Romy Shiller

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Somewhere

In Film, review on August 31, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Life is a sum of all your choices.
Albert Camus

Director: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Stars: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning and Chris Pontius

I can’t imagine that this film is everyone’s cup of tea but I loved it. Hardly a word was spoken. The film emphasized the visual representation of isolation. I was reminded of Michael Snow’s,  Wavelength . That short, experimental film, uses one shot which slowly zooms in on a picture. Like Somewhere it requires patience, trust and commitment.

Plot: Somewhere is a 2010 drama film, written and directed by  Sofia Coppola, which won the  Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. The film follows Johnny Marco, a newly famous actor played by  Stephen Dorff, as he recuperates from a minor injury at the  Chateau Marmont, a well-known Hollywood retreat. Despite money, fame and professional success, Marco is trapped in an  existential crisis and feels little emotion during his daily life. When her mother goes away, Cleo, Marco’s 11 year old daughter, played by  Elle Fanning, comes to stay and they spend time together; her presence helps Marco mature and accept adult responsibility. The film explores ennui among  Hollywood stars, the father-daughter relationship and also offers an oblique [commentary] of show business, particularly Hollywood film-making and the life of a “ star.”

Johnny Marco feels that his life is stagnant. This is mirrored by the camera shots which are often unmoving and stay in the same place. He is surrounded by groupies, fame and fortune but he is often alone. The juxtaposition between isolation and the multitude is great, lending itself well to his profession – actor. As a father, when he is with his daughter, there is more dialogue and action. He is less isolated. We don’t feel he is lonely. She is really well played by Elle Fanning (the younger sister of  Dakota Fanning) who is wry and emotional – the antithesis of her father.

Elle Fanning as Cleo is the colour of the work. She brings an added dimension to her father’s life. Her presence is layered and her gestures often comment on her father’s actions. For instance, in Italy a woman who sleeps with Marco shows up for breakfast. Cleo gives her father a disapproving glance. Cleo is vivacious, funny and a great cook. Her attention to detail in the preparation of food is completely the opposite of her father. Food is life – she nurtures it, he doesn’t.

The aesthetic is simple and raw, very unglamorous, mirroring the bare uncovering of identity. Even an attendance at an award show is not glitzy even though it’s showy. This film is about truth and in this case it is sparse, you know? The party scenes are not slick. Marco’s lifestyle is grey and lifeless.

Women come on to Marco and he has sex with some but it feels cold, unemotional and removed. An act so intimate is brought down to a level of something to do. Marco orders pole dancer twins (they bring their own collapsible poles – who knew?) Their dance feels long, tedious and absurd. Like the sex it is meaningless.

I was with somebody who had a hard time identifying with Marco. Good. No Prozac required. The ennui of a life filled with excess is a lot to bear – for some people. Does a good film mean one identifies with the character? No. Sometimes it is about the story of a character. Often characters are extremely flawed no matter their so-called privileges. Coppola often examines characters who challenge in some way, their lifestyle. Anyhow, I had empathy for Marco but I think that different people will bring alternate feelings to this character.

Sofia Coppola is well-known for directing films such as Marie Antoinette (2006), Lost in Translation(2003), The Virgin Suicides (1999). Her work is often the study of personality.  I think that she is a risk-taker. I usually like her work and find it refreshing. I see so many films and she stands out.

Coppola’s aesthetic confronts the tone and either it contrasts or matches it. The tension between the look and the mood is very interesting. I believe this is purposeful and well thought out. For example in Marie Antoinetteall is lush and confection-like in contrast to a background of bloodiness. In Somewhere there is something called ‘pathetic fallacy’ – the outside matches the feeling. This can be heady stuff. Or not.

I don’t want to reveal the ending…the film begins and ends on a road. At the beginning Marco is in his car and goes around in circles. The ending reveals a shift. That’s all I’ll say.

In the Orlando Sentinel, Roger Moore said Somewhere is a triumph of tedium, banality passing for depth, a vacuous embrace of nothing.

Oh, yeah.

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Exit Through the Gift Shop

In Film, review on August 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Only the truth is revolutionary. – Graffiti quote

Director: Banksy
Stars: Banksy, Thierry Guetta and Space Invader

I’ve already lived a lot in this lifetime and because I never gave a crap about conforming to a so-called norm, I’ve met very unique people and was witness to some extraordinary events. Several years ago, I dated a graffiti artist. My gifts included spray paintings on canvass. One was of Spider-Man. Cool, right? Anyhow, this film evoked many memories and was informed by my relationship.

