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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Finding inspiration in J-pop music videos

Music videos tend to be one of the most overlooked sources of inspiration for aspiring filmmakers. While I tend to avoid those from Hong Kong (too uninspired, bad production values, very generic) and Taiwan (they occasionally have some hot babes, but still too bland for my liking).

I am expected to hand in a visual style report (which illustrates the stylistic approach, setting, design, lighting, wardrobe design and editing) for my upcoming allegorical (hopefully) sci-fi romantic (hopefully) short film, Girl Disconnected, within two weeks, thus I have spent the past two days poring over some films, like the aforementioned Eraserhead, Alphaville and Fellini's 8 And The Half (three vastly different films that use black and white to enhance their surrealism). Yet as my tale emphasizes more on the romance (like I said before, it's pretty much a love story with science fiction elements, because both sci-fi and romance aren't explored by anyone else in my screenwriting class... not surprisingly, considering that Crash's unjust Oscar victory had everyone shifting their attention to developing sociodramas with preachy messages), I need something more emotional for reference, something so lush and romantic that can make me melt whilst silently making mental notes that can aid me in my visual style report.

After all, Girl Disconnected is a tale of a girl who flew to the moon to look for the lover she has never met, and while the moon will be a cold and alien place, the emotions and people there have to be real to serve as a contrast. Lost In Translation, in my opinion, worked so well because you see two people bonding in an alien place that is very cold and foreign (to them). If they have bonded in a place more familiar to themselves, it would've been an entirely different story...

Enter Japanese music videos. While being a major J-pop fan back in my teens, when I was still obsessed with the now-disbanded girl group, Speed, circumstances have prevented me from keeping entirely up-to-date with Jpop news and the latest hits. I ended up collecting only Utada Hikaru and Nakashima Mika's (whose popularity I prophecized shortly after her debut four years ago) stuff. Ayumi Hamasaki has way too many CDs for me to keep up with. And... well, I wasn't aware of how to really get my hands on those music videos from Japan.

Of course, those were the days before Youtube. Now that this super video-sharing site is around, most of the problems I have once faced are becoming a distant memory, and today, I spent most of the day in the library watching Japanese music videos. And many of them were simply mindblowing. Here are the ones that leave the deepest impression for me (and no, I don't understand Japanese, but these music videos are so eye-pleasing aesthetically that you really shouldn't bother about not understanding the songs).

1) Ayumi Hamasaki - Startin'

This is a pretty funny music video from the queen of Jpop herself. Pretty much reinforces how outlandish Japanese music videos are. It's a parody of some American music videos, and Kill Bill. I giggled. Read the review of this single here.

2) Koda Kumi - you

I think this is the best video I saw for the day. It's intense, emotional, sad, and well, pretty damned romantic. Exactly what I want for my upcoming masterpiece. Koda Kumi was first introduced to the public for the songs she did in the underrated Final Fantasy X-2 (it's not such a bad game, it just has a shitty ending... and yes, I'm referring to the perfect ending). Read the review and some info about Koda Kumi's you single in this Channel Ai entry. And yes, after this music video, I absolutely believe that Koda Kumi is much more attractive than the chick in Justin's Haruki Murakami review.

3) Hiro - Hero

Hiro is one of the two lead vocalists of the girl group, Speed, and my first celebrity crush. This is her latest single, which excited me at first with her... outfit, but turned out that it wasn't anything special. Low-budget and uninspired, I feel that she should just marry me, or agree to appear in my films instead of churning these singles.

4) Commercial of Gackt and Parappa The Rapper???????

I can't even describe this.

But in the end, the one ultimate video that blew my mind away was the much talked about, controversial, Natalie Portman gangsta rap video. It was taken down by Youtube after the site was nastygrammed by NBC. But thankfully, there's still Vsocial, the place where I uploaded numerous of my own home music videos.

I laughed so hard that I almost pissed in my pants.

Right, after the Gackt and Natalie video, it's obvious that I'm moving away from what I've originally set out to do while, er, looking through the music videos for references, but hey, at least it reminded me that I should have Natalie, instead of Scarlett Johansson, in my dream cast, despite my minor disappointment with V Is For Vendetta. But seriously, I would aim for something as poignant as the Koda Kumi music video.

Tell me what you peeps think about the videos!