Netflix and Take A Pill (timotheories presents: Watch Culture)

Internet culture is cool right? Reshoots and disputes and set leaks galore.

Oh wait, nope, that’s not cool at all.

It’s all just a hype machine and it sucks. Because legitimacy of so many of the films coming out right now aside (read: Justice League, Baywatch, Pirates of the Caribbean), we don’t need to spend hours upon hours of our time reading click-bait themed single paragraph articles from buzz sites, tweeting from similar newsfeeds that should be reporting on politics, and binging on YouTube video theories and opinions. I mention this because we’re talking about things which haven’t even come out yet.

It’s weird though, because culture has shifted.

You probably didn’t notice it, did you?

Yeah, funnily enough, the notion of hyping movies has been around for a while. You see dear readers, there used to be a time when we would get on a hype machine ahead of a release date, but we didn’t have a place to vomit all of our millions of ideas about it. And people didn’t capitalize on all of the theory, using their particular geek skills to funnel people Then the internet came along. And we lived a happy place between hype and geek culture for a few years.

So what happened and where’s the shift?

Culture Conundrum

Well, I think at some point publishers of ideas, and cultural icons realized that the volume of new content being created reached far beyond their own individual capacities to give opinions on it, so they instead choose to focus only on the new and glamorous, adding in their two cents as it were. Luckily for the vast majority of us, technology has shifted too and our attention spans for the new and novel are increasing, so we don’t have time to look at everything. We instead spend five minutes on one thing we care about, to then move onto another five minutes segment about the thing we care about.

Content creators benefit from this in a big way, and everyone is happy. Because we can all share in that hype machine, never really contributing anything in the way of constructive feedback and driving our subscribers to purpose.

Which is why I decided to introduce a new series of video posts called WatchCulture into the mix. In this series, I will be sharing brief recommendations on movies which have been around for more than a year, and which I think you should watch for your own cultural edification. These are going to be short videos on film, music, art, etc., which fit into the cultural norm, but the difference is that instead of saying netflix and chill, I’m going to ask you to take the red pill.

theories Summarized

You can thank André Lindo, the producer of my Cross Talk series, for this idea, and a greater insight into my own thoughts and feelings on what culture we should be consuming at any given time. Expect to see Watch Culture episodes cropping up every week, very soon.

But for now, I’ve no more theories to share. Only well wishes and a hope for a new tomorrow.

Tim!

 

 

Eh, It’s Alright (Moana review)

But what do you do if a movie is critically acclaimed, everyone loves it, and all you feel is an underwhelming meh when you think about it?

That’s the question on my mind today dear readers, and we’re about to find out why.

 

 

 

Moana (2016)

Cast: Auli’li Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyck
Director(s): Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams
released on blu-ray March 7, 2017
****** 6/10

IMDB: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Audience Score 90%
The Guardian: ****/*****

 

Ron Clements and John Musker have directed a number of Disney Classics, from The Great Mouse Detective, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin, to less popular choices Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog. Don’t get me wrong dear readers, those last three movies are all still good movies, just not as compelling as the first three.

Ron Clements and John Musker also directed Moana. Which has been critically acclaimed and much beloved by the general public. But I am just not that impressed by it.

Co-directors Don Hall and Chris Williams have a much smaller portfolio, having both worked on Big Hero 6, with Williams co-directing Bolt, and Hall co-directing Winnie the Pooh.

Disney has a history of bringing on several directors for the their films, given the huge teams of people needed to animate their films. Ultimately most of the weight falls on Clements and Musker, and they seemed like the logical choice. But I personally feel like they’ve lost their touch and haven’t really got it back. Heck, they may never get it back.

In the past I would have said that this was largely due to how dull the jokes felt and how ridiculous the characterizations were, but the reality is that those classic Disney films suffer from those problems too. No, the problem with this film is that it plays too safely to a well worn narrative, this time self-congratulating its team members for heavily researching their characters people they portray, in the hopes that they can serve up a fresh batch of disney princess without doing anything innovative.

It bothers me to no end that this feels like yet another rip on Hawaiian culture, while profiting from the people it represents. Yes it’s beautifully depicted and the songs are lovely, but who cares about these generic characters?

Anyone remember Lilo and Stitch? That was an entertaining movie and it was, as they say, authentic. Am I the only one that finds it ironic in one movie breath we hear Lilo say “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind,” and then in another movie breath we get to witness Moana completely go against tradition like oh so many heroes and heroines before her?

And let’s not forget the literally showstopper of a crab voiced by Jemaine Clement and called Tamatoa. He halts the story but good during his time on screen. Which is frustrating because he could have been a really fun supporting character.

Last, but certainly not least when we finally do meet Maui, he’s certainly not a caricature, but he’s definitely not likable either. He’s a bit of jerk with a thin character arc.

I wish the hear of this movie had a better body to house it in, because never really engaged with me at any particular point.

Pros: It’s refreshing to see a lack of a love interest in a Disney story  as done previously in Zootopia and Frozen. And the visuals are amazing. It truly feels like a getaway from the typical fare.

