Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Orpheum Theatre - 10-10-11

Joseph Gordon Levitt discussing the nature of love with Neil Patrick Harris

Timothy NorrisJoseph Gordon Levitt discussing the nature of love with Neil Patrick Harris

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

hitRECord Fall Formal

The Orpheum Theatre

October 10, 2011

See also: Our slideshow of the performance.

No one was really quite sure how this was going to work. All people could be sure of was that Joseph-Gordon Levitt had built a production company around a beautiful idea. Harnessing the power of the internet, hitRECord brought artists from all over the world together to work on each other's projects.

For example if you wanted to submit a short story, someone from Sweden who liked your work could illustrate it, and then another person from Brazil could animate it, and another person could write music, and lo and behold it could turn into a short film. In less than two years the project had grown to include thousands of artists and a couple weeks ago it released its first album/DVD/graphic novel set. In honor of this release, Gordon-Levitt decided to put on a show at the Orpheum Theatre last night.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman read some tiny stories aloud

Timothy NorrisJoseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman read some tiny stories aloud

Pulling his favorite pieces from the site, he put together an evening of music, short stories, short films, and interviews. The performers included hitRECord artists, Gordon-Levitt's celebrity chums, and people from the audience.

Everyone was encouraged to film the performance and post it on the internet, making the evening itself an art project. The question was...would all of these elaborate collaborations produce inspiring art or would they just be a mishmash of good intentions?

Joseph Gordon Levitt, The Metafictionist, and Anne Hathaway singing in French

Timothy NorrisJoseph Gordon Levitt, The Metafictionist, and Anne Hathaway singing in French

The answer was both. The evening was a patchwork quilt of ideas that were harmonious half of the time and a complete mess the other half. Even within one short film, the music might be superb but the dialogue overworked; the animation might be delightful, but the acting trite. Or sometimes all of the elements would come together in perfect harmony as if all of the artists were telepathic.

Gordon-Levitt's outfit reflected the nature of his site -- a striped suit, plaid shirt and polka dot tie. The crowd had similarly gotten all gussied up in their best gowns and snazziest suits.

Screaming in delight whenever Gordon-Levitt took the stage, it felt like half the crowd was there to see some art and the other half would have been perfectly content to watch him chew gum for three hours.

Which is the nature of the beast. Without his celebrity wattage getting funding for this project or getting people to show up at all would have been a lot more difficult.

Gordon-Levitt and Sia singing a duet

Timothy NorrisGordon-Levitt and Sia singing a duet

It was also remarkably apparent was that this project could use a full time editor. The show ran a little under three hours, with some sparkling moments and a lot of lag time. It would have made a spectacular one hour show.

Now, it wasn't clear who makes the executive decisions. Maybe it's a committee? Maybe it's based on votes on the site? But if it's just Gordon-Levitt, perhaps he should consider forming a board to help him out because there's no way one person undertake the Herculean task of sifting through thousands upon thousands of artists and be a movie star at the same time. If you truly want this thing to stand on its own two feet, quality control is paramount.

Personal Bias: Brick is one of my favorite movies.

Overheard in the Crowd: After the fifth time a screen flashed "Are you brokenhearted?" during intermission a lady next to me exclaimed "Oh my God, ask me a question that is worth my time! Ask me about world affairs or whether I like gardening. If I see one more question about my feelings I'm going to freak out."

Random Notebook Dump: At one point people from Twitter descended on stage to talk about their marriages. I'm not sure that was a good idea.

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The Orpheum Theatre

842 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014