Monday, May 13, 2013

A Day at the Zoo: Sofia Coppola's "This Here Giraffe"

Two of the absolute defining features of Sofia Coppola's films are control and structure.  This isn't a fly by night artist cranking out one breezy film after another.  Along with Paul Thomas Anderson, Sofia Coppola is the most prepared and studied young American filmmaker working in modern cinema, which is one of several reasons why her charming video for The Flaming Lips "This Here Giraffe" stands distinctly apart in her filmography.   

Originally released by The Flaming Lips on their astonishing 1995 album Clouds Taste Metallic, "This Here Giraffe" is among Wayne Coyne and crew's most beloved singles.  The video, directed by Sofia well-after the release of Clouds Taste Metallic, is a freewheeling exercise in fun that could have been co-titled "The Flaming Lips go to the Zoo."  Starring The Lips and beloved Virgin Suicides actress Leslie Hayman, "This Here Giraffe" is the loosest and most freewheeling piece of filmmaking in Sofia Coppola's iconic canon. Improvised, unfocused and incredibly light, "This Here Giraffe" is both silly and's the work of a great filmmaker simply enjoying herself behind the camera and it is such a pleasure to watch. 

Of course, despite its breeziness, this clearly is the work of Sofia Coppola.  Even in pure fun mode we can see some of her trademark elements shining through especially in the long suburban tracking shots that appear through the video that would not have been out of place at any point in The Virgin Suicides

Perhaps the thing that makes "This Here Giraffe" especially noteworthy is the appearance of the elusive Lisbon sister Leslie Hayman.  The Virgin Suicides remains the one feature-film credit for the sweet-faced and charismatic Hayman, a close friend of Coppola who modeled for her Milk Fed clothing line, so seeing her pop up throughout "This Here Giraffe" is quite special. 

"This Here Giraffe" is, of course, a minor work in Sofia Coppola's filmography but it was never meant to be more than that.  It's an incredibly engaging and warm short film that can be found on The Flaming Lips DVD Void for those interested. 

-Jeremy Richey, 2013-

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