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!
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.
I’ve already written a fairly in-depth review on the movie The Shape of Water – and I made my love of the film known pretty clearly there. But too be perfectly honest, Chris doesn’t care for the movie, and I value his opinion a lot, so we decided it would be fun to put together a deep dive episode on the movie and talk about our differing opinions. Which as some of you know, is one of the reasons why I started Cross Talk in the first place.
To discuss movies, music, board games etc. and present topics in a more meaningful way then your average review or criticism video.
Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of great channels out there where the presenters have a degree in film criticism, others where the reviews are purely based on if the movie is enjoyable or not, and still others where the film is dissected and all of the symbolism is put on display. But that’s not how people really talk about movies necessarily.
When you are chatting about a movie like The Shape of Water with your friends, you’ll get lost in incidental details like the way the government facility looked, or the musical score choices, or whether Doug Jones did a better job playing Abe Sapien, the Faun, the Pale Man or “the Asset.” And if you’re a movie geek like us, you might even start entertain interesting theories about why the movie is a fairy tale, and not an alternate reality where mermen exist.
Or maybe you’ll point out how there are so many more movies that do star-crossed lovers in a better way, with more compelling characterizations. And you’ll get passionate about it. Wondering why an amazing film like Get Out only got attention for it’s screenplay.
And so this is episode thirty five of Cross Talk.
Do you think my theory about Giles having invented the majority of the story is right? Or am I completely off the rails with this one dear readers? Chris has a better appreciation of why I relate to the story so well now, but maybe I’m projecting, and the movie isn’t anything more then what you see on screen.
In that case, maybe the submerged bathroom scene is completely ludicrous.
But that doesn’t mean the film isn’t worth talking about, we managed to fill a 20 minute space talking about it, and you didn’t even see all of the outtakes we have! Until next time, please like and share the content! And subscribe to the mailing list if you haven’t yet. I’ve got a blue review on Jack White coming up tomorrow!
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
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.
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.
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.
Making music isn’t something for everyone, but everyone needs music in their life. When economic anxiety has become the new buzz term to describe the state of western nations, then I think it only makes sense for an artist to come on the scene and shake things up.
Jeff Rosenstock – POST-
released March 23, 2018
Jeff Rosenstock is an American musician and songwriter hailing from Long Island, New York. He’s been involved in a ska band (The Arrogant Sons of Bitches), an indie rock group (Kudrow), and a musical collective (Bomb the Music Industry!). It was only six years ago that Bomb the Music Industry! split up and Rosenstock had to decide what to do with himself. After a bit of deliberation he launched his solo career in 2012.
In those six years he has released three studio albums, We Cool?, Worry, and POST-. POST- was released digitally on January 1, 2018 to the surprise of so many people. It has since been issued through Polyvinyl and to generally favourable reviews – Most of the songs were created shortly after the 2016 presidential election and reflect Rosenstock’s disenfranchisement with national pride, non-confidence in people, and disbelief in himself.
it’s equal places angry and fun, something we could all do with in 2018. While that sounds incredibly daunting–and like a really tiring listen–the album’s most impressive trait is that it makes all that vital work feel joyous and communal
USA tells a story about the never-ending civil war of America, having never ended but instead become even more charged over time. It’s a strong opener and features lines like “we’re tired and bored” and “et tu USA” which smartly sounds like F U USA. Then we have Yr Throat and Powerlessness, which have a subtle taste of hope about bridging communication, but ultimately raise doubt whether America is worth the trouble.
Continuing this trend are All This Useless Energy and Beating My Head Against A Wall. Both tracks are strong indicators of what happens in the face of futile odds. Most surprising to me though is Let Them Win. A song about the importance of working together to combat evil behaviour and focus on we instead of you and I.
TV Stars reminds you of a Billy Joel song, and even has a reference to piano-playing, but most importantly there is a theme about loneliness and the fear of it, throughout the track. This also shows up on the next song, Melba, which it is probably the most happy song of the lot, and hilarious if you pay attention to the lyrics. Oddly enough it also reminds me of another song – I’ll have to get back to you on what that is exactly.
