The Dude (The Disaster Artist review)

To quote from The Big Lebowski, one of my comedy dramas of all-time –

Sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about the Dude here. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude, in Los Angeles.

In 2003, Tommy Wiseau WAS the dude in Los Angeles. And that’s a true story.

The Disaster Artist (2017)

Cast: Dave Franco, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Ari Graynor, Alison Brie, Jacki Weaver, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson
Director: James Franco
released on blu-ray March 13, 2018
********* 9/10

IMDB: 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Audience Score 87%
The Guardian: ****/*****

James Franco is an American actor, filmmaker, and instructor. Comfortable behind the scenes as he is on camera, Franco has been involved in a lot of interesting projects in his career, most notably Milk, The Little Prince, This Is The End, the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, and 127 Hours.

The Disaster Artist is the first critical and commercial success Franco has achieved in the role of director.

Special thanks to IMDB user Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com for the synopsis.

In the 1990s, Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is an aspiring actor, who meets the strange Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in an acting class. Together, Tommy inspires Greg to overcome his nervousness in acting so well that Greg agrees to come to Los Angeles with his odd new friend to pursue their dreams. However, their dreams seem to prove hopeless, especially for Tommy whose mysteriously strange accent and personality repels nearly all around him. Out of an inadvertent suggestion from Greg, Tommy is inspired to instead create his own movie, The Room (2003). What follows is a bizarre struggle to create that film, guided by Tommy, a man who has plenty of money, but not a trace of filmmaking education, experience, talent or even common sense. Along the way, Greg’s friendship with Tommy is put to the test as this project takes shape that would produce a film that ultimately becomes a bizarre accomplishment of a cult classic nature that no one, including Tommy, can see coming.

This is a movie about a movie that was made against all odds… Except for all of the mysterious money that Tommy Wiseau had on hand that allowed him the means to see his shitty movie to the finish line. And no, this movie never answers the questions of Wiseaus heritage, where he got his money from, or how come Greg Sestero was so drawn in by Wiseau and his aspirations.

At a high concept level, it’s pretty easy to see why James Franco aspired to make this film, he relates to the focus of his subject on a personal level, having lived on the edge of art and commercial success for so long. And little brother Dave dotes upon James to gain attention.

Pros: James Franco carries the films strength throughout; his portrayal of Wiseau spot-on. And to top it off, there is clearly a deep appreciation for the story of The Room at the centre of this film, which is emulated through the familial bond of the two Franco brothers.

ConsWhile it is clear that there is love for The Room when watching the movie, what is not demonstrated, is true affection for Wiseau, the author that inspired all of this to happen. He is never truly elevated and the stakes are not presented in a way to produce real drama.

Runtime: 1 hour 44 minutes

Points of Interest: Greg Sistero noted in the book, upon which the film is based, that Wiseau would only allow James Franco or Johnny Depp to portray him. This is the first time that James and Dave Franco have appeared on screen together in a feature length film. There was talk of having Dave appear in This Is The End, but he would have died which was too sad, and James was considered for a part in 21 Jump Street, that never came to light.

As is the case in The Room, the comedy of The Disaster Artist comes out of the tragedies of something that is meant to be dramatic. The absurdity of making films, starring in films, and attempting to get a production under control. It’s obvious why so many stars feature in cameos on this film, they see it as an important piece of history and a strong demonstration of what NOT to do when making a film.

It reminds me of Ed Wood, another triumph of will from someone with no desire to earn their stripes.

theories Summarized

Franco was the perfect choice to play Tommy Wiseau, and I’m glad to see him finally share screen-time with his brother. And I also find it fascinating that Sestero and Wiseau do share a resemblance. But while this is an entertaining film, about a so-bad-it’s-good film. It reminds me of an even more important theory, life is too short to eat bad  food / drink bad wine / insert appropriate example here.

But on the positive side. We have a video review of Whiplash to share, finally. It’ll make your neck crane, in a good way. Like The Disaster Artist, or like the The Room, I guess. If you liked La La Land, then this movie is for you. If you like drama, then this movie is for you. If you like J.K. Simmons, you know what I was going to type.

So please let me know what you thought of my review, like and share the video, and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already. I anticipate that our content will continue to grow much like the Marvel cinematic universe. A well considered theory on my part.

Tim!

Sheru (Lion review)

Imagine a scenario where you grew up with a loving family, and you were headed into a stable career with the love of good partner.

But then you remembered you were lost, and in fact, adopted.

 

Lion (2016)

Cast: Sunny Pawar, Abhishek Bharate, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, Divian Ladwa, Rooney Mara
Director: Garth Davis
re-released on blu-ray April 11, 2017
********* 9/10

IMDB: 8.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Audience Score 92%
The Guardian: ****/*****

 

Garth Davis is an Australian director, best known for directing television before his feature film debut with Lion. It was nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, but unfortunately didn’t take anything home. Which is odd, because it’s a really good movie.

