In Love With The Shape Of You (The Shape Of Water review)

Join us for a very special film review on this week’s episode of Watch Culture.

I say this because I’m about to drop some knowledge on why The Shape of Water holds a special place in my heart, so much so that I’ll also be running a deep dive on Cross Talk with Chris later in the month (read: sooner).

The Shape of Water (2017)

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Doug Jones
Director: Guillermo del Toro
released on blu-ray March 13, 2018
********* 10/10

IMDB: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Audience Score 74%
The Guardian: ****/*****

Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer and novelist. His films have a strong fantasy element running through them, often using dark themes and gothic backdrops to convey both subtle and overt messages about human nature. Some of his more mainstream films are Pacific Rim, Blade II and the two Hellboy adaptations, but he also dabbles in spanish language focused stories like The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth.

Looking back, his most recent film before The Shape of Water was Crimson Peak, a strong indicator and launching point toward fairy tale narratives.

Special thanks to Huggo for the IMDB summary.

1962 Baltimore. Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), found abandoned as a baby with scars on her neck, has been mute all her life, that disability which has largely led to her not having opportunities. Despite being a bright woman, she works a manual labor job as a cleaner at a military research facility where she has long been friends with fellow cleaner, Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer), who often translates her sign language to others at the facility. And she has had no romance in her life, her major emotional support, beyond Zelda, being her aging gay artist neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins), the two who live in adjoining apartment units above a movie theater. Like Elisa, Giles is lonely, his homosexuality complicating both his personal and professional life, the latter as a commercial graphic artist. Elisa’s life changes when Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) brings a new “asset” into the facility, Elisa discovering it being a seeming mixed human/amphibious creature found in the waters of the Amazon. Secretly visiting with the creature, Elisa is immediately drawn to him, and despite he having a violent side as part of his inherent being, the two find a way to communicate with each other and end up forming a bond with each other. Elisa has to decide what to do when she discovers that although the reason for bringing the creature to the facility is to test the possibility of him being sent into space, Colonel Strickland, who has always had antagonistic feelings toward the creature, ultimately wants to kill him, this following the systematic torture he has inflicted on him. Elisa may have to balance her feelings on wanting to be with the creature against what may be the greater benefit to him of being set free back into the wilds of the water. Complicating matters are that the Soviets are also aware of the creature, they having a secret agent who has infiltrated the facility.

Smarter people then I have reviewed this film to death already.

So I won’t pretend to impart the same learnings as them in my review of this film, but I will acknowledge that there is some derivation at work here. As Chris will rightly point out in his own thoughts on our upcoming Deep Dive; this is a story that effectively borrows from other films. The Beauty and the Beast story arc is the bones of this film, it also throws in homages to monster movies (Creature from the Black Lagoon), musicals (Shirley Temple, That Night in Rio) and biblical stories (The Story of Ruth).

But where the brilliance comes in is in altering the arcs of these stories. The beast doesn’t transform to be loved, the creature from the black lagoon doesn’t die AND gets the girl, the mute girl and her two minority friends save the day, and love of the arts is celebrated.

That said, even if you don’t know these things, this film challenges the notion of fearing the other – it fights fear with love, and I think it smartly uses Giles (an artist), as a narrator of this ideal, in a time when those ideas couldn’t even exist in popular culture. Giles is a closeted homosexual, someone who dreams and imagines how things could be, and I have a theory that a lot of the film actually happens in his mind.

Pros: It carefully crafts all of it’s themes and ultimately tells a universal story of acceptance, love, and celebrating what is, rather then what should be. del Toro is at his personal best, and he poses some great questions.

Cons: While beautiful to behold, and universally clear in the truths it wants to share, to fully appreciate the story, you might actually need to love all of the things it references – the subtle historical shifts at play. And if you want character nuance, the characterizations could be frustrating to watch.

Runtime: 1 hour 55 minutes

Points of Interest: Guillermo del Toro wrote lengthy backstories for each of the major characters, giving them each the option to use the information or ignore it. Some opted to take the direction, while some, like Richard Jenkins, refused it. The poem at the end of film has been paraphrased from works by Persian poet Rumi and his predecessor Hakim Sanai.