Cons: While it does move away from the love interest trope, it relies so heavily on other established ideas that it becomes evident fairly quickly where the story hasn’t taken any chances. It’s characters are not one-dimensional, but they aren’t engaging either.

Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes

Points of InterestWhile the film is entirely digitally animated, Maui’s tattoos were hand-drawn into the animation, making Moana a first in over five years to feature true animation. Moana is the first Polynesian of the Disney Princesses.

I realize now that I didn’t get you much of a summary of the film, and for that I am kind of sorry. I really needed to go on a rant about this film. Because I don’t want more them to be made. 100% we should continue to support female protagonists who aren’t dictated by their personal relationships, but that doesn’t mean they need to revisit all of the other tropes that male leads have done over the past 100+ years of film.

End rant.

theories Summarized

What do you think? Did you like Moana? I hope I haven’t been too harsh on this movie. It represents a positive direction, and if Disney can help change minds with its depictions, I’m all for it. I just want to see Moana fight an internal battle or two, have some nuance in her performance. But thats my theory, after all.

Tim!

Mama’s Boy, and Girl (Mother Mother, No Culture review)

We gotta cut the strings sometime baby. We can’t rely on our mothers to coddle us forever, growing up just won’t happen otherwise.

This week’s album review salutes those movers of culture.

Mother Mother – No Culture
released February 10, 2017
******** 8/10

mothermotherculture

Mother Mother are a Canadian rock group from Vancouver Canada. Yay for Canadian content! Founded by Ryan Guldemond and sister Molly Guldemond when Ryan was in the midst of music school and yearning to start a vocal-driven band that focused on pop. They have released a total of six studio-length albums to-date, four of them with the Last Gang imprint, with the fifth album Very Good Bad Thing and the sixth album No Culture on Universal Music Canada.

I’ve been a fan of Mother Mother since I first saw them live back in 2013 during Sonic Boom at Northlands. They were busy promoting The Sticks, and Infinitesimal was a hot summer track that I loved.

Then came Very Good Bad Thing and more success for the quintet – at this point they were able to climb even higher on the Canadian charts.

If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that No Culture just might be the album that lands them a no. 1 album in Canada and does some breakout work in the American markets. But now I’ll have to back that up with some insights into the the record, I guess. Well, let’s start with the themes explored. This is the first album that Ryan wrote all on his lonesome with the intent of injecting himself into the mix rather than a persona or general ideas. In fact, it was a solution to his own battle with drugs and alcohol, written while he carved up some time in a cabin in the woods fighting his way back to sobriety.

The album has a strong mix of flow-state songs and anxiety inducing numbers. But it’s incredibly emotionally honest, vulnerable and allows the listener the opportunity to interpret what is being presented as they would like. An exploration of how identity often feels very different in isolation then it does when we are out in the public eye OR rather when we presenting ourselves to the world.

 

The album features ten tracks which all have that strong vocal-based sensibility, but in particular my personal favourites are Luck Stuck, Baby Boy, No Culture, and Everything Is Happening.

Opener track Free is notable for its strong percussion and anthemic like qualities. Quickly followed up by Love Stuck (the second single) and The Drugs (the first single) which both maintain that stadium quality, very upbeat with sharp hooks and strong vocals.

When we head into the rest of the album it doesn’t maintain this pace, but the intensity shows up in other ways – Back In School is an ode to pop punk, Mouth of the Devil plays with some dark tones and unified vocals, while Family is a sentimental power ballad.

Also title track No Culture is kind of brilliant.

It focuses on the problems which all artists that work against within the realm of pop music face, the challenge of all style-no substance. And the track makes a lot of allusions to scavengers/predators, while exaggerating how Mother Mothers critics view them. It’s definitely a highlight of the album, which makes up for weaker tracks like Letter and Worry. And I say that knowing that Mother Mother are capable of making slower tracks work for them, Everything Is Happening is one of my favourite songs remember? And how could it not be? They make a reference to the cyclical nature of music and David Bowie.

As a means of praise, and in the style of repetition, I’ll simply write this – keep on, keeping on.

 

 

 

As I close up this review, I recall something my first LT partner used to say to me on occasion when she was upset with my decisions, and which I now can see for the gas-lighting techniques that they are, that I made said decisions just to please my mom. She believed that I had no culture of my own, but that’s just not true, and Mother Mother it’s not that way for you. Either.

Campfire Theories (timotheories January 2017)

Yesterday I promised that I would reveal the timotheories theme of 2017, and today I fulfill that promise dear readers.

I’ve been humming and hawing on what that theme should be for weeks now, and dammit if I didn’t wait until the last minute to hope the idea would just pop into my head. Conveniently enough, when you live a fast and furious lifestyle, things happen when you need them to happen. Which is why this year I’m really embracing the notion that the culture of The Fast and the Furious series pushes on us over and over again.

No, not the theme of family, though that might be a good direction to explore somewhere down the line. It’s more eloquent than family. It’s the activity that holds the family together and which lights up their eyes – the metaphorical barbeque OR campfire.

the-best-fast-and-the-furious-memes

That’s why 2017 is the year of stoking the campfire – the ties that bind us creative professionals together. A campfire invites people together to ask questions and share stories but it also serves as a beacon, and a deterrent to that which we are afraid of – a fantastic symbol of community. And I think after almost a year of consistently writing theories and reviews, sharing resources and events with you, that I should begin the process of building my own campfire. That means putting together proper logos, marketing, and even giving valuable self-contained theories that you can take with you on the go. Its a step forward, but not without some effort on my part.

