Selling Your Heart Out (Dave Von Bieker, preview interview pt 2)

Do we all get to be who we decide to portray ourselves as on screen or in the media? I’d like to believe that it’s possible. But more importantly, I wonder if we can ever live up to the moral ideals we establish about our creative touch.

Making art is extremely difficult to sustain and it takes a lot of personal sacrifice if you really do hope to make it for a life time. Whether your medium is music, painting, design, fashion, photography, video, dance or any other combination of forms, it’s challenging road, filled with dues paid and money earned.

And a more common theme on everyone’s lips is the notion of burning out or fading away with time. The age old struggle of the creative professional – to be completely bohemian or a corporate sell-out. These polarizing terms exist for reason though, and I happen to believe that both are valid ways of looking at this as a career. This is where the theory comes in; if you want to truly be happy, you need to embrace both in some regard. That’s why it’s important to wrestle with the dichotomy of self versus the selfless.

Yes, you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, but relating to what those who have come before and have found success is an invaluable exercise. You might learn something by breaking apart a Kanye West song, recreating a Rembrant, or spending some time with 1927 movie classic Metropolis.

It’s a continual sacrifice. I give a lot for my art and to make it, so it seems crazy to me that I wouldn’t it to be heard by as many people as possible

Dave Von Bieker

I had so much fun talking with local music genius Von Bieker, that I decided to give another preview interview. I know, I know, I promised a full length interview, but this way you get even more content, and I can further craft his story in a meaningful way for you. Time for some more bow-tie rock to haunt your heart.

Enjoy creative cuties!

theories Summarized

Everything I do artistically is an expression of my ideals. Is this a true statement?

It’s an excellent question to ask yourself dear readers, and if you did, please like and share the video, leave me some comments and I’ll share them on social media. Maybe some new theories will unfold in the process.

Coming up next, a review on the new Young Fathers record, so please check back in tomorrow evening for more theories! You won’t be disappointed.

Tim!

Murder and Father (Mom and Dad review)

I promised myself I would stop watching bad Nicolas Cage movies. I’ve had my heart broken too many times now, and at this point it’s masochistic to continue.

But then I found out he made a bad movie on purpose, and my interest was piqued.

 

Mom and Dad (2017)

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur
Director: Brian Taylor
released on blu-ray Feb 20, 2018
******* 7/10

IMDB: 5.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%, Audience Score 40%
The Guardian: ***

Brian Taylor is an American director, writer, cinematographer, and producer. He is best known for collaborating with Mark Neveldine on the Crank films, Pathology, Gamer, Jonah Hex and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. This is his first film without the support of Neveldine, but it is still well within his wheelhouse of gritty action and dark comedy – Thankfully for me, Mom and Dad is his best film to date, and I hope he continues to explore homage films for the exploitation genre.

Special thanks to Nick Riganas for the IMDB summary of the film –

There’s definitely something terrible going on in the peaceful suburban community, as, one after the other, otherwise loving and caring parents mysteriously turn into ravenous carriers of an unfathomable pandemic that targets their offspring. Suddenly, every son and daughter–not only in the neighbourhood but also in the entire region–have to run for their lives, as the rage-filled murderous intent is simply as unstoppable as it is inexplicable. Of course, Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall’s (Selma Blair) teenage children (Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur) are no exception, and before long, the simmering but usual familial tensions will take a completely different meaning. Kids, stop hiding. Mum and Dad love you so much.

I was half-expecting this film to end on an upbeat note while I was watching it; there were so many clues that indicated both Brent and Kendall were capable of overcoming the instinct that the so-called global savaging would produce. We didn’t know if parents were killing their offspring because of flora and fauna, biological weapons or alien rays. And yet, this movie is far more in-line with grindhouse horror then it is a dark comedy.

The message is the violence itself and the catharsis associated with release from obligation. Being a parent is a great responsibility for sure, but the challenges come in the day-to-day. We all age and lose our youth, so jealousy of the kids looks, opportunities and freedom can become a real grind. Brent fantasizes about his misspent teenage years, and Kendall wants to have a better relationship with her daughter, as it was before the onset of puberty. But that does matter, because in the end their desire to murder outweighs society expectations and social practices. And it’s an awesome thing to behold.

