“Your girlfriend really is beautiful.”
“Did you know she’s a bird?”
Kanye West’s “music video” for his latest single, “Runaway,” doesn’t have very many moments of dialogue in it and I think the above example illustrates why that was a wise decision. No, we’re not turning a new page here at Film Threat and going into the music video criticism business, but Kanye West’s longform video for his latest single “Runaway” is more along the lines of a short film, and therefore worth a closer look. Or maybe I’m wrong, because in the end what makes this short interesting is that I can play it again and again, but not watch it, and get just as much enjoyment, if not more, than I did when I paid attention to the visuals. In that way, from a music marketing standpoint, it’s a brilliant move. Would I sit still for 35 minutes and listen to a random sampler CD of the new Kanye West album? No, I’d probably wait to hear the whole thing when it’s released. Did I essentially sit still for 35 minutes and watch a video that was essentially a sampler of the new album? Yes. You win, Kanye. You got me.
The basic plot of this short, video, whatever is that Kanye is driving through the woods one evening when a comet crashes in front of his car. The comet turns out to be a female Phoenix (Selita Ebanks) fallen to Earth, and the two form a relationship that isn’t really destined to survive. Cue quoted dialogue above, and you get the idea of how Kanye’s friends welcome his new relationship.
While you get the feeling that Kanye is trying his best to pull a Fellini, the movie more closely resembled, for me, Lars Von Trier’s “AntiChrist” (though in Kanye’s world, everything is bleached colors as opposed to Von Trier’s grays and blues) with a bit of Michael Bay (slow motion fire and explosions). And while Kanye went the Phoenix route, if you really want an art film to ponder about a fallen goddess and a worldly man, check out Luc Besson’s “Angel-A.” All that said, it is interesting to see these cinematic influences put together and then interpreted by Kanye West. Sure, it borders on being a pretentious mess (and I’m sure many have already called it such), and it’s not something you watch over and over again (as I said above, you may listen to it over and over again), but it does have that refreshing flavor of seeing the world of art and experimental cinema through not-so-cinematic eyes. In that way, the film’s imitation becomes a larger criticism of the stereotypes and clichés of that genre.