10 PICS FROM THE STICKS PART VIII: GOMA UPLATE MARVEL EXHIBIT

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The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art opened in Brisbane on the 2nd of December, 2006. Often my friends and I have gone to it and the Queensland Museum and the Queensland Art Gallery for various exhibits over the years. Between all 3 there has been an Andy Warhol exhibit, a David Lynch exhibit, an exhibit of 20th Century art and architecture and a retrospective collection of Valentino’s collection. There has also been an Exhibit about lingerie which was just the best! But we’re not here to talk about that today, we’re here to talk about the recent Marvel exhibit.

There is a program called GOMA Uplate which my gang regularly attend where the Gallery will be open on a Friday night and have entertainment and booze. I enjoy these because often the exhibits as less crowded than during the day on weekends and there is a different vibe in the air. Can still get pretty busy.

20170811_201159Throughout last year filming of Thor: Ragnarok took place in my home state of Queensland mostly at the Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast but also for a few days in the Brisbane CBD. People from London, New York, L.A., Chicago and Toronto will attest what a pain in the arse this can be for locals. I was working out in the burbs at the time and felt a little sad to miss the commotion. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston went and greeted crowds warmly on the streets where production had closed off traffic. Later they went in costume to the Children’s hospitals to spend time with sick kids. I can agree with cynics that this is good PR that would have melted any curmudgeon’s complaints about traffic issues but anybody who has spent time around sick children will tell you there’s no way in hell Hemsworth and Hiddleston didn’t genuinely enjoy giving something back and I think there can’t be enough of such things being done. This follows Johnny Depp and Christian Bale doing similar things and the value it will bring to a child’s joy you can’t put a price on.

The scenes shot in Brisbane are standing in for New York city and I chuckled when I saw the film. I don’t care how many New York yellow cabs drive by in the background, I know those pavements and what a thrill to see them on the big screen. 750 Queenslanders were employed in the making of Thor: Ragnarok. I don’t know how much this played into GOMA getting the Marvel exhibit which featured so many props and costumes from other Marvel movies but it was real joy to have it at Brisbane.

Ten Pics from the Sticks has traditionally been about hiking but we’re branching out with this and maybe subsequent entries which may make the title a little odd but so be it.

Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe Exhibit ran from the 27th of May to the 3rd of September, 2017. It featured various props from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, certain classic comic book issues in glass shelves (this included the first Spider-Man comic from 1962 and I believe the first Captain America comic book from 1942), a lot of costumes and pre-production artwork. This included concept art of the Guardians of the Galaxy that was shown at San Diego Comic Con. 20170811_201902People forget how Guardians of the Galaxy was seen as a risk because it was such an unknown title at the time. That concept art which looks quite a bit different from the eventual look of the team is what sold me on the idea. When the teaser trailer came much later I was all in telling friends this could be the Star Wars of a whole new generation. So I got a picture of me with the concept art. One exhibit showed the artwork, the storyboarding, the pre-viz animation and then the finished product. Another part played a scene where you could dial up or down various sounds effects and music to see how all of those things are layered onto the final soundtrack and how each component plays a vital part. Other areas allowed patrons to stands on mats and appear on screens as various Marvel characters controlling their movements although this was a bit wonky in its execution. Guardians Karen and LloydOne part that I got a real thrill out of was dressing up in props and appearing in front of a green screen where we were overlaid one of the movie posters. We got a really fun group shot of us as the Avengers but out of deference to my friend’s privacy I won’t post this on a public forum. We also ate some snazzy meals down at the Café. While I didn’t take part there was a place for people to draw their own comic books.