 

Let’s see what January looks like creative cuties.

*Disclaimer* As always, every week I purchase an album and movie one week ahead of the actual review release and while I have the best intentions, I don’t always get what I want… so if you follow me on instagram (@timotheories) you can actually see what’s coming.

timotheories summarized – January

Stimulating Sundays – (01/08) Cross Talk Ep. 15, (01/15) Byron Martin preview interview, (01/22) Byron Martin interview, (01/29) Cross Talk Ep. 16
Melodic Mondays – (01/02) Sum 41, (01/09) Gord Downie, (01/16) Kid Cudi, (01/23) The Flaming Lips, (01/30) The xx
Theatrical Tuesdays – (01/03) Don’t Breathe, (01/10) Snowden, (01/17) Deepwater Horizon (01/24) Ouija: Origin of Evil (01/31) The Monster
Wisdom Wednesdays – (01/04) Community, (01/11) Decompression, (01/18) Peggy Orenstein, (01/25) Education
Timely Thursday – (01/05) timotheories January, (01/12) Family Tree, (01/19) AGA, (01/26) Sugar Swing Dancing

My album choices are inspired by politics, mental health, and creative expression, while the movie picks are similarly inspired. Funny how those posts seem to cycle together quite nicely.

I’ve got an extra special interview lined up for January with Byron Martin, founder of Grindstone Theatre who also happens to be it’s visionary artistic director. Byron is in the process of setting up a new YEG based theatre space in the heart of Edmonton’s creative sector.

On top of that, we’ve got a couple of cool Cross Talk episodes lined up – benchmark moments in film AND life lessons we’ve learned as film enthusiasts. These’ll be fun, and who knows, you just might see the return of one of our favourite new additions to the team…

And I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there is some wisdom brewing on the topics of community, decompression and education… plus I’m reading a book about the western phenomenon of princess culture and how it’s marketed to our female youth. And I’ve got some timely posts about dancing, the Art Gallery of Alberta and an ongoing art project I designed for my mother.

I guess you could say I have a few new theories I want to fuel the fire with, you fine folks. But I promise that we’ll have some fun along the way, and who knows, we might just keep that bogeyman on his toes with all that warmth and light.

Tim!

I #Love My #Mom (Mother’s Day)

Holidays are a special time and should be treated with a certain level of respect, introspection if you support them, and curiosity if you aren’t familiar with them. Which is why I wanted to focus on Mother’s Day, while it’s still somewhat timely.

Yes I know that this post comes a bit late, but I think it’s rather appropriate given what I’ve witnessed recently and uncovered about the history of the topic at hand. Has anyone else noticed the cultural shift of Mother’s Day in the past couple of years?

It USED to be a holiday of commercialization, sprinkled with some sentiment. Now like so many other holidays, it’s one of self-promotion sprinkled with sentiment.

Fortunately I am not alone in this theory. Cracked seems to have caught on too, which they so cleverly showcased in a recent video of theirs. Don’t worry I embedded the link for you.

I’ve written it before, and I’ll write it again – I love being an artist, and am so thankful for the arts. That alternative lens of culture can be incredibly handy. When you see someone (or a group) parody something in culture, you know it’s a sensitive topic and full of opportunity. Mother’s Day is supposed to be a day about our individual mothers, not a day for the idea of mother or a theme to boost our own agendas. Heck, that’s why the word “Mother’s” is a singular possessive, to emphasize each families own mother.

But timotheories you’re writing about Mother’s Day and using it to talk about the arts, you big hypocrite!

Good point dear readers, good point.

I’m in between a rock and hard place on this one, because I believe it is important to celebrate our mothers, but not in the way that companies would have us do, like Hallmark, or social media would have us do, like Facebook and Instagram.

And it’s a challenge for sure – I admit that I took a selfie with my mom on Sunday. But then I started to think about it, and did some research. And as I mentioned above, I unraveled that Mother’s Day was first celebrated over a hundred years ago by one Anna Jarvis. She did this in memorial of her mother. You see friends, that memorial to Mother Jarvis was the first example of the compromise between sentiment and instant gratification.

You know how that quote which states that history is written by the victors? Well maybe the problem with Mother’s Day is not that people don’t respect it, but that they respect it too much. Whenever you make an idea and see it through to it’s conclusion, ie sharing it and having it shared without your involvement, then rules of engagement state it is no longer your idea. Anna Jarvis may have had the best intentions in the world, but when she came up with the idea to have a holiday for mothers, she probably didn’t anticipate that people would use that celebration to celebrate rather than focus on appreciation.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Mother’s Day is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, celebrate “Mother’s” whether that’s what our moms want or not.

What do you think? Have I finally gone over the edge? Leave some comments below! Otherwise, I’m out of theories for now, and the weekend is creeping up, so I’ll see you on Sunday with some other under-appreciated things.

Tim!