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The Directors of Radiohead

The Directors of Radiohead (photo)

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[This article is part of our Radiohead Fanatic Fortnight — check out our box set giveaway here.]

With great bands often come great videos, and Radiohead is one of those bands that matured quickly and garnered talented directors early on. Some directors set out to create a good marketing tool and simply made the members look cool. Others were as cutting edge as the band whose songs they set to the moving image. Here’s a look at some of Radiohead’s more memorable videos and the directors who shot them:

Director: Jake Scott
Video: “Fake Plastic Trees” (1995)

Scott, son of Ridley Scott (and nephew of Tony), seems to have more influences, education and inspiration to draw from than he actually knows what to do with. His film debut, the 1999 feature “Plunkett & Macleane,” may satisfy the urge to indulge in a roguish period picture, but it was also almost terminally frenetic. You’d never guess from watching it that four years earlier Scott directed the video for Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees.” His other standout work, R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts,” shows more stylistic parallels with “Just,” a Radiohead video from another director [see below], with subtitles moving a mysterious narrative along.

Scott likes the close-up, favoring gratuitous shots of his subjects talking, singing, strumming and striking poses with their heads. But that’s what the kids want in a video — to get closer and more intimate with the rock stars they idolize. “Fake Plastic Trees,” with its whitewashed, saturated colors, may still be his best. Can’t forget that long, bright look at Thom Yorke’s fascinating face. (On the film side, Scott’s next feature, the upcoming “Welcome to the Rileys,” looks to be a considerably calmer drama that stars Kristen Stewart.)

Director: Jamie Thraves
Video: “Just” (1995)

Thraves has done videos for bands like Blur and radio titans Coldplay, but none of his videos has caused more stir than Radiohead’s “Just.” It epitomized the look of rock cool at the time. He nailed it with the Elvis glasses, Yorke’s wardrobe and the hot shots of Jonny [Greenwood]’s string-bending solo. But what’s kept fans talking on forums and blogs over the years is the weighty statement made by the man on the sidewalk that makes the crowd lie down with him, just as the subtitles stop. People have gone so far as to watch it in slow motion with lip-reading experts to determine what the line is. The results? Inconclusive, since the shot cuts away to the band anyway. Neither Jamie Thraves nor the band will say, even if there is actually something to say, since they feel it would defeat the point of the art. But fans still keep asking the question, anyway.

Director: Michel Gondry
Video: “Knives Out” (2001)

Gondry’s wild, fantastical style is apparent throughout all his work, particularly his features “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Science of Sleep.” But the French-born director got his start in music videos, and his filmic language, while evolved, remains rooted in the short form. Playfully toying with the viewer’s frame of reference is a Gondry signature. In his video for “Knives Out,” the camera eventually moves into a TV screen that shows Thom Yorke and a girlfriend (played by actress Emma de Caunes) in a train car. As the couple fight and Yorke eventually offers her an engagement ring, a hand is shown beneath the TV set hitting the VCR’s rewind button to show their relationship play out in reverse through the train window. The scene bears a striking resemblance to the opening of Gondry’s “Be Kind Rewind,” which depicts the real-life jazz musician Fats Waller dying in a train car, as the window reveals a model of the train itself parked at a station outside. The same stylish mind-boggle plays out continually in the video, and indeed in much of his work.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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