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Copyright Lloyd Marken

There are usually speakers at GOMA Uplate and our night was no exception.  Local artist and scenic painter Camille Serisier did her talk titled ‘All In The Details’. Some speakers had worked on Thor: Ragnarok and some had not, Camille being one of the latter but she had done for the Australian ballet and various other productions. Her talk took place in the Asgard throne room area of the exhibition (which sounds dodgier than it was – get your minds out of the gutter people) and pointed out various things. She talked about a lacquer of props to make them appear aged, the throne itself was made out of wood but a lot of other elements were plaster applied over Styrofoam blocks. She also talked about the themes of stories and how production design can support this. It was very interesting to hear her speak and I found myself nodding in agreement at some of her insights. I had just come from my interview with Palace CEO Benjamin Zeccola for the Italian Film Festival and was on such a high from that I uncharacteristically approached her after the talk to ask one further question or too. She was lovely to speak to.

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You can see much better pictures of the Exhibit form QAGOMA’s website here https://blog.qagoma.qld.gov.au/tag/marvel-creating-the-cinematic-universe/https://blog.qagoma.qld.gov.au/tag/marvel-creating-the-cinematic-universe/

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Having worked on smaller scale film productions I was not surprised to find this out but everything you see on film looks vastly different in real life than it does in the movies. Unlike say the dresses from Valentino which looked gorgeous in real life the costumes for films even ones as expensive as this are made with functionality always in mind. How they look under lights, how they will appear in close-up, how the stunt man can do his work in them is always of high priority. That’s why multiple versions of each costume are made for different purposes. Amazingly through the power of movies you often don’t notice these things even when you know about such tricks. That’s not to say these costumes and sets are not made by artists far from it. The level of thought and creativity that goes into this work is really moving. 20170811_203100It was also neat to see the original costumes worn by such stars as Hayley Atwell and Scarlett Johanson and also um gee what are their names uh Greg Evans, uh Greg Humpdump, Joey Rendering, um Bobby Down Senior and Mick Buffaolo. I don’t know I mean Hayley Atwell is the big star I remember. It was also quite a thrill to see so many props form the film Thor: Ragnarok which had not yet opened in cinemas worldwide at the time. This included various weapons, Hulk’s bed from the movie and as a centrepiece the Throneroom from Asgard.

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After our tour through the giftshop where I will rue not getting a door mat that said “I Am Groot’ on it with a picture of Baby Groot I caught up with my friends who were observing the live band performing that night. A Melbourne duo called Habits had a certain group rocking away to electronica. My friends and I kept our distance from the gender fluidly dressed boy and girl who conveyed such raw sensuality. Nothing made me feel more 36 then my lack of free spiritedness compared to these youngsters but the truth is this wasn’t my bag when I was 17. When I was 17 Billy Joel hadn’t released an album in 4 years and he was my favourite while others rocked out to Frenzal Rhomb etc. They may not have been my bag but they were talented as fuck, absolute jets playing their instruments and working the crowd. Something else too, they were appreciative of the audience and engaged with them, the lead singer going down into the crowd and writing on the floor provocatively. There was an older man getting into it and I couldn’t help but admire them for their joy in the music and their commitment to be themselves.

That about wrapped it up for us as we stole away into the night having had a wonderful night with cherished friends at a rare movie themed exhibit in my hometown.

-Lloyd Marken

Captain America Karen and Lloyd

 

 

 

 

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BRINGING BACK BIFF – BIFF 2005 PART III

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Here we are back again to look at the history of the Brisbane International Film Festival. By the way just look at that poster above, one of my favourite BIFF posters although as some of my fellow BIFF vollys pointed out what was happening in the picture? Was the poor girl drowning, was that the symbol of our film festival?! Never the less I think it’s gorgeous and a print of it appeared on all our Volly T-shirts of which I still have mine. The 17th BIFF, the third I attended and second I volunteered at had a strong line-up of road movies of which I took full advantage of and shifted a lot of screenings to South Bank Cinemas. At it I saw 18 films apparently, from India, Israel Austria, the U.S.A., Australia, and kicked off a deep affection for Canadian cinema with The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess and Phil The Alien.

