The arts create the bricks on the road to ruin. Not a very cheerful message, and one that's especially not inline with society today. As children, we're taught that the arts are so damn important. It's a huge business - offering everything from the humble vocal lesson and instrument sales, straight through to full blown university degrees for not only the musically interested, but also the visually talented. In the end however, we're all mislead to some degree. If you're not interested in becoming part of the financial wheel - by that I mean teaching or producing - you're in for a rough ride. Fairy tale endings are rare and for the individual artist, especially the recording performer, that financial finish line is never reached most of the time. A dime a dozen... the truth of the industry.
And yet... folks like Chris Ballinger push on. Knowing that talent and determination make up an incredibly small portion of achieving measurable success. Actually being able to live a comfortable life, solely off your music, is near impossible. No matter how talented. The true deciding factor? Luck. I'm sure Chris, or any independent musician or artist would agree with me. So what do you do? Keep plugging away with the hopes the right person will see you? Praying you'll be in the right place at the right time... and so will they? Even then, if you find that right person, it amounts to a spit in the bucket. The first vibrating string on the path to a full chord... and as always, the beat goes on.
"Method To The Madness" showcases the life of Chris Ballinger, and many of the people in it. Chris, for lack of a better term, is a struggling artist. A lyricist, a musician, a father, and a man determined to make his mark no matter the cost. And the cost has been great. Growing stronger in his field has meant growing weaker in so many other aspects of his life. More jobs than he can probably remember, chasing that weekly pay to keep a roof over his head... it's been a tough run. In the romantic version of this story, Chris is staying true to his vision. The reality is that Hybrid The Rapper, otherwise known as Chris, has never really been able to live the life he probably dreams of. The struggle is real and even now, Chris is in a constant state of self promotion. To make matters lean a little more to the grim side? He's actually good. Really... fucking... good.
At the helm of this film is Chris Easterly. Writer, director and producer. As an artist himself, obviously, I can pretty much guarantee that Easterly completely understands the harsh realities of creativity. Who better to make this film? Right? Starting from Ballinger's youth and history, us viewers get a glimpse of Chris's journey - and that includes the tough nature of the business. Easterly doesn't shy away from including some of the darker elements of Ballinger's past - and Ballinger himself has no problems revealing those elements. At times, looking quite emotional, Ballinger tuned me into some private moments within his history. Things so many of us can relate with - from being a wild kid to a really messy breakup. He reminds us that he's human. Like us. More to the point? He lets us know that through everything, he's remained true to his craft. It hasn't just been a teenage fad, but rather who he is. For better or worse. We're left with a man who has put more into his craft than so many doctors or lawyers. So why hadn't I heard of him? Why haven't you? It all comes down to the right place, right time aspect I wrote about above. Perhaps this film will help in the recognition department. I sure hope so because one thing is clear... Ballinger has the talent - and the experience.
When it's all said and done only one thing really matters to me. As a viewer, did Chris Easterly provide an entertaining hour and a half? I could base my thoughts on Ballinger - but that wouldn't really be a truthful movie review. I needed to decide if Easterly managed to present Ballinger, in a way that kept my interest. Did I understand and connect with Ballinger's life and story? As I'm sure you've guessed by my rating... the answer is yes. "Method To The Madness" did not feel overly long or boring. Quite the compliment considering it's about a guy most people have never heard of. So what are my hopes? My hope is that both the Chris's find a good measure of success with this film. On both counts it's well deserved and starts right now. With me heading over to the Facebook page and smashing that like button. My recommendation? You should do the same. Back to the film itself? A solid four stars. Well done.