Kanye West has said that lately, he’s inspired by colors. He’s also made himself known as a man who loves decadence.
There’s plenty of both in the hip-hop superstar’s “Runaway” film, a 35-minute clip he directed, written by Hype Williams. Shot in Prague, the film has made its way over to London, Paris, L.A., New York and then, on Saturday, to the whole world via Vevo.
The basic plot features a beautiful Phoenix that looks like a Victoria’s Secret model (played by actual Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks) who crashes to Earth in an unlikely explosion that likely should have killed Kanye as he’s driving in his fancy car. He does not die, but instead takes the ailing bird back to his house and “makes” her his girlfriend. They see some fireworks and a marching band — which carries a giant bust of Michael Jackson — and then they go to a dinner. And people at the dinner see the Phoenix and are like, she’s so weird. Then Kanye jumps out on a piano and sings the title track as a dozen or so ballerinas in black tutus perform at length. The Phoenix scares everybody off when chicken appears on the menu.
Kanye and bird converse about how “this world” tears the wings off of Phoenixes and that’s how statues are made. They simulate sex, Kanye wakes up alone outdoors and goes running to look for her. But it’s too late. The Phoenix returns to the flames in the sky. Songs play throughout, including a bonus cameo from British Nicki Minaj at the beginning.
It’s indulgent, expensive and kind of a mess.
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It’s this year’s “Telephone,” if “Telephone” hadn’t already happened this year.
And I like it just fine. It challenges the boundaries of a traditional music video, compounding into several different music videos, and in itself becomes its own little art object. Kanye’s acting ability is about on par with his singing ability, but he’s not going for an Academy Award (even though he probably thinks he deserves one anyway): he’s putting himself at the center of his vision, often displacing the vibrant colors, the dancing, the plot and even his desires (the Phoenix) to the periphery. He takes credit for it all, even the rude “congregants,” taking credit even for the beauty of “his” “girlfriend.” Even in the stilted and infrequent dialogue, he frames himself as someone who sees things that other people don’t, and it’s OK if those things sound or are COMPLETELY INSANE.
It’s something you should see once, and probably only once. But I want the nine-song soundtrack ASAP (and soon will, when those songs and others appear on West’s forthcoming “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” out Nov. 22.