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BACKROADS: Saturday the 6th of August I was back in Regent Cinema 1 to see the Australian classic Backroads in Regent Cinema 1 at 5:50pm. There was short film called Yella Fella which I saw at least bits of beforehand. It was about the life of mixed race actor Tommy Lewis (star of The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith) who grew up not feeling part of either community at times. Backroads itself only runs 60minutes and was shot in 16mm back in 1977 featuring the debut of director Phillip Noyce who had some great movies during his career effortlessly gliding between Hollywood blockbusters and films of substance. A first rate storyteller. Backroads starred the great Bill Hunter and Gary Foley who drive around NSW on a bit of a crime spree. These men are not friends, they’re brought together by circumstances, by today’s standards Bill Hunter’s Jack is racist and even by the standards is openly confrontational with Gary Foley’s Gary. Yet through these lack of political correctness and open disrespect comes direct dialogue where opinions are put forward and explained why by the character’s own experiences. Both men begin to view the other in a different light and Jack’s confused feelings about race and beliefs begin to be challenged. I found the film excellent and revealed Noyce’s talent at making exciting action but thoughtful ideas existed right from the beginning of his career.

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HOTEL: I can’t tell if I saw Backroads as Volly or a paying customer but I assure you I saw Hotel a horror film from Austria/Germany in Regent Cinema 1 at 9:40pm with the privileges of being a Volly. A slow burn of horror film, there’s no gore and no threat really every sighted. We’re left to wonder what happens, directed by Jessica Hausner, this is all about mood and atmosphere. I really enjoyed it but barely remember much all this time later including whether I snoozed a little near the end.

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UP AND DOWN: There was a screening of this film (a co-production of the Czech Republic and Australia), at 03AUG2005 at 7:25pm in Regent Cinema 3 but I believe I saw it Sunday the 7th of August, 2005 at 2pm in South Bank Cinema 4. Wow time really does fade the memory, I barely remember much about Up and Down except that it was a really good movie. Reading through my BIFF booklet somethings come back, a couple who adopt a child sold to them by people traffickers, a son returning to Europe from his utopian Australia. The last bit was particularly ironic. You see the child is ‘brown’ and the husband does not want to keep it as a result but his wife who can’t have children feels very differently. There’s various races represented by the characters and the racial tensions that were already smouldering in Europe at the time. Of course while the film doesn’t present this, these are similar issues facing Australia as well. The film caps off a trilogy started with Divided We Fall and Pupendo from writer/director Jan Hrebejk and co-writer Petr Jarchovsky. Of course I don’t have answers for these complex questions. Up and Down doesn’t really either but its a timely reminder that we’re all human, we’re all looking for a better life for our families and there will be predators exploiting that need. Since Up and Down the growing threat of domestic terrorism has only expanded. If we close our borders and our hearts the monsters who drive cars into people, behead British soldiers and set off bombs in Paris will win. On the other hand we can’t idly by and not react. Up and Down is a reminder that most immigrants only make a nation richer, to recognise our common humanity, to remain hopeful for the future and to never let racism thrive no matter the circumstances. In that way Up and Down only gets more timely.

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WALL: Screening on Sunday 07AUG2005 in Regent Cinema 3 at 7:30pm was Wall from Israel and France directed by Simone Bitton. Pretty sure I came over from South Bank to the Regent to catch this. May have snoozed but this followed on from the previous film in terms of how we shut ourselves out to be safe but that doesn’t necessarily make it so. An interesting film I may have been guilty of snoozing a tad through this, it seems to happen more in the sessions I get into as a Volly rather than a paying customer, coincidence? Images of Israel and Palestine have haunted me from this film ever since. The question of how we can hate ourselves so much and how can we come to peace with each other is at the heart of similar war torn territories from the Sudan to Northern Ireland to the former Yugoslav to the Middle East. I hope we find the answers one day.

