Thursday, October 31, 2013

M83 trilogy

EDITORIAL NOTE: Tonight marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo.  I'm going to be busy for the next month so posts might be a bit thin and rushed on the writing.

M83 is bringing video back.

I miss the era of the early 1980s when music videos were essentially short films.  Yeah, yeah, go on.  Sure they look cheesy now, yet when I compare them to plain videos of bands miming their song against a backdrop or hip hoppers with bling, sports cars, half naked women, and lyrics amounting to "I'm all up in da club," then "Hungry Like the Wolf" looks positively cinematic.  Not to mention a better Indiana Jones entry a la Raiders of the Lost Ark than the film, but I digress...

The band M83 is making a return to this format.  They have a trilogy of music videos that share a narrative thread (as for the music, I would describe them as a heavy synth band, perhaps somewhere between Depeche Mode and Muse.  I whole-heartedly recommend checking out their sound.)   The story is "shake and serve" winner that is almost tailor made for Esoteric Synaptic Events.  Here's the first installment, "Midnight City."

Now let me tell you, if I could have any superpower it would be telekinesis.  You know, be able to move objects through thoughts alone?  The kids in this video have those abilities in no short amount.  Yes, this is a popular trope in fiction, one of "youngsters with special abilities" but let's watch this play out.  They stay in a boarding house and one would be forgiven if they mistook it for Xavier's School.  Yet as the video plays on, we get the sense that the kids aren't that happy to be there.  Perhaps they are kept against their will?  Why yes, they are.  So they do what any kid with TK powers would do, they gather all the teen titans, enact a plan to "bust outta this joint," and "move like they've never moved before" (how many more comic book cliches can I toss in?) So with the glowing eyes of the kids from Village of the Damned, the tikes escape to an abandoned warehouse where they begin to test and hone their powers.

I know that I just made a comparison to another film, but I'm going to say that this video has much more to do with Akira than anything else.  In fact I think M83 says as much, but I can't find the link right now.  Anyway, Akira is a fine work of anime and if you haven't seen it already and you enjoy cyberpunk stories about telekinetic kids (and come on, who doesn't?), check it out with all due haste.

But I digress...

Next in the series is "Reunion." Here's where things start to get tough for the kids.   We see that the shadowy authority figures that ran the boarding school have not overlooked the kids' escape.  In a sequence reminiscent of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, espionage-like "spooks" in unmarked surveillance vans track the rogue telekinetics down.  But these kids can give every bit as good as they can get and with quite a bit of phantasmagorical force, too.  Just watch what happens to the motor vehicles involved.

Finally, we have "Wait." This is where I must confess that the narrative thread begins to break down for me.  Suddenly we find ourselves in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic reality and things happen that just don't seem to make any sense.  The production value, however, is quite a bit higher than the trilogy's previous installments.  That fact, however, does not precisely equate to quality (remind you of any other movie franchises?)

Musically, "Wait" also happens to be the weakest M83 song for me out of the three.  "Reunion" has a wonderful, airy beginning the brings up memories of the best Simple Minds songs and then heads into a disco bounce.  Nothing wrong with that at all, plus there's a "sexy woman" voiceover during the bridge.  But for my money, the best song out of the trilogy is "Midnight City." It's a wonderful piece of beautifully harsh techno.  I'll never forget hearing it on a night this past July as I drove up I-294.  I brought the windows down, turned the radio up, and just soaked it all into my pores.


Oh yeah, forgot.  It's Halloween.  Here's a spaceship.

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