Japanese culture has been used in a lot of music videos, but it’s usually done in a half-arsed way – the random East Asian girls in the PanAm’s “Japanese Girls” video; the videos based around home movies shot around the Yamanote subway line. Finally here’s a video that uses some Japanese style in an interesting way.
The video is set in a smoky bar, and most patrols are wearing military costumes of a vague WWII style. But this is no period drama and it’s not intended as a literal depiction of Japan. Rather there’s a curious sci-fi feeling to the scene – maybe even inspired by Blade Runner. The video also features a fish out of water, flapping around, an instant reminder of Faith No More’s epic “Epic” video.
It’s lush visuals galore, but the vid also nicely follows the dynamics of the song, from the chaotic explosion in the middle to the transcendent moment of “I’m like a nomad” at the end. It’s all very stylish.
And its stylishness was not unrewarded. “Fuji” was nominated for Best Music Video at the 2006 New Zealand Music Video Awards, with Richard Harling winning Best DOP and Daniel Strang winning Best Editor at the 2006 Kodak Music Clip Awards.
Best bit: the sassy smoker at the bar whose dramatic gesture knocks over the fish bowl.
Director: Alyx Duncan
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision
Next… less is more.
Minuit return with “Except You”, a bittersweet and supercool reflection upon a broken relationship. But the video, directed by Alyx Duncan, takes its inspiration from outside the home.
Across a lonely costal landscape comes Ruth from Minuit, two suitcases in hand. Those suitcases contain a lot of old memories and she’s there to dramatically dispose of their contents. She begins hurling away accoutrements of her past, which seems a bit more fun than dropping off a banana box of stuff to the Red Cross store.
But what’s behind this dramatic disposal? We flash back to the circus. There’s Ruth and her bandmates along with a number of circus performers, all elaborately costumed and with very expressive eyebrows. They lipsync along with the song, and it feels all very sinister. In the midst of it, Ruth slips a teaspoon down her cleavage, suggesting that her suitcases are all full of stolen goodies.
After emptying the two suitcases – but keeping the cute little dog she found in one – Ruth sets off down to the beach. But there she finds the circus people. Uh oh. They close in on her, grab her and perform the classic “sawing a lady in half” trick. Only it’s no trick. Ruth has been bisected, with her annoyed top half in one suitcase and her wiggling legs in the other. Well, when it’s no longer ethical to have animals in circuses, you’ve got to entertain the punters somehow.
I really like what’s happening in this video. It’s really stylish and dramatic with a really strong storyline, it works perfectly with the lyrics and tone of the song, and there are lots of lush details to be discovered with repeat viewings.
Best bit: the naughty fingertip lick.
Director: Alyx Duncan
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Next… round the rugged rocks.