ROADGAMES: Was the last film I saw at BIFF 2005 and the last film I saw from the Blacktop Dreams program. An Australian film made in 1981 it screened Sunday 07AUG2005 at South Bank Cinema 4 at 9:20pm. The landscape of the time was fascinating, Road Games was the most expensive Australian film ever made at the time and the Australian film industry was at the height of its powers. A mish mash of tributes to the style of Alfred Hitchcock and 1970s Australian road movies and starring the Scream Queen herself Jaimie Lee Curtis it had dated very badly by 2005. Stacy Keach’s humour didn’t stand up and while he was a likeable enough lead I can’t help but wonder what could have been if original choice Sean Connery hadn’t been so expensive. Still the visuals are great and there’s some neat stuff. Quentin Tarantino says its one of his favourite movies, that’s great Quentin…I’m happy for you. I remember leaving late after the screening with one of the front house staff. I never really saw myself as very useful so I always tried to make up for it with an enthusiasm to help where I could. I hope I did.

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THELMA AND LOUISE: There is one more film to cover that I saw at BIFF 2005. I can’t tell you when I saw it, it was part of the free screenings at the Suncorp Piazza but obviously not CineSparks. These included the Max Max trilogy and many others so as you can see there were many road movies at BIFF 2005 that weren’t part of the Blacktop Dreams program which makes sense. Most of the films in that program were rare hard to find titles whereas the free screenings at the Suncorp Piazzi mostly included titles people had seen several times and possibly owned in their home collection. I chose to see Thelma and Louise for two simple reasons. It is my favourite film and I wanted to see it with a live audience and see how they reacted. So on a cold evening I think during the week I sat on the aluminium seats and watched up on a relatively big screen Thelma and Louise. I can’t say enough things about this film, once somebody seemed surprised that it was my favourite film as a man. I don’t identify as a feminist and but I think it is certainly a great feminist film. It rails against all the hypocrisies of our society and the way it treats women. It takes a classic male story of rebellion and freedom and gives it to these women. If you ever had the special edition of the DVDs I highly recommend for the commentaries from stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, write Callie Khouri and director Ridley Scott. Scott who hails from Great Britain and is a master visualist captured what was so beguiling about the idea of the American open road. Most of the film was shot outside LA in regional California with some in Utah. When a helicopter flies through smoke swirling everything in its rotor wash everybody understands how Scott makes things look better. Yet  take for example a diner scene with Sarandon and Michael Madsen. The next scene is the same diner table with Davis walking in as Madsen leaves. One is shot closer with more intimate lighting. You won’t notice the difference until its pointed out to you and yet it evokes different moods. Its these subtleties that I don’t think Scott gets recognised enough for. Sarandon and Davis start out as two women wearing make-up and sunglasses. As the film goes on they get wilder, more boyish in their clothing, more natural and yes more beautiful. We’ve talked about car chases a bit with BIFF 2005, Thelma and Louise has one of the best car chases of all time that I don’t think gets celebrated enough.

That’s Davis sitting next to the stunt driver as they plough through the fence. But to get back to why it appeals to me? Because its about hitting the open road, its about not taking shit from anybody anymore, its about empowerment. I spoke to author and BIFF 2005 guest Jack Sargeant who had written quite a lot about road movies at the break-up party. I asked him what he thought of Thelma and Louise and he said he liked it but he didn’t think it was fair that Thelma and Louise paid for it in the end. I knew Ridley Scott’s intention was to make them mythic legends but I think Sargeant has a point. I’d be interested to know what Callie Khouri’s intention was with the ending. Hopefully one day soon I’ll write more about my favourite movie.

