The Olympics isn’t something I take any interest in. The fact that Britain (or Team GB as the press nowadays insist on repeatedly calling it) is winning medals by the bucketload doesn’t fill me with much national pride, instead it makes me suspect that doping in sports here must be far more widespread than most British sports pundits would ever like to admit.
I just can’t get remotely excited about some guy winning a gold who has missed drugs tests and been trained by someone with a track record in cheating, likewise my excitement levels fail to rise while watching some twenty stone muscle man freak bursting several blood vessels in his neck as he attempts to lift some monumentally heavy weight above his head for a few seconds. Even taking anabolic steroid abuse out of the equation, that’s not sport, that’s sheer bampottery.
Anyway, by chance, while I was doing my best to ignore all this sport, I decided to stick The Work of Director Spike Jonze on my Blu-ray player and I have to say, I did enjoy once again seeing his promo for Elektrobank by The Chemical Brothers, which is the one with the gymnastics competition featuring Spike Jonze’s future missus, Sofia Coppola.
Elektrobank is nowhere near my favourite track by the band but this has to be one of the best videos made during what was the most innovative decade in the relatively short history of the music video – the 1990s.
Coppola’s turn as a young hopeful it has to be said is far more convincing than she was ever was in the disappointing The Godfather Part III, where she played Michael Corleone’s daughter, Mary, a role that saw her ‘awarded’ with a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress.
The coach in the vid is, incidentally, based on Béla Károlyi, who once upon a time the moulded the career of Nadia Comăneci, the sensation of the 1976 Montreal games, which come to think of it, was likely the last time I really paid much attention to anything Olympic related. Later he defected from Romania to America, where he remains controversial for the fear-inducing methods he used in an attempt to instill discipline in the young athletes under his supervision, although the coach in the promo doesn’t appear too creepy.
I doubt Jonze was too severe with Coppola during the shoot as they married a few years later. She was, though, apparently put through the mill by her then boyfriend, made to learn and rehearse gymnastic and dance routines such as that section where she performs some ribbonwork. Each night she would come home exhausted, bruised and with aching limbs. Whether her body double suffered in any similar way, I really could only guess.
Taken from the album Dig Your Own Hole, this is Elektrobank:
In 1999, Jonze went on to make his groundbreaking magic-realist comedy, Being John Malkovich, while Sofia Coppola also made her debut feature in that same year, The Virgin Suicides. They divorced four years later.
Like her ex, Coppola has continued to make movies, although she is infuriatingly inconsistent – have you ever watched Somewhere?
On the plus side, she does always include some inspired musical choices on her soundtracks. Even on The Bling Ring, a movie aimed squarely at the generation who actually know and care about Snapchat, she managed to sneak in some Can and Klaus Schulze; on Marie Antoinette she introduced to the world Siouxsie and The Banshees’ Hong Kong Garden with that great strings intro and in Lost in Translation she used Kevin Shields and Air, not for the first or last time.
On the minus side, I’m not too keen on the karaoke version of God Save the Queen in that latter named film – and that’s the Pistols’ GSTQ I’m talking about rather than the one being heard any time a British athlete takes gold in Rio.
Here’s the original video for Just Like Honey, a track that appears memorably on Lost in Translation and provides that poignant and impressionistic (near) romance film with the perfect musical ending.
And finally, I should probably mention that the Mary Chain later went on to perform at their Coachella reunion with Lost in Translation co-star Scarlett Johansson supplying some backing vocals. Lucky fellas.