Our Favourite Directors (Cross Talk EP 34)

Chris and I decided long ago that if we were going to do a panel show where we talked about pop culture (focusing primarily on movies) that we would never shy away from a topic, but more importantly, that we wouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable about our feelings when it came to stuff we cared about on a personal level.

When you admit that you care about a person, an object, a place or whatever, you’re offering up an opportunity to another party to challenge you and to consider your point of view. It can be scary when you find out you are the only individual in a room who identifies with a certain board game which basically has no theme or strategy, or that you really like a pop song which is simplistic (primarily due to the musicians ability) or heck, when you like a movie full of even plot holes that it would pair well with some bologna.

But on the other side of the fence, rests those who are so excited about a fandom that they invest far more energy than the average enthusiast, alienating themselves from the vast majority.

At the end of the day, I’m not sure where most of you dear readers will fall when it comes to Darren Aronofsky and Richard Linklater, but these are two of our favourite directors of all time. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which of the two of us identifies with which director. But I will say, that no matter what the case, these are creative professionals who are making interesting films.

Challenging films which just might make you think about the world in a new way. And if timotheories is about digital curating at heart, what better way for me to give you some great insights into quality filmmaking, then to give a strong recommendation for a couple of catalogues to peruse through – no harm, no foul, if you end up walking away. But my gut tells me that you’ll come to appreciate their unique visions. And after you watch this episode, you’ll learn why these are our favourite directors.

This is episode thirty four of Cross Talk.

theories Summarized

Were you surprised to learn why we love Aronofsky and Linklater? Do you identify with one director more then the other? And more importantly, have you seen some of their movies, not knowing much about the men behind the camera?

I really hope that you investigate these guys more closely, and that you drew something from their wells of ideas.

That mentioned, creative cuties, you should totally like the video if you enjoyed it, leave a comment if you have some thoughts, and subscribe if you want to see more from us! Your support lets us know what we are doing right.

And yes, I have an album review from Vance Joy on the block for tomorrow, so y’all come back to learn a theory about Nation of Two is lovely.


The Rise Of Great Design (Alex Racine, game designer, inventor, 3D printer, entrepreneur interview)

Some people in your life just seem to click. You dig their vibe, and they dig yours. It’s very satisfying when you run into someone who thinks similarly and has a drive to match your own.

An achiever, with a command of their emotions (much like Bruce Lee), and with a great level of strategic intent behind every action.

That’s how I felt when I met Alex Racine for the first time, over a year ago. At a Halloween party, no less. Alex puts himself into everything he does. His halloween parties feature layers and layers of props, not to mention thematic food and games. He and his girlfriend are excellent hosts, and they have surrounded themselves with a dynamic and fun-loving group of friends. But that’s not all that matters to him. His deep appreciation of building things goes back into his college years. If you read the preview interview, and watched the associated video, you’ll know I’ve already mentioned his love of sport games, his carnival game events, and how he has evolved into constructing tabletop games, but it wasn’t until this past summer that Alex got serious about formally developing a game, playtesting it thoroughly, and reaching out to the internet for crowdfunding.

He even cut back his day job, so he could focus most of his time on launching this passion project with proper attention. You could say he’s a 3D printing enthusiast, but I would call him more of an inventor and a game designer.

An explorer for a digital age.

Last week, as I mentioned, the preview interview was launched to address a question about the difficulty with designing your own board games, and it was assembled by the founder of Games By AR; the one and only, Alex Racine.

You see dear readers, Alex believes that you should see a creative project all the way through on your own terms, from start to finish. Which is why I had so much fun constructing the questions for him. He’s a thinker, and a dreamer, but most importantly, he delivers. And he does it all on his own terms. We talked about his launch game Uprise! and a little bit about his follow-up game, Anchor What? But this interview is mostly about the importance of doing it yourself.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did recording with Mr. Racine.

I still can’t believe how quickly that one went up.

When all was said and done, I had over 2 hours of footage to work with this time dear readers, but I needed to keep this interview at a reasonable length… And it turned out fantastically! So if you want more of the man behind Games By AR, please, please, please check out his Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and website yourself! He’s building upon better and better ideas every day – don’t believe me? Just ask his Bibo 3D printer.

