The Swarm

June 25, 2009

Kanye West, Spike Jonze debut bizarre short "Nightmares" film at LAFF

Alex Sherman

Kanye West was rolling deep at the Los Angeles Film Festival tonight, surprising the audience with the premier of a short film by Spike Jonze called We Were Once A Fairytale.

In the film, Kanye plays himself drunk at a club acting belligerent and boastful, telling starstruck club-goers that the song playing in the club is his. He wanders into a side room where he encounters a beautiful woman. They start having sex and then he passes out on her leopard print dress. When he comes to, he finds himself in the VIP room with his pants down – he was hallucinating and fucking the pillow. The realization startles him and he rushes to the bathroom where he vomits what look like rose petals.

Then it gets weird.

Kanye finds a bowie knife in the bathroom and cuts into his stomach, spilling a torrent of more petals. He digs in the knife deeper and then with his hand rips out a small furry rodent, like a demon, only its quite cute. When Kanye realizes it’s connected to him with an umbilical cord, he pulls it hard, ripping it out of him for good. He then puts the demon on the sink and hands him a tiny bowie knife to fit the critter’s scale who then uses it to commit hari kari.

The short, written and directed by Spike Jonze, walks the fine line between self aggrandizement and self mockery that runs through all of Kanye’s endeavors. But the filmmaking is on point, with cinematography and sound design that authentically renders that feeling of being really disoriented in a nightclub. One doesn’t need to love Kanye to love the film, but the Jonze short takes what people love and hate about Kanye’s persona and then pushes it into a new, trippy realm. And in case you’re wondering, the answer is no, Kanye still can’t act. The film features the song “See you in my Nightmares” from 808s and Heartbreaks, remixed and pretty severely tweaked by Spike Jonze’s brother and N.A.S.A.‘s Squeak E. Clean (Sam Spiegel).

MTV News reported back in March:

Last week, news began to trickle out that West and director Jonze — who teamed up last year for the eye-popping (and brain-warping) “Flashing Lights” video — were working together once again, this time on a video for West’s “See You in My Nightmares.” Intrigued, MTV News decided to follow up, reaching out to reps for both parties for comment on the collaboration.

“They’ve teamed up again, but this time, it’s for a short film,” Vincent Landay, Jonze’s producing partner, told MTV News. “It’s not necessarily [a video for ‘Nightmares’], but the song is featured in it. We’re still editing it right now, it’s probably going to run between 10–15 minutes. ... Essentially, we’ve been editing it whenever we had time — it’ll be a couple of weeks on and then a couple of weeks off. ... Nobody’s making any money on it, so it’s sort of like, ‘Hey, let’s get in there and edit on night and weekends.’ ”

Landay — who has produced the majority of Jonze’s ventures, including his upcoming “Where the Wild Things Are” movie — went on to add that the film was shot at the end of January over the course of two days in Los Angeles, and that there’s no set date for its release. And while he wasn’t about to reveal all the details about the project, Landay did say that it’s a decidedly Jonze-ian event.

“I’d rather not say what that plot is, but it’s based on an idea Spike had,” Landay explained. “It came to him, and he called Kanye and said, ‘I think you’d be great in this. We showed Kanye a very early rough cut, and he said, ‘It’s very Spike Jonze.’ ... I don’t know when or where it will debut. We did it for fun, so maybe it would be good if someone would give us an actual deadline for it.”

According to Spike Jonze’s team, the film was completed less than 24 hours before tonight’s screening.

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