Hail Mary (Father John Misty, Pure Comedy review)

Unforgettable. That’s what many of us wish to be. But if we’re all important, then none of us are.

And that’s quite the joke.

 

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
released April 7, 2017
********* 9/10

Joshua Michael “Josh” Tillman, sometimes known as J. Tillman, and especially in this case, as Father John Misty, is an American singer/songwriter and instrumentalist. He’s been making albums since 2003, with the first eight being under the moniker of J. Tillman. This is the third outing of Father John Misty, preceded by the album I Love You, Honeybear; an affecting and self-dissecting grand gesture that is both smart and heart.

So it makes sense that Pure Comedy would simply raise the up stakes and let us walk on through into themes like post-apocalyptic landscapes, religion, pop culture, and politics. And it does. Hard. Hardcore even.

And maybe it’s my undying love of 90s bands like Harvey Danger, The Presidents of the United States of America, Weezer, Tonic, Jimmy Eat World, Semisonic, Everclear and Third Eye Blind, but doesn’t this guy sound like he could fit right in with those blokes? Without sounding like he was doing the recording itself in the 90s of course. But maybe it’s the confessional nature that really draws me in and makes me want to sit down and pray with him.

With a runtime at about 80 minutes, it’s almost impossible to sit through this in one go (read:meditating for the win), and even more difficult to break it up into separate ideas, though I am going to give it a shot.

Tillman is not alone in his criticisms of world views, namely the problems with our planet and the people that inhabit it, but his dark humour calls back to comedians of the 1970s like Peter Sellers and Monty Python. He wants to be seen as a patron saint of satire, but he is willing to self-efface to earn that mantel. At it’s centre point is the dark and sometimes funny Leaving L.A. It isn’t the best song on the album, but it definitely serves the purpose. The comedy of errors that we call life.

I can personally appreciate the health mix of existential though dashed into this record, because Tillman is no stranger to exploring themes within Pure Comedy. Both an epitaph to the process of art and a lover letter to making music, there is way to much complexity going on here to digest in my ever-so-brief review of it. Take a look at the album artwork for instance, a shining example of the detail involved in a life lived full.  We will likely never experience all of the same things as another person, but that doesn’t mean Birdie can’t try to describe utopia for us.

A criticism without judgment, Pure Comedy is a sermon Father John Misty should be proud to share.

theories Summarized

In listening to this record, I cannot help but think of The Comedian from the graphic novel Watchmen. Toward the end of his days The Comedian unravelled a global plot to change the world. One which would involved the slaughter of millions so that billions could united together against a common, if not fake, threat. It’s all a joke he said, just before he was murdered.

The real joke is that Josh Tillman hasn’t even begun his decline yet – this might just be pure gold.

Tim!

Improvised Efforts (The Unsexy Truth About Fame)

I watched a really good movie last night, dear readers.

The movie was called Don’t Think Twice, and it featured a cast of prominent comedians in roles as members of an improv troupe.

I’d been meaning to watch it for some time now, but after HMV Canada announced their bankruptcy at the end of January 2017, I had to reassess my buying habits and do the best I could to prepare for a conversion to shopping through Amazon and other online stores instead. I actually don’t think it will be terrible for me in the long-run, in fact, it may have skyrocketed my ideal collection size preemptively – I’ve bought over 150 new movies in the past few weeks… and I don’t think I’m done just yet.

Point being, I held off on buying this movie because I knew I’d likely have an opportunity to get it at a discount down the line.

Now, as I’ve mentioned on a few other occasions, both of my brothers are involved in an improve troupe themselves (read: The 11 O’Clock Number), which is organized and run by our mutual friend Byron Martin. In fact, Byron was the featured interview for January on timotheories. Cool story right?

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We’re Not Gonna Take It

Ryan (the youngest of my two younger brothers) originally decided he wanted to watch Don’t Think Twice with me last night because he had high expectations for a solid comedy, and we had just knocked out a slog playing Dead of Winter. After all, the movie had a certified fresh logo from Rotten Tomatoes, and features the talents of Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, and Tami Sagher – but I knew better. I probably should have warned him what he was getting into, but I didn’t, because I thought he would be delightfully surprised at the results.