And special thanks to Alex for being awesome, amiable and adaptive. His desire to make games that people care about, have fun playing, and want to share is incredible. The fact he has the talent to back it up, even better. I foresee Uprise! as the start of something beautiful. Thus we land on the final pun.


Leave Me Alone (Leaving Thomas, Leaving Thomas review)

Not every album review can be a winner unfortunately, and while there’s nothing wrong with the old adage of you never know unless you try, I kind of wish I hadn’t given this week’s album a second thought.



Leaving Thomas – Leaving Thomas

released January 19, 2018
***** 5/10

Leaving Thomas are a Canadian country pop duo from Calgary (a neighbouring city in my province of Alberta). Annika Odegard and Bryton Udy have finally dropped their much anticipated self-titled EP, Leaving Thomas. It’s eight tracks in length make for a pretty hefty EP, but there is enough variety in the song choices that you can sit through it without too much issue. And I can see why their are gaining momentum throughout Canada and the United States, but unfortunately it’s kind of an uneven listen for me, with a lot of filler tracks and not enough chances taken.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see a Canadian country duo getting lots of attention, but if track no. six is any indication, Best Adventure is far from it, and feels a little bit like your average middle of the summer radio jam. Which is probably why it’s one of the the first three singles released.

That said, Blame it On The Neon is where this EP really shines, it a good time for all involved and really showcases Annika’s vocals. You can easily see this song filling a stadium. And If This Is Love is a solid second runner up for best track, with all kinds of emotion, punctuated by the piano, it’s a incredibly deep ballad and something you’d expect from more seasoned performers.

The last of the singles, Waiting Kind of Girl, falls somewhere in the middle, with it’s interesting melodic structure and tempo. But man that chorus is just brutal to listen to. It’s way too on the nose, with rises and falls all over the place. And that percussion just hurts me.

I just wish the album was a bit longer, which would have made it a full-length album, and maybe there would have been some artist driven choices here, rather then the safety net of convention. You can tell this duo has a voice just waiting to break out, but musically they are playing it safe and boring. Unfortunately for us.

Pros: When they are connected, you can tell very clearly that Odegard and Udy are childhood friends that enjoy playing together and to each others strengths, and there is a sweetness to If This Is Love, which absolutely merits it’s inclusion.

Cons: I wish that Udy had a larger role in the vocal work, and that he played off of Odegard more often, because while she is the big sister to his little brother figure, sometimes youth can surprise you with energy and innovation. And I wish that Shame On Me had hit the cutting room floor. Yuck.

Runtime: 28 minutes

Points of Interest: Odegard is two years older then Udy, and they first meet as children during a biblical stage production. They reconnected at the Calgary Stampede 2012 where they were both competitors in a talent search, but it wasn’t until a rained out BBQ that they decided to play 90’s country together and then things clicked.

There is some serious potential with this pop country duo, but it won’t get them into a position of prominence playing it safe. So for now I’ll be leaving Leaving Thomas on the shelf, with hopes that it isn’t nostalgia but success that demands another listen from them.

theories Summarized

I don’t think  you should buy this album or pick up a digital copy, but I do think you should listen to a handful of the tracks and make up your mind to investigate further. Maybe you’ll be more forgiving of the EP that have been, either way Leaving Thomas won’t be leaving the scene anytime soon, and hopefully they take the feedback with a grain of salt.

That said, I am happy to announce another first for timotheories, and an excellent album for you to consider listening to. Grizzly Bear’s Painted Ruins is well worth a spin, and their democratic brand of music is refreshing. Don’t Believe me? Just watch what Brendon Greene and I have to say about the matter.

I hope you enjoyed our first ever Sound Culture video review, but if you did, can you do us a favour and subscribe, comment and like the video? We appreciate your continued support dear readers.


Buzz Feeding Time (Matthew Ankerstein, entrepreneur, influencer, podcaster interview)

Once upon a time bees where everywhere, but over the past few generations, we’ve been losing our honeybees to pollution, urban sprawl and host of other manmade factors that effect their environments. It’s a sad thing, considering that bees pollinate a vast majority of the plant life in this world. Where would we be without bees, after all dear readers?

Now this absolutely is not meant to be a depressing post, but I do want to wake you up!