Spanning a period of over twenty five years, we learn the true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian boy who became lost in Calcutta, lived on the streets briefly, and was taken to an orphange before being adopted by an Australian family. At once immersive and incredible, Lion is the movie I wish I’d seen in theatres instead of John Wick Chapter 2.

Just saying.

Special thanks to Claudio Carvalho, for the plot summary below.

In 1986, in Khandwa, India, the 5 year-old boy Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives a very poor but happy life with his mother Kamla (Priyanka Bose), his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) and his younger sister Shekila (Khushi Solanki). Kamla works carrying stones during the night shift and Guddu also works in the night in the Central Station. One night, Saroo insists on going with Guddu to his work, who does not resist. Guddu leaves Saroo sleeping on a bank in the station and asks him to stay there until he returns. However the boy wakes up in the middle of the night and decides to seek out his brother in a train. He sleeps again and he wakes up in Calcutta, West Bengal, and 1,600 km east of Khandwa. Saroo does not speak Bengali, only Hindi, and lives on the street of the big city. One day, a young man brings Saroo to the police station and he is sent of an institution for children. In 1987, Saroo is adopted by the Australian family of John (David Wenham) and Sue Brierley (Nicole Kidman) and moves to Hobart, Tasmania. He is raised with love by his foster parents and one day, he goes to an Indian party promoted by his Indian mates from the university with his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara). As he tells the story of his childhood it triggers the feeling of missing his family and awakens a search within him…

I kept hearing this movie compared to an odyssey, and while I wondered how it could possibly achieve that status, after I was done with Lion I wondered if it could be called anything less. This is a true story of an Indian boy who was able to locate his family decades later through the use of Google Maps. Combining elements of drama, thriller, and mystery to weave this biopic, first-time director Davis is able to draw us into Saroo’s journey and hold our attention easily.

Pros: Both Saroo the child and Saroo the adult are portrayed deftly and with charisma. And you never feel like you’re watching a ham-fisted nostalgia spectacle, the drama is real.

Cons: While it isn’t ham-fisted, there isn’t much there in the way to details to consider or implications to uncover. The relationship with brother Mantosh is sidelined too.

Runtime: 1 hour 58 minutes

Points of Interest: Over 80,000 Indian children go missing each year.  #LionHeart foundation was launched by this films production companies to provide financial support to the over 11 million children who live on the streets of India.

That GPS and digital technology were able to bring Saroo back to his family is an incredible thing, and it should be celebrated as an effort of persistence that he made sense of his incredible childhood misadventure. A story of a lifetime with an excellent supporting cast, led by the talented Sunny Pawar, Lion has the heart of one.

theories Summarized

Should you go see this movie? No, because it’s not in theatres anymore. But you should pick up a copy of it or find a digital download service and spend some time with Saroo, or should I say Sheru?

Tim!

City of Stars (La La Land review)

What do you mean you don’t like jazz?

It just means that when I listen to it, I don’t like it.

The most candid of responses, mixed with sweetness and optimism. That’s the kind of movie you can really get behind, you know? The kind that will propel film into the 21st century and get us out of our hum drum lives, the lives we need to escape from after the great war.

Just kidding, this movie happened in 2016, and it’s about the future.

La La Land (2016)

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons, John Legend
Director: John Lee Hancock
released on blu-ray April 25, 2017
********** 10/10

IMDB: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Audience Score 83%
The Guardian: *****/*****

 

I’ve written about American director Damien Chazelle before, when I decided to review Whiplash last August. So yeah, we already know that Chazelle is a musical whiz, and that he can bring music and film to life in an epic pairing. Owed to his own musical background of course. Which he fully and completely does with the construction of 2016’s La La Land.

Here is a brief overview of the plot, courtesy of Wikipedia.

 Stuck in traffic on a Los Angeles highway (“Another Day of Sun”), Mia Dolan (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, has a moment of road rage with Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling), a struggling jazz pianist. Her subsequent audition goes poorly, where the casting director takes a call in the middle of an emotional scene. That night, Mia’s roommates take her to a lavish party in the Hollywood Hills (“Someone in the Crowd”). She walks home after her car is towed.

During a gig at a restaurant, Sebastian slips into a passionate jazz improvisation despite warnings from the owner (J. K. Simmons) to stick to the setlist of traditional Christmas songs. Mia overhears the music as she passes by (“Mia and Sebastian’s Theme”). Moved, she enters the restaurant, but Sebastian is fired. As he storms out, Mia attempts to compliment him, but he brushes her off.

Months later, Mia runs into Sebastian at a party where he plays in a 1980s pop cover band; she teases him by requesting “I Ran (So Far Away)”, a song he considers an insult for “a serious musician”. After the gig, the two walk to their cars, lamenting each other’s company despite the chemistry between them (“A Lovely Night”).

