Music Video Friday: Daft Punk – Instant Crush

I’m hoping to see lots of reviews for The Force Awakens on the blogs today! I reviewed it yesterday (review HERE) and am looking forward to seeing what those of you in America thought of it. 🙂

In the meantime, here’s a quickie post for Music Video Friday: Instant Crush by Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas.

I’ve talked quite often on this blog of my love for Daft Punk (especially in my review for their movie Electroma) so it’s about time I feature them for Music Video Friday. I know they have a lot of famous videos in which my two favorite musical robots are heavily featured but I decided to go with Instant Crush, featuring Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. The only sign of Daft Punk is when we glance their dusty helmets on a shelf (photo above). I’ve chosen this as I really really really (really!) love this song. Instant Crush was an instant classic for me and I know I’ll still be listening to it years from now.

I didn’t see the video until after falling in love with the song and, at first, I wasn’t happy that I’d watched it. When you love a song, you sometimes don’t want images added into your head and I now often picture a wax Julian Casablancas when I hear it. I already liked the song as the simple story of a crush. According to Wikipedia, Casablancas wrote the lyrics after Daft Punk told him their concept for the song, which “involved reflecting on the childhood memory of meeting a girl, but missing the opportunity to be with her.

The video has grown on me, though, and I found out from the above Wikipedia link that the video is “inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Steadfast Tin Soldier as well as The Twilight Zone television series.” Well, I’ve always loved The Twilight Zone and I looked into the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale & the video very much follows that story at the end. It’s a great fairy tale – I wonder why it’s not as well known as his other stories. Maybe because it’s MORBID! Well, what can I say? I’ve always loved a tragic romance! I actually appreciate the video much more now that I know the story of The Steadfast Tin Soldier. It’s incredibly romantic! In a depressing sort of way….

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Daft Punk’s Electroma (2006) Movie Review

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Daft Punk’s Electroma (2006)

Directed by Daft Punk

Written by:
Thomas Bangalter & Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (Daft Punk)
Paul Hahn
Cédric Hervet

Starring:
Peter Hurteau
Michael Reich

Music by:
Todd Rundgren
Brian Eno
Sébastien Tellier
Curtis Mayfield
Linda Perhacs
Jackson C. Frank
Mathieu Tonetti

Running time: 72 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Daft Punk’s Electroma is a 2006 film by French electronic music duo Daft Punk. The plot revolves around the quest of two robots (the band members, played by Peter Hurteau and Michael Reich) to become human.

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My Opinion:

I decided to finally watch this after reviewing the weird & wonderful Phantom Of The Paradise, Brian De Palma’s 1974 Faustian rock opera horror film (you can read my review of that HERE). Daft Punk were massively influenced by Phantom Of The Paradise so I loved seeing the masked Phantom and the resemblance to the Daft Punk “robots”.

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Just like with Phantom Of The Paradise, I’m not going to recommend Electroma to absolutely everyone who may be reading this. You’d love it or you’d hate it and, if you’re not a fan of Daft Punk and their whole robot persona thing, you may struggle to even make it through Electroma‘s 72 minute running time. I’ll say you don’t have to be a fan of their music, though, as none of their music is in the film. If you like “art”, you may appreciate this film. This is more like an extra long music video than a film and it has lots of great images I so desperately want to use in this review as I think it would sell the film to some of you. Unfortunately, some of the coolest images are also major plot spoilers so I’ll have to leave those out.

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What did I think of Electroma? I loved it. There are actually four other films I kept thinking of while watching this (two earlier than Electroma & two that were made later). I’ve reviewed three of them and really like them all so, if you like these films, you MAY like this odd combination of the four. One is 1971 road movie classic Vanishing Point, another is 1973’s Westworld, the third is the thoroughly strange French comedy horror Rubber about a car tire that kills people with its psychic powers (seriously – it’s awesome), and the final one is the recent naked Scarlett Johansson movie Under The Skin which really had a very similar look to Electroma, especially during this particular scene:

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I’d love to think I could actually talk at least one person into watching this but I better let you all know this: There’s no dialogue in this film. There are extended periods of silence. There are very long sequences of the Daft Punk robots driving… and driving… and driving… and then walking… and walking… and wwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaalllllllllkkkkkkkiiiiiiinnnnnnnggggggggggggggg……………….. Well, none of that bothers me but I know that some people would turn it off during these bits. As I said, this is more a piece of art than a movie. The plot really is as simple as the above plot synopsis makes it sound (two robots wish to be human). It’s an idea that has been explored more deeply in innumerable sci-fi movies but it’s still a great plot that I always enjoy seeing represented in different ways, especially as we’re getting closer & closer to things such as technological singularity becoming a reality. Not that that’s really the theme of this film – I’d say Electroma is possibly set in a future where the singularity has already happened? And now these two robots long to be the humans that no longer exist? Yeah, I kind of like the sound of that and it makes the movie sort of bittersweet…

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Those who know me will know that I’m also a big fan of music and I was surprised there wasn’t actually more of it in this film made by two very famous musicians (and no music of their own, although they have the movie Interstella 5555 for that, which I now plan to also watch very soon). I did enjoy the music I’m sure they will have very carefully chosen, especially the Todd Rundgren and Curtis Mayfield songs & sequences in which they were used. I’ll include the clip that uses Todd Rundgren at end of the review as it’s at the beginning of the movie and will give you a feel for the film if you’re at all interested. The clip of the Curtis Mayfield song is awesome but a massive plot spoiler that would ruin one of the best moments in the film if you watched it.