Plot: Banksy is a graffiti artist with a global reputation whose work can be seen on walls from post-hurricane New Orleans to the separation barrier on the Palestinian West Bank. He fiercely guards his anonymity to avoid prosecution. An eccentric French shop keeper turned documentary maker attempts to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. Includes footage of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Invader and many of the world’s most infamous graffiti artists at work, on walls and in interview. As Banksy describes it, “It’s basically the story of how one man set out to film the un-filmable. And failed.”

This film might be a mockumentary and not a documentary – here we go again. I reviewed ‘I’m Still Here,’ a very convincing mockumentary. A review said; for your first question to someone to be “Are you real?” might seem a bit rude, but in the case of the French street artist Thierry Guetta, such basics are strangely necessary.

Bansky said;I paint my own pictures but I get a lot of help building stuff and installing it. I have a great little team, but I tell you what – they all hate this fucking film. They don’t care if its effective, they feel very strongly that Mr Brainwash is undeserving of all the attention. Most street artists feel the same. This film has made me extremely unpopular in my community.” I can imagine that street artists would have a hard time with this film but it was so necessary.

Guetta basically is obsessed with filming and always has a camera in his hand. He tells all of these graffiti-artists he meets that he’s making a documentary – he isn’t. He starts off as the owner of a store filled with vintage clothes. An encounter with his cousin ‘Space Invader’ leads him to the street-art world. He eventually makes stickers or decals and joins the street-art scene. He hears about Banksy and is determined to meet him. I don’t blame him! Banksy decides that Guetta is more interesting than he is and makes a documentary about him, encouraging him to pursue street art.

On a Valentine’s Day, Guetta, adopting the name Mr. Brainwash, had a big art exhibit in the Meatpacking District in New York with models and actors in attendance. If the whole stunt was intended as a joke about art and authenticity — a twist on the old “a monkey could do it” line — it appears to have far exceeded its maker’s intentions. Shrouded in shadow, Banksy ends the documentary wondering if he did the right thing launching Mr Brainwash on the world. “Andy Warhol was replicating images to show they were meaningless,” he says. “And now, thanks to Mr. Brainwash, they’re definitely meaningless.”

Many people believe that Guetta is actually the elusive Banksy and are buying Guetta’s art-work just in case. One of the larger works — a giant portrait of Madonna — sold to a private collector for $200,000. Shortly afterwards Madonna asked him to design her album Celebration:

I lived in Paris, France for a few months. At the time, I was really into graffiti, so most of my photos are about these. To me, they were urban works of art. I was able to find a lot near subway stops. The artists were anonymous, so I could reflect on the work without the distraction of personality. I am still glad I did not take any pictures of tourist spots or familiar destinations, like the Eiffel Tower. What I did shoot reminds me of who I was at the time. As usual, it was far from conventional. These pictures are of “my” Paris. (Shiller, You Never Know: A Memoir pp.105-6.)

The film received overwhelmingly positive reviews, holding 98% on  Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for  Best Documentary in the  2011 Academy Awards. One consistent theme in the reviews was the authenticity of the film: Was the film just an elaborate ruse on Banksy’s part, or did Guetta really evolve into  Mr. Brainwash overnight? The New York Times movie reviewer Jeannette Catsoulis wrote that the film could be a new subgenre, a “prankumentary”.

New York Film Critics Online bestowed its Best Documentary Award on the film in 2010

I like that this film shows process. Graffiti art-work is rarely spoken about and this film, even if it’s fake, highlights an art-form that many people are oblivious about. I believe that this film is important.

Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing. All books are available online

The Runaways

In 3rd Wave Feminism, Film, review on August 29, 2011 at 11:11 am

Girls have got balls. They’re just a little higher up that’s all.

Joan Jett

I adored the film The Runaways.

Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in the music-fueled coming of age story of the groundbreaking, all-girl rock band, The Runaways. They fall under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon, Pearl Harbor), who turns the rebellious Southern California kids into a rock group with outrageous success. With its tough-chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself and so do its two leads: Joan is the band’s pure rock n’ roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie-Bardot looks, is the sex kitten.(zip.ca)

Even though I was very young (sure!), I remember Joan Jett. The Runaways was off my radar or I was too young. Joan Jett was before her time – powerful, rocker-chick. I keep thinking of Courtney Love and Hole.

The film accurately portrays the aesthetic of the day.  The make-up, hair, costumes – OMG. Also the reproduced drug-haze, mirrored at times by the cinematography, and excessive rocker lifestyle is remarkable. Surprisingly good acting from Kristen Stewart (Twilight Saga) and Dakota Fanning who certainly left her child image behind.

There is a grittiness to the film. The filth, sleaze and grossness aren’t kept locked away or made tidy.