It’s the perfect setting for Nicolas Cage to go over-the-top.

Pros: It packages anarchy and the mundane together in completely believable way. It works perfectly when you can accept the premise without much thought for what sparked the epidemic. Nicolas Cage works perfectly as a disillusioned dad gone crazy.

Cons: While it does an amazing job of executing the concept over-all, it’s in the details that the film loses focus and comes off under-cooked. The pool table flashback and the inevitable visit from the grandparents come to mind in particular.

Runtime: 2 hours 10 minutes

Points of Interest: Nicolas Cage has said this is his favourite film he’s worked on in the past ten years. The film also features cameos from Grant Morrison and Bokeem Woodbine; Morrison is the writer of Happy! which was adapted by Taylor for television.

The film has generally favourable reviews amongst critics, but is far less popular amongst general audiences, my theory for this is that this is not popcorn fare. You have to be in the right mood for something dark, and watch it with people who are open this kind of humour and level of violence. Under the right setting, I could easily put this into a horror marathon, Nicolas Cage marathon or on a gloomy day.

theories Summarized

Film like this don’t get made with A-list actors very often. And this is because most people don’t want to see a movie that challenges convention… unless they are prepared for it going into the film. I can tell that Nicolas Cage had fun making this movie, and for that reason alone, it is worth a watch. When Cage is cast correctly, he is very entertaining. Go watch Mom and Dad, and maybe you’ll learn to appreciate your parents and/or children a little more.

Speaking of B movie genius, have you ever seen Starship Troopers? It’s a cool little movie about what the world would look like if fascism ran rampant, and it is also set in a universe where we’re locked into interstellar combat with giant space bugs.

Lastly, please let me know what you thought of both of these reviews on love, like and share the video, and subscribe to the channel (and email) if you haven’t already. Next week I’ll have a review on folk album and a horror-comedy film, and an interview preview with a pretty cool musician.

Tim!

Compatriot Music (Mary Gauthier, Rifles & Rosary Beads review)

An album that addresses the lives of active military members, veterans and their spouses? Sign me up. But don’t be surprised if I’m choking back the tears…

 

Mary Gauthier – Rifles & Rosary Beads

released January 26, 2018
********* 9/10

Mary Veronica Gauthier, better known by her stage name Mary Gauthier, is an American folk and country singer-songwriter.

She was adopted from the very young age of one, but struggled with the idea of being adopted as she grew up. She ran way from home at fifteen, lived on friends couches and in halfway houses, and used drugs for many years. She almost completed a philosophy degree at Louisiana State University, but dropped out her senior year. She then opened and ran a Cajun restaurant for eleven years, which coincided with the birth of her interest in music and success at sobriety after an arrest for drunk driving on her restaurant opening night in 1990.

Fast forward 28 years, 11 albums (8 studio albums) later and a lifetime of experience singing a combination of folk, Americana and country music and we land at Rifles & Rosary Beads. This is a collaborative album which was cowritten by Gauthier and members of the nonprofit, Songwriting with Soldiers, an organization that pairs veterans and active duty service members with professional musicians to tell their stories.

Sometimes healing and sweet, other times sour and full of pain, this album is super powerful and deserves top marks for telling meaningful stories in a poetic way. I’ll admit I had not heard much of Gauthier’s catalogue prior to sitting down with this concept album, but gosh this just incredible to listen to, and I’m a sucker for this kind of music to begin with. Add in a favorable mix of genres, and you have timotheories gold.

Starting off rather sober with the opening track, Soldiering On, this lyric I lifted from the song describes the tone well – what saves you in the battle, can kill you at home. Or better yet, how about this one from The War After the Warwho’s gonna care for the ones who care for the ones who went to war.  Gauthier is already a strong writer, but these are real stories we are hearing, featuring the voices of both the military types and their spouses, and all get credit in the liner notes.

Brothers describes a viewpoint of military women looking for equality, whereas Bullet Holes in Sky offers mixed emotions about Veterans Day from a navy veteran. And we get the obvious question of circumstantial death in Still On The Ride because the loss of a friend in war is unshakeable and reverberates for a lifetime.