You see creative cuties, Don’t Think Twice is actually a dramedy about the impact the sudden solo success of Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) has on the improv troup he is a part of, The Commune. The majority of the film is about how his relationships change with each of his friends. It features honest portrayals of fame, anger, sadness, jealousy, betrayal, how romance changes, and everything in between.

The difference is that the comedy only happens on the stage and in the rehearsals, so we are never helped along to comfortably address the problems which show up. Much like real life, the success of Jack don’t come bundled with irreverent comedy, but heartaches and lots of negative feedback from the group. And eventually some compromise.

Funny People

It’s a very relatable story, and I think it serves a very opportunistic purpose. Yet another of my theories about the arts.

Now don’t get me wrong, my intent with this post was not to jump ahead on the Theatrical Tuesday review or even skirt around a topic, but I needed to give you a set up before I explained what the theory is about.

People are funny.

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Sometimes they’re funny in an entertaining way, and sometimes funny in a surprising and disturbing way. We often assume that when we engage in art, whether it’s film, theatre, music or visual art, that we are looking at something be transported away from the world in front of us, but a good artist knows that they are a lens, a focal point to share a message.

And sometimes that message is not one embedded in escapism.

My brother, bless his heart, is a very emotive person, so for him expecting a comedy and getting a drama, is surprising. He didn’t expect to experience a message which hit so closely to home with his own experience being involved in drama, but the theory rings true – we enjoy that which is alien to us, but whenever we engage with some that is familiar, there is an opportunity to be taken in and to experience real emotions.

Would that movie have had as strong of an impact on someone who doesn’t like theatre or support the arts? Not very likely, but because Ryan performs in his spare time, all of the awkward exchanges hit home for him directly, and made the film all the more real. Which is what is what a good film should do. Engage you and activate your mind.

theories Summarized

Do I regret that we didn’t watch something that made us laugh all the way through? No, not really. Do I regret the surprise I laid for my brother? No, not really. Because there is another lesson that the general public will learn watching that film, improv is life, we all improvise our way through it, these people just get on-stage and say yes… and. Yes… and. Yes… and.

Effectively sharing truths through comedy. But that’s just my theory.

Tim!

Let’s Get Credible (Georg Rockall-Schmidt preview interview)

We can’t all have good credit scores. Some of us because of circumstances, a lot of us because we made bad decisions about what to buy, but did you know that there are factors you wouldn’t have considered? Your payment history, credit file age, diversity of accounts, and how often searches are pulled, for instance. You do know that a credit score and credibility go hand in hand according to banks, credit card companies, collection agencies, and governments, don’t you dear readers? Credibility is the quality of being trusted and believed in. Or to put it another way, it’s a quality of being convincing or believable.

Perception is reality after all.

You see friends, when people think you’ll keep your word, they are more likely to trust you and let you make decisions. This is something that all good leaders have, salespeople and business operators included. Now this is where you come in – You make art. You love to make art, but you need to be credible in order to sell said art.

And as the old adage goes, it’s easier to ask forgiveness then permission. Especially from someone who is credible.

Once you realize that your public image is just as important as the one that you internally hold up for yourself, you can begin to consider all of the options, just a little more closely. Heck, it even applies to US politics but you’ll see what I mean when you turn on the clip

Oh wait, I forgot to mention, that this is preview of my first ever international interview with Georg Rockall-Schmidt. Georg is one of the most awesome people that I’ve never met in real life. Georg is a full-time creator of YouTube videos. You can find his channel here, but effectively he creates videos about pop culture, history, parody, his personal thoughts on life, and a whole lot more. An English dude with an anti-establishment educations, he believes that credibility defines ideation, and it’s important to him to have self-awareness but to simply leave all of the unnecessary elements out of the equation.