You see creative cuties, there’s wisdoms in studying bees. By zeroing in on an analogy of the bee, my hope is that you’ll acknowledge that hard work and fostering community are invaluable, especially in an era of communication. And to someone like Matthew Ankerstein, bees can bring a lot more to this world as a metaphor. Matthew thinks it’s important to connect with lots of different business leaders, and he’s always been fascinated by business (Bill Gates was one of his idols growing up); on top of that, Matthew was also surrounded by the hardworking farm lifestyle from a young age.

He took this passion for business success, mixed in some neve-rending hard work ethic, and decided to marry the two concepts together during his time at post-secondary. That’s when he came up with the idea for Bee Influenced. His goal with Bee Influenced is to provide business leaders, students, and startups with resources to become better online marketers. By focusing on SEO, influencer marketing, podcasting, and email marketing Matt brings a solid set of topics to the table with his weekly show. And to make it even more memorable, he invites business leaders all over the world to share their stories in an easy to digest format – the podcast.

I even got to join in on the fun for an interview with him this summer!

But when I asked Matthew to get behind the hot seat himself and talk about dealing with the challenges that creative professionals face, he was over the moon. This is his interview, and his topic is working through adversity.

I still cannot believe how much insight Matthew has, and I’ve listened to our interview over and over in the editing booth! He has a great love for technology, an eye for strategy, and a willingness to serve others with humility.

We really do hope you enjoyed watching the back and forth between Matt and I, and highly recommend you share this post, leave a comment, and make a like? And if Bee Influenced seems like something you’d be interesting in visiting some more, check out his Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and website yourself! Lots of ideas to pollinate there.

And special thanks to Matthew for being merry, motivating and merciless. His strategies, ideologies, and abilities are a breath of fresh air. Something to buzz about, for sure.


I Won’t Stop, I’m Gonna Work Harder (Stronger review)

I will never claim to be an expert on sociology, politics or any of the major social sciences, but I’m acutely aware of their importance, and I hope that by providing reviews on films like Stronger, my voice can contribute towards a positive world view, curbing hate and reducing ignorance about these kinds of social issues.

The movie does a pretty damn good job too though.


Stronger (2017)

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson
Director: David Gordon Green
released on blu-ray December 19, 2017
********** 10/10

IMDB: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Audience Score 82%
The Guardian: ****/*****

David Gordon Green is an American filmmaker, best known for films like Joe, Prince Avalanche, George Washington, and All the Real Girls. He’s also done some pretty bad comedies – The Sitter, Your Highness, Pineapple Express. Thankfully, Stronger fits nicely into the biography drama camp, where Green can really shine and do his coming of age (enlightenment) thing well. That said, I just read that he is going to direct the next Halloween instalment with Danny McBride, so maybe he’s still figuring out his film identity.

He could take some notes from his characterization of Jeff Bauman…

Taken from Wikipedia and modified…

Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a well-intentioned but underachieving Boston native who works at the deli counter of a Costco and lives in a small two-bedroom apartment with his alcoholic mother, Patty (Miranda Richardson). One day at the local bar, Jeff runs into his ex-girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany), who is attracted to his kindness and charm but finds herself constantly frustrated by his lack of commitment. After learning that Erin is running in the Boston Marathon to raise money for the hospital she works at, Jeff asks every patron in the bar to donate and then promises Erin he’ll wait at the finish line for her with a big sign.

The day of the Marathon, Jeff scrambles to make it to the finish line on time but reaches it just before Erin reaches the finish line. As she approaches a bomb goes off right where Jeff is standing. After being rushed to a hospital, both of Jeff’s legs are amputated above the knee. When he regains consciousness, Jeff tells his brother that he saw the bomber before the explosion. Patty calls the FBI, and Jeff is able to give them a description of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Local authorities capture Dzhokhar Tsarnaev days later, and Jeff is hailed as a hero.

Jeff struggles to adjust to his condition as well as his newfound fame. Patty books several interviews and constantly surrounds Jeff with news reporters during his rehab sessions which Erin, who has since rekindled with Jeff, objects. Jeff and his family are invited to the Stanley Cup Finals by the Boston Bruins who ask Jeff to wave the flag during the game’s opening ceremony. The crowd triggers traumatic flashbacks from Jeff, and he breaks down in the elevator. Erin comforts him and insists he talk to his family about the fragility of his mental state and the impact his newfound exposure is having on it. Later that night they make love for the first time since his injury.

