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Spike Jonze: Bringing Where the Wild Things Are to the Big Screen

Juxtapoz // Wednesday, 02 Sep 2009


“Spike Jonze, who is 39, has directed just two feature-length films, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation,” states Saki Knafo for the NY Times Magazine. “Both were critical and commercial successes, praised for their originality and absurd humor, and yet they represent only a small fraction of the work that Jonze’s fans admire.

“He is part of the first generation of filmmakers to come up through the music-video world — in the seven years between 1995 and 2001, he was named best director three times at the MTV Video Music Awards — and his inventive, adventurous style is evident not just in the Hollywood movies he has worked on but also in his videos, skateboard-company promos and TV commercials for companies like Ikea, Nike and the Gap.

“These miniatures, which Jonze considers to be of no less artistic merit than his longer works, will be celebrated next month as part of a 10-day retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, an unlikely honor for a filmmaker with his background. He never went to film school — or, for that matter, to college. When Star Wars had its first run in the movie theaters he went to see it eight times, but he didn’t see Citizen Kane until he was well into his 20s, he told me, and he has never seen a single movie by Howard Hawks or John Ford.

“Jonze avoids Hollywood, preferring to stick close to the fashionably scruffy neighborhoods where he lives and skateboards (Los Feliz in Los Angeles and the Lower East Side in New York). Even so, the Hollywood establishment has largely embraced him.

Where the Wild Things Are is arguably of a piece with Jonze’s earlier works; it features moments of transcendent beauty and moments of profound silliness. Just as in Jackass, characters smash things and throw things at one another. But it is clearly Jonze’s most personal film to date, and it is also his most ambitious. To bring Sendak’s characters to the screen, Jonze used a complicated mix of computer animation and giant monster suits. He shot in the forests of southern Australia, which required convening a crew of more than 150. The costume department alone was larger than the entire crew of Being John Malkovich. Variety put the film’s budget at $80 million, and other estimates go as high as $100 million. Jonze’s next most expensive film, Adaptation, cost only $19 million.”

Read the entire article, Bringing ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ to the Big Screen, from The New York Times Magazine here and snag process shots, as well as an in-depth survey of Spike Jonze from our Special 100th May 2009 Issue.



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