David Reviews

 Biting the hand that feeds us since 2002.

Latest Work
    • Fruity stuffThis saucy trail for a series of Channel 4 programmes made by Russell T Davies adds to a sense that the broadcaster has really regained its mojo.
    • They don't belong hereThis ad for ADOT.com ad features a version of Radiohead's Creep as a soundtrack to a variety of homeless people who have decked themselves out in Christmas lights.
    • Horse powerFCB Inferno's first TV work for BMW since they took over the account earlier this year is a stonkingly beautiful film directed by Tarsem.
    • Joining the dots by yourself.This is a Rorschach test of a commercial... like a psychiatric patient being asked what he sees when he looks at various inkblots, you can make up your own mind what this is all about.
    • Wash your mouth outNow this is a bit unexpected from mouth hygiene brand Oral-B... an ad boasting a plethora of profanities.
    • Happy memoriesWhat a terrific way to communicate the message that the Co-op has more stores than other supermarkets, and is open later.
    • Ticking all the boxesApparently this is the last Thinkbox ad that will feature Harvey the dog as he's getting a bit long in the tooth... and what a shame that is.
    • The power of poignancyYoung schoolchildren shelter under their desks in this poignant film for lobbying group Moms Demand Action.
    • From Breaking Bad to Breaking AdsAcclaimed television director Terry McDonough has joined Dark Energy and is looking forward to making TVCs.
    • Staying in the pinkThe sheer OTT daftness of this pepto-Bismol ad makes it a winner in our eyes.
    • A right Royal carry onEat your heart out, Nespresso; Café Royal has a way cooler frontman than George Clooney. Yes - it's Robbie Williams, suave secret agent in the service of good taste.


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Cucumber, Banana, Tofu
17 December 2014

This saucy trail for a series of Channel 4 programmes made by Russell T Davies adds to a sense that the broadcaster has really regained its mojo. The station has always been at its best when pursuing an alternative agenda and 4Creative demonstrates here - as they did at the weekend with the Viktoria Modesta promo - that they can hold up their end of the bargain.

The bold iconography of this film directed by 4Creative's Molly manners provides an excellent backdrop to its tongue-in-cheek eroticism which provides a perfect mechanism for drawing attention to edgy content without frightening the horses.

According to the press release, if you see sexual innuendo in this, "it’s just your own dirty mind!" In that case DAVID must have a very dirty mind indeed.

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"Homeless Lights"
17 December 2014

We all know Christmas is the time of year when we're supposed to be generous in spirit to our fellow humans; performing spontaneous acts of kindness to strangers and unhesitatingly welcoming visitors into our homes.

But in fact, we guard Christmas jealously; trying to protect what we want it to be by kicking away anything that might threaten the desired outcome. It's all too often about one-upmanship: at whose home will the children and grandchildren spend the day itself? Who has the best presents, the biggest bird, the most extravagant tree? How do we foist off unwanted relatives onto other family members, or avert the simmering disputes that wait all year to erupt over a slight criticism of the bread sauce?

As we plot and plan and shop and prepare, we breezily side-step things that make us genuinely uncomfortable, such as the misfortune of those worse off than ourselves. The victims of disease outbreaks and natural disasters. Refugees in war-torn areas. People who have died in fires, murders, random accidents. Their weeping families.

Closer to home, we resent people swinging collection tins for hospices and syndromes at the end of the supermarket checkouts while we load our 'bags for life' with booze. We walk past street people, blank-faced and inwardly wincing as they sit on freezing pavements and hold out plastic cups. We tell ourselves we can't look after all the homeless single-handedly, so how could we possibly choose one to befriend for the festive season? And what happens after? What will our obligations be?

After all, we have our own problems to take care of, and our income is spoken for. And who knows what mental health issues these people have? They must have some, or else why are they on the street? What dangers might they or their addictions pose to us and our belongings?

All this and more goes through our heads fleetingly as we justify our reasons for not doing anything. We wonder about simply offering money, but whichever way you look at it, we feel the amount we can afford is a drop in the ocean - no, not even that; a molecule in a drop in an ocean that pounds relentlessly at an ever-eroding shore. If we give money directly to a homeless person it's ghastly because you know and they know it's just conscience money - and if we give money to a charity we don't know where that money goes... the only thing we think we can be sure of is that it's never enough because the number of people sleeping rough never seems to diminish.

