Is Netflix Controlling Your Destiny? (Cross Talk Ep.1)

OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG!

It’s here, it’s finally here! I’ve been promising something new and different for weeks now, but it’s finally here! You asked for more theories, straight from Tim himself, and I am giving you exactly what you have asked for.

This new format is going to be something special for sure.

You know how you go to your computer and you turn it on, and then you realize that not only are there files in there, but there is also a network of people and information which is at your fingertips?*

*Provided you have a home which you own, are paying off, or which you rent from a land lord. Plus a valid internet connection which you need to acquire from an internet service provider. Oh and also electricity which comes from a utilities provider.

Well, just for you dear readers, I’ve decided to put together a new monthly video series called Cross Talk with my very good friend Chris Murphy.

It’s clever you see, because we sit across from each other and talk about interesting topics related to the arts.

But who the heck is this Chris guy, and how come he is special enough to get a monthly series with you Tim?

Well, I’ve known Chris for almost 8 years and in that time I have learned a few things about him. First, he is just as invested in film, literature, and community as I am, but he is also doing it with a little more gusto. And second, he has a little bit of wisdom on me, which is always needed for the timotheories brand.

So I recruited him into the timotheories fold.

Chris is charming, challenging, and captivating to witness in action, so you are assured of a treat when you carry on a conversation with him. YouTube will probably only emulate his gusto at 60% power, so be prepared for a whirlwind of discussion, all from the comfort of home – well A home. It’s not your home we filmed this episode in, but to you local fans out there, there is always the future.

But what the heck are you going to talk about on your channel with Chris a minimum of 1x a month timotheories?

Good question, you sharp young readers! It’s all about the balance of barroom philosophy and pop culture discussion on a couch. We’ll frame our discussions around the topic of film and do this while attempting to actively avoid the typical things that experts do when they talk about film. We aren’t here to review, and we don’t really want to list off our top 10’s, but we’ll be incredibly excited to go over the under appreciated films and shower thoughts you may have had, but didn’t mull over too much.

First up is the topic of – How movie reviews and popular opinion influence your viewing habits.

I’ve included a direct link to the video for you here, but in case you don’t want to navigate away from us, here it is below too!

But that’s all the theories I’ve got for today. Whew.

I’m excited to see what you have to say about the first entry, and I hope your Sunday evening is the best one yet! See you tomorrow evening my friends with another Melodic Monday post, this time from an up-and-comer who reached out to me directly. You won’t want to miss it!

Tim!

Ice, Ice, Baby (Ice Castles, Hawrelak Park)

It always feels so damn cold this time of year! I blame it on the lack of feasible options of things to do in winter.

Stupid Edmonton and the weather.

Whoa, wait up a second timotheories! You told us weeks ago that there is lots to do in Edmonton in the winter because we are a festival city. That our mindset is often our biggest problem and that it’s all about getting out there and trying new things especially things which don’t fit into our comfort zones.

Oh right, I forgot about that for a minute there. Must’ve had brain freeze or something.

Well I’m glad you are keeping me accountable dear readers. I don’t know who else would otherwise. And if that was the case, this blog would slip into anarchy. And we’d see burnt out cars or worse. Though the warmth might actually be worth it…

its-not-about-money-joker-box-office

No! I’m just kidding. Let’s refocus.

I definitely don’t want to read in the papers that several of you decided to take lighter fluid and set a bunch of property on fire to simultaneously keep you warm and entertain yourselves.That would be terrible.

Instead, I want you to get outside and explore our river valley and our parks this winter season. With just 10 weeks or less of winter to get through, we aren’t going to be able to enjoy this opportunity for much longer. Especially because February is the month of “love” or “love hatred”, mardi gras, and groundhogs. Then we move into March which ushers in green beer, Easter, spring, and madness.

So January really is the best time to try something new and exciting.

Okay we’re convinced timotheories, what should we do this January that is so timely and appropriate for you to bring up today?

Have you heard of the company Ice Castles before? Well, Ice Castles is a Utah based “entertainment” company that has a very niche purpose. That’s right, you guessed it, they build large scale ice castle sculptures by hand and give you the opportunity to walk, squeeze, slide, and crawl through them.

I haven’t actually been yet myself, but this is the very first time they’ve come to Edmonton. The company has been constructing these ice castles since 2009 in many of the colder states of the United States. And even better, we are the first Canadian city to get the opportunity to experience this amazing structure. Apparently it had been drawing crowds since before it even opened at the end of December.

