Why The 1970s Are Inspiring Films Today (Cross Talk Ep. 30)

There are definite echoes and recurrences of the 1970s cropping up in film.

It was a time of very serious filmmaking, when grit and resourcefulness were championed, emotions were raw and characters had very simple motivations. You killed my partner? I’m coming after you. We can’t make our marriage work? Let’s get divorced. Our crew needs to get home from the edge of the universe? There’s time to investigate an alien spacecraft.

Tensions were high, politics was laden with so many revolutions – sexuality, gender equality, television, nationalism, race relations. But at the core of it all were stories about characters, and the depth of field pushed backdrops to the edge of our attention.

For the sake of argument, I’m just going to quickly list off a bunch of famous films from that timeframe to demonstrate my point. Ready? Here we go. Star Wars, Jaws, The Exorcist, Alien, The French Connection, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, All The President’s Men, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, MASH, Apocalypse Now, Annie Hall, Rocky, A Clockwork Orange, Halloween, The Deer Hunter, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Carrie, Serpico, Chinatown, the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Sure I didn’t select comedies like The Muppet Movie and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but even those movies featured Nazis and a frog legs merchant. And were weird as shit. I’ll let you figure out which villain was for which film. Yes, there were complex films like Airport, but on that note, disaster films, exploitation and “B movies” were prominent in a decade of civil unrest. Any of this sounding familiar yet?

As we start to look back on the 2010s, I can see that there is a definite correlation in critical filmmaking and so we have some spiritual successors to 1970s classics. Movies like A Ghost Story mimic the epistemological 2001: A Space Odyssey, while Logan channels Badlands, The Man with No Name trilogy and so many other flicks like Five Easy Pieces. But maybe Baby Driver was more your speed, creative cuties? What about The Driver, The Italian Job (technically the 1960s, but just barely), and Smokey and the Bandit?

You know what, just watch the latest episode and decide for yourself if we are entering into a second renaissance of 1970s minimalism in film. AKA the return of the 1970s.

Cool right? Yeah, its a great idea to explore how themes repeat themselves over time, and yes there still plenty of examples of films inspired by the 1980s, but I have to wonder if anybody else is noticing this connection?

I hope you enjoyed watching this episode as much as Chris and I enjoyed recording it. But you know what we love more? Comments! Shares! And new subscribers! Check back in a day for an album review and a theory on why metal music gets better as you age.

Tim!

Time Enough To Pass (Joan Shelley, Joan Shelley review)

An age-old problem of music, if it’s a shorter album, we’ll complain that it feels weak, and it comes in over sixty minutes we can’t believe what a slog it is.

Is forty minutes the sweet spot though?

 

Joan Shelley – Joan Shelley

released April 28, 2017
******** 8/10

Joan Shelley is a Kentucky based American singer-songwriter who has been making professional music since at least 2014, as that was when she released her first full-length album Electric Ursa.

Her fourth album is self-titled as Joan Shelley, and that’s usually a sign of intent on the behalf of a recording artist, a demonstrable shift in tone, content and genre(s). This album is no exception to that rule, at all. Joan Shelley is an intimate record, chalk full of dense material and featuring production efforts from Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a more complex album with tons of instrumentation and production value. No, it manages to tells it’s story with considerably less – vocals, guitars, ukulele, piano, organ, bass, and drums. The staples of folk music and this album most definitely has a folk feel to it. Just listen to Wild Indifference over a couple of listens and you’ll be at the heart of it.

Acoustic fingerpicking is a key element opening every track up and spreading the message out either simple and sweet or with a whiskey tinged bitter accommodation. Isn’t That Enough is a great example of that pull, especially since we experience both innocence and finality in it’s notes.

Where we best see the contributions of Jeff Tweedy come through are on I Got What I Wanted, Where I’ll Find You and If The Storms Never Came, but Shelley’s vocals almost come through, demonstrating the wisdom of Mr. Tweedy.

There is a great deal of beauty too to be found in these songs. And that all starts with track number one We’d Be Home, and quickly followed up by Even Though in the space following the second, third and fourth songs on the record. And man does the piano ever bring the attention on Pull Me Up One More Time, thanks be to James Elkington for that.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention my favourite song on the album – I Got What I Wanted. It must be the lingering outlaw country flourishes of Willie Nelson, but I cannot stop tapping my toe and feeling remorseful for Shelley.

Pros: The vocals of course. Joan Shelley has all the makings of a great country artist, and The Push and Pull demonstrates this well. And while this is a shorter album, the length suits the ideas perfectly.

