FIVE CAME BACK REVIEW AVAILABLE ON BUZZ MAGAZINE

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One of the best things I enjoyed watching on Netflix last year was the series Five Came Back. Based off the book by Mark Harris, the series recounts the experiences of five legendary Hollywood directors throughout their service in World War II. It is one of the most fascinating and moving stories I got to watch and hope you will get a chance to enjoy it too. I think sometimes I struggle to find the right way to review something I enjoyed so much but feel free to check it out at http://buzzmagazine.com.au/five-who-came-back/

Based out of Victoria, Buzz Magazine was one the longest running street press magazines in Australia being published in print from 1993 to 2010. Some fine writers have worked for Buzz over the years and gone onto successful careers in media since and there is simply no way to measure the contribution the mag made to local music over its print run. With such words and minimal advertising on the website the impression could be taken that Buzz is now semi-retired. Yet the site is quite prolific with new write-ups on a daily basis, the ongoing interest of fans old and new and contributions from some very talented people indeed.

-Lloyd Marken

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INTERVIEW WITH EDM EXTRADINAIRE OPIUO AND THEATRE DIRECTOR BRAD CHAPMAN AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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2018 kicked off with a bang for me in terms of writing for magazines when I got the opportunity to contribute to the cover story for my hometown’s edition of Scenestr. This was a great opportunity and a thrill for which I’m grateful to Opiuo and to the team at Eyeball Media Enterprises.

Rather than the usual phone interview I provided a series of questions to be e-mailed to the electronic music producer and then received his responses. Opiuo’s answers were thoughtful, passionate and fascinating making the piece a great read. You can find it here http://scenestr.com.au/music/opiuo-is-making-your-inner-cheeky-child-dance It’s an honour to have my name attached to such a piece where others made it what it is. Two cover stories in two months is a real privilege.

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Also during the Christmas break I got to speak to the director of Beenleigh Theatre Group’s latest production Lord of the Flies which is opening this Friday night for local readers. Chapman was a delight to speak to and provided some excellent discussion about what fresh angles this new production of such a well known text will bring. You can read the interview here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/lord-of-the-flies-survival-of-the-fittest-in-beenleigh

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Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. You can read see a digital version of the printed Queensland edition here http://scenestr.com.au/read/QLD/2018/1100-QLD/scenestr-QLD-1100.html where the Q&A with Opiuo features on page 10 and 11 http://scenestr.com.au/read/QLD/2018/1100-QLD/scenestr-QLD-1100.html#p=10

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If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

THE MAN THEY CALL DAVE

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I’m struggling to find a succinct way to speak about David Letterman and The Late Show. How can you sum up 15 years of watching someone. I’ve started several drafts of this piece rambling on about the other late night shows, Dave’s career, the qualities I admire in him and those I do not. Words upon words before even remotely coming close to mentioning the new show on Netflix. I will try to keep this short and about the new show.

It’s a little late to the game for newcomers to discover Dave but I hope some do. Letterman is doing six episodes on the streaming service interviewing what appears to be all people he admires and most that he has already interviewed before. I will be interested to see how that plays out. His first guest is former President Barack Obama who Letterman is clearly in awe of. Their body language speaking volumes as Letterman appears relaxed and in charge while still deferring to Obama. The format has changed, Letterman takes to the stage in a university theatre and speaks to a crowd before introducing his guest. They sit and talk in two comfortable leather chairs miked up and with clips playing throughout including Letterman walking with Congressman John Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Montgomery. Almost identical to the kind of seminars or talks a retired talk show host would do and ones that Letterman has done in recent years. You miss Paul and the band (Schaeffer did contribute the snazzy new theme tune) but not really the sketches. Letterman in his later years did one thing better than any of his late night competition. Leno, Fallon, Kimmel, Stewart, Colbert, Ferguson, O’Brien and Handler. He did interviews better than all of them and to see him spread his wings away from network television with no ad breaks is very enjoyable.

The two retirees (Obama significantly younger and busier is still looking back) are reflective most likely by design. As a legacy project Letterman does not so much attempt to reinvent his glory days as lean into his age and focus. These are two old guys talking about the old days and worrying about the future. Not just worrying though but on some level asking what they can do in the time they have left. Obviously for Letterman it is to ask questions, inform others and yes push agendas. In this sense by going back to basics the rebel in him is alive and well.

A few themes are nicely conveyed in this episode, for example an Obama presidency is only made possible by events like the one at Selma with a young John Lewis. Another example is in one breath the former President speaks of being a child home schooled by his mother while living in Indonesia. In the next he is talking about that woman’s granddaughter going off to college. Two polished speakers nicely delivering anecdotes and even hints of regret. Obama wonders if social media so integral to his 2008 campaign has not now been misused, while he is proud of his stewardship through the global financial crisis he candidly expresses that far too many people are left behind in the current economy (a clear expression of failure and regret if you’re paying attention).