Cameron Crowe’s autobiographical film Almost Famous is: “about the experiences of a teenage music journalist who goes on the road with an emerging band in the early 1970s “ (Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia) and in retrospect it feels sanitized compared toThe Runaways.

I had a band in the early 1990s and while we were far from as edgy as The Runaways many of the feelings about music in this film strike a chord.

Many of my current interests are reflected in the film such as, girl-power, otherness, difference, marginalization… Even without my stuff I think it’s a great film.

Joan Jett’s urge to play music and become famous is captured. I’m pretty sure that most people see the film for her. It is quite astonishing to see her beginnings and even though it’s Cherie’s story we are given a major glimpse into Joan Jett’s life.

According to the commentary, Joan Jett says that director Floria Sigismondi sacrificed certain historical accuracies in favor of cinematic watch-ability. Even though this is a biography it is foremost a film.

Anyhow, what is real? I am reminded of what I once said in an article. “Ideas of ‘the real’ we hold are very interesting to me on many levels. Reality television exemplifies a level that suggests that if an actual person, not an actor, says or does certain things, it is fact and genuine. Things like editing or producing are invisible. I was in a mini-documentary (“Modern documentaries have some overlap with television forms, with the development of “reality television” that occasionally verges on the documentary…Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia) and sure what I chose to say came from my own mind but I had no choice in what was used, I had no say in how it was put together and it followed a predetermined aesthetic in keeping with the news-show airing it (even though the fabulous woman filming it had her own style). I would gladly do it again and was asked to be in a feature-length film documentary, but I am under no false illusion here. Even documentaries are ‘unreal.’” (Big Bother)

        The Runaways is not a documentary but based on a biographical book by Cherie Currie. We have this idea that the book and film are ‘real.’ The way that I perceive it is that both are based on real people and events but the facts are not fixed or secure. Joan Jett’s comments confirm this idea.

A rock aesthetic in the film appears to be authentic. The abject rejection of authority figures, the climb from obscurity and poverty to renown and wealth – capture the imagination.

I felt pulled into a brand new world.

 

Bibliography

Almost Famous. Dir. Cameron Crowe. Columbia Pictures. 2000.

Brainyquote.com
Accessed July 24, 2010.

The Runaways. Dir. Floria Sigismondi. River Road Entertainment. 2010.

Shiller, Romy. Big Bother.
Accessed July 29, 2010.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
July, 25, 2010.

Zip.ca
Accesed July 25, 2010.

Super 8: Or, WhatEVER!

In Film, review on August 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm

E.T. phone home. No, really.

Me

Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka and Kyle Chandler

Yeah, I saw Super 8 – weeks ago. Either you like a Spielberg aesthetic or you don’t. I’ve seen most of his films and I find most are exploitative about patriotism. If I see one more mother holding a baby or an American flag, I will scream. To be fair, there was none of that in this film; instead we get something else he does: A cheesie soundtrack tells you when to feel. I personally hate to feel manipulated and to me he is obvious. I could be popular and love him, but I find him overrated and self-indulgent as a filmmaker…sue me.

I really like J.J. Abrams. I imagine he was in awe of Spielberg who executive produced the film. I did some research on this and Abrams said, “Working with Steven Spielberg was a dream, and I was kind of nervous about it because he was like a hero of mine since I was a kid.” He continued: “I can only say that it was surreal and wonderful and a real privilege.”  Thought so. Anyhow, Abrams is very good at monsters who toss things and this monster tosses – a lot.

Plot: The year is 1979, and the place is a small town in Ohio. Our central figure is Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), a small-town middle school student whose mother passed away just a few months ago. Joe’s father Jackson (Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights) has become emotionally distant and buried himself in work since the accident, so Joe spends most of his time hanging out with his best friend Charles (Riley Griffiths). Charles is working on creating a low-budget zombie movie for a short film festival, and Joe is in charge of the make-up and special effects. The cast and crew is almost entirely comprised of boys, though Charles somehow talked the popular Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning, Somewhere) into playing the film’s love interest.

The story was cute – déjà vu though. E.T. was fresh and new – there was nothing like it. Far from nostalgia I thought “been there, done that”. Comparisons are inevitable but, so? Critic Tom Long says, “Remember the good old days? This is the movie you went to see on a Saturday afternoon in the good old days.”  Harkening back to another age, like that’s unique… An Alien under government scrutiny – sound familiar? Strange white cubes…boo!

Boy’s Life Magazine created a list of 100 movies boys should see. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is on there. I certainly will not mess with a classic but enough is enough.

I was focused on the Spielberg influence and the story kind of receded. I was aware of the plot anyways and there were no surprises. Spielberg’s attention to Alien awareness is amazing, no doubt about that at all, but he is kind of predictable to me.

