MINOR ROLES THAT HAD A MAJOR IMPACT – LUCY FROM GOING IN STYLE

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Going in Style is a pretty much average film overall, helped mainly by the charisma of its 3 venerable stars Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. The film tells the tale of 3 retired workers who have lost their pensions due to nefarious corporate wheeling and dealing. Eventually they get around to making a decision to rob a bank, the same bank responsible for the deal that took away their pensions. As the heist kicks in the film does get a boost of energy with director Zach Braff capturing the action in some interesting ways but the film never really takes off.

SPOILER ALERT!

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During the heist Freeman’s character Willie becomes distracted by a little Asian girl and speaks to her while suffering an attack due to his ill health. It is the kind of cringe inducing narrative choices that infuriate me. Why would his character do this at that moment? They have got to get in and out of the bank quickly. You know narratively there has to be a payoff but you’re insulted by the lack of character motivation and sheer stupidity by people you’re supposed to be rooting for. Yet there is a payoff and against my better judgement I couldn’t help but approve.

Annabelle Chow plays the little Asian girl named Lucy who is there at the bank during the heist with her mother. The pay off is in a later scene she can identify Morgan Freeman’s character by his watch. Matt Dillion suspects our three heroes and hauls them in front of Lucy to have her identify them from the line-up. During his interactions with Lucy, Willie mentioned he had a granddaughter. Chow comes in as Lucy, stares down all the suspects and then is adamant that nobody present were the bank robbers.

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On her way out of the police station she walks past Morgan Freeman’s daughter played by Ashley Aufderheide. The camera goes into slow motion and as the two little girls walk past each other, Annabelle clutching a doll gives the most gangster nod to Ashley. Cheesy as fuck, predictable for a few but in that moment I tipped my hat to young Ms Chow. From the bank heist to her poker face during the line-up and then that simple gesture on her way out she gives a great performance. It’s pretty simple I admit but there’s something touching about the morality of a child. They are known to have sixth sense and something in her during the heist had seen that this man was not a threat and surrounded by adults suspecting she was lying and talking about the importance of the law she had come to a simple choice – this man has a granddaughter like me and I’m not taking her grandfather away from her. With that simple choice by Lucy perfectly conveyed by Ms Chow the sentiment of it all touched me. One of the most annoying things about a film had been redeemed. Sure they could have found another way to set it up better but thanks to Annabelle Chow I was happy enough. As a minor character she seals the fate of the main characters and their families and highlights some of the central values of the film. Not bad for what was a probably a couple of day’s work. Well done Annabelle.

-Lloyd Marken

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EXTRAS WHO ADD A LITTLE SOMETHING – JOHN B. DESTRY

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To tell the truth there’s a lot of Memorable Extras in the film Happy Gilmore with throw away visual gags. Try the middle-aged Asian lady (Helena Yea) who hears Happy serenading his long since departed ex-girlfriend over the intercom buzzer and decides I’m having some of that or the poor old lady (Helen Honeywell) who jumps on the bonnet of his car screaming to be broken out of the retirement community Gilmore is dropping his beloved grandmother off at. They’re great moments and great actors but for my money there is just something about the Zamboni Driver.

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Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) rookie golfer has arrived on a date with PR guru Virginia Venit (Julie Bowen). The whole thing is a riff on the classic scene from Rocky. He asks the Zamboni driver if he can have the ice skating rink to himself and the driver (in a reverse from the humble pay off of Balboa’s date) has Happy told “For Happy Gilmore – anything.” It turns out Happy has set up quite a few things with the driver or owner because soon Endless Love is playing and there is a little mood lighting illuminating the rink. After a heart to heart Gilmore then places a bet about scoring a goal to effectively score a goal with Venit. Virginia then scores the goal and with all the power in her court makes a move on Gilmore herself. It’s a nice scene in a frat comedy that I still enjoy. The reason why may be some of the absurd touches throughout, case in point – as we pull back from Sandler and Bowen sharing their first kiss with the cheesy ballad playing in the background we see the middle aged Zamboni driver mouthing the lyrics as if he’s starring in his own music video. Actor John B. Destry nailed this bit not over or underplaying the moment and it left an impact. Whether it was written or Destry came up with it on the spot the head bow and sigh at the end speaks volumes. A whole character’s world contained in a gesture. Funny but also touching.

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I’ve tried researching his exploits further but the most I can come up with is his credits over at IMDB. He’s been working steadily since 1989 to the present. He’s played variations of drivers (7 times) and security guards (at least 6 times) quite a bit along with the old venerable beat cop. He’s been cast regularly as a middle aged men in working class night jobs. I’ve watched 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001), Capote (2005) and Watchmen (2009) but can’t recall his Marcus Tittlebaum, Pete Holt or Happy Harry’s Bartender from any of them.

That’s okay because Extras are meant to fade into the parts and not be recognisable like stars but I wonder if at the time he knew that there was something special about the gag he was doing in Happy Gilmore and that it would afford him some recognition. Who knows but he did a great job and may he continue to enjoy a long happy career in the arts.

