PHANTOM THREAD REVIEW AVAILABLE AT HEAVY

Heavy14I’m lucky enough to do another review for Heavy Magazine, this one for Oscar hopeful Phantom Thread. A gorgeous period piece with possibly the last performance onscreen from the great Daniel Day-Lewis. The two female lead performances from Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville threaten to outshine him in a film that surprised me and that I ultimately really enjoyed. You can read more of my thoughts here https://heavymag.com.au/film-review-phantom-thread/ and please feel free to comment with your own.

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

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LADY BIRD REVIEW AVAILABLE AT HEAVY

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A few months back Dan Murrell at Screen Junkies mentioned he’d just seen a little film called Lady Bird, a coming age tale about a teenage girl growing up in Sacramento directed by Greta Gerwig. I enjoyed Frances Ha and pay attention to Dan Murrell when he says a movie is good and he was quite taken with this one. It’s been a long wait for the film to reach Australian shores and now you can read my review over at Heavy Magazine here https://heavymag.com.au/film-review-lady-bird/ This is a thoughtful well made film crafted with a lot of care. Little things add up to a vibrant big picture. I can’t say it was my favourite film of the year though Dan.

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

 

WE DON’T NEED A MAP REVIEW AVAILABLE AT X-PRESS MAGAZINE

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It is a pleasure to review for X-Press Magazine, We Don’t Need A Map, the latest film from director Warwick Thornton. In it Thornton muses on the symbolism and history of the Southern Cross and what it means to Australia. You can read more of my thoughts here http://xpressmag.com.au/we-dont-need-a-map-gets-7-10-starstruck/ and I hope you enjoy.

This is the fifth post I been a part of for X-Press following on from Their Top 20 Films of 2017 List, Their Top 20 TV Shows of 2017 List, a review of Season 2 of The Crown and a review of the new film Ellipsis.

X-Press Magazine was established in 1985 and at one point was Australia’s highest circulating free weekly entertainment publication with over 40,000 copies reaching 1,000 outlets every week.  On the 24th May, 2016 Issue 1527 (the last one in print) hit stands. Like many publications of its ilk X-Press Magazine is now foremost an online magazine engaged globally and making the most of the possibilities that new digital technology offers. It’s roots though are tied to its home city, love of local artists and productions and music which it supports wholeheartedly. Perth a capital city most isolated from all the other capitals is continuing to grow and develop culturally and artistically with its own identity and talent. X-Press has always been there to capture this growth and will continue to do so.

-Lloyd Marken

INTERVIEW WITH COMEDIAN ARJ BARKER AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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It was a very interesting week, an opportunity came up to interview comedian Arj Barker for Scenestr magazine in the lead up to his new show We Need To Talk at the Adelaide Fringe. I was lucky enough to get that gig and prepared for it. I’ve been watching Arj Barker for years on Australian television with panel shows and telecasts from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Along with Heath Franklin and Randy Feltface here was someone whom I could mention to my friends and they would know who I was talking about. By the end of the week I had spoken to Arj Barker, Michael Che and DeAnne Smith. It was a lot of work, a bit scary and a lot of fun and it all started with Arj.

It’s very surreal to get to interview these people after years of being a fan, Arj answered all my questions and reflected on a few things that will feature in his show. It was a thrill to do the interview which you can read here http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/arj-barker-needs-to-talk-with-us-in-his-new-show

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. This interview was published in print in the February South Australian edition of Scenestr which is always a thrill for a GenX guy like myself. A digital version of the print edition can be found here http://scenestr.com.au/read/SA/2018/36-SA/scenestr-SA-36.html#p=75 with the interview on page 74.  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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WHEN I BECAME A WRITER

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I was a student at the Queensland University of Technology 2003-2004. I graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Creative Writing). Having knocked off a year of electives from previous study at Griffith University I went from kind of a ‘first year’ mode in 2003 to ‘shit we’re about to graduate mode’ in 2004. I was not a good student but in my last semester I tried to seek out some opportunities, I did a work elective where I wrote the newspaper for the Brisbane Writer’s Festival with a small group of fellow students, I submitted a short story to be published in a book of student’s collections ( I was rejected and received feedback that included “a patchwork of movie cheese”), I volunteered at the Brisbane International Film Festival and submitted reviews to a film website that were rejected, and I submitted a film review to the student guild magazine Utopia.

