Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot


There's nothing I love more than watching a film with a group that doesn't feel the same way about it. It forces me to think, to really rationalize why I enjoyed it. If I come up with points as to why I thought it was worthwhile, I understand that my feelings weren't superficial and that I do in fact have some substance to back myself up.

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, is a heart-wrenching tale of grim, yet uncomfortably humorous cartoonist and quadriplegic, John Callahan. Played by always-spectacular Joaquin Phoenix, Don't Worry is a story of his battling alcohol addiction and rise as an artist. The title itself comes from one of his cartoons, spoken by a cowboy leading a troupe who come upon an overturned wheelchair in the desert. 

The story unfolds with a retelling of an incident that altered John's life in 1972 - allowing a fellow alcoholic, Dexter, to take the wheel of his car after a night out and subsequently crash it, leaving John a quadriplegic at 21 while Dexter walked away unscathed. 

Getting up and leaving the theatre, I heard whispers of, "I don't think it was relatable", and, "it dragged on too long." I understood these statements but decided to formulate why I disagreed. I thought the story of a quadriplegic alcoholic WAS relatable. Sure, Callahan ended up in a wheelchair, but the cards life dealt him and the way he began drinking were both exceptionally relatable. His mother abandoned him when he was very young, leaving him to grow up in a home he felt he didn't necessarily fit in with. A man's struggle with alcoholism for very human reasons envokes feelings of sympathy and raw emotion - at the end of the day, he's just a human that craves a sense of home and belonging, just like the rest of us.


The rest of the story follows John through his path towards sobriety via his 120-step AA meetings,  led by Donnie (played by superb Jonah Hill), his AA sponsor who also happens to be a perfectly zen and wealthy gay man, clad in robes and '70s athletic shorts. The whole cast is phenomenal, joined by Jack Black as Dexter, and Rooney Mara as Callahan's Swedish love interest. Phoenix and Hill, however, stand out the most in two absolutely captivating roles. 

Director Gus Van Sant does a fabulous job at humanizing Callahan, portraying him as a problematic antihero, and one you certainly shouldn't be feeling for. Your heart reaches out to him, with scenes such as him struggling to open a bottle of alcohol and get to another one high up on a shelf after his accident, utterly poignant. John grows as a character, and eventually goes around and visits old friends and family, gaining closure for all his wrongs over the years. The scene where he finally meets up with Dexter is superb, with a focus on two very broken characters and the different stages of their lives, their reunion tragic and shattering.

It is to be noted that the film can seem long at times and there may be some scenes that could be cut. What saves this film from falling into such territory is its superb acting that carries the story so perfectly. The film teeters dangerously on the line of cheesy but never crosses it. It does tease you and draws out your emotions, however, and I found myself a blubbering mess about 3 times, with my heart yearning for Callahan to succeed. 


The end credits acknowledge Robin Williams, who originally brought Callahan's story to Van Sant 20 years ago. Williams was supposed to produce and play the lead, while Van Sant worked very unsuccessfully on various drafts with writers. The project came to a halt, and only resumed after the deaths of both Callahan and Williams. Van Sant then decided to comandeer the script and finish it on his own, and it's perhaps his own raw emotion that really comes forward and leads this film to a polished finish. 

The film hits theatres June 20th and Callahan's story is really worth viewing. It's his wit and macabre sense of humour that carries the tale, one that's genuinely outstanding to experience. This movie is sure to divide audiences, but those who appreciate a gentle story of a troubled artist will seek to find out more, as soon as the credits stop rolling.



Huge thank you to Taro PR and Elevation Pictures for the fantastic opportunity to view this screening. 
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Saturday, July 7, 2018

An Interview With Portland's Most Captivating and Inviting Flower, Blossom



We're sitting in the middle Kelly's Olympian, one of the oldest bars in Portland, where back in the day, travellers would come in for a quick drink and mingle with the locals before continuing on their journies. With vintage motorcycles hanging from the ceiling, and neon signs littered throughout, it's pretty fitting Blossom would pick this spot to chat with us. 

We meet Blossom and immediately realize why so many people are drawn to her. She oozes a positive energy that catches you off guard, and then she starts talking and you can't help but hold on to every word. Her friend Snugs is with her, and they're both buzzing off a local TV performance they had before they met us. The night prior and early in the morning before we met, Snugs produced a melody for her that she later turned into a song, all in 24 hours. 

As we sat down to do the interview, I started to wonder what the theme and end goal of it would be. It happens to be pretty obvious - Blossom is about community and the energies she has surrounding her in her life. She's fun and lighthearted and has a natural attraction that people are drawn to. Her friend stops to say hi halfway through the interview, a table behind us interrupts us at one point and she chats with them for a bit, and another time a girl walks by and Blossom yells at her that she's gorgeous. She's about love, manifesting positive situations throughout her life.