Patty books Jeff an interview with Oprah Winfrey without telling him causing Erin to speak up and tell her that the constant media attention is intensifying Jeff’s PTSD. After an argument between Patty and Erin, Jeff finally admits that he does not want to do any more interviews. Patty, disheartened, tells him that she only wishes for the world to see how amazing her son is. She soon begins enabling Jeff’s worst tendencies including his laziness and affinity for drinking. He begins missing physical therapy appointments due to long nights of drinking usually with Patty equally as drunk. Erin, who has since moved in, finds Patty blacked out on the couch and Jeff in a bathtub unconscious and covered in vomit. The next day she snaps at Patty for her selfishness and negligence before calling Jeff out for his self-pity and refusal to stand up to his mother. She storms off leaving Jeff and Patty to drive home alone.

That night, Jeff blows off Erin to drink with his brothers at a bar. Two patrons at the bar begin asking Jeff questions about the bombing insinuating that the event was a government conspiracy to start a war in Iran and Jeff was paid to look like a victim. Insulted Jeff and his brothers initiate a bar fight with the patrons. Erin picks him up later that night and tells him she’s pregnant. Jeff begins to panic and tells her he isn’t ready to be a father causing Erin to scold him for constantly running away from his problems. She leaves him in the car without removing his wheelchair from the trunk, enters their apartment, and packs her things. Jeff crawls to the apartment door and has a PTSD flashback of the bombing in its entirety.

Jeff meets with Carlos, a man who cared for him in the immediate aftermath of the bombing saving his life. Carlos tells him about his son, a marine who died in Iraq. After attempting suicide Carlos was forced to attend his son’s funeral in a stretcher. His younger son, unable to cope with the death of his older brother and the constant state of pain his father was in, killed himself. Carlos confides that saving Jeff helped him make peace with the death of his sons and the blame he placed upon himself because of them. Jeff begins to understand that his will to live in the face of adversity is what both comforts and inspires people. He stops drinking and begins to take his rehab more seriously. He leaves Erin a voicemail apologizing for his behavior finally taking full responsibility for his immaturity and fear of commitment. A few days later he and Carlos throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game where he meets Pedro Martinez. Erin watches at home and smiles. After the game dozens of people come up to Jeff and tell him how and why he has so heavily impacted their lives.

He and Erin meet at a diner where he walks with his prosthetics for the first time without assistance. He tells Erin he loves her, to which she replies “Good.” He grabs her hand and smiles.

It really does an excellent job of using a real story to showcase a survivor’s journey towards acceptance of his new life, and luckily for us, it hides very little of Bauman’s personal life. He has regular flashbacks of the bombing, his eyes hiding ghosts and his arms curled up in pain. His emotional voice often comes through girlfriend Erin, until the very end anyway.

Pros: It’s a series of moments but it never feels like a made for TV mini series, and Tatiana Maslany does an amazing job as the female lead. I hope to see more of her in the future.

Cons: I wish there weren’t patriotic shots of flags and orchestral music that hit your heart strings at key moments. A little obvious for my taste.

Runtime: 1 hour 59 minutes

Points of Interest:

Featuring some solid character actors performances on top of all the emotional core, Stronger is a film about a life examined, dissected, and reassembled, not whole, but as a sum of its parts. And it’s incredibly satisfying to watch a story about tragedy, without glossing over the ugly parts and managing to avoid cliche of overcoming adversity. Jeff Bauman is no hero, he only plays one on tv.

I only wish I had seen it in theatres, because I would have recommended the shit out of it way earlier on then I am now. So many bio pics attempt the impossible, being dramatic without overexerting themselves, and this story about an amputee does it one better. He’s a slob, self-destructive, and not morally sound either, but Bauman is surrounded by so many people just as flawed as him, you can’t help but root for a change in his heart.

theories Summarized

Overall this is a film that works incredibly hard at avoiding all the well known cliches, and it’s a cinematic treat to watch. I highly recommend you give it a shot, and set aside any preconceived notions you might have about triumph films, bio pics or Jake Gyllenhaal. This is a seriously good movie. And that’s not a theory.

Speaking of visual treats, have you seen The Grand Budapest Hotel? No, well check out this Watch Culture video in that case. And even if you have seen it, Mike and I have some great reminders of why this needs another viewing. I personally consider it to be Wes Anderson’s best. But tell us what you think! Leave a comment, share the video, and don’t forget to subscribe, for more great reviews.