartment, where someone has changed the background wallpaper to something involving planes that twirl, because this video hasn’t been busy enough. All of the band members are there, minus facial prosthetics, and each of them gets a solo, where they strut toward the camera, take a bow, and then wander off the set, presumably to a better place where things that shouldn’t move or grow bigger refrain from doing that. (One of the guys is holding the green bear, now returned to a manageable size, and they leave together. I hope it works out for them.)

The last to go, of course, is Rob. He and his non-cartooned dog saunter our way, with him giving us a sheepish grin, as if proud of the little ride he just took us on, but not sure if we were all that keen about it. Oh, the video was fine, Rob. A little out there, but at least you were trying to do something creative, unlike so many “artists”, and you didn’t just stand there in a thong and show us your breasts or grab at your crotch like it’s a national treasure.

But the cookies, Rob. You didn’t buy any of my cookies. That’s the only reason I stopped by. I mean, the drug trip was fun and all, but I’ve got a deadline with this fund-raiser or I won’t get to go to Camp SnaggleCrack  this summer. So if you could just order a few boxes and… Rob?… why are you looking at me like that?… oh my, what big feet you have…

 

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