Blossom is fluid in her movements, a creature that's the embodiment of going with the flow. Things work in her favour and those waves don't clash - at least she doesn't let it show.

With her roots in Trinidad & Tobago, Blossom is now causing a stir in the Pacific Northwest, and for good reason too. her music is utterly mesmerising. 



PP: So, what's on the agenda for today?

B: We're gonna go to my studio session upstairs after we're done this interview! 

Do you have set plans for what you do with your days off?

I do. Mainly because I get so few days off. Whenever I have a day off I tend to jam pack it with stuff and today is no different. I literally got up at 7 and go, go, go. Every other day I'm at work and my work needs my attention and focus. I try to multitask with music and emails at work but it's really hard to do so. 


We saw your video recently you did with Marmoset, where you talk about finding inspiration wherever you go and writing it down immediately. What was the most bizarre place you found inspiration and later drew from it?

Stuck in traffic coming back from the eclipse I had an instrumental CD in my car that Neil, who you'll meet in my studio, gave me, and I wrote the first song that's going to be on my next album from being stuck in traffic. We were stuck in traffic for like, 4 hours, and we went through the CD once, and then again, and then I just kept playing one song, and I was in the middle of buttfuck nowhere, making music, and there's literally nothing out here to inspire me but just like, the roundabout way of being here, and what we're doing, and you know that anxiety you get when you're stuck in traffic? I wish I could be anywhere else but here! That motivated me because I was thinking of all other places I could be but here.


Moving from Trinidad & Tobago, do you feel far from your roots?

No, I have a lot of family. I'm definitely far away from the every day of my roots and my culture and what we typically do every day - which is the same as anyone. You know you grow up anywhere and you go to a football game with everyone in your town, and let's say you move...you're not going to go to a football game where you don't know anyone.  That's my disconnection, but family life and food and things like that...my family has done a pretty good job at keeping that up. My aunt cooks for me or my dad every time she comes here. Trinidad food, I've learned to cook myself, and I kind of have an awesome fun family where we do those things together.

You love teaching and doing fundraisers. You essentially get a genuine joy from people's faces when you perform. Was music always so selfless for you? Did you ever dream of fame and fortune?

I dreamed of what the fame and fortune could give me, not neccessarily having it. I have really, really intense anxiety over being obsessed over. It freaks me out if a certain person or someone is spending too much time or focus on me. I have a very rational but irrational fear of being kindnapped. Watching Selena horrified me. I'm still looking for a manager because I'm scared of somebody not having the right - Is that Martell? 

(At this moment, someone pulls up in their car, blasting music, distracting Blossom. She jumps up promptly and runs to give him a hug)


I'm so sorry about that! Okay so, long story short, I've been stalked before. It scared the shit out of me! I have a very big fear of what that whole life brings. I just want financial stability and I think that's just what every musician wants in the long run, but I also want a platform to have a voice to speak up about things that aren't cool, because I have no fear of sharing my emotions and being up there in the front line, and there's people who...that's not made out for them, but they want to talk, so I'd like to be the voice for them.

So, what is it that you want to articulate?

Everything!! I'm nuts girl. There are so many things I'm so extremely passionate about. You can be passionate about a million things! I'm passionate about childcare, the foster system, I want kids to get adopted, I want kids to have better foster homes, I want there to be more help for caretakers and for social service, because they're tired and the reason why they're doing this shitty job is because there's not enough of them, and it's too much and they're overwhelmed and anybody doing any job, when you get tired and you get frustrated you won't do a good job. I want to tell more people that are financially in the position to take care of other people and other children to do so. It's hard emotionally, yes, but you have all this space, let's be a little bit less selfish and share the space with the world? I'm really passionate about the food at schools in lower income areas. I hate that there's such split districts and divisions. Like why is Beaverton thriving and Portland isn't, and we're in the same state? It's not okay. There's not a creative outlet in all schools and I'd like to educate and be a part of making that better. I've gone to a lot of schools and talked to a lot of music programs, and it's really unfortunate that schools have to segregate their instruments because they can't afford to have a section for everything. One school is strings, another school is horns, another is clarinet, flute etc, and what if I don't want to play the violin? I wanna play the drums. But my school district doesn't provide it for me. That sucks.

We love giving our artists gifts. We saw this and for some reason were so drawn to it and thought you would appreciate it. An inkblot book. What do you think?

AHH! (keeps screaming). I love it!!! You don't even get it! (gasps, starts looking through it). Oh my God. Ah! My heart is so excited for this! 


So we thought it would be fun to play a game. We have 5 inkblot cards here, and we want you to pick your favourite and tell us why, and then once you tell us, you can flip it over and tell us the actual meaning on the card.

