Short of the Week

Scenes From the Suburbs

A band of teenage friends struggle to find their place in a tumultuous militant world in this short film by Spike Jonze for the indie group, Arcade Fire.

The newest short film from Spike Jonze (I’m Here & We Were Once A Fairy-Tale), is this collaboration with Canadian band The Arcade Fire, co-written by Jonze with bandleader Win Butler and his brother Will, and featuring several songs off the Grammy-winning album “The Suburbs”. The 30 min film confronts some of the themes presented in the album.

First up I apologize to you all. I tweeted the film last night, minutes after it came online via the video streaming service MUBI, but waited to post to the site in order to write my usually verbose review and critical analysis. However in the intervening hours since I watched it, geo-blocking has gone into effect, meaning fans in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Germany can no longer view the film. And apologies to all our fans from outside those areas, but my inability to rewatch the film has sapped my motivation to expound eloquently about it.

I was able to catch it last night however and I recommend it. It’s a coming of age story with a dark pall over it. Care-free teens live in a suburban community. The twist is that all the suburban communities are self-contained LLC’s which frequently go to war against each other, so the periphery of our character’s seemingly idyllic world is filled with checkpoints, helicopters and guns. As is usually the case with Jonze, the conceit is barely touched upon however, in favor of exploring the disintegrating friendship of our protagonist and his best friend as they grow out of adolescence—the harsh adult world they reside in finally intruding in upon the sanctuary of youth. If the Arcade Fire’s previous album “Neon Bible” posited that our culture’s sins would be visited upon us in cataclysmic catastrophe, then this film, standing in for the followup record, exhibits a pessimism of a more subdued sort—our corruption will be internalized, eating us from the inside out, dissolving our families and turning friends against one another.

If you can, check it out soon, because even for those of you who live in the approved areas, the film is online for only today and tomorrow.

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Co-Founder of Short of the Week, Sondhi lives in Brooklyn working as a Curator for Vimeo. Follow his musings on online video, direct distribution and branded content: @jasondhi.
  • http://-- Hans J. Eiðisgarð

    That was strange. Just watched The Wilderness Downtown (with music from Arcade Fire) from the archives and returning to the frontpage I see this Spike Jonze + Arcade Fire project being uploaded. Haven’t watched it yet, but I definitely will while it’s open at mubi. Probably later tonight.

  • Jason Sondhi

    Nice interview with co-writer Will Butler on the film. Talks influences and intentions.

    http://pitchfork.com/news/42108-arcade-fire-talk-iscenes-from-the-suburbsi/

  • Jason Sondhi

    Really kinda ticked off about this geo-blocking. Does anybody else care? MUBI has been advertising this online premiere for weeks, and has not come out with any statement via any platform as of yet. I don’t tell people how to run their business, but that’s pretty shoddy.

  • http://-- Hans J. Eiðisgarð

    Usually it’s blocked to everybody outside of US, so this time I have no complaints. Works fine where I am, which is in the Faroe Islands (somewhere between Norway and Iceland in the north atlantic ocean). And, by the way, the film was good. It felt sort of like an early Harmony Korine movie where young people just hang around in the suburbs. I dug the music too.

  • Jason Sondhi

    Yeah, you’re right Hans, usually the US gets all the good stuff. I will say that the film is up on YouTube for those inclined.

  • Jason Sondhi

    Updated link

  • Isabel

    I am completely in love with this, and how sensible it is. Got me into tears, just because it captured really well all the repressed feelings we all have, mostly young, adolescent, people. Beautiful.

  • Annabel

    Sorry for the naivety, but what do you mean by ‘self-contained LLC’s'?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    rather than civic governance, the towns are all corporations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    rather than civic governance, the towns are all corporations.

  • prosopopeia

    unfortunately, Vimeo tells me that the video does not exist anymore

  • http://www.brendanjhogan.com/ Brendan J. Hogan

    This is one of my top 5 short films. There are so many layers of meaning and potential meaning in this film. The use of sound in the film is really unique as well.