So we want to applaud this spot for ADOT.com - an organisation which "acts as a catalyst that shows people that what we see is not necessarily the truth". Its intention is to highlight the fact that we are more similar than we think - that there's more to trust than to be afraid of. Essentially, to see ourselves where we currently see otherness.

This excellent film brings home these conflicts with aplomb. It features a version of Radiohead's Creep as we see a number of homeless people who have been decked in Christmas lights. They become both isolated individuals seeking some small comfort and connection with the season, and icons that are impossible for us to turn away from. Beings whose appearance sets them apart from us and unites them with us.

There but for the circumstances of birth, health, conflict or culture go any of us. It's a sobering thought and one this film successfully sows in our minds to nag away at us as we prepare for a few days of excess.

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15 December 2014

FCB Inferno's first TV work for BMW since they took over the account earlier this year is a stonkingly beautiful film directed by Tarsem - a director whose returns to our modest parish are far too infrequent. It depicts a figure from prehistory whose curiosity persuades him to jump aboard a stampeding horse. Only by indulging his instinct for adventure and risk will our bearded hero discover how much faster he can go on horseback.

A parallel is drawn with the advertised car - a sleek-looking new model from the German manufacturer - and the message is clear... stop thinking of BMW as a safe choice. Just because the car is fantastically reliable doesn't mean we have to fit the stereotype of whom we expect to see behind the wheel (although, this ad does appear to concede that it's much more likely to be a man than a woman).

It's a job that needs doing. BMW's image has been on the slide for a while and some of its recent advertising (and we're talking here of the generic Europap imposed by the German bosses rather than the work made by WCRS in London) has only accelerated the sense that this is a brand lacking focus.

It's a great opportunity for FCB Inferno to demonstrate that a newly-merged company can have some of the energy of a start-up by giving BMW the shot of adrenaline it badly needs - and this is a great start.

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12 December 2014

This is a Rorschach test of a commercial... like a psychiatric patient being asked what he sees when he looks at various inkblots, you can make up your own mind what this is all about.

If you're the kind of person who likes to see all the dots joined together then you might find it a bit unsettling but anyone who enjoys a bit of surreal ambiguity will take great delight in the strange sequence of events that leads to an elderly woman being handed a gift by her husband that may or may not suggest their days of carnality aren't entirely behind them.

Oops, DAVID may have given away what he saw when he stared at the inkblot... what do you see?

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"Merry Beeping Christmas"
12 December 2014

Now this is a bit unexpected from a mouth hygiene brand... an ad boasting a plethora of profanities. Admittedly they're beeped out, but the utterances of words such as "crap" and "bollocks" are very clearly seen - and there are more than a few "fuck"s we see in nascent formation.

The reason? There may be all sorts of trials and tribulations to endure at this time of year, but the misery of gammy gums needn't be one of them.

Beaming smiles calcify into gritted snarls in scenarios that we can all appreciate, whether it's memories of dad's hapless inability to master the fairy lights or our own incendiary rage at incomprehensible instruction leaflets.

It feels as if this is a concept that started life exploring the various meanings of 'clean' in relation to 'filthy' language, but somewhere along the line this changed. Still, no matter - it's bound to get people's attention because it's wittily done and because it acknowledges that you can't always feel festive just because it's Christmas.

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Recent Promos

Viktoria Modesta
6 mins 05s
12 Dec 2014
Channel 4 can call off the search. Ever since Tom Tagholm's 'Superhumans' film graced our screens two-and-a-half years ago, the Born Risky project has been looking for something to equal its impact. This ongoing effort has delivered a lot of great work... but Saam Farahmand's astonishing promo for Viktoria Modesta is the first time they've truly matched the positive energy of 'Superhumans'.

Rosie Lowe
"How'd You Like It"
3 mins 27s
4 Dec 2014
Rosie Lowe's moody new track comes with a video that enhances the frisson of danger lurking under the chords. Dull, shadowy and spare, it's set in an abandoned building peopled only by Lowe and a handful of isolated, naked people. They're bound intermittently by gossamer strands to themselves or each other, and the images conjures up a whole range of questions.

3 mins 29s
4 Dec 2014
Illuminate by Tourist - aka producer-musician William Phillips - sounds very much of the compressed, clinical electronic genre, given warmth and playfulness by the vocals of Olly Alexander from Years & Years. It's like a more humane Glasser; and animator and director Nicolas Ménard has given it a compelling video.