I really do see why Chris struggles with this film. And believe it or not, I’m not picking apart his thesis before he’s had a chance to defend himself, but rather I want to show you that his perspective is key in understanding my own theory.

The derivative themes, the abstracted characterizations, and the reliance on style as a vehicle for the underlying substance are important. If we consider that the whole story is told from the perspective of an artist character (Richard Jenkins) who has had to hide so much of himself in a time and space of persecution and judgment, then I think the story takes on new meaning. Not to mention the fact that his chosen form of expression, painting, is being supplanted by photography in advertising. Giles loves musicals, lives above a theatre that shows biblical films, and draws the creature he does not understand lovingly. He wants to see a fairy tale realized because his own story did not come through as he wished.

Additionally, he is the most detailed of the characters, which is often how we see ourselves, as opposed to how we simplify others in our own life stories.

theories Summarized

I think The Shape of Water is an amazing film, and to be honest, I haven’t even given you the full expression of my thoughts on it yet, but I believe that the upcoming Cross Talk deep dive episode will reveal even more about it. A fairy tale for adults is an amazing thing to behold, indeed.

If you want another fairy tale for adults, then you should check out this video review of 2010’s Scott Pilgrim VS the World, an anti-thesis to rom-coms told from the perspective of a video game geek. It’s a blast to watch, and whether you grew up between the 1980s to 1990s or not, the nostalgia callbacks are insightful.

So please let me know what you thought of our review, like and share the video, and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already. There are even more theories coming up next week, y’all come back now.

Tim!

Guess Who Got Engaged? (Engagement)

Once upon a time, I took a beautiful and interesting woman out on a first date. Very close to the time that Donald Trump got elected president of the United States of America. I’ll never forget that night, not because that major event happened, but because it was an incredible first date, and led me on a path that I was not expecting.

The path where I met my former girlfriend, current fiancée, and future wife. But while some of you might disagree with me on the timing of this current step, the engagement actually started at the beginning and not in the midst of our relationship.

One of the textbook definitions of engagement is an arrangement to meet or be present at a specified time and place. Mysticque and I agreed to meet each other for a first date, and we both showed up at the cafe. But more importantly we were both emotionally involved in the date.

I asked her questions, a lot of them, and she answered the questions to the best of her ability. We talked, a lot. For about two hours, before I decided to move the date to the next location. She reciprocated and followed me to the UofA campus, even though she was unsure of what to expect, and as she later told me, was nervous about walking in the dark with a stranger down a creepy path (actually a well lit path, but near a parking lot and steel sculpture garden, so I can see what she means).

Then we stopped at the Arts and Business Quad on top of the hill overlooking the manmade ponds and pathways. I had brought a bottle of Bodacious blended red wine, two glasses, and a blanket. It was intentional, I love romance, and I wanted to do something romantic. Mysticque reciprocated once more. We talked for another hour or so.

Then we got up, and I kissed her.

She wasn’t ready to go home just yet, so I took her for frozen yogurt at Menchies, and we played many rounds of Connect 4. She won a lot of them. But I reciprocated.

Then I walked her back to her car, and we kissed one more time. I later found out that she told many people about this wonderful date, and how I had managed to make her life feel like the movies. That was the point I knew I would probably fall in love with her and marry her. She constantly reminds me that I still make her feel this way every day. It’s a mutual reciprocation.

Engagement with anything comes down to showing up, being present and being who you are. Mysticque and I met way back in juniour high, and had the fortune to reconnect later in life when we were both ready to engage in a healthy relationship. Part of me wishes I had saved the story she wrote about our first date, but I do have a copy of what she wrote when I proposed to her, and she accepted. I think it demonstrates the importance of authentic, personal interactions when you make creative things. People appreciate creativity, but it’s not until you put yourself out there that you risk failure and eventually success.