This is not easy listening, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful to behold and when layered with a great number of profound and heartfelt stories, Gauthier provides a chilling account of military service and how it impacts everyone in those peoples lives.

This is an important album and filled with love.

The two tracks which exemplify this notion of love best are It’s Her Love and closing track Stronger Together. Both are titled appropriately, with the first demonstrating the healing power of a support system, and the second about the significance of unity, leaving us with the notion that while military life can and sometimes does break us down, it’s through compassion and love that rebuilding happens.

Pros: The authenticity behind the lyrics, and the compassion in the delivery are what drive this album forward and take it from a 7 to a 9.

Cons: The fact that an album like this exists is an amazing thing, but where are the songs specifically calling out against sending people off to war with so much regularity?

Runtime: 44 minutes

Points of InterestMary Gauthier is also an accomplished author, having had short stories published in the book Amplified, and a couple of magazines. Her songs are taught in universities and she is currently writing a book titled The Art of Songwriting.

I’ve said this before, but I cannot stress enough the importance of listening to albums in full, and an album like Rifles & Rosary Beads demands attention, because these stories are what not only snapshots into individual lives, but excellent case studies for understanding the world around us better.

theories Summarized

Prioritizing the needs of those without a voice is such a folk music thing to do, as folk music typically stems from an oral tradition, without a producers voice or even better in a public domain. Now, this music wasn’t constructed in the back woods, but it absolutely is not commercial in nature or classic, and it’s brilliant.

And on the subject of brilliance, Brendon and I have a review of the eponymous debut of alt rock group Weezer from 1994. This is a classic album, and one that also deserves some time and attention if you haven’t listened to it recently, or ever.

And if you like either of these album reviews or both of them, please like and share the video, and of course, please subscribe to the blog and channel for more awesome theories on the arts.

Tim!

The Role of Art In A Spiritual Life (Dave Von Bieker, interview preview)

This happens so often to us as creative professionals – we attempt to tackle issues far greater then ourselves in the hope that we contribute something meaningful in the world around us. Which is why I personally believe that whether you hold a secular world-view, are a monotheist, or believe in many different gods, holding onto that time for reflection, contemplation, studying, devotion and ritual can inform your artistic practice and vice versa.

Now, I realize that the word spirituality actually means a great many different things to different people. So consider this for a moment.

I often like to think of spirituality as the process of getting to know yourself so that you can begin to know what is greater then yourself through commitment to an ideal. And so, that act of creation is very much tied into reflection. As we spend time with our work, contemplating the purpose of it, studying ways to make it better, devoting copious amounts of time to the act of making, and creating routines or rituals to enable good habits in ourselves.

Dave Von Bieker also believe this. He specifically told me that being an artist is about paying attention, and as a consequence we can’t but help acknowledge the sublime, being in a state of wonder. Having spent so much time in churches, art galleries, concerts, and reflections, he sees similarities in practising art versus practising spirituality. Further to that point, he recognizes that for him, God is far greater then a specific set of views and elements of life.

And I find that fascinating.

Which is why I think you’ll get some value out of spending some time with this preview of our interview on spiritual alignment. Dave Von Bieker is a musician, singer, songwriter, and arts chaplain who runs an art gallery in central Edmonton (Bleeding Heart Space). His stage name is Von Bieker, and his music defies genre, so he prefers to call it bow-tie rock to haunt your heart, for thematic purposes.

theories Summarized

But what did you think? Can art, science and spirituality work together in tandem in our lives? What artistic practices can you think of that would satisfy two or even all three of those models of thinking?

I hope you got something out of this initial discussion on the role of art in a spiritual life, and if you did, please like and share the video, and leave me some comments on future topics you’d like to see. I’ll drum up some theories we can rock out to!

With that all said, I thought it would be appropriate to follow up this post with an album review by Mary Gauthier, Rifles & Rosary Beads, so please check back in tomorrow evening for more theories! You won’t be disappointed.

Tim!