Charles Koplinski of the Illinois Times says, “Lack of Originality causes Super 8 to come undone.”

It was interesting to witness the fervor or anticipation around this film in the UK. Having seen it before most of you and being underwhelmed was kind of beside the point. When you’re told that you can’t have something, you want it even more. This film seemed to fit that model. People love film and love Spielberg…

Look, it wasn’t a bad film; it just wasn’t fabulous to me. The interactions between the kids were nice and the idea of a bad-ass monster is cool but he wasn’t really so much bad-ass as run amok. I was going to recommend it for kids but it’s probably too violent or scary. I like that the young boy is making a zombie flick. In popular culture, zombies are the new vampires. The contemporary spin is not only important, but necessary here. To show youth-as-capable is also important – but where were the girls? Aside from love interest Elle Fanning, there were none. I will just mention the following – make of it what you will…the mother is dead – females do not exist in this film. Another era for sure!

Abrams started making films when he was seven, and when he turned 15 he was part of an L.A. festival called The Best Teen Super 8mm Films of ’81. The Los Angeles Times wrote a story about the festival and interviewed some of the young filmmakers. In the piece, Abrams was quoted saying this: “I see stuff by Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, and I want to do it too. I’ve always wanted to be a director.” ( John Carpenter,hmmmm.

Spielberg often says that he used a Super 8 camera as a young person (Super 8 mm film [often simply called Super 8] is a motion picture film format released in 1965 by Eastman Kodak as an improvement of the older “Double” or “Regular” 8 mm home movie format. ) This entire film is an homage to his youth. There is no revelation here; “J.J. Abrams has written and is directing an homage to Spielberg and the sci-fi films he grew up with in the 70s and early 80s…” ( Self-indulgent much? It felt to me, like Abrams was kissing butt – big time: “[I]t really does feel like a Spielberg film from the Amblin-era…”

Critic Jeremy Heilman says, “Abrams panders to his audience and wrongly assuming that more explosions, more pathos, and more clichés will provide a path to more approval.”

Sorry, but I agree.

Black Swan

In 3rd Wave Feminism, Film, review on August 25, 2011 at 10:39 am

Competition is a sin. – John D. Rockefeller

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writers: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz
Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel

I imagined that I was the only person on earth ambivalent about Black Swan. However, when I told the movie-watcher with me that I thought the film was a cliché, she agreed. I was so surprised.

 Plot: Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Vincent Cassel. Thomas Leroy (Cassel) is the director of a New York City ballet production of Swan Lake, in which he has cast Nina Sayers (Portman) as the Swan Queen and Lily (Kunis) as her alternate. The role requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly, while Lily is the ideal personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina grows more in touch with her dark side, with a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

I think that this film could have really pushed the envelope. It was already surreal but it wanted to be Dali-esque. It was conservative actually. Yeah, yeah, our lead (Natalie Portman as Nina) is frigid and crazy. Seen it, sorry. Her hallucinations are nightmarish? A psychological thriller?

Nina is obsessive and scratches herself where wings would be. She is cast as the lead ballerina in a dual role of white and black swan. She has trouble portraying the black swan but the darkness inside her is symbolized by a dark feather she plucks out of her skin. Yawn. She usually wears white to align her with the white swan. Her white scarf is feathered. Nice attention to detail but kind of obvious. This film takes itself seriously and is very committed to something. The hype…

Remember when Liveforfilms wasn’t impressed with Inception, well I’m not impressed with Black Swan. Because of that review, I feel like I was given permission to go against the grain.

No, I’m not ambivalent in the least. I absolutely do not believe that this film deserves acclaim. Sorry, but I kept thinking that I could have written a paper about it in high-school. If I were a teacher and needed a clear example of symbolism, I’d use this film. There was little mystery or intrigue here for me.

Okay, we’re going to talk about Natalie Portman’s character Nina. There is no question in my mind that Natalie Portman is a very good actor. There was only so much one could do with the character Nina. Nina had no arc, no development – she was the same from beginning to end. Also, I had little empathy for the character. This character required empathy – believe me! So, the character was flawed not the actor.

A review I came across says, “Darren Aronofsky is a master at making beautiful films you never want to see again. Part of this has to do with the inherently unpleasant nature of the obsessions and addictions he chronicles: the heroin chase of Requiem for a Dream, the eon-spanning pursuit of doomed love in The Fountain, the thirst for a dying fame in The Wrestler… The director’s earlier works are difficult to watch (let alone revisit) for the powerful emotional toll they exact on the viewer, but Black Swan earns the same fate for a far less satisfying reason: it’s just not worth it.” This is a film that I would not see again.

