We Saw Kanye’s New Movie So You Don’t Have to (But You Probably Should)
Rapper, producer, and media-piñata-turned-Twitter-titan Kanye West can now add film director to his resume. The artist held court at the West Coast debut of his 40-minute film Runaway in Los Angeles last night, and the evening did not disappoint. The media-heavy premiere at a Sunset Boulevard screening room had the feel of a mini-event for the 300 or so invited music industry insiders in attendance. Everyone from Guy Oseary to Pete Wentz mingled at the lobby bar before the screening. Afterward, West explained his vision for the film. “I think like a five-year-old at all times,” he said at one point during a rambling yet sincere Q&A that was more A than Q. “Art and music. I wanna make that conversation closer to each other,” he continued, adding, in typical West-ian dramatics, that “society beats us down,” and “makes us numb.” West also admitted that he’d considered suicide (we assume after Obama called him a jackass), adding that he didn’t go through with it because he wanted to use his role as a tastemaker to inspire positive change for kids in “Chicago” and “Soho.”
The Grammy-winner name checked a dizzying array of inspirations for the film – everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Michael Jackson to Fendi to Jim Henson. At best, the film, which West directed, approaches the magnificent imagery seared into our frontal lobes by Daft Punk’s arty 2007 film Electroma. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time West used the French super producers as inspiration.
But unlike Daft Punk, who chose not to score their own film, West included his own music in Runaway. The new tracks are almost all fantastic, with the title song in particular used to great effect during a stunning sequence involving a piano, a ballet troupe, and an elaborate formal dinner party inside a Prague warehouse, where all the guests are black and the servers white. The plot of the film is as follows: West’s “character” falls in love with a phoenix-like bird woman (played by former Victoria’s Secret Angel Selita Ebanks) who eventually flees back to her own planet because she is “different.” Though West expounded on the meaning behind his mini-opus, commentary is almost incidental next to the visuals. The brilliance of Runaway lies in its cinematography and art direction. West praised his Art Director, anorexia-obsessed visual artist Vanessa Beecroft, and made it clear she was instrumental in realizing his dream-like vision.
Despite his emphasis on collaboration, Runaway is pure Kanye West—risk taking, occasionally transcendent, and wholly narcissistic. It’s well worth watching, despite some occasional awkward dream-like dialogue and a few clunky moments. See it in HD if possible when it debuts to the public on MTV, BET, and MTV2 on Saturday, October 23rd at 8pm EST. And check out the teaser below.