Throwing Glass In Brick Houses (Phantom Thread review)

Romantic love can last but a moment, but companion love often lasts for a lifetime. And this is important because it’s a much more real feeling then something so fleeting as lust – the desire to be needed, to be important to someone, to be truly understood, it’s just so much more powerful.

Thankfully, dear readers, this film does expresses just that.

 

Phantom Thread (2017)

Cast: Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
released on blu-ray April 10, 2018
********* 9/10

IMDB: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Audience Score 70%
The Guardian: *****

Paul Thomas Anderson is an American filmmaker. He has been nominated for over eight Academy Awards, and his films have generated over 25 nominations for cast and crew. His list of films is fairly short, having made 9 films over a 20+ year career – Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice, Phantom Thread, and 2018’s Waterlily Jaguar.

Now, I would be willing to argue that There Will Be Blood is one of the best, if not THE best film of the 2000s, so when I learned that Mr. Anderson directed it, I took notice and seriously looked at his portfolio. This is important because Phantom Thread is the second film that Daniel Day-Lewis has starred in with this director, and it’s also the last one before he retires.

Special thanks to Focus Features for the IMDB summary of the film –

Set in the glamour of 1950s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants, and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love

Now, I’m going to posit another theory, and you can choose to agree with it or not.

Romance is about a fantasy, whereas companionship is about taking a very real journey together. I originally watched this movie because it was nominated for a Best Picture award, and it registered with me, but didn’t affect me at the time. Then I decided to watch this film for a second time because I was reminded of something a friend of mine had said. He told me that this film was especially compelling because the two leads challenged each other. While I agree that Reynolds and Alma challenge each other, and I’m about to spoil an important part of the movie, so be forewarned, I think that poisoning someone to shift the balance of power in the relationship is pretty dramatic. So it still works as a movie, because movies typically take the highs and lows of life and leave out the majority of in-between moments.

But it’s in the in-between moments that human connection exists, and that’s why the story of the house of Woodcock, and the waitress that threw a brick into the front window, is the real focal point of a real love story. Not Daniel Day-Lewis, and we are all the better for it.

Pros: Vicky Krieps steals the show, and while Daniel Day-Lewis is enigmatic and bold, as he is in all of his roles, Alma is far more powerful in her strong-willed directness. The attention to detail in the sets, costumes, and interactions amongst the cast will hold you in, make you gasp for air for a moment, and finally accept the beauteous new outlook on life.

Cons: It is a very insular world, and because it doesn’t invite the casual viewer in, you might miss the fact that this is a far better telling of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Runtime: 2 hours 10 minutes

Points of Interest: The name Alma means “soul” in Spanish and Portuguese. Daniel Day-Lewis has not seen the finished film, and found the role incredibly emotionally demanding.

It might seem obvious now, but the title Phantom Thread eludes to several things. The role of dressmaking in Reynolds identity, the familial ties between Reynolds, his sister, their mother and their business, Reynolds relationship with his mother, and more importantly, the unseen connection between Alma and Reynolds. And this last thread is what drives the story. It might not seem obvious that there is an unbreakable bond between the two lovers, but try as fate might, their love cannot be broken, only strengthened.

That’s what real love does over time, it continues to define the identities of its partners.

theories Summarized

I love this movie. It grabbed hold of my attention, because it demanded a second viewing. I can see myself watching it multiple times over the years. Paul Thomas Anderson has done something wonderful in creating a period film that is timeless, but is very rich in it’s depictions. It’s a little sad that the only award it won was for Best Costume Design, but ironically enough, that might be the highest compliment it could receive given how intimate a role clothes play in our lives.

The exterior beauty of the dress could only exist with the loving labour of dressmaking.

And so that leads us into the Watch Culture video review I have lined up on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut – Don Jon. It’s a story about sex addiction, and how one man’s addiction to pornography has defined how he views most of his intimate relationships. It’s totally worth a watch, and like Phantom Thread, it has some great insights romantic love VS companion love.

Lastly, please let me know what you thought of both of these reviews on love, like and share the video, and subscribe to the channel (and email) if you haven’t already. Next week I’ll have a review on folk album and a horror-comedy film, and an interview preview with a pretty cool musician.

Tim!