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Film Series at MoMA Celebrates the Daring and Imaginative Work of Filmmaker Spike Jones
From Adaptation. 2002. USA. Directed by Spike Jonze. Pictured: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nicolas Cage. Courtesy Photofest.

NEW YORK, NY.- As part of its ongoing Filmmaker in Focus series, MoMA presents the first-ever exhibition to focus on Spike Jonze (American, b. 1969), celebrating his work as a director, producer, cinematographer, writer, actor, choreographer, and sometime stuntman. Spike Jonze: The First 80 Years is organized by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art. This early mid-career retrospective—which inspired Jonze to come up with the exhibition's wry title—runs October 8 through 18, 2009, in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters.

The exhibition covers Jonze’s entire filmmaking and television career. Included are Jonze’s first two feature films, Being John Malkovich (1999), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, and Adaptation (2002), as well as two films that he co-produced: Jackass: The Movie (2002), based on the popular MTV show he helped create, and the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad (2008).

Also presented are Jonze’s celebrated music videos for Björk, Fatboy Slim, Weezer, Beastie Boys, Wax, The Notorious B.I.G., and many others, as well as his award-winning commercials. Among his short films are How They Get There (1997); his recent collaboration with Kanye West, We Were Once A Fairytale (2009); and his documentary portraits of Al Gore, the musician Fatlip, and a posse of Texas Panhandle rodeo boys (Amarillo by Morning, 1997).

The exhibition opens on October 8 with In Cahoots: Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze, an evening of short films that Jonze made about, and with, Maurice Sendak during the production of his forthcoming feature Where the Wild Things Are (opening October 16, 2009)—followed by a conversation between Jonze and MoMA curator Joshua Siegel. In conjunction with the exhibition, on October 15, a PopRally event with photographer and producer Patrick O’Dell features a screening of influential skateboard videos from the 1980s to today, including Jonze’s own contributions to the genre. The videos are followed by a panel discussion with notable skateboarders and filmmakers including Jonze, and a live performance by the band No Age.

A newly struck 35mm print of Carroll Ballard’s 1979 film The Black Stallion is included in the exhibition. The film was a major influence on Jonze and co-screenwriter Dave Eggers during the making of Where the Wild Things Are.

The mind games of Jonze’s films—their existential puzzlements and feats of narrative deconstruction—are dazzling, to be sure, but so is their exuberant physicality, from the graceful (the Dance of Despair and Disillusionment in Malkovich; the skateboarding films that recall the gravity-defying acrobatics of Douglas Fairbanks and Harold Lloyd; and the Björk, Pharcyde, and Fatboy Slim videos that pay homage to Hollywood’s golden age of musicals); to the anarchical (Jackass: The Movie, and the Gap “Pardon Our Dust” commercial); to the endearingly awkward (the stylings of the Torrance Community Dance Group, and the silent pantomime of Maurice at the World’s Fair).

Other directors who have been featured in MoMA’s Filmmaker in Focus series include Rahmin Bahrani, Ferzan Ozpetek, and Carlos Reygadas.

Museum of Modern Art | Spike Jonze | Björk | Fatboy Slim | Weezer | Beastie Boys | Wax | The Notorious B.I.G. |

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