This one, because it's my aura. It's how I feel and look inside and out. (flips the card over), Oh my God. Wow! So I first saw the x-ray, the heart, then the stingray on it. The stingray means, "you tend to put yourself second, and are familiar but not neccessarily comfortable with the sensation of being put aside by more powerful characters. A consequence is that you can sometimes be apologetic to a fault." And that's so true! All the time. I was walking down the street and this lady was in front of me and she wasn't gonna move, and I said sorry, and she kept walking. I even told my dad to stop doing that, like stop saying you're sorry when you didn't even do anything. I have to tell myself that too but it's really nice to have a reminder. I love this gift! I can't wait to do this with my godson! You guys! Can I hug you?

It's crazy you got me this because I wanted to be a psychologist. I went to school for it for a bit to try and become a psychologist then I decided there's no fucking way I'm going to school for that long. Anyway, that was a really thoughtful gift! 


We love what a feminist you are. You have your backup vocalists, you have your girl crew front row at your shows, and you celebrate females in your music videos. It's beautiful. With feminism taking such a center stage recently and with people becoming more aware of it, what do you think is a common misconception about being a feminist?

That it means we hate men. That's just such a stupid way to bring the conversation back to men instead of addressing the fact that we're just women who have something to say. If you're a man and that hurts then, cool, we're talking to you. But we're not talking to everybody. I hate the phrase, "not all __". You don't have to say any part of that. Like, you shouldn't have to. When someone responds to you with, "I don't do that." Cool well, was I talking to you? I said a statement, that applied to this demographic, a fact, and if that fact hurts your feelings then do better, so when you see facts, you don't get upset about it. For example, if someone says, "oh you're a Gemini then you have to be blah, blah, blah", and I feel sometimes the answer should be, "no, maybe some other Gemini", not, "NOT ALL GEMINIS!!" Like, who are you standing up for? Why are you being defensive for no reason? And that's passive aggressive behaviour and I don't like that. And that statement is out there, and I've decided, I don't think I like it. And I'm going to try very hard to not say it, and I'm going to try and educate the reasons for why I don't want it to be said. Freedom of speech is for everyone, and I can only speak on me. I'm just saying this is what I think, and you should probably not say it anymore. Just think about what it means when you say it. 


We want to talk to you about your fantastic single, "U Got Me." You've talked about it being about self-love and independence, so we want to know, what does being independent mean to you? 

That's such a good question. Hmm. I think it means, independent in thought and being okay to disagree. That comes with maturity. Being able to communicate is really important. I don't think going against the grain means you're independent, because you can agree with a lot of people and still be independent. But like, loving the things that you do as an individual and using those things to live your life. Like saving your money and deciding, "I'm going to do this because I want to get further" is being independent. Not letting anyone else tell me this is something I gotta do. I make my choices for my future on my own. And you can have people influence your decisions but if you're not making them for yourself then you're not being independent. 

We read that you categorize your life into eras. 2017 were your sassy years. You have zero tolerance for stupidity, be it from men or women or politics. Are you still in your sassy years? 

I'm in my lover years right now! I'm so, ahhhh (swings around). I wanna love and be loved and I wanna have the people around me trust me, and just...love! I want everyone to be really happy. I focus on being ready to be loved. What does that mean? Where do I wanna be when I'm in love? And then I'm like, okay, I'm gonna grow towards being that "in love" person, because I'm such a romantic in every aspect of life! I have these things that I want, so I'm in that state of mind.


We've noticed you talk a lot about positive intentions and universal energy. Did you grow up with this mindset, or was it something you learned on your path? 

I had to learn what those feelings were for me as a kid. There never was a lot of communication about that as a kid. I had a lot of people who acted that way so when I was older and able to put a word to the actions. I had a lot of people who decided they were going to do this, do that, and there were all these things they were gonna do to get it. The mindset was, " I cant wait when this happens" not, "I wish." Everything all of a sudden started happening, snowballing. 

Have you ever experienced manifestations energies yourself?

I don't know! I always feel like I have a feeling like, "oh is this manifesting?!" I guess cool things just happen....oh wait! Here's one! When I first started doing music,  I heard about this festival, here in August, it's outdoors and it's all ages and it's awesome because you can smoke weed and you can drink and it's families! But it's amazing, and there are all these different stages and you can camp there. It's family oriented and you can wake up and there's outdoor showers and yoga, and bungalows. It's huge. I looked at it and I was like, I wanna play there! And it's here. So, then they emailed me after I wanted it and it just happened! 

Redo the soundtrack to a film, which film would it be and why?

Burlesque with Christina Aguilera beause it's bomb, and it's amazing and I love the show and I love everything and I feel like I could find a vocal home with that sort of production....oh and! West Side Story!


A piece of advice for your fans and our listeners?

Go out dancing, as often as you can. Go with your friends. Dance with strangers. And take your shoes off if your feet hurt. Don't be that bitch. You're never too boujee to take your shoes off and have fun. 

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