Thursday (November 9th, 2017) marked a significant and special day in our lives. The evening started with Tim recreating of our first date filled with all the same locations, cheesy lines, and romance. During our date, Tim deviated and brought me down to the Old Arts building and showed me a canvas with a projected movie on it. This movie (lovingly made by Tim) captured whale love songs, 27 romantic love scenes, and brief explanation of Tim’s love. Moments thereafter he proposed to me and our close family & friends were there all along watching and capturing our special day! Later in the evening Tim surprised me for a second time with more family and friends waiting back at his house. It was truly the most amazing proposal. On the weekend Tim re-proposed to me with Miguel and made the experience even more special. Thank you to all our family and friends who helped Tim with his elaborate plans and being part of our lives. And thank you to my fiancee who has made my life better than the movies.

I wouldn’t have been able to create something like this one my own. It required effort, communication, and asking for support from others. I’ve always found that family and friends show up because you show up, people can sense when your heart isn’t into it. I hope one day that I can create something as beautiful as the love I have for Mysticque, and I cannot believe I was able to capture a significant moment in our he(art). What an engagement. And it was reciprocated.

theories Summarized

It might not always seem like your life is headed in a positive direction dear readers, but I shared this story not to brag about how lucky I’ve been, but to emphasize for you the importance of engagement. Love takes practice, failure, and a willingness to put yourself out there… just like making art. But at some point you are going to realize your purpose in life, and you’ll make something really special to reflect that.

And THAT is a theory I’ll take to the bank.

Tim!

Film Franchises Are Great, But Can We Please Stop The Fanboy Fights? (Cross Talk Ep. 29)

I just came back from a fantastic date at the theatre – Star Wars Episode VIII was on the menu today; it was an early Christmas gift from my fiancee. Sweet deal right?

As you may know by now, I love movies, and this was an ideal way for Mysticque and I to spend some time together, with one of my favourite activities, and then bask in some post-film analysis. She SO gets me on a personal level, and I’m super excited to share this passion with her and our family, especially as Miguel grows up, and as we add onto our little tribe – family time is important to me.

This is why of the many reasons why The Fast and the Furious franchise stands out in my mind as an excellent piece of film, worthy of your attention, admiration, and love. But this is not a post or a video about that love, rather it’s a plea to the general populous. Please stop hating on other peoples spirit movies.

Chris channels Star Trek and Friday The 13th on a regular basis, Mike loves him some John Wick (more than anyone I’ve ever met), and I can’t help but carry the torch for Star Wars, Marvel, and my BFF – The Fast and the Furious franchise. Chris also wanted to let me know that he loves Star Wars, much to the chagrin of Fanboys out there – contrarian to what pop culture and water cooler etiquette teaches us.

But didn’t Yoda teach us why fear is such a bad thing already? We fear what we don’t understand, but if we could have a little empathy for The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey and Harry Potter, maybe we’d all be a little bit more settled… Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Yeah I have Star Wars on the brain, and no, I’m not going to spoil The Last Jedi for you. We should have all learned that lesson from episode 28 of Cross Talk.

Franchise wars are a very real thing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hold hands and try to love one another better. This episode of Cross Talk is a thorough discussion on the matter and all three of us gents have some excellent points to make on the topic.

And yeah… I totally flubbed on the title shown in the video, but I’ll correct it soon. I promise – I’m not at my house this evening, where all of the files are stored on my computer. Please just enjoy that small error, knowing I’m human too, and consider that I was so excited to get this video out to you, that I decided to bite the bullet and edit as soon as possible.

With all of that shared… tell us what your opinions are on the ongoing challenges of film franchise wars! We love comments. And shares! And subscribers! No more theories for today friends, but come back y’all and we’ll give you something in the way of an album review tomorrow.

Tim!

Vacation, Recreation, Sensation (Penticton BC)

Timely posts are some of my favourites to share with you, dear readers. They are short and sweet, they let you know what is going on in my personal life, where my head is at, so to speak, and some of the challenges I am facing.

Because I never want you to think I am some self-proclaimed guru with no sense of reality, standing on a perch from on high, a false messiah if you will. I am a regular guy, with a day job, a girlfriend, and my own set of weird personal relationships. Art is one my first true loves, but as I age and live my life, I struggle with my own motivational challenges sometimes, and my personal health doesn’t seem to go my way very often, despite efforts I make regularly to eat well and exercise.

No matter what the challenge, I remind myself constantly of this one fact.

