Mark Romanek is another music-video helmer turned movie director who is an unabashed fan of Stanley Kubrick (he credits 2001: A Space Odyssey as having inspired him to get into the industry). And while his first major film release, 2002’s One Hour Photo, starring Robin Williams, didn’t strike a chord with all the critics (though Roger Ebert loved it), one can see how Kubrick’s influence informs the movie. Its cold camera and white backdrop provide the ideal companions to Williams’ scary Seymour “Sy” Parrish, the lab photo technician with a dark side. Romanek’s latest, Never Let Me Go, has received similarly mixed feedback, though our own Richard Corliss is a firm fan.
By the time Romanek turned to films, he had a seriously impressive résumé: not for nothing did he became the first filmmaker to receive MTV’s prestigious Video Vanguard Award, in 1997, for his contributions to the medium. The reasons are numerous: a Grammy for Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s “Scream” (which Romanek denies is the most expensive music video ever made, a claim that’s often made), as well as awesome videos for “Devil’s Haircut” (Beck), “99 Problems” (Jay-Z), “Free Your Mind” (En Vogue), “Criminal” (Fiona Apple) and “Hurt” (Johnny Cash). Two of his pieces — “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails and Madonna’s “Bedtime Story” — are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
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