The next day was the last day at BIFF and true to tradition I did not work as a Volly but did attend the Volly party. The closing night film was The Jacket starring Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley.  We had the break-up at some pub at South Bank reflecting our move away from the Regent. I had spent some hours up in the foyer outside South Bank Cinema 3 and 4. I got out a mop and bucket and wiped the floor in between sessions because I could feel the stickiness of dried soft drink on the bottom of my shoes. I had gotten to hand with more of the front of house staff. One of the twins went to a café with me and got me to drink chinoto for the first time with coffee. Having a sweet tooth I was not a convert but I was surprised to find he didn’t care for Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and was fascinated by his reasons. I hung out with Andre again and met his wife. There was a Volly from Norway who’s name I can’t remember but who was just the nicest guy who everybody fell in love with. Maybe I did work, I remember carrying an amplifier up to the top of that pub in preparation for the party. I asked the Executive Manager again if he felt BIFF had been successful and why. I had applied for a job with BIFF that year and so now knew the likelihood of that happening was minimal. I started to think of going back to uni to become a teacher rather that save up and travel to Canada. Looking back I really wish I had gone to Canada you make choices and these our the paths we take. BIFF 2005 was the best year I had at BIFF, BIFF 2004 will always hold a special place in my heart but this was it and I’m very grateful for these memories.

Today is Remembrance Day here in Australia, I would like to acknowledge all those who have sacrificed so much in war including those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Lest We Forget.

-Lloyd Marken

THOR: RAGNAROCKS BUT PLEASE NO THOR 4

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Taika Waititi did the impossible and got us excited about a Thor Movie. How he did it is pretty simple, he got us excited about Taika Waititi movies and just happened to be directing a Thor movie as well. The trailer promised a rocking soundtrack, gaudy colours that evoked memories of Flash Gordon and a comic tone that would lampoon previous entries. The film delivers on all the marketing in that regard, Thor: Ragnarok has laughs and spectacle as promised but it is missing one key ingredient that previous Waititi films has possessed and where the similarly styled Guardians of the Galaxy films have also shared and that is one of emotion.

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There are massive stakes in this film for Thor regarding his family, his homelands and his friends. You won’t see him shed a tear which is fair enough, maybe that’s not true to his character (by the way what is his character? a smart arse Prince who has matured? after five films I’m honestly not sure) but while throughout he continually references having to get back to Asgard to save his people we honestly don’t feel his connection to them. We don’t really know who they are. It feels almost like two films are running at once, Thor on another planet trying to get back and playing out a fun movie with characters for the most part unrelated to Asgard. Idris Elba as Heimdall on the other hand is engaged in helping the Asgardians and what is happening back home. The film never makes an attempt even a heavy handed one to draw that connection. Adding to that is a cut away to a joke at various times when the impact of a moment could be felt instead. In Hunt For The Wilderpeople we felt loss more keenly there of loved ones and the displacement of home. These themes are present in Thor: Ragnarok but are not nearly as well covered. In that film too things were not glossed over either, if a man had been homeless all his life he could learn to love again but not necessarily be a responsible guardian.

 

So what does the movie get right? First off the opening scene sets the tone with a big battle, some unexpected humour and the use of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song which featured in the teaser trailer. Brushing over some plot elements not shown in marketing  Thor finds himself on a planet named Sakaar trying to get back to Asgard. He is imprisoned and forced to fight in gladiatorial contests. It might have been great to leave somebody he fights as a surprise but we all know what kind of world we’re living in. Keeping that secret would have been impossible and just dumb given how much of an impact it could play in marketing but in a different world that is definitely how you would ideally play it. Speaking of The Hulk, having not reverted back to Banner for some time he is a newly developed character capable of doing good but behaving at times like a sulky toddler. One scene with him and Thor is one of the stronger character beats for both. Other characters include Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum (that’s not a bad thing), Tessa Thompson as former warrior Valkyrie now a mercenary and Cate Blanchett as new big bad Hela. Blanchett is having the time of her life strutting around confidently as a demi-God with serious betrayal issues and looking damn fine in her skin tight costume. She’s the most powerful character in the film surrounded by men trying to take her down a peg or too constantly. Subtext abounds not least of which when she delights in bossing around macho Karl Urban. Related imageThe pain of Valkyrie and Hela are not undermined by immediately following with a joke and I wish we could have seen some of that given to Thor’s trials and resolving of his relationship with Loki. Still if it is laughs you want this film has them and Waititi himself plays rock monster Korg who gets some of the best laughs. Having this special brand of New Zealand humour present on such a massively global blockbuster must be a real thrill for Kiwis and as an Aussie I certainly enjoyed it.