-Lloyd Marken

WONDER WOMAN REVIEW AVAILABLE AT BUZZ MAGAZINE

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I’m very grateful to be able to say that I have had another review published at Buzz Magazine. This one is for Wonder Woman which is drinking in the sweet smell of success with critical acclaim and box office moola!  happy woman weekend wonder woman opening GIFYou can read some of my thoughts here http://buzzmagazine.com.au/4882-2/ and I can’t help but link below a video review from the How It Should Have Ended team because quite frankly I think Daniel Baxter is really perceptive about the appeal and major themes of some recent releases. HISHE is correct, they got Wonder Woman right and from there everything else flows.

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.

I really appreciate everybody who takes the time to click on the links and check out these reviews, I hope you’re enjoying them. Out of the blockbusters I’ve seen so far this season Wonder Woman is only surpassed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

SOLDIER’S WIFE REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The Queensland Cabaret Festival has been running the past couple of weeks and on Saturday night I was on assignment for Scenestr to attend the show Soldier’s Wife at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

I was excited to see the show, as stories about veterans and their families touches me. You can read more about my thoughts at http://scenestr.com.au/news/music/soldier-s-wife-queensland-cabaret-festival-review-20170612

While I feel some songs engaged me more fully than others they were all written with big hearts, the performances were world class and in the small intimate theatre where the show was performed the crowd was visibly moved throughout. I remain extremely grateful for these opportunities to see such shows and review them for such a great publication. Any love you can show by clicking on the review and liking and/or commenting is appreciated.

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 also publish Scene magazine in print every month focussed mostly on music gigs, festivals, stand-up comics, fashion and interviews with local and international bands. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts.

-Lloyd Marken

20th CENTURY WOMEN REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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20th Century Women has taken its sweet ass time getting to Australian cinemas but it proved worth the wait and justified every nomination or award win that came Annette Bening’s way during Awards season. You can read more of my thoughts here http://scenestr.com.au/news/movies-and-tv/20th-century-women-review-20170607

I’ve been very lucky to get published online for a few publications these past 3 months. I’ve been grateful for the opportunity and appreciate the support from my fellow bloggers.

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 also publish Scene magazine in print every month focussed mostly on music gigs, festivals, stand-up comics, fashion and interviews with local and international bands. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts.

-Lloyd Marken

STAR CHARACTER ACTORS – ALICE DRUMMOND

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Do you recognise this actress?

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How about now?

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Still not sure, how about now?

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If not then maybe I should tell you immediately after this, the title Ghostbusters appears on screen.

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The actress shown is Alice Drummond, the embodiment of a Star Character Actor. Her film career is littered with roles that might as well be simply termed “Old Lady”. That was her type and she played it well with various nuances. When thinking about this series she was one of the ones I knew I would do when I got started. In addition to her famous turn in Ghostbusters (1984), I know her well for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) with her classic line “Laces Out.” straddling the line of manic but adorable. No doubt I recognised her at the time in shows I watched like Ed and Boston Legal and you may recall her from Dark ShadowsRyan’s Hope, The Equalizer, Grace Under Fire, Friends, Law and Order and Spin City.

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From her film debut as Woman in Elevator in Where’s Poppa? in 1970 through to the 2011 short film Open House she amassed 43 film appearances. These included roles I remember like the dreadful Funny Farm (1988) and roles I do not remember like Eyewitness (1981), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), Running on Empty (1988), Awakenings (1990), Nobody’s Fool (1994), I.Q. (1994), To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar (1995), In & Out (1997), Pieces of April (2003), House of D (2004), The Honeymooners (2005), Synecdoche, New York (2008), Doubt (2008) but can almost picture. I’m planning to watch Awakenings in the near future and I’ll be interested to see her performance in it as I mostly remember her for her comedic work.

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Despite playing variations of old ladies in her film work for over 3 decades, Drummond was capable of great range. In 1970 she was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Mrs Lee in The Chinese and Dr Fish. Just one of those enjoyable discoveries with this series where you found out so much more about the performer and their life achievements. She regularly performed off and on Broadway for the rest of her life. Sadly she passed away last November aged 88. Her work lives on. Where do you remember her from and what was one of her performances that proved a favourite with you?

-Lloyd Marken

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OVER 2,500 VIEWS FOR ‘THE FOUNDER’ REVIEW

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I’ll try to keep this short but I did want to share that Ray Kroc…What An Asshole! reached 2,500 views on the 27th May, Australian time. Views has been slowing down in the past fortnight following on from the heady explosion of interest in April following the digital release of the The Founder for the home market. I doubt there will be many more milestones to celebrate in the future, certainly in the near future but I hope people who read the review enjoyed it. It is the engagement I get from my regular readers that matters most but it has been exciting knowing so many different individuals from around the world have, even fleetingly, read something I wrote once. Once again I’d just like to thank anybody who has read anything from this humble obscure corner of the internet and enjoyed it.

A few stats just cause stats, the post published 18JAN2017 received 53 views in January, 372 in February, 212 in March, 1,098 in April, 875 in May and so far 29 in June. The last week of April boasted 382 views, followed by 296 views in the first week of May, then 206, 178, 143 and so far this week 81.Averages across the months per day have been 3, 13, 6, 36, 28 and so far in June 10. There is simply no other post on this blog that boasts such stats. It currently has 18 Likes and 2,639 views. Thank you internet.

-Lloyd Marken