So, we’re dealing with a director who has made great films. It is hard not to give him the benefit of doubt here. His themes of obsession and addiction were prominent but they were lacking in my opinion. Portman says, “…it was absolutely a case of obsessive compulsive behavior. The scratching. The bulimia, obviously. Anorexia and bulimia are forms of OCD and ballet really lends itself to that because there’s such a sense of ritual — the wrapping of the shoes everyday and the preparing of new shoes for every performance.” It isn’t that Nina didn’t wrestle with her darkness it was just predictable to me and kind of flat. She was as intense as she could be.

Also, the virgin/whore duality has been done a lot and has been around for AGES. “Swan Lake is a classic ballet exploring light and dark, good and evil personified in white and black swan characters.” How unoriginal.

Darren Aronofsky said this at a recent screening of the film and it MAY have been directed to an elderly couple, “I’m really sorry. I want to apologize for what’s about to happen… I didn’t know what I was doing…” Okay.

This film will win awards and was nominated for a Golden Globe award – Best Motion Picture – Drama.

It should not win.

Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing. All books are available online.

Corey Tut

In Music on August 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

All women do have a different sense of sexuality, or sense of fun, or sense of like what’s sexy or cool or tough.

 Angelina Jolie

I was wondering whether or not to write about New York City-based singer, guitarist, and songwriter Corey Tut (30ish). First of all, he is the most amazing eye-candy I have ever seen.  Could I be objective enough?  Did it matter if he could sing? I could just stare at his pictures. He is an uber-package though. He has looks, talent and drive. I have no doubt at all that he will be very successful.

Corey released “Aural Fix” in 2002, and an EP “Til Now” in 2004. “Everything” was released in 2008, and he is currently working on a new album, hopefully to be released later this year. His songs are often featured on the CW channel’s ‘Life Unexpected.’   He did a cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ that was a big hit on Youtube and was in The Hype Machine (The Hype Machine is the holy grail of music blogs.  They compile the best and/or most blogged songs from around the world.) He wants “to make a big rock record that I could take on the road with songs that would allow me to put on a really dynamic show,” Tut says. “I love being on stage and throwing out different energies and really taking the crowd on a journey.  One of these days I’m going to do my sensitive singer-songwriter, mellow acoustic record,” he says with a laugh, “but this is not the time.” He has also done several radio jingles for Toyota, Papa John’s and Jiffy Lube among others.
I found out the following: He’s “very happily single. I’m married to my work right now.” His Favorite color is red or black, he’s a Sagittarius, his favorite movie is Happiness. *Sigh*. I think that I’m channeling Bridget Jones. “I’m gay, so a lot of the crowd at my shows are guys, but I do get quite a few women as well.” So, not surprising – even with all of that talent, he’s a hunk. Women (and gay men, of course) can and do, ogle freely. He enables a “female gaze” which is very rare and welcome. Even though idols enable a kind of adoration-frenzy, women’s desire in popular-culture fiction is usually punished. I like the combination of talent and looks in Corey Tut. For me, I get to experience lust and brain work. I’m such a third-wave Feminist! Or a big flirt. Can’t decide.

His influences include; Pink Floyd, Purple Rain-era Prince, Oasis, The Beatles, Pixies, Bill Withers, Jack White, U2, Dave Grohl, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Josh Homme, Radiohead, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Patti Smith, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, R.E.M, Ray Charles, Spoon, Johnny Cash…. “this list could go on forever.” He’s a DJ as well, “I DJ a couple nights a week.  I started DJ’ing as a fluke, and before I knew it I was getting gig offers all over town.  The pay is good and the hours are flexible.  I can make my own schedule, so that allows me to really focus on my day job-my own music.”  Me and DJs – OMG.

His favorite movie star is Angelina Jolie. He made a film with her, “I met her on the set of “Gia” in LA years ago before she was really famous and she was very cool.  The only part of ME that made the movie was my bare ass in the Director’s Cut.  There is a scene where a close up of my ass cross fades to a close up of her face.  A friend of mine took a picture of it and mailed it to me as a post card.  It still hangs on my wall to this day,” Mmmm.

Corey loves performing Live; “There is nothing that can match that feeling of connecting with an audience in the moment with my words and music.  Seeing people dance or move or sing along to something I am creating in that very moment is the greatest feeling in the world.  For the most part, I have been doing acoustic shows over the past year or two and that has really brought out a new side in my writing and performing styles.  It has definitely brought more nuance to my performance. I have a much more intimate connection to my lyrics and my audience when I am up there alone with my guitar.  With a full band, it is has always been more about the overall sound and energy and getting the crowd going.  I am looking forward to putting a full line up back together once this new record is completed, and balancing those two approaches.”