And that’s just a teaser. I have a full-fledged interview coming up in the next week or so featuring more of his incredible insights. This is Just A Thought on all that is Georg Rockall-Schmidt. Sorry for stealing your tagline Georg!

Can you believe it dear readers? I’m out of theories for the night. But just because I’m out of theories for now, doesn’t mean you can’t read more of my own thoughts! Browse the website, leave some comments, subscribe, and share with your creative friends. Otherwise, you should have a fantastic night, because I’ll be back tomorrow with a new Dragonette album review.

Tim!

Posh and All That (Cafe Society review)

Cafe Society was a New York city nightclub opened in the late 1930s in the midst of Greenwich Village. It featured mostly African American talent and was intentionally set up to challenge the ideals of the rich club goers of that era.

It was set up as a place for political events, fundraisers and considered to be a staple of liberal ideals. But what about the movie that took it’s name?

 

 

 

Cafe Society (2016)

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively
released on blu-ray October 18, 2016
******* 7/10

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IMDB: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%, Audience Score 62%
The Guardian: ***/*****

 

Ah Woody Allen. An American actor, comedian, film director, and sometimes theatre director. He’s eighty years old and has been making movies for fifty years. Just consider that for a second, fifty years worth of movies and forty-eight turns at directing. And I think I’ve seen somewhere between ten to fifteen of them all by myself.

Cafe Society is his most recent foray into the world of film and ironically or not, it’s a movie about the film industry.

Set in 1930’s Hollywood, we are quickly introduced to Phil Stern (Steve Carell) one of the most prominent agents in the business. At a party he takes a phone call from his sister Rose (Jeannie Berlin), who tells him that her son is moving to LA from New York and that he wants to find a job working with Phil.

Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) lives with his family in town, and is the youngest of his two siblings. His sister Evelyn (Sari Lennick) is a schoolteacher who is married to intellectual Leonard (Stephen Kunken), while brother Ben (Corey Stoll) is a renowned and murderous gangster. The family turns a huge blind eye to Ben’s criminal proclivities.

When Bobby initially arrives in town, he attempts to make an appointment on several occasions but is completely ignored by his uncle for several weeks before Phil finally decides to see him. When they do discuss the possibility of a job, it resolves with Phil deciding to get his nephew in with some pseudo-bullshit type arrangement. He then asks another secretary of his, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) to show Bobby around town.

Of course Bobby is instantly smitten with Vonnie, but when he asks her out, she tells him she is dating a journalist named Doug. We later learn that Doug is in fact a codename for Phil, and that Vonnie is having an affair with Phil behind his wife’s back. Phil claims to love Vonnie, but is unable to leave his wife, and breaks it off with her at the one year mark, just as Vonnie has given a letter from Rudolph Valentino to him. When Vonnie confides the breakup story to Bobby she leaves out no detail, with the exception of Phil’s false identity.

Bobby and Vonnie slowly begin a romance, and Bobby plans for them to leave to New York and get married.

At this point Phil decides to leave his wife and confides in Bobby that his mistress even gave him a letter from Rudolph Valentino. Once Bobby pieces it all together, he confronts Vonnie, and she decides to leave him and instead marry Phil.

Years later, Bobby is a successful nightclub owner, which is a front for his brother Ben’s criminal activities. Bobby meets and marries Veronica Hayes (Blake Lively). And things continue on positively, until one day Phil and Vonnie come to town.

But that’s all I’ll say about that.

Pros: Kristen Stewart delivers as Vonnie, the set pieces and cinematography are gorgeous, and though the story is somewhat stale and obvious, that’s not to say it isn’t entertaining.

Cons: At many points that film feels like an autobiography of Woody Allen as portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg. The self-indulgence is ever present and the drama can’t seem to find a way to properly raise the stakes

Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes

Points of Interest: This is the first digitally captured Woody Allen movie ever. And it’s the first time Woody Allen has narrated a movie since 1987’s Radio Days.