Maybe I’m getting old but like a lot of blockbusters of late I didn’t care for the ramped up CGI-athon third act finale. The spectacle didn’t engage in the same way say the ending of The Avengers did. Some critics believe the meta-humour and need for a laugh undermines the drama of the Guardians of the Galaxy films but I cried during the sequel as well as laughed. I regret to inform you in Thor: Ragnarok I just laughed. Yet its good to see Marvel taking chances and this is an enjoyably light diversion in this ongoing cinematic universe.

-Lloyd Marken

 

P.S. There was a Museum Exhibition in my hometown a little while back which I hope to do a post of soon. For now here’s a sneak peak of some items you may recognise from the film Thor: Ragnarok.

BRINGING BACK BIFF – BIFF 2005 PART II

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And we’re back talking about the Brisbane International Film Festival, the first post about BIFF clocked in 2,988 words, the first about BIFF 2005 at 2,305 words so it may relieve some viewers to know this is razor thing at 1631 words. Recaps on BIFF 2007 and BIFF 2008 will most likely be split into parts too. We’ll see about BIFF 2017.

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P.S.: My first showcase screening was for the movie P.S. starring Laura Linney on Tuesday, the 2nd of August 2005. It was screened in the old IMAX screen South Bank Cinema 5 which was massive. I don’t know if any change was made to the projection of the 35mm film but it was big cinema with a big crowd for such a character based movie, another benefit of early screening at festivals. I was a big fan of the leads Linney and Topher Grace and liked the idea of the story, a university administrator who finds herself falling for a younger man who reminds her of a long lost love from when she was about that age. I’ll admit how cool she looked in the above picture rocking that shawl got me interested in seeing it too. How you perceive films changes over time, I of course saw things from the perspective of the young male who would be perfectly happy to bone someone as beautiful as Laura Linney. As I get older I understand the trepidation of doing such a thing with a much younger person. Yet perhaps I’ve always been an old soul, Linney’s character is full of regrets and anger about how life can turn out and that was something I was only too keenly in touch with at only 24 going on 25. I had already accumulated skeletons in my closet, disappointment at my prospects and shame at my changing body. Yet I remained a romantic and enjoyed love stories that recognised that life isn’t always perfect but there can be solace and respect and affection if you meet someone good for you and that you have to be prepared to not hide away due to fear and bitterness. I’ve read reviews that weren’t so kind to P.S. but I enjoyed it and whatever your misgivings about the film you can’t deny that there is one particularly powerful scene which I will attach below. This scene says so much about life and ageing and has always stayed with me.

 

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VANISHING POINT: Take a look at the picture above which was in the BIFF pamphlet. Now who doesn’t want to see that movie! In the age of internet, dvds, streaming, etc more and more films get remembered but in Australia 2005 you would’ve been hard pressed to get a copy of Vanishing Point much less see it on the big screen. Another film from the Blacktop Dreams program I was seriously excited to see Vanishing Point on Wednesday 03AUG2005 in South Bank Cinema 3 at 9:20pm. On the surface it has a fairly minimalist plot, the power of it was in it being part of the long forgotten past and an indulgent B-grade action film. Naked girls riding motor bikes and stunts galore. As previously mentioned there was something in car chases from this era where you feel the speed of the vehicles, there is always a sense that tyres won’t hold, the car could veer out of control and it makes you feel more connected to the action. This film was made in 1971, before The French Connection, barely after Bullitt and The Italian Job. The kind of car chases I grew up regularly seeing in film and tv were in their infancy and it is remarkable how much this film has never been bettered for what it captured. Every shot is beautiful and creates such kinetic energy, a wonderful collaboration of cinematography and editing. As time has gone on though the central conceit of the lead character Kowalski broken down by life and effectively committing one long act of suicide has only increased in value. The film does reflect the disillusionment of the time, raging against the man, (Kowalski is a man formerly of respectful institutions who has completely turned his back on them) but a sense that the flower power is over too and offered no solace to Kowalski either. With minimalist dialogue too the of vagueness of why Kowalski is doing what he is doing only makes it more powerful. I find it a lot deeper now but at the time it was immediately a BIFF highlight.