Ty Dollar $ign
"Stand For"
3 mins 17s
4 Dec 2014
Shot in Boyle Heights and South Central, LA, The Sacred Egg's video for Ty Dollar $ign is packed with the lurking menace that fizzles at the edges of most promos in this genre. There are the run down neighbourhoods, the cars, the drinks... but that's where the tickbox feel ends. Because in this promo, everyone has a second self, an alter ego, bobbing tantalisingly nearby like a balloon.

"Promise Me"
4 mins 04s
25 Nov 2014
An elegantly restrained track that feels as much about hope as it does about yearning and loss. It reminds us of standing on a station platform, waiting for the train that will carry away someone we love and knowing that this moment is worse than the moment to come, when the last carriage disappears from sight and we turn to leave.

Take That
"These Days"
4 mins 08s
21 Nov 2014
This should keep the fans happy - a fun, tongue-in-cheek video for the group's latest single; filmed as though it's a 'making of'. The chaps roll up their sleeves and get stuck into their roles as the cameras reveal a few tricks of the trade - not least the upright 'bed' in which Howard, Gary and Mark nestle cosily. The song itself isn't hugely memorable but we have a sneaky feeling this promo will make it go down very well.

She and Him
"Stay Awhile"
2 mins 57s
21 Nov 2014
Stay Awhile by She and Him features one half of the duo - ie, Zooey Deschanel - dancing alone in a house to their cover of the Dusty Springfield track. Only she isn't in fact dancing alone - there is an invisible chap partnering her in the cleverly-made video; gracefully lifting and twirling her while the other half - M. Ward - plays an invisible guitar.

"Winter Linn"
3 mins 09s
21 Nov 2014
Christopher Hewitt's video for Winter Linn by Clark is breathtaking. Not only because the sequence of images accompanying this superb track are so riveting - but because they spin on their own axis at a giddying speed like some unsettling creation on an alien potter's wheel. Yet somehow there's a stillness at the very centre, and it's this contradiction that so complements the music.

Selena Gomez
"The Heart Wants What It Wants"
4 mins 35s
19 Nov 2014
Apparently Selena Gomez has had a much publicised romance with Justin Bieber, and her tearful words at the start of this video are presumed to be about the way he suddenly dropped her for someone else. By including this outpouring at the start of the video for The Heart Wants What It Wants, director Dawn Shadforth has nudged the clip from broody promo to fanbase gold dust.

Band Aid
"Do they Know It's Christmas?"
4 mins 49s
17 Nov 2014
We know the drill. Africa needs help and Bob and Midge come running with pop's most impressive Rolodex, an inappropriate song, and a ton of belligerent determination. The turnaround is so fast that it actually took less time to make this promo than it's taken DAVID REVIEWS to hoist this at our site and that speaks volumes for the dedicated folk at Great Guns who made it happen.

Little Boots
"Taste It"
3 mins 25s
13 Nov 2014
Little Boots' lead single from her new EP Business Pleasure is an interesting mix of coke-numb electronica and deep, visceral drum beats. Her voice feels like little shards of ice shattering onto velour, and director Ish Sahotay has come up with a memorable video to reflect the song's theme of addictions large and small and the way in which we consume them.

Taylor Swift
"Blank Space"
4 mins 32s
13 Nov 2014
The thing about Taylor Swift is that we might not like her music that much, but we like her self-awareness. The promo for Blank Space is a prime example - it's a tongue-in-cheek exploration of her public perception as shown through visual clichès. Watching this without knowing it has a meta-meaning, you'd think it just looks like a round-up of all the laziest bunny-boiler tropes you can imagine... when actually it's slick and smartly observed.

Billie Black
"I Don't Need Another Lover"
4 mins 07s
13 Nov 2014
Alex Brown's video for Billie Black is, fittingly, a monochrome affair. Apparently the budget was next to nothing, so an inky backdrop and chiaroscuro lighting was the order of the day, creating a classy feel for the young singer's equally classy electro-soul track. Brown also filmed at variable speeds, which adds a visual glitchiness that feels entirely appropriate.

Craig Armstrong
3 mins 58s
5 Nov 2014
An intriguing video for Craig Armstrong's Crash features four couples whose relationships appear to veer from intimacy to the crushing isolation of abandonment. We're not quite sure what's going on, but in a way it doesn't matter - the mood is what counts here. Brett Anderson's vocals over the soundtrack composer's track is like the aural embodiment of the promo's perpetual twilight.

