Music videos are hardly ever considered in the same vein as short films, but with the upscale production value and high concepts behind music videos today, it's foolhardy to consider them otherwise. The music video showcase happening tonight on what is the conclusion of Newport Beach Film Festival does something that's unheard of, which is to consider the music video as an elevated art form.
While you might be guffawing at the thought of seeing on the big screen what you'd already see on a computer, consider that here you won't be subjected to Vevo's annoying ads or a viewer comment board, or the hundreds of possible interruptions you'd encounter at home (like the dreaded wi-fi disconnection). Plus, you'll be able to know the actual names of the directors behind each vid.
Here are five music video picks from tonight's showcase to check out at Newport's Triangle theater.
5. Capital Cities- "Kangaroo Court" (Carlos Lopez Estrada)
I don't even like Capital Cities, but the concept for the video is funny and dark, with their track "Kangaroo Court" effectively syncing its tone with the group's layers of gloomy synth.
Here we explore an alternate world of half-human half-animal hybrids living in a highly discriminating world against zebras, for reasons unknown. Our hero, a zebra-man just wants to dance and have fun, and the video takes some comedic- darkly comedic- twists, heightened by Lopez Estrada's wild imagination.
4. Childish Gambino- "3005" (Hiro Mural)
The girl in me will always be into whatever Donald Glover produces, though it's not hard to like his artistic output whether its music, comedy, or acting. The video for his song "3005" features Glover/Childish Gambino sitting on a ferris wheel ride next to a large, slow-moving teddy bear for the entirety of the video, with the camera occasionally pulling away and slowly panning in different directions to capture different angles, eventually panning back to Childish Gambino and his bear. On first watch, your focus is always on Childish Gambino, but keep your eyes peeled on other things in the video (hint, the bear, the background, etc.) Seeing this video on the big screen, you'll probably have a better chance to scope out some of those not-so obvious Easter eggs.
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- "Sacrilege" (Megaforce)
Seeing Yeah Yeah Yeahs live at last year's FYF was one of the best shows I've ever seen, and now I can't not see Karen O perform in anything smaller than a larger than life screen. But alas, their video for the song "Sacrilege" doesn't feature the group but instead a dark story presented in reverse chronological order that will leave you in wonder long after it's over.
Starring high fashion supermodel Lily Cole, the video features a story about a young woman being tormented by the people of her small town, having had a sordid connection to each individual member in her past. Karen O's impassioned vocals hit at just the right moments of drama and conflict.
2. MGMT- "Cool Song No. 2" (Isaiah Seret)
The story in MGMT's "Cool Song No. 2" is a little hard to follow at first because it's so fantastical, but it stars Michael Kenneth Williams (you know him as Omar from The Wire) as a "Plant Hunter" who harvests plants to be turned into psychedelic drugs, and whose lover (played by Dennis Hopper's son Henry Hopper) has been mutated by those very drugs. It's so visually stunning, and the video apparently won a lot of awards for director Seret, but it's MGMT's multi-instrumental sound that gives the visuals their resonance.
1. David Bowie- "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" (Floria Sigismondi)
Get ready to swoon, because David Bowie is here. The man can do no wrong, and he and video co-star Tilda Swinton make for the most regal couple ever. His recent resurgence has filled a void for fans, and looking back on the fanfare upon his return, much of it had to do with the video for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)."
Bowie and Swinton play a married couple living with past incarnations of their former, real life personas haunting their domestic lives in the present. It's simply just a wacky and wonderful video that's very self-aware at times (the beginning features a title, and director's credit), but all the weirdness and ambiguity that follow are worth it to see Swinton and Bowie acting together.
Nearly twenty music videos will be shown tonight, so to get information of the other videos in the showcase, visit Newport Beach Film Fest's online schedule.