 

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PADAM ONNU: ORU VILAPAM: Another Showcase screening at BIFF 2005 was the French actioner 36 Quai des Orfevres which I was very tempted to see but I was committed to seeing films from all around the world and so instead I saw on Thursday the 4th of August 2005 in South Bank Cinema 4 at 6:30pm Padam Onnu: Oru Vilapam from the Fifty Years of Malayalam Cinema program. Directed by T.V. Chandram who started out as an actor and an assistant in the film industry. The title translated into English means Lesson One: A Wail. The film follows a talented young girl growing up in rural India who is good at her studies but the culture around her wants her to get married off and some of these marriages don’t last. I was caught up in the narrative of this film and the plight of the young girl played by Meera Jasmine (who won Best Actress at the Indian National Film Awards for her performance) which was so affecting. I still haven’t seen the French film.

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GATTACA: As part of the CineSparks program for young people there were free screenings in the Suncorp Piazza just a stone’s throw away from the South Bank Cinemas. I went over during one of my volunteering stints and watched Gattaca (which I had seen on VHS a few years earlier) at the Piazza 10am on Friday the 5th of August. I was moved more this time, the ending is quite sublime. Additionally for those who are fans or not fans of the actor Jude Law I urge you to check out his performance in this film which is very impressive. I won’t spoil it for you here but the plot is about a young man played by Ethan Hawke who is growing up in a world where most people have their children genetically conceived. This is not cloning but your offspring are essentially a combination of the best of your genes. Hawke’s parents conceived him the old fashioned way at the advent of all of all of this. With birth  defects rare a class divide has sprouted up, people pick partners based on the best combination of genes and those with weak hearts, bad eyesight are doomed to less fruitful employment, etc, etc. In some ways these are truths that have long existed but this kicks it into another gear. Yet there have always been people that fight the status quo, that dream big and pursue their goals no matter the obstacle. There is no gene for the human spirit.

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PIN BOY: Pin Boy screened Saturday 30JUL2005 in South Bank Cinema 4 at 2:10pm. I may have seen it then but I believe more likely I saw it at another session on Friday the 5th of August in South Bank Cinema 4 too at 1:50pm. I probably just got to go in during my Volly Shift, not planning on seeing the film or buying a ticket but it seemed interesting. It was from Argentina and told the story of a young man from the country working in  manually operated ten pin bowling alley. I knew that once upon a time bowling alleys had been like this in my country and I was keen to see another place in the world that I may not see without the power of film. I’m afraid the festival was catching up with me and I fell asleep during the film at a couple of points and its so long ago I can’t tell you much more except that it was interesting and I wish I had not snoozed a bit.

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NEAR DARK: We’re heading towards the final weekend of BIFF 2005 where on Friday the 5th of August 2005 I went to Regent Cinema 1 to watch another Blacktop Dreams film  Near Dark at 5pm. Kathryn Bigelow’s career was not in hyper drive at that time but Near Dark was a cult classic and everybody loved Point Break. This has a lot going for it, made in the wake of Aliens sharing certain cast members, nostalgia for the 80s, a vampire movie. On the point of Jenette Goldstein, Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen they are brilliant. If you only know Goldstein as Vasquez in Aliens then check her out here and Bill Paxton was always such a character. It’s very sad he is no longer with us. I thought I would love this film and was a little underwhelmed by my reaction. Its true it was gorgeous looking film, my heart was warmed just to see Pepsi signs the way they used to be and the vampire characters were an interesting idea for how to see vampires. Essentially a family unit and white trash Image result for near darkrather than European aristocracy. Image result for interview with a vampireThey didn’t look sexy, they looked miserable but also loyal to each other. Think about the last words Lance Henriksen’s character says in the film and you kind of have a really strong theme there. Maybe it is due a re-watch.