The next day, Sebastian arrives at Mia’s work, and she shows Sebastian around the movie lot, where she works as a barista, while explaining her passion for acting. Sebastian takes Mia to a jazz club, describing his passion for jazz and desire to open his own club. They warm up to each other (“City of Stars”). Sebastian invites Mia to a screening of Rebel Without a Cause; Mia accepts, forgetting a commitment with her current boyfriend. Bored with the double date with her boyfriend, she runs to the theater, finding Sebastian as the film begins. The two conclude their evening with a romantic dance at the Griffith Observatory (“Planetarium”).

After more failed auditions, Mia decides, at Sebastian’s suggestion, to write a one-woman play. Sebastian begins to perform regularly at a jazz club (“Summer Montage”), and the two move in together. Sebastian’s former classmate Keith (John Legend) invites him to be the keyboardist in his fusion jazz band, where he will be offered a steady income. Although dismayed by the band’s pop style, Sebastian signs after overhearing Mia trying to convince her mother that Sebastian is working on his career. Mia attends one of their concerts (“Start a Fire”) but is disturbed, knowing Sebastian does not enjoy his band’s music.

During the band’s first tour, Mia and Sebastian get into an argument; she accuses him of abandoning his dreams, while he claims she liked him more when he was unsuccessful. Mia leaves, insulted and frustrated. Sebastian misses Mia’s play due to a photo shoot with the band that he had forgotten. The play is a disaster; few people attend, and Mia overhears dismissive comments. Despondent and unable to pay the theater back, she moves back home to Boulder City, Nevada.

Sebastian receives a call from a casting director who attended Mia’s play, inviting her to a film audition. Sebastian drives to Boulder City and persuades Mia to attend. The casting directors ask Mia to tell a story; she sings about her aunt who inspired her to pursue acting (“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”). Sebastian encourages her to devote herself to the opportunity. They profess they will always love each other but are uncertain of their future.

Five years later, Mia is a famous actress and happily married to another man (Tom Everett Scott), with whom she has a daughter. One night, the couple stumbles upon a jazz bar. Noticing the “Seb’s” logo she had once designed, Mia realizes Sebastian has opened his club. As Sebastian notices Mia in the crowd, he plays their love theme and the two imagine what might have been had their relationship worked perfectly (“Epilogue”). Before Mia leaves with her husband, she shares a smile with Sebastian.

What a whirlwind! I’ve seen this movie three times now, and I still can’t but smile when I think about it. Gosling and Stone have some of the best chemistry of all time, better than Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Clarke Gable and Vivien Leigh, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. I could go on for a while.

Point being, that while this appears to be a film about Hollywood, it’s moreso a film about love and the dangers of it, but despite those dangers, it’s far better to experience love and live a full life than to wait for life to happen.

Pros: The two leads play well off of each other, as they always do. Stone is beautiful and heartbreaking in her authenticity, and Gosling is too warm hearted to really be that rakish. The homage to the passage of time is so well done you’ll get all the feels.

Cons: There are an ever-present string of cliches to snip through as you watch, but you have to know the musicals that came before to be truly effected by it.

Runtime: 2 hours 8 minutes

Points of Interest: Emma Watson turned down this role to film the live adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Ryan Gosling learned to play piano for this role, and John Legend learned to play guitar.

This is a love affair fully realized, passing through seasons, time and space, and ending on a high note. No, it is not a happily ever after scenario, but La La Land doesn’t need to be in order to showcase the starry idealism of today’s youth. Talented and romantic, these kids are paying homage to what has proceeded them, without falling into the tropes of the musical genre. Admittedly, I struggled with the very first sequence of the film, but I think like any good musical, Chazelle is capable of drawing you into this world and getting you to settle into it’s rules.

theories Summarized

There are musical numbers throughout this love story, but what I find most interesting of all is the love story that Chazelle has with this city. La La Land is so happy and sweet in it’s outpouring of emotion, that you have to wonder what Los Angeles did right to have this director fall so hard for her. I have a few theories, but I don’t kiss and tell.

Tim!

On The Shoulders Of Giants (89th Annual Academy Awards)

Last year the two words whitewashing and oscars seemed to be synonymous with each other. I wrote a rather exhaustive post about it, point of fact. To be fair, I am an artist though, so it’s quite difficult not to be a lens for the big issues I find wrapped around my heart. Sigh.

Now, I have written about this theory before, but let me remind you that there is an idea out there which states that creative professional experience the highs and lows of life even more deeply than an average person. I want to posit something different from that.

We all feel things very deeply, and humans are capable of amazing things when we work together. In fact, I think it’s because we should work together that we achieve greatness.

Children start out with the same basic abilities and aptitudes, as we age, personalities come through and environments shape us into complex individuals.