Black Atlass
3 mins 56s
5 Nov 2014
Yoann Lemoine is a talented man. A talented, talented man. Not only does he record as a musician under the name Woodkid, he also makes breathtakingly beautiful promos for his own music and other people's. This, for emerging band Black Atlass, was done with a budget of exactly £0 - it was a labour of love constructed over the course of eight months while he was touring with his own band.

"Burning Beaches"
3 mins 34s
28 Oct 2014
The promo for Dels' new track Burning Beaches is imbued with a sense of foreboding. As the rapper himself describes it: "The video is about how paranoia in a relationship can affect your dreams and then in turn affect your reality." In other words, how your fears can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There's some lovely underwater camerawork, and the brooding half-light adds an extra layer of dread.

Andy C (feat. Fiora)
"Heartbeat Loud"
3 mins 08s
24 Oct 2014
This is a poignant video and the little boy at the centre of it goes some way to alleviating the relentlessness of the track. It slowly dawns on us that he's been noticed as a natural around horses, and that this could be used to the advantage of the adults around him by making him compete in a horse race. But the misgivings the boy has are well-founded.

"The Infamous Bill"
2 mins 38s
24 Oct 2014
Khruangbin chose their name because it's the Thai word for 'plane' - the literal translation is 'engine fly', which they found irresistible. This lovely instrumental comes with a video based around the legendary Bill who knew how to work a whip to excellent effect. We never see his face; we don't need to... his boots and his creaky gloves say it all. A cool accompaniment to the band's swampy, psyche-folk guitar sound that smells of the deep south and warm leather.

"My Desire"
4 mins 12s
22 Oct 2014
Actor Frank Grillo stars in this promo about a man in meltdown at a bar. As he drinks alone, Interpol play in the background, the live entertainment for the evening. Grillo is looking at photographs that he's taken out of an envelope, and as he gets more and more smashed he begins to hallucinate. Something about the snaps is distressing him, but we don't know what. Will we find out?

The Staves
"Blood I Bled"
4 mins 36s
17 Oct 2014
A swathe of different stories are told in this video for The Staves' new track. Shot almost on the fly in Mumbai, these tales are densely interwoven and not always coherently linear - but that's part of the film's pleasure and charm. The sense of intrigue which builds through the slightly chaotic revelations compel you to watch again until you start to unravel the strands a little more.

4 mins 47s
16 Oct 2014
Kasabian's tale of psychopath Stevie, features a video of a baby grown in a lab reminiscent of the eerie black room in Under the Skin. We leap forward in time to see him at the age of ten being put through various experiments by menacing men in gas masks who seem to be attempting to stop him responding to pain. But young Stevie has other plans.

"Ave Cesaria"
5 mins 57s
15 Oct 2014
The latest number from the superb Stromae comes with a video from director Henry Scholfield which feels home-made, joyous, and yet somehow tinged with melancholy. Stromae is playing live at a family event (we presume) in a rather austere town hall, and the glimpses of everyone present are reminders of our fleeting existence even as the gathering laughs and dances.

Pharrell WIlliams
"Gust of Wind"
4 mins 55s
9 Oct 2014
The fossilised remnants of Daft Punk's helmets stand watch over oriental dancing girls doing a bit of gravity-defying twirling Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style. It's certainly not the kind of thing you'd expect Edgar Wright to have directed, but this is indeed his work - and it has to be said that while not massively exciting, it's miles better than the track itself.

"Real Thing"
3 mins 25s
8 Oct 2014
tUnE-yArDs makes some fantastic music and while this isn't one of her best, it comes with an energetic and frankly bonkers video from director Tom Jobbins that captures her happy eccentricity very well. Three female mannequins discover multi-coloured plastic body parts in a box while Garbus sings through a hole in the bottom of it.

"I'm No Gold"
3 mins 48s
7 Oct 2014
LA band Liars put out some intriguing stuff from time to time, along with some memorable videos (Mess on a Mission; No1 Against the Rush) - and this fits right into that category. Lead singer Angus Andrew is filmed in close-up like a nightmare made (almost) flesh in a discordant track seemingly borne out of a bad speed trip. Insidiously catchy.

Recent Promos

David Reviews - Lovely Lenzie Ltd, Woodbourne House, Seven Sisters, Lenzie, G66 3AW. Telephone: +44 141 776 7766. Editor: Jason Stone.