A very happy birthday to Adam Spiegel, better known to the rest of the universe as Spike Jonze. He turns 41 years old today, and has spent the better part of his adult life making films of all stripes, from his groundbreaking music video work to his unusual commercial work to his fascinating approach to feature films.
Jonze first got into the arts via his passion for extreme sports. He got into BMX biking and skateboarding and earned himself an early gig as a photographer for Freestylin’ magazine, an ’80s BMX-focused periodical. His interest in photography naturally lead him to filming skateboarders doing tricks and staging stunts (that sort of guerrilla style would later inform his work for the “Jackass” television series and movies, where Jonze served as a producer, director and sometimes participant). Since the world of skateboarding brushes up with the world of music, it was only natural for Jonze to dip his toes into the music video waters, a universe where he thrived for years. His resumé reads like a list of some of the greatest videos of all time, including Weezer’s “Buddy Holly,” Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” Bjork’s “It’s Oh So Quiet,” Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” and Daft Punk’s “Da Funk” among many, many others.
Like many of the video directors of his generation, Jonze graduated to feature films, and he found a like-minded collaborator in screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Their first feature, 1999’s “Being John Malkovich,” was a revelatory bonanza of quirky comedy, arresting visual style and strange psychology that made it one of the best films of the end of the millennium. Their follow-up, 2002’s “Adaptation.,” was just as wildly inventive, fascinating and amazing. For his most recent film, Jonze hooked up with Dave Eggers to create a stirring, disturbing, blissful adaptation of the classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are.”
But his calling card will always be his video work, such as Pavement’s quirky, winsome “Shady Lane.”