Born in Champaign, Illinois, Corey Tut developed a craving for music growing up as a military brat in Fort Hood, Texas, and Rockford, Illinois.   He started writing songs on his grandmother’s piano, which he taught himself to play. “Then 10 years ago I picked up a guitar and that totally changed everything.”  Needing to broaden his horizons, Corey moved to New York City, kicking around the city’s rock and punk clubs like CBGB, Squeezebox!, and Coney Island High, soaking in the music and performing his own stuff. “You really have to find a balance here, but I have been here most of my life.  I moved around a lot as a kid, and it was the first place I lived that ever felt like home, and I stayed.  I’ve tried LA twice for work, but always came back to NYC.”

He goes on to say, “Then a few years ago, I went through a major upheaval. I had to shed a lot of darkness and start from scratch. That’s what everything is about. I just felt like I needed to get rid of the negative stuff that was around me. Writing the songs on the album was a very cathartic process.”
The New York Daily News says, “Tut draws from pop, rock, and punk influences to deliver a unique performance.” SoHo Journal states, “Finally something I can listen to has emerged from the abyss of pathetic, whining weirdo’s who inhabit the airwaves and all music television. This guy F’in rocks. Close the porn, log into iTunes and buy it NOW!” You don’t need to convince me.

Track List for “Everything”

  • 01 Someone Else’s Problem
  • 02 Right Where You Belong
  • 03 Everything
  • 04 Keeping Up With The Jones
  • 05 Wasted
  • 06 Way Back Home
  • 07 So What?
  • 08 Na Na
  • 09 Wayside
  • 10 My Favorite Memory
  • 11 Precious Time
  • 12 Not Leaving

If you wish to contact Corey Tut, feel free to email him at corey@coreytut.com.

website: http://coreytut.com/

UPDATE: His new video – August 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qkafefGVr0&feature=share

Going the Distance

In Film, review on August 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I wish that you were here or that I were there, or that we were together anywhere!

Author Unknown

What a friggin’ surprise. I liked this film (dir. Nanette Burstein) and thought I was going to get uber-cheese or at the very least, tackiness. Instead, there was an edgy style in a familiar framework.

Plot: A romantic comedy centered on a guy and a gal who try to keep their love alive as they shuttle back and forth between New York and San Francisco to see one another. (IMDB)

There is a formula for Hollywood romantic comedies – you don’t need to be psychic.  So within a specific model an edgy aesthetic is welcome.  Jeff Winston explains;  “Very simple – Boy meets girl, girl either outright hates or is indifferent to boy, girl and boy interact in some kind of contrived way, girl thinks she likes boy, girl and boy have a major fight and boy and girl make up in some wonderful cinematic location or in some climactic way. Now of course, you can interchange the sexes in this formula, much like John Hughes did in the wonderful movie SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL. The formula however remains quite constant and is the backbone of MOST romantic comedies.” (Matchflick.com)

This film fits the model.

I didn’t notice any corny, lingering reaction shots. There was no swelling music which indicated ‘feel now.’ Spielberg does this a lot – but I digress. The main characters were interesting and used off-colour language, there was tension – between the lovers, their jobs, their friends…in other words, there was a move away from fantasy into an attempt toward messy life. I’m very suspicious of fairytale romances. (written by Geoff LaTulippe)

I loved the pop-culture references. I think I’ll watch Top Gun again. A roommate DJs the soundtrack of Top Gun through the bedroom wall for the initial hook-up. Who thinks of that? He (Justin Long as Garrett) works at a soulless record label and she (Drew Barrymore as Erin) is looking for writing work. Drew Barrymore tells Stylist magazine: “I’ve been in long distance relationships my whole life, so when I read the script I was relieved it was about a subject I actually relate to as opposed to the far-fetched scenarios you often find in romantic comedies.”

Trivia: Barrymore and Long are a couple in an actual on-again, off-again long distance relationship.

I believed that the characters wanted to be together. The botched phone-sex scene is hysterical.

At a press conference they said:

Justin: I also think the fiscal realities of both the characters play a large part, and it was nice to see that played out. That’s something that a lot of people, especially now, can relate to. There are so many things that you take for granted, when you enter into a long distance relationship, chief among them being the logistics of just getting from point A to B, and what is involved with that.

Drew: You want to see each other, but you can’t because of money or schedule. (Collider.com)

Weird, this film seemed to push the romantic-comedy envelope.

A review I related to says, “I did laugh throughout, and Justin Long and Drew Barrymore bring a real freshness and chemistry to the relationship comedy. The long distance aspect was interesting, accurate, and mined for maximum comic effect. A nice date night, a fun film with friends, Going the Distance starts our September off with a modicum of momentum.” (Seattle pi)

Good direction, acting and editing. A good date movie.

