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.

Tim!

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.

Tim!

The Vibranium Standard (Kendrick Lamar, Black Panther: The Album – Music from and Inspired By review)

 

Comic book movie soundtracks are supposed to remind you of the movie, and by and large, most of them do the trick, though my favourites have always been the original Spider-Man trilogy OSTs. And it’s tough to stand up to those Sam Raimi films when we’re talking about thematic music. Nobody does it better then Danny Elfman, except maybe, Kendrick Lamar.

 

Kendrick Lamar – Black Panther: The Album, Music from and Inspired By

released February 9, 2018
******** 8/10

Black Panther: The Album – Music from and Inspired By (also known as Black Panther: The Album) is a soundtrack album for Marvel Studios latest and greatest, Black Panther. In case that wasn’t obvious to you yet, this is a project with some weight behind it.

Now, to be perfectly honest, this isn’t a Kendrick Lamar album, but it must as well be his love letter to Blaxploitation music of the 1970s and 1990s gangsta rap, with a conscious hip hop flavour of the day.

He pretty much curated the whole thing, and shows up on at least 40% of it’s tracks. His record label, Top Dawg Entertainment, also takes a producers credit. Consequently, each of the featured artists work really well together, and each song adds to the theme of the movie, with Lamar typically sounding the weakest of any of the authors. But if Lamar is one of the worst parts, then why do I say that this is a Kendrick Lamar album? Mainly, because he is all over the record, providing direction to it’s theme, and even Kendrick Lamar at his worst is far more interesting then the majority of commercial artists out there today.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time going over each of the individual tracks, but you should know that the themes of blackness as identity, politics, royalty, spirituality, and vulnerability all work together to show off the strengths of the movie, without actually being included in the film score. That’s right, this is a soundtrack inspired by the film, but when you listen to it, there are obvious lyrics which connect us to both protagonist T’Challa, and villain Killmonger.

Pros: There is a lot of amazing cultural influence going on here, from The Weeknd, to Vince Staples. to Khalid, to Schoolboy Q, to Ab-Soul, to Jayrock. It’s A-list hip hop and R&B artists working in concert to send a message about responsiblity.

Cons: If you are hoping for a follow-up to Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 studio album, Damn., then you are going to be disappointed. And as much as this is a Kendrick Lamar influenced soundtrack album, it would have benefited from being a true Kendrick Lamar album with artist features where necessary.

Runtime: 49 minutes

Points of Interest: In it’s first two weeks out, Black Panther: The Album has remained No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. There are a handful of direct references to the movie in certain tracks, rapped by Kendrick Lamar himself.

Getting the support of artists like 2 Chainz and Future is important to a whos-who of contemporary hip hop, but what is even more significant is the message contained therein and the status of the film as it reinforces the voices it needs to be heard. I haven’t seen the movie myself yet, but listening to the soundtrack on repeat of this week is making me even more impatient to check it out.

theories Summarized

It’s not a perfect album, but it is an essential soundtrack collection, and the best representation of a current hip hop to a commercial audience. I’m impressed by the album overall, and while Lamar is a bit subdued in the presentation, his voice continues to stand head and shoulders above the crowd.

And speaking of Kendrick Lamar, my official video review of David Bowie’s Blackstar is now up. In this video Brendon and I tackle the final work of Ziggy Stardust with humour, inspiration, and an extra-special dose of smooth jazz. And if you want to figure out the Lamar/Bowie connection, you’ll just have to watch the video.

Thanks for taking the time to read the review, watch the video review and hopefully you’ve left a comment or two. If you liked what you saw, click on the like button, and even better, subscribe to the channel! Come back tomorrow for a film review about The Florida Project. There’ll be more theories!

Tim!

All Of The Flaws With The Last Jedi (Cross Talk EP 33)

It turns out that I love the new Star Wars movie.

I realize that this is not a popular opinion, and yeah I review movies regularly, and yeah that puts me into the camp of critic rather then enthusiast, but I really want you to hear me out on this one dear readers. Yes, the movie has been critically acclaimed for honouring the tradition of Star Wars films, but consider this point – as Chris says in this weeks episode of Cross Talk, “it’s a movie that is greater then the sum of it’s parts.”