Coming out of a lecture one day with one of my friends we walked past a tray of the latest Utopia. As I was leafing through it, he mentioned “I’m in it, you’re in it too.” I became very excited, repeating back to him “I’m in it?!”. I couldn’t tell if he was taking the piss or not as I scrambled to find where. I’ll never forget when I saw my byline. It just looked so damn beautiful. I hadn’t been notified by the Utopia staff. I confirmed later you got paid for submissions. In my last year I was over at Kelvin Grove campus but the offices for the magazine were over at Gardens Point. After the semester had ended I finally went  into Gardens Point and picked up a cheque for $15.00. I was a university student then and while it wouldn’t go far every $15.00 helped. I never cashed the cheque. I wanted it as a memory of the first time somebody paid me for my writing. This in my mind made me a writer. It certainly is one of those things in life where only you can take what it means to you, away from you.

I submitted another story to Utopia but they didn’t publish it. The following year I walked around to every film studio and producer in Brisbane and dropped off my resume. I only heard back from two to say they weren’t hiring but wished me the best of luck. I had one interview with one film production company which I really enjoyed but I didn’t get the job. In 2006 I went back to university. In 2007 I was a gopher on a film set and in 2008 I met my wife. Life got away but I started blogging, and more so when I did my Graduate Certificate in 2015, and buoyed by the community I found online and engaged with I submitted reviews to film websites I followed. Only a couple and I never heard back.

I decided to try somewhere more local last year and submitted to Scenestr which had been Scene magazine when I was at university. The editor there liked my review and on the 23rd of February, 2017 my review for Hidden Figures was published on their website and they put me on the e-mail list of their freelance contributors. In the year since I’ve become a regular contributor to Scenestr (44 – 15 interviews, 13 film reviews, 13 theatre reviews, 3 stand-up reviews), Heavy (22), Buzz (8) and X-Press (5). I’ve also had one of my reviews published with FilmInk. That’s 80 published pieces in the past year. It is not how I make my living, that I must be clear about, but it allows me to pretend I’m a writer, film critic, an interviewer. Because for small pockets of time it is what I do and I work hard at it and I do get compensated for it. So I guess I’m a writer no matter how much money I make. I’m a writer again just like I was when that film review got published in the guild magazine over a decade ago and I’m very grateful to be able to say that. 81 and counting.

-Lloyd Marken

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I WAS A PRETTY GOOD BALLPLAYER

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David Letterman returns with his second episode of a 6 part series of interviews My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with celebrities he admires. Most he’s interviewed before but now he’s doing it in long form like Charlie Rose freed from the format of the ironically named “talk show” where interviewees were geared towards 8 minute bits that had no room to breath and had to constantly be full of rip-artee. Of course the well known truth is that quiet can be pretty damn engaging and Letterman seems to be enjoying himself in this new format. The people he is interviewing are well versed in engaging people too, George Clooney his latest interviewee by those standards must be the amateur of the group. Letterman always a performer who wants to be within in his comfort zone has assembled a roster of familiar faces. I would have for example loved him to interview instead Clooney’s wife, human right lawyer Amal Alamuddin which would have been a first but the two old guys looking back format still works a treat.

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A fascinating subtext not to underlined too heavily is that George’s father Nick Clooney had the kind of career Letterman might have if not for the courage and support of his first wife Michelle Cook and perhaps the untimely death of his father Harry. That’s not fair to Nick Clooney actually whom first and foremost was a journalist and made a pretty damn good career out of it too, Letterman who went farther with comedy would not have had the career Nick Clooney had if he’d stayed in Indiana as a broadcaster. Similarities with George himself are in abundance as well, George Clooney is a father at the same age as Letterman became one, they’re both liberals, they’re both from the mid-west and they’re both wise-asses. As conversation pieces for fans there are some fascinating revelations, George Clooney would put pebbles in his shoes as a young Catholic boy when he didn’t tell his priest about all of his sins. David mentioned his father went to AA later in life and it helped because it allowed him to perform as well as deal with his disease. These are touching moments that speak to the nature of these men. David has a good nose for this stuff, seeing an old poster of Nick Clooney in his Kentucky home he points out that the visage is a dead ringer for George.