If you want to visit the Ice Castles you’ll have to buy your tickets before the end of March (weather permitting), and they definitely do sell out each day, sometimes a week or two in advance. I’ve personally got tickets for this Friday night and I can’t wait to take my girlfriend to go see it. If you’re interested in checking it out, the Ice Castles are open at Hawrelak Park between 3-9PM Monday-Thursday (except Tuesdays), 3-10PM Fridays, noon-10PM Saturdays, and noon-8PM Sundays.

 

I was fortunate to find out about this from friends and my good friend Douglas from How-To-Douglas finally reminded me enough times that I made the commitment to check this thing out.

Earlier in the year, just before New Years Eve, I made a promise to my girlfriend that I would take her out every Friday night for food and some sort of activity, and the one caveat is that we do something NEW once a month.

Well, Ice Castles is that thing for the month of January. And I’ll do what I can to let you guys know if it was worth it when Friday is all said and done.

And that’s all the theories I’ve got for Timely Thursday my friends. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll check you back on Sunday evening something rather stimulating.

Tim!

 

I Started Singing (Grooveshark VS Rdio VS Deezer)

How’s your Wednesday been so far dear readers?

Really excellent I hope!

And not bogus either!

200_s

It seems that music is on my mind as of late. So many events happening in the music industry and a cacophony of thoughts in my mind just keep this train of sound moving ever forward. Which is why I’ve decided to roll with it and keep the theme going.

For instance, after hearing about David Bowie’s death, I knew it was important to write a review on Blackstar. I was glad I did because a lot of my decisions for the blog last week and now this week have been inspired by him.

I bought tickets to see The Offspring in March for starters! Then I wrote a post about my grandfather the fighter, an incredible stroke survivor, who is getting on in years – which reminded me of my love of Cracked and it’s media.

Then I wrote a post about keeping it real. Again because of that inspiration. I got a lot of positive feedback on that post too, so I now know that you all appreciate a good kick in the ass every now and again.

Conveniently the movie review for this week was about someone who decided to defy death by wirewalking almost 1400 feet above the ground. Or to put it another way, someone who seemed to have a death wish.

So what the heck am I gonna write about today that will keep this trend going?

Remember a while back when I wrote about the value of ambient noise and music? Especially to inspire and focus your creativity? The link is right here in case you forgot, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

Well I wanted to make an admission to you.

I am guilty of loving music so much that I would use streaming services daily to get my fix of old, new, and playlists.

Ever heard of Grooveshark?

Grooveshark WAS an online streaming service owned and operated by a small startup. It started in 2006 and experienced it’s share of issues related to copyright enfringement and DRM because of it’s function.

In case you’ve been out of the loop, the music industry has always had concerns about people “pirating” music. From the advent of the cassette, to the introduction of the compact disc, to the development of file-sharing, and eventually the use of file streaming. Music sharing has been the bane of the music industry for decades.

I can sympathize the position of the labels and businesses who sell the music. They are concerned that they will go bankrupt from sale loss.

But the problem with that attitude is the assumption that because people make playlists, mixtapes, and like, that they will never buy music again.

If that were really true, platforms like iTunes, and services like Spotify and Google Play Music wouldn’t exist. And record stores would go the way of the dinosaur. Truthfully, people enjoy collecting just as much as they do sharing.

The point I’m getting at dear readers is that Grooveshark was one of the oldest music streaming services around that still existed as both a free service and a premium subscriber service which allowed users to upload digital audio, create playlists, search the service, listen to radio stations, and had a music recommendation system.

In brief – it was awesome!

It hit all of my bases because it allowed me to make playlists, save albums, highlight my “favourite” songs, and find new music in a few different ways.

But then the service was sued by EMI, Sony, and Warner after winning a battle with Universal. At the end of April 2015, Grooveshark was shutdown as per of their settlement with those major labels. Or to put it another way, it was the day the music died.

So I had to find an alternate service.

I tried Spotify, Google Play Music, Deezer, and Rdio; finally settling on Rdio after months of disappointment.

I did this because it was the closest thing to fit the build that Grooveshark had developed so well. I was doing really well with it too, I could find most of music I wanted to listen to with some rare exceptions. And they wouldn’t let me access everything, because some of it was “premium” content. I had also accepted that the playlist function wouldn’t be part of my life anymore, but the ad system was killing me, so I begrudgingly decided to upgrade to their premium service this fall.

This was literally at the same time that Rdio announced it was closing down and had been acquired by Pandora. WTF.

So I cried a little, but only a little, because I hadn’t been friends with Rdio as long as Grooveshark. And I got back out into the world a second time, hoping this time it would last. And because I felt wiser.