Again an exploration of reincarnation

In book on August 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Book is currently available to order online at all Amazons eg. http://www.amazon.ca/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=romy+shiller&tag=googcana-20&index=aps&hvadid=292659237&ref=pd_sl_1vydof28la_e

Romy Shiller has a book entitled Again!

The mysteries of reincarnation are explored…

Again (ISBN: 978-1-4251-8481-0 ) combines an academic exploration of reincarnation with real-life experiences. Using as a basis the altered reality of quantum physics, Shiller extrapolates.

It is for everyone.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m Still Here

In Film, review on August 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm


Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made – George Burns

Director: Casey Affleck

Writers: Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix

Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck and Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Comb

Yikes! This is by far the weirdest and darkest mockumentary I have ever seen. Talk about method-acting. Holy.

Plot: So, for those not in the know, the mockumentary follows Joaquin Phoenix after he admits he is giving up acting to be a rap artist – one with unkempt beard, hair and clothes, a beer belly and a striking resemblance to Vincent Gallo. He gives an absolutely fantastic performance; the short temper, the melancholy moments and the general craziness are all played with astonishing naturalness. Affleck has called it the performance of his career and he has a good point – it is definitely one of his best, if only for the fact that it is a performance that had to spill out, off the screen and into ‘real’ life, like on his infamous Letterman appearance and whenever he rapped live. (http://www.leftlion.co.uk/articles.cfm/id/3365http://www.leftlion.co.uk/articles.cfm/id/3365)

I still cannot believe that the hoax isn’t really a cover-up for a breakdown. When I saw it I believed it was real. I wanted it to be over. What a mess I thought and I felt like a voyeur. It was seedy: defecation, hookers, cocaine.

I’m Still Here was confirmed as a hoax back in September, by director (and brother-in-law) of Joaquin Phoenix – Casey Affleck. Strange timing to do the reveal, perhaps, even with his explanation; “I never intended to trick anybody. The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind” – a comment that is hard to believe at first, but on reflection, maybe not?” (http://www.leftlion.co.uk/articles.cfm/id/3365http://www.leftlion.co.uk/articles.cfm/id/3365)

Oh, I don’t know. If it is a hoax, it is the best acting I have ever seen. I once wrote an article about Reality TV and found this; Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia says; “Reality television is a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors.Although the genre has existed in some form or another since the early years of television, the term reality television is most commonly used to describe programs of this genre produced since 2000.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_television)

I am going to talk about this film as if it were ‘real’ otherwise it would be too confusing.

The film follows a life unraveling, it is the disintegration of celebrity. Casey Affleck is given much access – maybe this should have been a clue. If I saw a family member in distress wouldn’t I stop filming and help?

The access that Affleck had was remarkable, candid and extremely revealing. Phoenix’s passion and despair were captured. His desire to be a rap star was palpable. His being mocked on Letterman made me cringe. He regretted doing the show.

Phoenix had a huge ego and had a ‘yes-man’ who was his enabler. His unruly beard and weight-gain pointed to a life out of control. Colleagues were road-kill and his life felt fragile. The shift from well-mannered and well-dressed celebrity to his state in the film is substantial.

Okay, a documentary ‘feel’ was there.  There were seemingly unscripted events. There were impromptu moments and meetings with celebrities such as P. Diddy and Ben Stiller. Of course the prostitutes, cocaine and defecation were very frank. Phoenix’s ‘yes-man’ defecates on him while Phoenix is sleeping after a falling-out. There were behind the scene aspects like on Letterman and the rap show. Great editing and very good cinematography.

The film starts off and ends with a home-movie (real?) that shows him leaping off of a cliff into water as a young boy. The metaphor is clear. Phoenix continues to leap into the unknown.

A review I read says, “…in the end, it really doesn’t matter. Whether the story is true or not (a debate that is sure to rage for a long time after this), the film nonetheless presents a story — about a man searching for his true identity in the often fake world of celebrity — that is as gripping and moving as any indie or drama movie that I’ve seen in recent years. Spend as much time as you like trying to discern the reality of it all, but if you do you’ll miss the real show.” (http://screenrant.com/im-still-here-reviews-mikee-77427/)

In retrospect, this film made an impact on me. Yes, I wanted it to be over because I found it devastating. I truly wonder if Joaquin Phoenix’s career can recover from this. Maybe, he was too real. Is that possible?

Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing. All books are available online.

Super 8: Or, WhatEVER!

In Film, review on August 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm

E.T. phone home. No, really.