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Speaking of the Clooney home, Letterman visits George’s parents and sister who have taken in a refugee from Iraq, Hazim Avdal. Hazim seems to have been coached with his answers but there is no denying the weight of what he experienced.  He’s asked at one point would he ever back to his home town to which he informs there is no town left only mass graves. Later we see him in a nice house next to a river, the kind of house we would all like to live in. This young man has been given tremendous help but after all that he went through my heart swells to see him living in such a peaceful part of the world. He is working hard at university and when asked would he like to become an American citizen almost out of deference for people’s prejudices he simply says that he loves America and that that would be wonderful but something he does not take for granted. Through Hazim, Letterman is showing what can be gained from opening up to help others, not closing off to help ourselves. It is of course a lot more complicated than that and we have borders for reasons but by presenting a human face to such tragedies we can be reminded of much.

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I would have preferred a little bit more of a chat with Nina and Ada Clooney but I am tickled pink by the immaculate way former beauty pageant champ Nina holds up a tablet for the camera as George and Amal skype everybody in Kentucky. Not having Amal and George actually there in Kentucky feels like a massive missed opportunity, to see George a son interact with his family but it allows the focus to remain on Hazim and to reveal the nature of the people who raised George Clooney into the kind of man that would try to help genocide in Africa at the same time that he gets together with a friend to invest in a house tequila.

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Families are fascinating, Letterman consistently turns to child rearing for conversation in interviews and with new Dad Clooney this seems more than appropriate. Letterman who has a checkered past with good women whom he owes a great deal to tellingly describes that you can say you love your mother or you love your wife but when my kid was born I felt it well up inside of him effortlessly. These moments of candour remain why you tune in to such a show.

I still would have liked to see George with his whole family, I think Letterman understands this missed opportunity too because they do a remote at LAX with just George and Dave. It’s funny, its cute, it bookends the episode nicely. It’s another strong episode but I keep on coming back to the idea that Dave should be talking to new people and maybe people that will challenge him. Perhaps this is why I am most interested to see what happens next month with the guest for that episode being Malala Yousafzai.

-Lloyd Marken

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INTERVIEW WITH MICHEAL CHE AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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Michael Che is the co-head writer of Saturday Night Live and the co-anchor of the bit Weekend Update that features on that show. In 2009 he started doing stand-up, in 2012 he performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, a year later he was a writer on Saturday Night Live, following highly renowned bits as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart he was made co-anchor of Weekend Update in late 2014. Just over three years later he is head co-writer of SNL, he has released a Netflix special Michael Che Matters and he is touring throughout the world. When I began writing for Scenestr a little less than a year ago I never thought it possible I would get to interview someone like Che who had performed on Letterman or SNL. The fact that it was someone whose comedy I enjoy as much as Che was a real treat. I’m tickled pink that I was put through by a PA for the interview and then told to wrap it up by the PA as well. That’s a new level of fame. 🙂 A personal indulgence on my part became the central focus of the interview for me. I asked Che what it was like to perform on Letterman. His answer I believe is first and foremost an interesting behind the scenes story, but it also reflects something about comedians. Muhammed Ali would move faster when he sparred later in life with Parkinsons then when he walked. Fighters fight. Stand-ups do live comedy. You are your craft and it always comes back to that. I’m very grateful for speaking to Michael Che and to Scenestr and to you all for reading. I hope you enjoy http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/michael-che-using-humour-to-identify-humanity-with-his-australian-tour

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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 Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland every month. The interview with Michael Che is the cover story for this month’s Western Australia magazine featuring on pages 10 and 11. You can read a digital version of the printed Western Australia edition here http://scenestr.com.au/read/WA/2018/11-WA/scenestr-WA-11.html#p=11 Scenestr65The 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. I have now done two cover stories for the Western Australia edition and one for the Queensland edition for which I’m very grateful. If you’re into music Scenestr are 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