Trump is not directly criticised by President Obama but John Lewis makes mention of him. I might have liked Letterman to point out that in 2012 the President spent more money on his campaign than Mitt Romney and whether he thinks that led to a slippery slope. To press him more on what he regrets more. There is a moment where Letterman is needled and he fires back a salvo and you wonder if we could get a little bit more of that banter.

If you’re a fan of either man and their work you’ll find lots to enjoy here. I do hope the show continues for a long time past these six episodes but I do hope it involves more remotes and guests that will challenge him. Imagine Leno or Dubya being interviewed. Maybe that does not fit with the legacy though, Letterman is moving forward and asking questions about how we can better to each other. Not picking fights. A classic moment for me is a closing question from Letterman to Barack. “Why was I not on that bridge?”. Who got The Tonight Show hardly seems important anymore. Dave long since earned the legacy and he’s putting it to good use.

-Lloyd Marken

I LIKE PADDINTON 2 TOO

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Paddington 2 is for those who liked Paddington 1. I saw Paddington on DVD back when my local Blockbuster was still open. It’s amazing what a difference three years will make. I had missed it at the movies-the trailer didn’t get me enthused. I had some dim fond memories from childhood but this CGI bear would not do. He looked too fake and I could care less if he used toothbrushes in his ears. All the comedic set-ups seemed tired and silly. The sequel’s trailer is a prime example. Paddington has a pair of clippers and there’s a stuffy old British man waiting for his haircut in the local barber where Paddington works. How is that going to possibly end I wonder? There’s a stupid inevitability to such premises that I have no interest in. Although I will admit during said scene the other day I heard children laughing in the theatre and suddenly such things did seem funny.

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Three years ago I got the DVD from my Blockbuster, probably Karen got it truth be told, and we watched it and I smiled. Maybe I rarely laughed out loud but I smiled. I smiled the kind of smile you only smile when you’ve been absolutely charmed and I was charmed by that film and more importantly by that little Peruvian bear. He always looks CGI but there’s fantastic design work from the animators to make you fall in love with this bear backed up by Ben Whishaw’s voice work and spirit of Michael Bond’s books. Paddington is always polite, always has his heart in the right place and always tries his best and believes in the better nature of people unless they invoke a good hard stare. Paddington exists in a world of fiction too where hardened criminals can make gardens once they’re shown a little kindness. These qualities are essential to what makes the character and these current films so wonderful to watch.

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Getting these things right were crucial and now everything else follows. Things like a stellar British cast where even the normal characters have a whiff of the oddball about them, the villains are played broadly but avoid cutting a slice of ham and the production values are gorgeous. Usually set bound but clean, colourful and yet homely. When foreigners think of living in London they think of a street like the one Paddington lives on. I was charmed by the first and I have been charmed by the second one even more. Perhaps because Hugh Grant as a villain seemed like a funnier character than Nicole Kidman’s scary one in the previous film.

 

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More likely it was the running theme of Paddington wanting to be reunited with family. My sister as you may recall lives just outside of London and she has come back a few times to see us including for my wedding. There is a part of me that would very much like to go see her in London one day soon but I don’t believe that is very likely and my parents are reaching an age where it is unlikely they will make such trips. I was charmed by Paddington throughout but at the end I felt a little betrayed. The movie ended abruptly on a moving scene and the lights in the cinema immediately went up revealing the audience as a whole with tears running down our cheeks. This is a great family movie.

-Lloyd Marken

CUCKOO FOR COCO

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Coco is a heart warming tale of that encourages you so many thoughts about the themes presented. Perhaps though the most touching and universal one is that of family. How a part of you is made up of someone who left this world a long time ago. There’s a profound mystery about that and also something very humbling and touching. Coco grants the opportunity to see such people and to see how you measure up to each other. Strangers who are undeniably immediately familiar because well they’re family. Pixar may not hit it out of the park every time like the old days but their leading batting average remains assured with releases like this.

We meet a boy named Miguel who is part of a loving family of shoemakers. Many years ago the family got into shoemaking when an ancestor Imelda Rivera was abandoned by her husband to pursue a career in music. Imelda needing to support her child Coco started the business and never looked back banning anybody in the family from taking an interest in music. Now Coco is elderly and her grandson Miguel hides up in his attic with a home made guitar and practices playing inspired by the legendary musician Ernesto de la Cruz. Without going into specifics Miguel during the day of the dead celebrations find himself on the other side in the land of the dead where he attempts to meet his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Miguel has a song in his heart, a talent that must be set free from a family that needs to understand that. Yet he too must understand where this fear of music comes from, that nothing can ever be as valuable as your family’s love.

