Kanye West's "Runaway": We watched it so you won't have to
It's kind of an unwritten law of modern pop stardom: if you're a power-player, you need a movie. It doesn't have to last for two hours, but it needs to run longer than a traditional music video, it should let you flaunt your acting chops, and it should tell a story.
The Runaway movie - adapted from the Kanye West single of the same name, directed by West, and slated to appear on West's forthcoming My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - hits at least two of those notes, and is weird enough to sit comfortably near Prince's Purple Rain and Michael Jackson's Thriller without being quite as awesome or batshit as either of those films. Fantasy cuts you're already sick of - "Lost in the World," "Power," "Runaway," of course - appear on the soundtrack, in addition to as-yet-unheard gems. (Runaway is actually worth watching for those alone.)
You can watch this NSFW film by clicking here, or, if you don't wanna be bothered, you can skim my selective play-by-play below.
Warning: skimming my selective play-by-play may make you want to watch Runaway more than twice.
00:00 This preview totally makes Due Date look like an in-civilian-clothing riff on The Other Guys.
00:14 Look! It's Kanye! And he's doing the Running Man! As opera divas openly weep!
00:18 Runaway title by bored renegade stylist wielding blood-red lipstick who is graffiti wannabe in spare time.
00:43 Nicki Minaj is about as central and key to Runaway's overall impact as Samuel L. Jackson was to that of Inglourious Basterds.
02:10 "Too many Urkels on your team/That's why you Winslow." Ouch! Corny.
02:16 Watching a herd of deer chew in slow motion, close up, is creepier than you'd expect.
02:59 As luck would have it, the fiery asteroid crashed to Earth on the exact same road where West, unbeknownst to him, was filming an ill-lit luxury car commercial.
04:38 West, to disoriented mute bird-babe he rescued from flaming wreckage: "First rule in this world, baby? Don't believe anything you see in the news." Subtextual!
05:40 Why is there a sheep grazing in the back yard of West's chic, post-modernist/architecture-porn abode? And why is one of the deer from earlier grazing there, too?
07:18 For no apparent reason, a boy dressed in red runs along a dirt road waving something - a flare, maybe - that emits dense plumes of red smoke. It's evocative, eye-catching. Then: fireworks, marching soldiers straight out of U.K. Central casting, a disturbingly realistic oversized Michael Jackson head that glows from within. And now the kid with the smoke stick appears to be wearing a huge KKK hood, or maybe the person in the hood took the stick away from the kid? It's hard to say for sure.
11:30 Is it ever a good thing when a movie drops us into a dinner-table scene where the guests are all wearing white, or some color that isn't black? And why is this going down in a grunge-y warehouse space?
12:26 Picking up two-handed antique tea cups is impossible when your fingers are huge claws.
16:53 West daringly rapping "Runaway" atop an all-white piano as a symbolic protest of ignorance, exclusion, and racism in all their insiduous cultural guises.
17:40 Sorry, no Pusha T cameo.
19:27 Bird-woman appears smitten with our hero, who is still rapping atop a white piano. Down with tyranny! Down with oppression! Fuck people who don't tape Love Boat re-runs!
23:35 In this particular context, a sloowwww overhead tracking shot that focuses on the center of the dinner table, ogling platters of roasted chicken and turkey and presumably other airborne game registers as, well, downright barbaric, and more or less foreshadows what's about to go down.
24:41 Note to budding directors: you can't go wrong with explosions.
28:20 Ditto, though this explosion is visual shorthand for what we're supposed to believe is happening during the "wacky" parts of K-Y Jelly Personal Lubricant commercials.
30:30 Kanye, running again! (This is called bookending, a motif, tying the narrative up in a neat bow.) Bird woman, flying away through cloud-cover over forest in ridiculous post-Madonna conical-brasserie/chest-plate that seems redundant given that she's been strutting and writhing and posing next to nekkid, basically, for the entire movie. Does she look sad to you? I think she's sad.
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