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Summary:

Daft Punk’s Electroma is weird. This is “art” that I’m sure some would brand as pretentious. But, hey – I love Daft Punk’s music & their whole image. Robots rock. The plot is simple but I think two robots wanting to be human is something that even humans can relate to as we ourselves don’t even really know what it means to be human. If nothing else, Electroma is a lovely film to look at with a collection of cool sci-fi imagery and the backdrop of a beautiful Californian landscape. Good job, Daft Punk – I really enjoyed Electroma. Domo arigato, Mr Robotos. (Sorry – I was dying to get that line in here somewhere!)

My Rating: 8/10

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Todd Rundgren – International Feel (actual clip from the movie):

Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) Review

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Phantom Of The Paradise (1974)

Directed by Brian De Palma

Starring:
Paul Williams
William Finley
Jessica Harper
Gerrit Graham

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A disfigured composer sells his soul for the woman he loves so that she will perform his music. However, an evil record tycoon betrays him and steals his music to open his rock palace, The Paradise.

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My Opinion:

This movie started getting a bunch of attention this year for its 40th anniversary and I’d never even heard of it before then. When I read reviews and saw that it was some weird sort of “rock opera horror” directed by Brian De Palma and starring the great Rainbow Connection Paul Williams and that it, basically, may be responsible for giving us DAFT PUNK… Well, I had to see it! I can’t believe I’d never even heard of this now-cult-classic before. Apparently, though, it was a major flop at the time everywhere other than Paris and for some reason Winnipeg, where they worship this film and have organized Phantompalooza. I’m not sure why the movie is suddenly getting so much attention but I suppose that it’s probably down to Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo (Daft Punk) declaring their love for it when collaborating with Paul Williams for their Random Access Memories album. Having watched it now, it’s obvious what a huge influence it had on them. Check out William Finley as the Phantom in the title:

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I finally saw this movie a couple of months ago and I still can’t quite decide if it’s a brilliant masterpiece or a big pile of shit. What a way to start a review, huh?! Maybe it’s just brilliantly horrible. Horribly brilliant? Either way, although I just called this a possible pile of shit, I’ll be giving it a 7.5/10 rating (so you can stop reading & just yell at me now, Brian). 😉 I sort of feel the same way about this movie as I did about David Bowie’s The Man Who Fell To Earth. I know that, in a lot of ways, that movie was “bad” but I couldn’t help but be fascinated with it and it’s certainly one of the most memorable movies I’ve watched in the last couple of years and one I seem to come back to a lot when reviewing other movies that I liked yet can’t fully explain why. Phantom Of The Paradise was the same for me and totally worth being the only full price Blu-ray I’ve purchased for myself in ages, even if I WAS thinking to myself “what the fuck?!” the entire time I was watching it.

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Phantom Of The Paradise is a combination of The Phantom Of The Opera (obviously), Faust, and The Picture Of Dorian Gray. I’m not sure why it never achieved the success of two other similar films that both came out a year later – Tommy and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It certainly feels a lot more ambitious than either of those, which I suppose may have been the problem? There’s a lot going on in Phantom and it maybe tries to be too many things at once. The other two aren’t really any less strange than Phantom, though. Unfortunately, the biggest problem may just be that the songs aren’t as good. Sorry, Paul Williams! I think you’re awesome and I love what you did with Daft Punk and Rainbow Connection is my favorite Muppets song. But, unlike in Tommy or Rocky Horror, there’s nothing really memorable in this when it comes to the music other than maybe the main ballad which is pretty but not exactly catchy like Time Warp or even Pinball Wizard.

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I suppose I was a little upset that I was left unsure of how I felt about this movie once it finished as I’d hyped it up in my mind to possibly be some kind of undiscovered gem that I’d absolutely love. Well, there ARE things I really liked about it. Images such as the one above are what helped to convince me to watch this. The band is known as The Undeads, which is their third and best incarnation in the film as they keep changing their style to suit whatever record producer Swan (Paul Williams) thinks the public wants. This is in contrast to composer Winslow Leach, played by William Finley, who cares only about the music itself instead of fame and who (obviously) ends up the “Phantom” of the film. Paul Williams’ Swan is an evil & greedy record producer and owner of “The Paradise” concert hall. Williams is great as some sort of satanic little brother to David Cassidy. Check him out:

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The best thing about this film is the main story between Williams’ Swan & Finley’s The Phantom. I loved the cause of The Phantom’s disfigurement and, of course, THE scene that is clearly the one that turned those lightbulbs on above Daft Punk’s heads. (Slight spoiler but not really if you know Phantom Of The Opera): The Phantom’s vocal chords have been destroyed along with his face so he not only needs to wear the strange silver helmet but also must use an electronic voice-box to talk (and sing). I wish I could find a clip of the scene to share here but can only find some images:

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I should also give a quick mention to Jessica Harper, of Suspiria fame, who plays The Phantom’s muse à la The Phantom Of The Opera and Gerrit Graham as a camp glam rocker. Both were really good in two fairly big roles and the below shower scene was pretty cool:

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Summary:

I know this review was far longer than my usual reviews but if I’ve talked at least ONE person into checking out this movie, I’ll be very happy. Is it good? Is it shit? I’m honestly still not sure. I’ve said it a few times recently but these are the types of films that actually make me want to run a movie blog. I’ll always watch & review loads of mainstream films but they rarely excite me in the same sort of way that the more “unusual” or artistic films do. I’d rather watch something extremely memorable like this than just another cookie cutter film made with a profit in mind. The main theme (of many) in Phantom Of The Paradise is timeless – art over profit. We need more Phantoms in this world but, unfortunately, there will always be more Swans.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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You know I have to end this with Touch, the Daft Punk/Paul Williams collaboration on Random Access Memories: 🙂