I am currently still in recovery, but I’ve found comfort in a relationship with Deezer, and don’t tell Deezer this, because I think it’s a little early but I’m even warming up to the idea of a commitment.

beyonce-hand

But what about you dear readers – Do you stream music? Do you pay for songs? I want to know about your dating, I mean, listening preferences. I’ll be impressed if you are keeping it analog and going out into the world to pick up your conquests.

Keep this wisdom on ice and I’ll share something cool with you tomorrow. (I may be making a clever joke about the future)

Tim!

Walk It Off (The Walk Review)

Passion Pit is one of those bands that a lot of people really like, and which I can see the value of, but just aren’t for me. I’ll try to out my finger on it dear readers, just for you.

Take for instance, the song Take A Walk. In the music video, the director wants us to feel the experience of a ball on it’s path through the city, country, and various places. They accomplish this to some effect, which is really cool. But the problem is that this couldn’t actually happen, so the band has managed to lie to us.

And it bothers me!

But what if a director could evoke that same feeling of travel synthetically and get a positive response? I might just be into it then.

 

 

 

The Walk (2015)
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon,  Clément Sibony, César Domboy
Director: Robert Zemeckis
released on blu-ray January 5, 2016
******** 8/10

the-walk-poster

IMDB: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, Audience Score 81%
The Guardian: *****/*****

Robert Lee Zemeckis is an American film maker and screenwriter. And he is something of an icon in the American cinema, having directed several blockbusters over the past few decades (Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Flight).

The Walk is his first move since the success of Flight in 2012, but does it get the same Zemeckis effects treatment, that is either lauded or loathed?

Let’s read about the story first.

 

Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is standing on the highest platform of the Statue of Liberty where he explains his fearless, love of wire walking, and what inspired him to hang wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and walk it.

We go back to Paris, France 1973 and see into his life. He is a street performer who performs illegally and always on the run. One day after biting a jawbreaker candy, Philippe visits the dentist. It is there that he reads a magazine article about the the unfinished Twin Towers. He is inspired to walk across them.

After a flashblack, we learn more about Philippe, his first experience with high-wire walkers at the circurs, his parents disapproval when he practiced everyday, and his eventual break-in to circus owner Rudy “Papa Rudy” Omankowsky’s show (Ben Kingsley). Philippe charms Rudy into teaching him the trade and he finally leaves home.

On a trip through town Philippe sees a young lady named Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), performing her music to a crowd. He sets up shop and steals her audience. Later she comes to rebuke him, but he apologizes while simultaneously defending himself. It begins to rain, and Annie leaves, but Philippe finds an umbrella and wins her affection. He has his first accomplice.

Annie convinces Philippe and her professors to let him practice at her school. This is where he becomes friends with his second accomplice Jean-Louis (Clement Sibony), a photographer. Philippe lands his first performance via Papa Rudy, held over a lake, while a fishing contest takes place. But the fishermen boo him, and he loses concentration, then falls in. After his embarassment, Philippe vows to walk Notre Dame to redeem himself. He prepares at night and performs as tourists arrive in the morning. He succeeds but is arrested.

Jean-Louis introduces to Philippe accomplice #3, Jean-Francois, aka: Jeff (Cesar Domboy), who is afraid of heights and can’t speak English. The team travels to New York City for the first time to inspect the towers. Initially Philippe panics at the scale of the buildings, but once he sneaks in and climbs to the observation deck, his passion returns.

Upon return home, Philippe organizes the “coup” for August 6th 1974, which is just ahead of winter and the tower completion.

Rudy wants Philippe to use a saftey harness, but Philippe refuses and explains it would defeat the purpose of the walk. Rudy changes his mind and he gives Philippe all of his lesson payment money back to allow him to complete the coup.

The team returns to New York, and go under cover to learn all of the technical information about the building. During this process Philippe accidentally steps on a nail which goes through his foot. This does not deter him though, and he continues on, without seeking medical treatment.

Let’s put on the plot brakes now. Otherwise the whole story is ruined, and you need to witness The Walk to experience the full effect of climax.

 

Pros: The suspense of whether this movie will culminate in what we were all hoping for. When we watch the walk and actually get the sense of dread and freedom expected it. The lead characters all manage to suspend our disbelief that they are in fact not French.

Cons: The New York characters feel a little stale, and as a consequence some of those scenes seem to drag on. Some of the dialogue feels a bit forced and the narration by Philippe is unnecessary in places.