Cons: At the great risk of being a contrived self-referential mess, Shelley manages to avoid this for the most part, but sometimes it feels blah. Go Wild I’m looking directly at you.

Runtime: 34 minutes

Points of Interest: This self-titled album began with a fiddle, of all instruments. Though Joan Shelley wasn’t able to articulate herself well with the fiddle, she took the direction of that instrument and applied it to the guitar. And it is indeed self-titled because it features her most assured and complete thoughts so far.

It’s difficult to add something new to folk music, but with some help (or should we say non-help help?) Joan Shelley has managed to craft a well-worn album from the bare minimum of instruments. And her ability to spread ideas across moments in time comes across quite well.

theories Summarized

All that considered, I think that Joan Shelley is a master of her chosen form, and we should be happy to have her work out there on display. It never manages to overstay it’s welcome and it sounds amazing both in your car and at home. At least, that’s my theory.

Tim!

Your Weight In Gold (Postconsumers)

We live in an age where most people in western society have more than enough. If you really stop to think about it, all we require to live is air, water, food, and shelter – everything else is unessential.

Now, many people would argue that the standard of living in Canada dictates what is enough to get by. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Better Life Index, the average Canadian household brings in $40,000 net each year. Which is slightly higher than the OECD average of $38,000 CAD.

Wellness Factors of Life

I for instance, am just below the national average all on my lonesome. But that’s not a clear indicator of excess. Where you live, what you eat, and how you spend the rest of your money will be a contributing factor in your lifestyle of choice. And let’s be perfectly honest, whether you are a creative professional or not, but definitely someone who is in the midst of the hustle, pursuing their passions with the intent of making a living at it, you will definitely feel the pinch associated with living below the standard of living most enjoy. But what happens when you start to “make it?”

To give it even more consideration – where you rank housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance in that beautiful mix that we call living are big factors. And they vary from country to country.

When you begin to ask these questions for yourself, you’ll get a better idea of what you should be doing as a creative professional to live in health and wellness. And in fact, these themes just might be the beginnings of an area of exploration for timotheories readers in the coming months.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves friends.

Right now I want to focus on the concept of living with enough. Much like the spiritual concept of being enough, living with enough is important for you to stay on the creative path and block out the white noise of life.

The Path To Post-consumerism

I want to introduce the concept of post-consumerism. Post-consumer waste is that which comes after a consumer of a material stream, Wikipedia’s words, not mine. Examples include, but are not limited to, packaging, fruit skins, meat bones, dust, weeds, outgrown toys, feces, clothing, advertising materials.

In other words, it is the garbage that people discard: the stuff that ends up in the dump, poured down the drain or thrown away as litter.

Now postconsumers.com is a website that addresses the concept of post-consumerism in a practical way. The practice of purchasing as a form of therapy, the media machine, feeling love for objects, are all topics that Postconsumers tackles on the regular. Quite frankly, people can very easily become addicted to consumerism and it will have negative impacts on their health, communities, and satisfaction. And we haven’t even considered how it impacts education, environment, jobs, housing, income, and governance.

So my first question for you dear sweet readers is this – are you falling into the vice-grip that is an identity determined by your things?

Seriously though, do you think that brands are important? What about trends and styles? And hello, have you considered that vacuous hole in your life yet? The one where you think having more of something will make you more important or “better.”

Think on these things my friends, as we begin the journey of exploring what that can mean as a creative professional. For now, I’m out of theories, and also a little weighed down. Might need to shed some couture.

Tim!

Living With Less (Becoming A Minimalist)

Remember that “2nd ever” timotheories interview I did with Andrew Wedman a while back?

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about Andrew’s outlook on life and business. His attitude is pretty straightforward – do more with less. As we make our way through this stressful season, it occurs to me that a lot of my normal stress revolves around managing the stuff in my life VS the people in my life VS the pursuits of my life. Christmas just escalates it.

Each of these areas can be managed, thus today’s post is in dedication of the pursuit of purity!

We are all faced with the challenge of whether to pursue more material and social wealth than we currently have. The challenge isn’t openly shared, as this topic isn’t the right type of macabre for most and the simplest truths are often the most difficult to see. Simply put, if we made this widely known, retailers and publications would be bad at their jobs.

People only really learn when they are ready to. I can say this confidently from personal experience.

As Art Buchwald once said,

The best things in life are not things.

Or to put it more bluntly, Tyler Durden said,

We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.

Let me elaborate.

