2015 is coming to a close and “best of the year” lists are beginning to be penned. Before that ink dries, let us once again draw your eyes to a selection of videos from the past month that should not be missed. Featuring road trips gone horrifically sour, gripping lyrical pieces shot on the front lines of the Syrian refugee crisis, some of the most innovative music videos that deserve to be on heavy rotation, and more, these are the best staff picks from November.
When nature calls on a road trip, unsanitary conditions and the always feared absence of toilet paper are usually as bad as it gets. That is, until you watch Dutch production company DPPLR’s short film “Arrêt Pipi.” Delivering one of the most horrifying yet visually stylish films we’ve seen this year, you will quickly realize that an empty roll should be the least of your worries.
Those who really care about music videos, who care about the craft and artistry of the form itself and not just the musicians who headline the title, know the name CANADA. This director’s collective out of Barcelona has been a force in the music video game for years now, and their kitchen-sink approach to absurdist, psycho-sexual imagery is beloved. They pull out all the stops for Australian rock stars Tame Impala’s latest single. CANADA blasts the screen with color while depicting a bizarre lover’s triangle between a confident, sex-positive high school gymnastics queen, her insecure jock beau, and a gorilla named Trevor.
A worldwide sensation at film festivals and winner of innumerable awards, this 16-minute stop-motion animation has just made its Internet debut. A grown man visits the nudist colony he grew up in following the death of his mother, which he is not taking it well. His grief finds a very, very (very!) unexpected outlet, making this film a rare antithesis to the “coming-of-age” plot line. Story aside, the craft is impeccable, featuring gorgeous miniature sets filled with soft lighting and lovingly crafted characters made of felt. Fair warning though, it does take place at a nudist colony! Be prepared for adorably tiny fabric genitalia.
When crisis happens far from home, a filmmaker’ ability to translate events to a global audience becomes integral for the relief process. Although tough to swallow, short-form, digestible videos such as Lior Sperandeo’s “People of Nowhere” creates this connection, and in a powerful two minutes, the tragedy is brought into our own lives.
We’ve all seen claymation before, but you really don’t know how crazy and complex claymation can be until you watch “Glore” by the band Radkey. Director Nicos Livesey’s use of layering, black light, and mountains of clay manages to make a technique that’s decades old feel fresh and inventive. And of course, it’s lots of fun.
The music video for BEATSOFREEN evolves a style that Japanese-born artist Hideki Inaba has been working on in his last few pieces, earning him his his first, but likely not last Staff Pick. In meticulous detail, he animates fantastical organic forms in an evolving parade of lush color and gentle movement, creating a fabulous alien choreography worthy of Busby Berkeley. Kudos to the commissioning label as well — electronic music purveyor King Deluxe consistently exercises the sharpest eye on Vimeo for identifying standout animation talent.
Director Kouhei Nakama’s short “Diffusion” imagines what humans would look like if their skin had patterned textures like animals. The 3D animated film balances the visually stunning with the downright creepy, and has moments that will blow your mind and make your skin crawl at the same time.
This stunning short takes us on a journey from New York City to India and back in a spoken-word tale of the impenetrable bond between two brothers. As the story unfolds, stop-motion watercolor paintings illustrate the characters and central objects delighting the viewer in both craft and narrative.
If you’re into art, weird creative outsiders, and time machines, then you’re going to love the next two Vimeo On Demand titles on our list. First up is Sam Klemke’s Time Machine, a unique documentary/personal film that takes four decades worth of the eponymous Sam’s meticulous filmings of his life and turns them into a trippy trip down memory lane — and ultimately moves towards existential territory by exploring what it means to be dream, grow old, fall short of those dreams, and just be human. Before Boyhood, before “one photo a day” or the selfie craze, there was Sam Klemke and his need to overshare.
Back in 2005, a fantastic feature documentary titled The Devil and Daniel Johnston was released about Johnston, a cult artist and musician who rose to fame in the 80s through homemade and heartfelt demo tapes and the adoration of famous fans, including Kurt Cobain, Sonic Youth, and others. But the other part of the story was that Johnston was also a diagnosed schizophrenic with bipolar disorder who wasn’t equipped to stand in that kind of spotlight.
Now, filmmaker Gabriel Sunday revisits the artist in his home and asks Johnston to journey back to his 1983 self. Utilizing a mixed-media approach and some pretty cool editing tricks, Sunday blends together excerpts of Johnston’s old music tapes, audio diaries, and images from his journal and art — alongside the man himself — to create a visual and aural collage, or more succinctly, a pathway into Daniel’s mind. The result is a wonderfully enchanting, albeit melancholic portrait of an artist appropriately asking, Hi, How Are You Daniel Johnston?
For those seeking more well-crafted, carefully selected, and highly loved videos, take a journey through our best of Staff Picks archive.