 

The Full List of Nominees

I’ve always been a fan of film. Cinema. The movies. Whatever you want to call it, I’ve celebrated motion pictures in my life.

Sitting here at my desk, I’m watching the trailers for the nine films which have been nominated for Best Picture 2017. La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea, Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Hell or High Water, Lion, Fences. I’ve seen more than half of these movies already and I cannot wait to watch the remaining ones I’ve missed. Films make my heart ache with joy, fear, sadness, compassion, anger, excitement, achievement and a number of other emotions.

It’s because so many creative people come together to engage our sense that films mean something. And I think that this year in particular, the academy has done an excellent job listening to the public. 4 of the 9 choices are headed by minority actors, and that’s a big deal.

La La Land has the most votes by far, and while it is an excellent film, it is something of a self-congratulatory piece about Hollywood. So I really hope that this movie doesn’t take it, because we’ve been there, and done that. And Arrival is my new favourite first contact film. On the other side of the coin, Hell or High Water is a classic film on all accounts – I reviewed it late last year and I loved it. It perfectly serves as to what film making is all about. It would be an excellent dark horse entry.

But looking more closely at the nominees, I have to notice something. I’ve only seen the 5 films with white actors headlining them, and that’s an important point.

Award Winning

When you give an award you are truly GIVING something as payment, compensation or as prize. Consider that statement for a second. How many billions of people are there in the world? 30? And how many different ethnicities make up that total?

The challenge we face is that for decades the Academy Awards (like many other institutions) have focused on certain types of people, non necessarily because those people were the most deserving, but because they were singled out for compensation. As the global community expands, it makes sense that we continue to honour those who do the best job, but in instances where many are deserving, it’s those who go over and above should be awarded. By default these means minority groups which need more representation. I haven’t seen Moonlight or Fences, but could easily see them taking it.

I hope they do. Hidden Figures and Lion would be fantastic as well, but based on what I’ve read, Moonlight and Fences are better films. Guess we’ll find out in three days though.

theories Summarized

#OscarsSoWhite was a necessary rebellion against disrespectful authority. I think with it came even more artists working together this year to create films that represent life as it is, and even better, the voters now have an opportunity to choose recipients that better depict humanity. We may be standing on the shoulders of giants, but while every statue has a head of gold, the feet are always made of clay, and liable to crumble towards the end. It’s time to choose a different champion, and that’s my theory.

Tim!

Spring Cleaning (timotheories March 2016)

Hey there, dear readers! It’s update time! Which of course means trading in a shorter post today for a preview of things to come this month.

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*Disclaimer* As always, every week I  purchase an album and movie one week ahead of the actual review release so if you follow me on instagram (@timotheories), you should already know what’s coming up on March 7th and 8th! But EVEN I DON’T KNOW what is coming on the 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, and 29. Yet.

So let us dig in and I’ll cover off most of the March topics so you have an idea of what to expect this month on timotheories.

Stimulating Sundays – (03/06) March interview, (03/13) how my art practice works, (03/20) Cross Talk Ep.3, (03/27) routines of famous creatives
Melodic Mondays – (03/07) The 1975 are up next, (03/14) (03/21) (03/28) A MYSTERY! If a physical copy of The Life Of Pablo does show up in the stands, I’ll review it this month, #notholdingmybreaththough
Theatrical Tuesdays – (03/08) Room, (03/15) The Night Before, (03/22) (03/29)… more 2016 Oscars related entries!
Wisdom Wednesdays – (03/09) health matters, (03/16) time management, (03/23) Pinterest, (03/30) New Yorker art section
Timely Thursday – (03/10) Libraries, (03/17) look at some of my art, (03/24) a concert, (03/31) Easter

See, I promised you a year of all killer, no filler. And I think we’re delivering so far. Right?

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And I was “mostly” correct with my video release predictions for February too. We shared the Lucas Chaisson interview, Cross Talk Ep.2, and the Space:Nunz interview. The only one that got messed up was RTG, but I can promise you this, the RTG videos are going to be more content packed then originally anticipated, so I will do what I can to begin releasing them in March, but it all depends on how quickly post-production wraps up.

Now let’s talk more detail on the March timotheories interviews. This month we have a very talented multi-talented artist who is big advocate on education and manages to learn, run a business, and make art at the same time. You aren’t going to want to miss this one folks!

AND last, but definitely not least Cross Talk Ep.3 begins production this weekend. Have you ever watched a movie, and years later learned that a remake was coming down the road? I’m sure you wondered if the remake was going to be a shot-for-shot duplication, an homage or a re-imagining. We’re going to dive into this top on March 20th, so be sure pencil it in!

And that’s it dear readers, now you are in the know. I’m out of theories and timely things for the week, so have an excellent weekend, and I’ll catch you on Sunday for this month’s interview!

Of course you can leave some comments, and subscribe to the blog too!

Tim!