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Watch: What Makes Spike Jonze Movies Unique? A Video Essay

Watch: What Makes Spike Jonze Movies Unique? A Video Essay

Despite the fact that the look of his films often takes a
back seat to bizarre stories and quirky characters, Spike Jonze has
crafted a uniquely whimsical visual style over the course of his four
feature films. Making the most out of simple elements such as lens
flares, floating camera movement, centered framing, and wide-angle close-ups, Jonze creates an atmosphere that appears to be lifted straight from
the pages of a fairytale storybook. His camera is fascinated
with the mundane; intently exploring fabrics and materials, finding
beauty and significance in the obscure and unnoticed. Dust particles
floating in a beam of sunlight become hypnotic. The delicate plaster of
marionettes feels as lifelike as human flesh. The matted fur wrapped
around a child strikes us with an overwhelming sense of marvel and
nostalgia.

In his first two films, Being John Malkovich (1999) and Adaptation
(2002), Jonze used a much more subdued sense of whimsy to express the
playfully dark atmospheres. His two most recent works, Where the Wild
Things Are
(2009) and Her (2013), are saturated with the whimsy
aesthetic, mirroring the wonderment and childlike fascinations
associated with the films. Jonze utilizes the aesthetic in order to
stitch together worlds suitable for his equally whimsical characters.

Films used:
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Adaptation (2002)
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Her (2013)

Music:
“Igloo” and “The Moon Song” by Karen O

Jacob T. Swinney is an industrious film editor and filmmaker, as well as a recent graduate of Salisbury University.

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