Pros: The energy of each song is amazing, and how Rosenstock manages to inject fun into such sweeping epics of ideas is something I haven’t seen in a while. Tackling difficult topics comes naturally to him.
Cons: Rosenstock is a victim of his own success. It mimics Me Too! but unfortunately isn’t quite as interesting as that initial outing.
Runtime: 40 minutes
Points of Interest: It was written and recorded mere weeks before it’s January 1 release date. Most of it was recorded live onto tape, giving it a very lo-fi and earnest sound.
Now all that shared, POST- might not be Jeff Rosenstock’s best work to date, but it is far and above more entertaining/meaningful then so much other music that’s been released this year. This is a spiritual successor to other punk concept albums like American Idiot and The Monitor. It’s heartfelt, DIY, modern punk music, and I think it’s pretty damn accessible too.
It’s cathartic and painful, bright and worrisome – an anthem of economic anxiety as it were. POST- was given away for free on New Years Day, but I’d happily pay for it a second time if I were given the choice. It’s that good.
And speaking of albums I would happily buy a second time if it ever came up, Brendon and I have a great video review on the 2005 debut album Silent Alarm. This is essential Bloc Party listening and it features so many danceable tracks on it. Definitely worth a sit down. Or twenty.
I can’t believe that album is over a decade old already, but it was easily in my top five records for that year, and has been on heavy rotation ever since!
And remember, if you liked what you saw, and/or enjoyed what you read, please click on the like button, and even better, subscribe to the channel and my mailing list! I’ll be back tomorrow with a film review on The Shape of Water. A divisive film, yes, but I have an interesting theory on why it actually deserved to win so many Academy Awards.
Human beings have a knack for finding meaning in just about anything. It’s supposedly in our collective nature to assign those meanings so that we can make the world around us just a little more clearer and lovely.
We don’t do this to grow into some ultimate truth, but because there is just far too much information to take in at any given moment. And consequently understanding each other isn’t any easier as we age. Loving people, reducing a need for gratification, overcoming fears (and a host of other insecurities), and accepting ourselves are all important lifestyle choices in the quest for meaning.
But what if you are a creative person?
Vinson Lim generally takes the position that being an artist shouldn’t elevate you above other humans beings, it really should only work as an expression of self… and at the core of his answers is the theme of acceptance in life. By letting go of hate, and truly being present at all times, that’s when we are able to create interesting work.
Whether it’s through a practice of meditation, as addressed in the interview preview, or by simply spending time with our families, Vinse accepts that his art will always be evolving based on how he is living his life.
And he is especially aware of this having just entered into fatherhood for the first time. But unlike so many other creative people, his art doesn’t inform his life choices, but rather his life choices determine how he demonstrates his creativity.
Vinse might be acting as a photographer today, but he is willing to switch hats on the fly to access his videography skills, graphic design education or even to play some music for friends and family.
I’m not going to give away his viewpoints on the meaning of life, art, and everything in-between. But I can say with utmost confidence, that this interview will make you think, and we’re both hoping that just might make you feel too.
I think you’ll learn something from Mr. Lim
I always find it cathartic to have a heavier discussion on the meaning of it all, dear readers. I hope that this interview resonated the same way for you.
But even if it didn’t, please let us know what you thought of the interview! What was your favourite question? Do you agree with what Vinson Lim said? Do you disagree? He is a very talented photographer, so if you’re interested, feel free to check out his Facebook page,Instagram, and website for yourself! The meaning of life might still be one of the greatest questions of all time, but dammit if Vinse isn’t fascinating to listen to.
And special thanks to Vinse for being vibrant, vulnerable and virtuous. Without his thoughts on the meaning of it all, I might not have come to the realization that being positive and standing in my truth isn’t enough, it’s important to reach out to the lost and the lonely too. A pretty good theory.