I was fortunate to grow up with the environment and opportunities I did. We all choose to either blame others or our situation for our stock in life OR we accept our beginnings and work to change what is possible, accepting responsibility for our own life.

For instance, I learned some interesting things when I was growing up. Because my parents determined that one of them should stay at home during the day while my sister, two brothers and I all made our way through primary education, I learned that there was a difference between material wants and basic needs of life. This was because while my parents owned their home outright, and we had enough to cover food, utilities and school costs, there wasn’t a lot of money in the bank for extras.

That didn’t mean I missed out on simple pleasures, but I simply had a stronger appreciation of them when I did have sweets and toys. Now what I didn’t immediately realize as a youth, but figured out years later was that it may well have hurt my pride and felt embarrassing when we couldn’t afford to go on trips or we didn’t have a collection of stuff to entertain ourselves with and had to interact with those who did (and judged), but there is an incredible burden that comes with having too many objects in your life.

I learned this by the process of moving away when I was 23. I first moved from home with my family of 6 to 1 bedroom apartment with my girlfriend at the time, then moving into a larger 3 bedroom a couple of years later with my girlfriend and sister, then having more room after my sister moved out.

Where the lesson came in was when I lost my job, and decided to move back home.

I had a lot of stuff at that point. A whole house of stuff. While my sister and one brother didn’t live there any more, moving home with enough stuff to fill a 15′ x 25′ room was tough. And that was after I got rid of a dining table, a living room suite, a bedroom suite, lots of old art, and countless trinkets.

Sharing space with people while having personal objects to watch out for is problematic. You’ve invested money into those possessions and you have to protect your investment, but who really has time to enjoy and manage 1000s of objects, no matter what they are?

It becomes a burden.

This is why it is important to define your space and dedicate your efforts to a specific area of life. As soon as you do this, you realize what is important to you, and having hot topic technology or whatever doesn’t pull at you as easily.

Heck, I collect movies, music, and books, and people sometimes question my collection. That’s a good thing. No one in their right mind should collect as much of that stuff as I do. I do it because I need to to accomplish my goals. The truth is this, of course I cannot possibly look at all of these things simultaneously or even regularly, but I’ve set up my space so that those objects serve as a directory of ideas and reference for my art. Because those objects fuel my life purpose they provide value for me. But if I started collecting trinkets, kitchenware, clothes and sports equipment (for example), then I would lose my focus.

Check out this article from the blog Becoming Minimalist for more information on the concept.

Thus end’s today’s post on managing objects. Do you think you too much stuff? Is your stuff preventing you from making your art? Leave some comments and let me know what you think of this theory.

Tim!

 

 

The Pursuit of Purity (Andrew Wedman, Minimalism)

Andrew Wedman, of Andrew Wedman Design, is both an illustrator and a graphic designer – he doesn’t like to limit himself to one media of expression. But don’t let that fool you into believing that he has no discipline, no code of honour which he adheres to.

Like the TV show Community (read:one of my all-time favourite shows), Andrew is one of those rare individuals who is both succinct and clever in his approach to life and to his pursuits, casually sharing of himself and his interests in ways that are hopeful and genuine. On the off chance you have not watched The Wire before, I’ve provided the original clip(s) that the above Community clip lovingly parodied from, to further drive home my point.

So, as you will come to see, Andrew is very much of the mindset that how you conduct yourself defines who you are, and he works very hard to ensure that his internal compass points him in a direction which is healthy and conducive to his belief system. That of a minimalist.

Dear readers, we are in for a treat, because believe it or not (if you haven’t guessed at this point), my second timotheories interview is with Andrew Wedman! I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to sit down over iced chai and milk with this gentleman – When I met up with Andrew a few weeks back to discuss why he chooses to be a minimalist, I was very excited to have learned what makes him tick by simply talking through some basic questions like what he does with his possessions, to covering some more complex topics like how he develops his concepts from inception to completion.

I will tell you this much, it is an exciting 30 minutes that you won’t want to miss!

Please click on this link to be transported to a world where topics like the auto industry, the movie Demolition Man, and material possessions are all on the table for discussion. This is a great interview folks.

I think you will really understand what I mean about his dedicated discipline as you watch the video and get to review some of the work from his portfolio.

Running at about 30 minutes, we go through the pursuit of purity.

And so we’ve discussed some of my theories on minimalism and that’s about all I can ration this week. I would love to know what you think; please leave some comments. Lastly, a very big thank you to Andrew for being awesome, available and altruistic.

Tim!