By ripping apart the seams of the legacy we have, Rian Johnson has forced us to re-evaluate our love affair with nostalgia and the future-past aesthetic of a galaxy, far, far away. It looks like Star Wars, it sounds like Star Wars, but the humour is contemporary, and the story challenges the audience with new ideas about the Jedi, the Force, Luke Skywalker, and all of things that made this fiction so entertaining in the first place.

But I love this movie not because the movie was a good movie. To be perfectly honest, as a movie, it fails in so many different ways. Yes, it was entertaining at times, and it had some really interesting inclusions in it, but I also agree with Mike that it’s horribly flawed in it’s presentation, there are too many loose threads, and the upending of everything from Episode VII towards the end of Episode VIII will leave general audiences frustrated.

When I think about it, I’m not entirely sure how this trilogy is going to right all of the wrongs of the prequels.

And yet, I do love it. Despite all of it’s flaws, The Last Jedi is challenging all of the dogmatic ideas about The Force, and it presented a completely different version of Luke Skywalker then we were expecting. Plus, I think it redeems Episode I, II, and III. Not because they are better by comparison, but because Disney is doing a really interesting thing with it’s culling of the Star Wars canon (I’ll save that for another day).

In brief, this movie is very interesting. And if you don’t believe me, it’s time to look at all of the flaws with The Last Jedi. And this is episode thirty three of Cross Talk.

theories Summarized

You can’t expect a movie franchise universe to be perfect, because the challenge of a film director is to live somewhere between honouring what came before, and adding something new. Where art fails (movies, music, fashion , etc.) is when authors erase everything you know and love. That is when I can completely understand why fans would be disappointed, and with a movie like Star Wars, the fan base is so large that there will be strong opinions.

And as a true fan of these movies, I admit I treat them like a child, I love them no matter what they do, which is why I can still love it. Even when it does things I don’t agree with.

One final theory – 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 come back tomorrow if you want to read my thoughts on the new 54.40 album.I.

Tim!

The Cure For Toxic Masculinity In Movies (Cross Talk EP 32)

Let’s talk about toxic masculinity and how it is still a dominant force in our art, and in our lives dear readers.

Whether you choose to believe me or not, I know that even within the past twenty years, there has been a very minimal shift in how we deal with the masculine identity. Negative stereotypes abound, comedies fall into the same patterns of sexualizing women and simplifying men, and most dramas won’t touch certain topics, unless it means showing a complete breakdown of man out of touch with his inner strength.

It’s impossible for a man to be vulnerable, soft, passive and equal to a woman. At least, thats what the patriarchal model would expect us to believe.

It’s bad all around, because woman aren’t given equal footing, deal with a constant threat of rape, battery, and death, and to a much lesser extent men suffer from mental health issues, all stemming from millennia of oppression. And that’s an oversimplification. But we didn’t make this Cross Talk episode to do an after school special and wrap a nice bow on the issue – we wanted to open it up, and use specific films to identify how attitudes permeate, using film as case studies.

Which is why Chris, Mike, and I decided to do our part and talk about this issue, and how it has effected us personally. Full disclosure, we openly admit that we are imperfect, not experts, and guilty of ignorant behaviour. But by bringing up the issue of why toxic masculinity shows up in movies, and showing you specific instances of how it takes over, we’re hoping to become better advocates for obliterating objectification for women, for humanity and fostering a better sense of community.

Chasing Amy, (500) Days of Summer, Moonlight. These movies are prime examples of the dangers of continuing to assume gender roles, when more and more evidence that persistence (“it’s all in the chase”) is actually the worst. I sincerely hope you get riled up watching this episode, because I really want this generation to change our habits, and we need to stop glossing over major problems.

This is the thirty second episode of Cross Talk.

theories Summarized

In case you haven’t figured it out from that discussion, while I think the cure for toxic masculinity hasn’t been found yet, I’m confident that raising awareness about toxic behaviour is integral to solving the  global epidemic. We can’t progress in society if we aren’t challenging the status quo, and art is merely a tool to be used for the good or the bad. So let’s please promote good examples of masculine behaviour and make speak out against bad art.

One final theory – 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 let’s us know what we are doing right.

And tomorrow I’ll have an album review about sheep dogs.

Tim!