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

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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

 

TOP 20 FILMS OF 2017 LIST AVAILABLE AT X-PRESS MAGAZINE

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I count myself very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to contribute to a new publication X-Press Magazine. This is the fifth publication I have been able to contribute to following on from Scenestr, Heavy, Buzz and FilmInk. We were asked to send in our own Top 5s respectively for films and TV shows along with what we thought was the worst. Three of my Top 5 films made the list and two of those had words I’d submitted. I feel very lucky to have reached another goal in my writing career before the close of the year and look forward to doing many more contributions to all the publications I’ve been lucky enough to be published with. Bring on 2018. Please note my Top 10 to feature here on this blog next year around Oscar time will go off films released in 2017 in the U.S. This list done by X-Press Magazine was based on Australian releases for 2017 and does include 2016 American releases. You can read it here http://xpressmag.com.au/the-x-press-top-20-films-of-2017/

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 1,0000 outlets every week.  On the 24th May, 2016 Issue 1527 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

WONDER WHEEL REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The latest film from Woody Allen has opened in Australian cinemas and we saw an advance screening last Monday night at New Farm Cinemas. It had been a few months since I’d been to New Farm 6 which I found charming and Karen and I didn’t miss the opportunity to trek to a nearby Pig’N’Whistle for dinner afterwards. Just up from the Valley, New Farm is choc-full of grand old buildings with history, wealthy yuppies and odd ball personalities. My work for Scenestr has made me more familiar with the suburb, in particular the Brisbane Powerhouse for which I am very grateful.

The opportunity to review a movie, any movie for a magazine is one that is heavily coveted by all contributors. I had just submitted three reviews the previous evening to cap off the Wonderland festival and was happy to be back on assignment that night.

Wonder Wheel is not one of Woody Allen’s best but it does show him continuing to try new things and features some great acting in a cast led by Kate Winslet. You can read more of my thoughts here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/wonder-wheel-review-20171207

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. 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

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS REVIEW AVAILABLE AT HEAVY

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I feel very fortunate to have another film review published at Heavy Magazine. This is my fifth film review published on their site following Their Finest, Berlin Syndrome, Lethal Weapon, Dunkirk and now Murder On The Orient Express. If I’m not entirely happy with my review of In This Corner Of The World at FilmInk I feel this one flows pretty well and is nice and short. You can read it here https://heavymag.com.au/film-review-murder-orient-express/

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

 

 

25 POSTS WITH SCENESTR

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After seeing Raw starting a tradition of Grilled Burgers while on assignment. Copyright Lloyd Marken

 

I’ve been published 25 times with Scenestr Magazine since they accepted my review of Hidden Figures and put it up on their website on the 23rd of February, 2017.  Of the twenty five, 6 have been interviews which have all been featured in their print magazines around the country, 11 have been either preview or film festival screenings of movies and 8 have been productions seen in theatres.

Some friends were kind enough to send some copies of the Sydney print edition which was where my first interview was published. Also Karen at BIFF 2017 with a Brisbane copy we found. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

When the first one was published I was over the moon, I wondered if could I do it again, when they sent me to see the Queensland Ballet performance Raw I was tickled pink to see my ticket envelope marked Reviewer. I wanted to get that review just right.

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Tickets for Queensland Ballet’s Raw. Copyright Lloyd Marken

I wondered if I could get five reviews published? What if I could do an interview? What if I got published with another magazine? What if I could get published in the print copy as well as online? I’ve found answers to these questions and found new questions to ask. Where this journey ends others ask me sometimes in very rude ways but I give them no answers. I have plans but what comes of them is not nearly as important as remembering how lucky I am to have had even this. They have a blog now at Scenestr listing everything  I’ve had published http://scenestr.com.au/blog/Lloyd-Marken I’ll continue to publish here for my fellow bloggers to get updates on what’s happening with my work for other magazines. Hopefully this will continue but this all started here with the blog and with you. So I thank you.

-Lloyd Marken

Some of the places we’ve been and things we’ve seen. Copyright Lloyd Marken.