Archive for October, 2010

A “Runaway” Success

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 | Georgie Morvis

Stratocoaster will be Cadenza’s “sexy and aggressive” music blog, according to our Music Editor, Steve Hardy. Tune in every Tuesday for music musings from Hardy and his garrulous crew of writers.

Generally, music videos aren’t supposed to last 35 minutes. But Kanye West’s music video for the song “Runaway” is more short film epic than music video. It follows the love story between a phoenix that fell to Earth and West himself. Alas, humanity does not understand the phoenix or West’s love for her, and she flies away. Parallels to West’s career are clear. Short dialogue breaks are taken between samples of West’s new album, and it even has a full credit sequence.

The moments “Runaway” works best are when it stays truest to form as a music video. The 8-minute long section centered around the title song features ballerinas, a table full of aristocrats, and Kanye standing on a piano. West took a huge risk with the entire film, but especially this section, and it more than pays off. (Sidebar: is this the year ballet makes a comeback? Between visionary director Darren Aronofsky’s ballet psychothriller “Black Swan” and this short film, it certainly looks like it.)

Selita Ebanks stars as the phoenix and does surprisingly well at capturing the movements of a bird, although her phoenix cries were unintentionally funny. And while the acting is more reminiscent of “Scream Queens” than “Schindler’s List,” and the dialogue seem to have been pulled straight from a telenovela, I still think that West succeeded with “Runaway.” The lensing is easily the best cinematography in a music video of all time (to crib a phrase from the master himself). He directed it himself, and although there are times it feels like a student film, it’s a fine job and easily one of the better directing debuts in music videos. This is his vision through and through, and it shines.

The music is also phenomenal, and “My Dark Twisted Fantasy” could be his best album yet. Rihanna’s guest spot on “All of the Lights” probably will be the best thing she’ll be involved with all year. West’s restyling of Bon Iver’s “Woods” for his song “Lost in the Woods” is incredible, as is his sampling of spoken-word artist Gil Scott-Heron. The only disappointment musically is that he didn’t include the song “Monster,” something I expected after hearing Nicki Minaj as the Cockney-accented narrator.

Is the 35-minute run time necessary? Not in my opinion. It could have been shorter, and some of the scenes of dialogues are definitely unnecessary. Should you still watch it despite the run time? Yes. The music and visuals more than make up for it. It’s sort of like Avatar, except without being spoon-fed metaphors and having to wear annoying 3-D glasses to truly appreciate the scenery. West’s album drops on November 22, 2010, and it’s sure to be one of the biggest events in music this year.

Why is network television afraid of “bad” characters?

Monday, October 25th, 2010 | Andie Hutner

Take on TV will be The Funcooker’s weekly dose of television musings from TV Editor Andie Hutner and her TV-writin’ monkeys. Well, “weekly” doesn’t really describe it. Expect a post every Monday, then a post or two in between. Coming soon: television live-blogs.

By Andie Hutner

A few weeks ago, a terrible thing happened to network TV. The first series of the season was cancelled. The casualty was “Lone Star,” an engaging FOX show that centered on Bob, a Texas con man who lives a double life. It seemed like a really good show. Bob was an interesting leading character that we don’t normally see filling up our television screens. Sadly, the pilot got less than four and a half million viewers, and the second episode got even less. And so FOX cancelled “Lone Star.”

Why did the show fail? If this show had premiered on AMC, it would have been a huge success. “Mad Men,” their breadwinner, features Don Draper, an army deserter who took a dead man’s identity. He lied and cheated on his wife back when they were still married, and even cheated on his mistresses with some more mistresses. Though Don is in the legitimate business of advertising, he’s not much better of a man than Bob the con man was.

Is the only difference between “Lone Star” and “Mad Men” that the latter is on cable TV? Are basic network audiences not ready to accept a morally ambiguous leading man? There are only a few main characters on today’s shows that are not outright heroes or villains. Interestingly enough, “Lone Star” was given a seemingly perfect lead-in. It premiered right before “House,” a show whose main character is a Vicodin-addicted jerk who seems to only care about himself. In recent seasons, House has worked to beat his addiction and formed a genuine relationship with Cuddy. But for the first few years, House seemed to no have redeeming qualities, other than the fact that he was entertaining and a great doctor. Why were audiences able to watch House be who he was, when they couldn’t even stay with Bob for two hours? Does this suggest that drug addiction is a more forgivable crime than two-timing? Who knows.

“Bad” characters may only be able to find a home on cable TV. HBO opened this floodgate, with their early shows set in a prison (“Oz”) or about a mob family (“The Sopranos). Would these shows do well on network TV? Or is it just that in the post-Bernie Madoff era, Americans cannot deal with con men? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but I hope the cancellation of “Lone Star” does not mean that we will only be left with vanilla leading men and women on network TV for the rest of time.

Hello World!

Monday, October 25th, 2010 | Percy Olsen

Welcome to the re-launch of StudLife’s blogs! After weeks of “Student Life’s blog network is being re-vamped and will be up soon!” the link actually takes you to a real website. Huzzahs all around!

Things are finally going places, and we appreciate how patient you guys have waited. Honestly, we’ve been anxious for the launch too, fidgeting in our sleep after every setback, eating unhealthy amounts of Crunchers before and after every meal, but now it’s finally here.

Cadenza will lead the way with seven, count’em, seven blogs baking in our Funcooker. Arts and culture blogs are the perfect fit for Cadenza’s Funcooker because a) we almost always produce more content than StudLife can print, and b) a lot of our writers (we call them Cadenza Reporters) have unique voices that should really shine online. So click on the entries to get started and don’t forget to bookmark You know. If people even bookmark anymore.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect on a daily basis from The Funcooker:

Mondays – Take on TV

Home of television thoughts, recaps and live-blogs from our TV Editor, Andie Hutner.