November 10th, 2010


Music Videos #22: In Which the Pyrotechnics Budget is Impressive.

1) Katy Perry, 'Firework'
Director: Dave Meyers
From the 2010 album Teenage Dream

See, if I'm totally honest, I've never been really sure what to make of Katy Perry. I know she's apparently the new gay icon, dancing around and exploring heteronormative bisexuality and whatever, but she somehow seemed... without a point. Until now. I didn't think a Katy Perry video could actually make me feel like life was somehow better than before I started watching. This video, however, is like the video for Christina Aguilera's 'Beautiful', with better production values. Which kinda makes sense, considering the song is exactly the same but more upbeat. Body issues? Check, with someone embracing their curves for a pool party. Cancer? Check, with a empathetic child. Gay boys? Check, except they're hot. It's not a perfect video, by any means. The fact that a whole host of comments exist to the effect that Katy Perry's cleavage is on fire is testament that maybe we could've done something a little more apt. But images like some street thugs setting on a magician and releasing the doves from his coat, or the pyrotechnic party at the end, or just the look of the whole damn video, make it worth it. Plus, there are cute guys kissing. Call this an early birthday present.

2) The All-American Rejects, 'It Ends Tonight'
Director: Wayne Isham
From the 2005 album Move Along

I went through a period of really liking The All-American Rejects. It had something to do with the video for 'Dirty Little Secret', I think, and the fact that the video beat me to adopting Postsecret for my high school photography project by about three weeks. This song was one of the songs on their album that I tolerated, and in this video I still catch myself looking at the appalling acting and wondering why Wayne Isham couldn't have done something about that. But the trick to this song, I think, is that it's geared, almost top-heavy, so that it runs headlong toward that final chorus. And when those fireworks go off in that last minute or so, all the silliness and histrionics of the rest of the video disappear. I forgot about Tyson's ridiculous angst as he piled a shopping cart high with explosives, and instead enjoyed the moment where the drama of the pyrotechnics matched the strength of the song. Much as I hate to admit it, this song has a power to it, even if it is only because the singer pours a lot of unnecessary emotion into it.

3) Feist, 'I Feel It All'
Director: Patrick Daughters
From the 2007 album The Reminder

What the video for 'It Ends Tonight' lacked was discipline. Hidden in the very core of this video is a qualified ton of that. Almost every beat of the song is associated with a crackle of perfectly-timed fireworks, and yet it's shrouded in this wonderfully innocent performance. It reminds me of being a kid on Guy Fawkes; when I was actually a kid, ten or so, not like now when I'm twenty-two and just act like a kid. Being able to run around with these fireworks, like they were being set off for no other reason than that they just look pretty. But, once again, it comes back to the discipline that's in this video, whether in the impressive design of the video itself, considering it's a oner (there must have been a lot of rehearsal to get Feist next to the right barrel when the charges went off), or the courage with which she jumps into the lake in the final moments (we assume it's cold as she wears gloves). The real moment that sells this video to me, and which is heightened by being able to hear the fireworks go off, is similar to the moment that makes 'It Ends Tonight' work: when five perfectly synchronised towers of sparks kick off after the awesome crane shot, right on cue.

musicforwolves categorises movies.

     Boy, it's getting hot in Wellington. Poor Americans are heading into winter and turning on the heating, I'm walking around the apartment and thinking of bathing in iced tea.
     I am sitting here, feet up, and reading the first few chapters of Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, and encountered Calvino's list of the types of books one encounters when entering a bookstore. I'd seen this list before but never been able to attribute it to anybody. In case you've never read it before, here's a brief rundown:

     " have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven't Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn't Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too. Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:
     the Books You've Been Planning To Read For Ages,
     the Books You've Been Hunting For Years Without Success,
     the Books Dealing With Something You're Working On At The Moment,
     the Books You Want To Own So They'll Be Handy Just In Case,
     the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,
     the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,
     the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified."

     Calvino continues this for about two more paragraphs. But the list itself is quite recognisable, and applicable to any pastime, so I'm adapting my movie lists into a set of categories (now with Examples!):

     If, In an Amalgamated Video Store, an Obsessive

     The Movies I Don't Want To See: Transformers 2, Xanadu, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
     The Movies I Will Never Be Able To Find: Report, Wavelength, Why Can't I Stop This Uncontrollable Dancing.

The Movies Everybody Has Seen That I Don't Need To See: Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
     The Movies I Pretended To Have Seen Because Everybody Else Had, And How Could A Film Major Not Have, So Will Get Around To One Day: Alien, Aliens, M.
     The Movies That Have Been Featured One Or More Lists Of Movies I Must See, And Want To Watch: Tokyo Story, City of God, Chicago.
     The Movies I Will Watch Only Because They Are On Such A List: Destry Rides Again, Gunga Din, Time Regained.
     The Movies I Should Have Seen By Now Because They Were In A Course I Have Taken: Take Care Of My Cat, The Blair Witch Project, Teorema.

     The Movies I Have Seen But Don't Remember Very Well So Must Watch Again: Breakfast At Tiffany's, Mulholland Drive, Vivre Sa Vie.
     The Movies I Have Seen But Enjoy Too Much To Never Watch Again: some self-evident examples here.
     The Movies I Actually Own But Haven't Watched Yet: The Piano, The Bourne Identity.
     The Movies I Keep Getting Told To Watch: Dog Soldiers.
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