Runtime: 123 minutes

Points of Interest: There have been reports by some film reviewers that the screening of this film in theaters actually caused people to throw up from vertigo. Robert Zemeckis said that while he didn’t believe it, the goal of the film was to evoke that feeling all the same.

 

 

 

As I mentioned earlier, Zemeckis has something of a track record for focusing on special effects, technological tricks, and visually impressing. Whether this has resulted in some bad movies on his part is somewhat subjective.

And the real reason why I take issue with Passion Pit is because I was supposed to see them live one year as part of the Sonic Boom festival in Edmonton and they decided to play a DJ set instead of performing their music! So sometimes seeing isn’t REALLY believing.

Either way I’d take The Walk!

Tim!

Let’s Make a Jazz Record (David Bowie, Blackstar review)

I wish I knew more about jazz, other than that I like it of course. It’s one of those musical formats that permeates music culture but which is so open ended that I find it overwhelming to participate in discussion about it – Most of the time.

Today’s album review is one of those times when I feel comfortable talking about the subject matter. I think mostly because the artist handles the infusion of it rather well and because he has a solid track record of dealing with musical avenues that call for experimentation.

 

 

 

David Bowie – Blackstar
released January 8, 2015
********** 10/10

david-bowie-blackstar-2016-billboard-1000

If you don’t know who David Bowie is, I’m afraid to tell you you’ve missed out, and never again will you see his like. David Robert Jones, also known as David Bowie, was an English musician who played a variety of instruments, sang, wrote songs, produced records, painted, and acted in big screen releases occasionally.

My first experience with him that I can remember was the movie Labyrinth, though that was not how he got his start. With a musical career spanning back to the early 1960’s, Bowie had a top 5 hit in the UK by 1969 with Space Oddity.

If you haven’t seen the original music video you should go take a look at it right now.

Then he developed the Ziggy Stardust persona, and showed the world that he would be constantly innovating and reinventing himself for the rest of his career. Like that time he made a song with Queen called Under Pressure, and it was awesome!

Honestly, I could go on about his accomplishments and my thoughts on his legacy for another few posts, but that is not what today’s review is about, dear readers. No.

Today we are looking at Blackstar, Bowie’s curtain call and last hurrah. And before I get too sentimental and forget why we are here again, I’ll admit that this is difficult to listen to without thinking about the fact that David Bowie won’t be making any more art of the world for the world.

So with as much objectivity as I could muster I’ll say this about the album, yes it is filled with references to death, but I don’t think that it’s as obvious as all of that. This record is profound because of the talent backing the tracks and the effort put forth to create something with a unique vision.

It was his 25th studio album, and that has to mean something after all, right?

Well, I think we are seeing David Bowie at his best. The title track Blackstar is incredible, experimental, and covers some dark ground. There are jazz elements throughout the whole record, and the electronic progressions certainly aid the sombre mood of songs like Lazarus. The saxophone was Bowie’s first instrument and it makes sense to me that he use something which is associated with freedom and exploration to give us some more innovations and remind us of what he has done in the past, simultaneously.

One review I read made a very valid point that while this music will make some of us incredibly happy, others will find it frustrating and difficult to stomach. But I would argue that the inaccessibility is an indicator of just how well done this album is. Bowie’s music is strongest when there is mystery attached to it. No different than the man who made us wonder about his sexuality, spirituality, political motivations, and project choices.

For example, he played Thomas Jerome Newton (The Man Who Fell to Earth), Jareth the Goblin King (Labyrinth), Andy Warhol (Basquiat), himself (Zoolander), and Nikola Tesla (Prestige), among a weird slew of other roles.

If you think it’s all jazz, brooding, and electronic injections, think again. Girl Loves Me is a strange rap about a day that has disappeared. It is both aggressive and apathetic in each lyric.

Truthfully, if you are hoping for a clear narrative theme or explanation of what you’ve just listened to, you’re not going to find it here or anywhere else. That was not David Bowie’s intent, and he has never been one for revealing his secrets. Otherwise he wouldn’t be having fun, and we wouldn’t have gotten anything out of him while he was with us.

I’ll leave his final music videos, Blackstar and Lazarus for you, because there isn’t much that can say it better.

 

 

 

That level of experimentation in art is incredibly undervalued in my experience, but I think we can argue fairly easily that David Bowie handled jazz music with the respect and understanding it deserves – improvisation, syncopation and polyrhythms. Bowie took this love of innovation into other arenas and managed to be a pop artist that was whatever he needed to be.

That quality is rarely recognized and I hope as time goes one we will celebrate him properly and encourage others to take up his mantle.

See you tomorrow for a Theatrical Tuesday review my friends.

Tim!