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Pixar have created another visually stunning world, moving scenes of emotions we can all relate to, sly sight gags that poke fun at tropes and a particularly catchy theme song that grows on you slowly. The cast is first rate including Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel, Gael Carcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia and Edward James Olmos. As Miguel navigates the land of the dead the middle sags a bit but the film comes home strong. I’ve seen the Day of the Dead celebrations referenced in the pop culture I grew up with but never took the time to learn what it was about. I enjoyed a mainstream release that showed such a sweet explanation of it. Being shown something new and interesting in film was very enjoyable. It’s quite a thoughtful moving tradition about letting the dead by remembered by your family and let them be in your lives one day of the year and in your hearts the rest of it.

-Lloyd Marken

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI REVIEW AVAILABLE AT HEAVY

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Winner of four Golden Globes for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is currently playing throughout Australia. A thoughtfully constructed film with unapologetic humour the plays against expectations at several turns and offers no easy answers about how we can best deal with injustice and our own anger at the state of the world. Frances McDormand leads a pitch perfect cast full of heavy hitters character actors, rising talent and the formidable talents of people like John Hawkes, Sam Rockwell and yes Woody Harrelson. This is not a comforting film or at times even entertaining but it is an intelligent confronting film from the mind of the man who brought In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. It may be his best yet and it will stay with you as the award season rolls on. You can read more of my thoughts over here https://heavymag.com.au/film-review-three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri/ at Heavy Magazine where I was lucky enough to have my review published.

National treasure, fine actress and all around great broad Frances McDormand stepped up to the mike with a great speech at the Golden Globes following her win. We’ll see how she fares in the race for Oscar but a good Globes speech never hurts. Nor does acting your ass off in one helluva performance. This film won’t be for everyone but McDormand’s performance should meet with universal praise.

Featuring in the trailer was Don’t Walk Away From Me Renee by Motown group The Four Tops. The use of the song hints at the themes of the film but also how different things can exist alongside each other.

Heavy is an independent magazine and website that is all about the music and specifically heavy music and supporting the Australian music scene in general. Fortunately for me they do cover film as well and I have been fortunate to have a few things published there.

-Lloyd Marken

 

INTERVIEW WITH GRAVITY AND OTHER MYTHS MEMBER JASCHA BOYCE

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At the end of last year I was blessed to have a run of assignments with Scenestr including a week where I saw five performances and one film. At the end of that week a last minute opportunity came which I was lucky enough to be able to seize. I’ve reached another milestone with Scenestr by completing an interview that went on the cover of their Western Australia December edition. On Wednesday night I saw contemporary circus group Circa perform in Brisbane and believed it to one of the best shows I saw last year. A top 5 would include Queensland Ballet’s Raw, Tim Crouch’s England, Circa, Randy Writes A Novel.

Having just been thrilled by Circa‘s performance it seemed appropriate to now get to interview an actual performer. Gravity and Other Myths are Adelaide based and perform around the world. I interviewed Jascha Boyce as part of press for their upcoming performances in Perth as part of Fringe World. It was fascinating to hear from Jascha how as one of the founding members they have sought to maintain a close family dynamic in the group and her own history as a performer. I couldn’t have asked for a more interesting and patient interviewee as she went through her craft, her fellow performers and their priorities in the world. There is a courage and a vulnerability in circus performers as they perform for us putting their bodies on the line but also risking failure and yet maintaining such disciplines and nerves of steel that they always seem to nail it. You can read my interview here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/a-simple-space-filled-by-circus-company-gravity-other-myths

There were 3 more interviews I did before 2018 for Scenestr which will feature soon. This was the last thing to be published in 2017 though and was a real thrill for me to cap off the year in this way with a cover story. I really can’t believe my luck, I feel so grateful for this. I went to the offices to wish the team Merry Christmas a couple of weeks ago and feel so grateful to contribute to what is an amazing group of talented individuals. It is one helluva thing to produce a street press magazine in 2017 in the Australian market and keep it viable and grow it online in other mediums but this is what these guys do and there’s no shortage of what I could learn from them. Bring on a 2018 where I hopefully continue to contribute to and get so much from the awesome gang at Scenestr.

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Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. With over twenty years of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. You can read see a digital version of the printed Western Australia edition here http://scenestr.com.au/read/WA/2017/9-WA/scenestr-WA-09.html where Gravity and Other Myths are featured on the cover and my interview with Jascha takes up page 10 and 11. The Western Australia edition only started up in May 2017 and only with such an expansion I guess could such an opportunity had been made possible. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

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