Me

Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka and Kyle Chandler

Yeah, I saw Super 8 – weeks ago. Either you like a Spielberg aesthetic or you don’t. I’ve seen most of his films and I find most are exploitative about patriotism. If I see one more mother holding a baby or an American flag, I will scream. To be fair, there was none of that in this film; instead we get something else he does: A cheesie soundtrack tells you when to feel. I personally hate to feel manipulated and to me he is obvious. I could be popular and love him, but I find him overrated and self-indulgent as a filmmaker…sue me.

I really like J.J. Abrams. I imagine he was in awe of Spielberg who executive produced the film. I did some research on this and Abrams said, “Working with Steven Spielberg was a dream, and I was kind of nervous about it because he was like a hero of mine since I was a kid.” He continued: “I can only say that it was surreal and wonderful and a real privilege.” (http://www.gigwise.com/news/63849/JJ-Abrams-Says-Working-With-Spielberg-A-Real-Privilege) Thought so. Anyhow, Abrams is very good at monsters who toss things and this monster tosses – a lot.

 

Plot: The year is 1979, and the place is a small town in Ohio. Our central figure is Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), a small-town middle school student whose mother passed away just a few months ago. Joe’s father Jackson (Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights) has become emotionally distant and buried himself in work since the accident, so Joe spends most of his time hanging out with his best friend Charles (Riley Griffiths). Charles is working on creating a low-budget zombie movie for a short film festival, and Joe is in charge of the make-up and special effects. The cast and crew is almost entirely comprised of boys, though Charles somehow talked the popular Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning, Somewhere) into playing the film’s love interest. (http://www.cinemaverdict.com/2011/06/10/cinema-verdict-review-super-8/?)

The story was cute – déjà vu though. E.T. was fresh and new – there was nothing like it. Far from nostalgia I thought “been there, done that”. Comparisons are inevitable but, so? Critic Tom Long says, “Remember the good old days? This is the movie you went to see on a Saturday afternoon in the good old days.” (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/super_8/) Harkening back to another age, like that’s unique… An Alien under government scrutiny – sound familiar? Strange white cubes…boo!

Boy’s Life Magazine created a list of 100 movies boys should see (http://boyslife.org/hobbies-projects/funstuff/18651/100-movies-for-boys/). E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is on there. I certainly will not mess with a classic but enough is enough.

I was focused on the Spielberg influence and the story kind of receded. I was aware of the plot anyways and there were no surprises. Spielberg’s attention to Alien awareness is amazing, no doubt about that at all, but he is kind of predictable to me. Charles Koplinski of the Illinois Times says, “Lack of Originality causes Super 8 to come undone.”

It was interesting to witness the fervor or anticipation around this film in the UK. Having seen it before most of you and being underwhelmed was kind of beside the point. When you’re told that you can’t have something, you want it even more. This film seemed to fit that model. People love film and love Spielberg…

Look, it wasn’t a bad film; it just wasn’t fabulous to me. The interactions between the kids were nice and the idea of a bad-ass monster is cool but he wasn’t really so much bad-ass as run amok. I was going to recommend it for kids but it’s probably too violent or scary. I like that the young boy is making a zombie flick. In popular culture, zombies are the new vampires. The contemporary spin is not only important, but necessary here. To show youth-as-capable is also important – but where were the girls? Aside from love interest Elle Fanning, there were none. I will just mention the following – make of it what you will…the mother is dead – females do not exist in this film. Another era for sure!

“Abrams started making films when he was seven, and when he turned 15 he was part of an L.A. festival called The Best Teen Super 8mm Films of ’81. The Los Angeles Times wrote a story about the festival and interviewed some of the young filmmakers. In the piece, Abrams was quoted saying this: “I see stuff by Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, and I want to do it too. I’ve always wanted to be a director.” (http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/the-projector/backstory-abrams-met-spielberg-003320779.html) John Carpenter,hmmmm.

Spielberg often says that he used a Super 8 camera as a young person (Super 8 mm film [often simply called Super 8] is a motion picture film format released in 1965 by Eastman Kodak as an improvement of the older “Double” or “Regular” 8 mm home movie format. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_8_mm_film) This entire film is an homage to his youth. There is no revelation here; “J.J. Abrams has written and is directing an homage to Spielberg and the sci-fi films he grew up with in the 70s and early 80s…” (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/archive/index.php/t-1248165.html) Self-indulgent much? It felt to me, like Abrams was kissing butt – big time: “[I]t really does feel like a Spielberg film from the Amblin-era…” (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/archive/index.php/t-1248165.html)

Critic Jeremy Heilman says, “Abrams panders to his audience and wrongly assuming that more explosions, more pathos, and more clichés will provide a path to more approval.” (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/super_8/)

Sorry, but I agree.