I’m going to share a favourite quote of mine from Marcus Aurelius to give you some insight –

Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.

This manifesto reminds me that life is difficult, but we all are mutually in it together, though we might each see through a lenses obscured. And now to explain why there are not going to be an timotheories videos or post next week friends.

I am going on vacation for a week, starting this Saturday and carrying through to next Saturday I’m going to check out all of Penticton, British Columbia with my lovely girlfriend Mysticque. I’m taking this time to bond with her alone, something we have not done yet together, because she has a son from a former relationship, and we only get to see each other every other week. Some people might not like or want to accommodate a situation like that, but she is so worth it.

But regardless of my awesome relationship, people have been frustrating me lately, and even though Marcus Aurelius reminds me constantly that I need to be vigilant and empathetic, I need a break. To a place that gives me peace and calms my mind down. We all have those places, the mountains have always been that for me though. Thus I’m off to see Penticton, drink some wine, enjoy fresh air, and relax for five days, without technology.

A retreat from modern distractions.

We all need these refreshers creative cuties, never apologize for taking time for yourself to practice self-care. Discipline and hustle are fundamental to your personal growth, but unfortunately no one can manage everything at once and grow simultaneously. This is one of those time where I will practice excellent self-care and come back renewed. And I’m ever so thankful for Mysticque for taking this time with me, and doing 85% of the planning. I love her, and you will too, because the rest of July will be awesome.

And so I’m out of theories for a few days. Enjoy your week folks, and I will see you on Sunday the 23rd with preview interview.

Tim!

Summer Lovin’ (timotheories July 2017)

As I sit here and write this post late at night, in what is one of the hottest days of summer I have been witness to so many years, I have to wonder. Is it worth it to share this schedule with you creative cuties?

I think the short answer is yes, because it keeps me honest AND provides you with context as to what is coming up each month. It is actually so hot right now though. And the heat is making me crazy. I thought that writing late at night would alleviate some of that heat. But I was wrong.

I feel weird saying this, but I think I hate summer more then I hate winter. And I need A/C in my new house. Speaking of new houses, I am moving at the end of the summer and I’m taking a vacation in two weeks with my lovely girlfriend Mysticque, so July is gonna be a whirlwind of summer lovin’. Because it’ll happen so fast.

*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 – July

Stimulating Sundays – (07/02) Cross Talk Ep. 27, (07/09) Sound Culture intro, (07/16) …, (07/23) Brendon Greene interview preview (07/31) Brendon Green interview
Melodic Mondays – (07/03) Vince Staples, (07/10) Calvin Harris, (07/17) …, (07/24) Jay-Z, (07/31) Broken Social Scene
Theatrical Tuesdays – (07/04) T2 Trainspotting, (07/11) Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, (07/18) … (07/25) Kong: Skull Island
Wisdom Wednesdays – (07/05) Nonverbal Communication, (07/12) Interpersonal Communication, (07/19) …, (07/26) Muscle Chow
Timely Thursday – (07/06) timotheories July, (07/13) Art Walk, (07/20) …, (07/27) Moving Your Art

I need to cut back on releasing Cross Talk episodes this month friends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy our latest episode which we released this past Sunday – movies you love to hate. Man was that a fun episode to record, and I think even more fun to watch!

Also, I’m going to let you in on the latest and greatest on timotheories dot com. Sound Culture, the show where I and sometimes guests, but very often featuring a co-host, talk about albums, and sonic things you should listen to. Brendon Greene is my navigator in this journey.

Speaking of Brendon Greene, that is also who I’ll be interviewing this month. Brendon is the founder of Conscious Collective, and a classical fingerist when it comes to guitar. He is a super interesting guy, so get excited for that!

On top of that, we have tons of albums and movies to review, and I’ll wrap the series on communication basics, but there’ll be some timely posts on the Whyte Ave Art Walk and how to transport your art. Because I’m moving in August… woo-hoo!

theories Summarized

What are you looking for? More content? How about some recommendations on taking care of your diet? I promise that it’ll be awesome though.

And as much as the heat is making me crazy, I have a few theories to share with you, so subscribe to the mailing list, and leave me some feedback! We want to know what you think of our choices for July posts.

Tim!