It all feels all too familiar, Allen draws on his hometown experiences, referencing the perspective of a New Yorker, covering off the challenges of being Jewish, reflecting on the plight of the neurotic, and even addressing the facade that is Hollywood film culture. Cafe Society appealed to the artist in me, and I’ve said it before, but I’m a sucker for Woody Allen’s introspective nature. Is it for everyone? No. But it is entertaining enough for most.

Cafe Society the movie never quite reaches the same aspirations as the club on which it was based – it asks questions, and considers it’s timeframe, but it is a story driven by emotions and nostalgia for an aesthetic. It never reaches a place of self-awareness, effacement or even acknowledgement. But dammit if it isn’t full of beautiful people and places. This really is an excellent role for Kristen Stewart, and if you like Woody Allen, even when he’s lazy, you’ll drink from this cup.

Tim!

Never Ever, Ever, Ever (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping review)

The first time I watched This Is Spinal Tap, was when I was in my late teens, it was also around that time that experienced Fubar as well. I can thank my friend Nick for those movies, because he loved to watch documentaries and mockumentaries when we were growing up.

And because I already had a love affair with satire in other shapes and forms, it makes sense that I’d give this weeks movie review a thumbs up.

 

 

 

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)

Cast: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Director(s): Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
released on blu-ray September 13, 2016
******* 7/10

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IMDB: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%, Audience Score 68%
The Guardian: ***/*****

Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg are all members of the popular comedy group The Lonely Island. Known for their involvement with SNL and Samberg in particular for his acting skills, this group generally delivers topical and entertaining satire.

Popstar never deviates from that pattern or presentation, which is a testament to these gents ability. After all, the mockumentary has been done a few times before, some would say done to death. Worse still, musical mockumentaries will always have to compare themselves to This Is Spinal Tap, the quintessential piece of that cinematic format.

Which means that I don’t really need to dig into the story this time around, because we should all know how it goes.

Connor4real (Andy Samberg) is a popstar who is about to release his followup album, but he makes some bad decisions, like investing with an appliance manufacturer that only shares his tracks whenever one of their machines is used. And of course his sophomore album bombs, forcing Connor4real to do everything he can to maintain his solo career, despite major attempts from his DJ Owen (Jorme Taccone), fans, and even talk show hosts to see a reunion tour of his former group Style Boyz. You see, Style Boyz were three friends that included Connor, Owen, and the now missing writer of the group Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer). The group originally broke up when Connor and Lawrence got into a fight over a music award that had been attributed to Connor only.

We watch Connor4real spiral out of control, fighting with everything he has, except for that desire to reunite with this childhood friend. Ultimately the movie leads us to it’s inevitable reconciliation, and all is right in the world.

But in all honesty, I fell asleep in the last 15 minutes… not once, but twice. So if that isn’t an indication of a weak ending, I don’t know what is. And when I actually did force myself through it, I was indifferent.

Pros: The jokes are consistent and the material is solid for the most part, but Samberg really does hold all the star power here, and it’s what makes even the weak moments digestable.

Cons: It isn’t a perfect story by any means, but it’s one you recognize, and I think the movie suffers for it. In quite a few places it feels like you’re watching a sketch instead of a feature length movie.

Runtime: 1 hour 27 minutes

Points of Interest: In the movie Seal tells the audience he was scarred by wolves, when in real life it’s from an autoimmune disease called lupus, wolves are classified as “canis lupis.” Justin Timberlake cameos as Connors personal chef.

Maybe it’s a parody of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, maybe it’s a parody of Macklemore, and maybe it’s a parody of the state of popular music in our times, but I don’t think it really matters. We laugh at the jokes because they’re funny and we understand the punchline. After all, I never like to admit that I was wrong.

 

 

 

 

The Lonely Island make comedy music for a viral age, and some might think that this entry in their record is passable for forgettable, I’m inclined to believe that, but who’s to say that this is what we need right now? Never say never, and never stop never stopping.

I’m theoried out for the evening friends. Hit me back tomorrow with something wise and uncharacteristic.

Tim!