Well that’s it for Part II, hopefully we’ll conclude 2005 with Part III. I hope you’re enjoying this look back at not just film but the history of the festival itself and the inspiration it can provide to young minds far from the streets of Hollywood and open up the whole world’s cultures, regions and histories to those who can’t afford to travel far.

-Lloyd Marken

 

BAD MOMS 2 REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I was lucky enough to be on assignment for Scenestr last Sunday to see Bad Moms 2 which is called Bad Moms Christmas in America. They went to the trouble of changing the title in Australia but not of correcting the spelling to Bad Mums 2. Most Australians will avoid confusion none the less. 🙂

Karen and I went to Chermside again and got sliders from Grilled which is always a nice treat. There was a little package of food when we attended the screening and a free glass of champagne or wine. In the packet was some crackers with a pesto dip and some fancy popcorn to dip in a chocolate sauce. Nice.

The movie was a good comedy sequel produced in quick turnaround. Such things can’t be taken for granted. You can read more of my thoughts here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/bad-moms-2-review-20171102

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. It is the last two where I’ve been fortunate enough to do some coverage of which I’m very grateful.

-Lloyd Marken

INTERVIEW WITH ‘NO END OF BLAME’ DIRECTOR DAMIEN RYAN AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to get the opportunity to interview Director Damien Ryan about his new play No End of Blame. Put on by Sport for Jove theatre company in Sydney it was a bit of a departure for them and Ryan. Known for adapting classical texts and in particular Shakespeare this play was written by Howard Barker who’s work tends to be more challenging to audiences and storytellers alike. I spoke to Damien as he was nearing opening night for a play that was going to push him, his company and his fans into new territory. It was an exciting time and I wish them well.

I often repeat how nervous I am doing these interviews and how rewarding that has made them. As I’ve gone along though I seem to be growing in confidence and how to discuss the work with the artist and so it felt here with Damien. The play features work from political cartoonists Cathy Wilcox and David Pope for example which we discussed for a bit but there is always a limit to what can be practically related in the written piece.

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Below is a cartoon from the great Cathy Wilcox which we discussed amongst others.  Like all directors he has a real fondness and respect for his cast and crew. It would have been great to see No End of Blame but alas I’m in Brisbane and they’re in Sydney but I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to interview Mr Ryan. You can read the interview here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/no-end-of-blame-is-unafraid-to-point-the-pencil-in-sydney or read it on page 36 of the digital copy of Scenestr’s latest NSW print issue here http://scenestr.com.au/read/NSW/2017/17-NSW/scenestr-NSW-17.html#p=36

This is now my fifth interview with Scenestr which began with the performers Meghan O’Shea and Drew Weston for Grease – The Arena Experience, director Michael Beh for Uncle Vanya, followed by playwright Aidan Fennessy for the musical What Rhymes With Cars and Girls before the next day interviewing Palace CEO Benjamin Zeccola for the 2017 Italian Film Festival and finally director Damien Ryan for No End of Blame. Additionally all the interviews have been published in print around Australia while often reviews are exclusively online content. As a member of Generation X I get a thrill out of being published in print I have to admit. I get a thrill out of being published – period. This is still new to me, still something I’m eternally grateful and still something I don’t take for granted. Hopefully though I am growing with confidence and that will make the work better too. Thank you for your continued interest in my writing even if now sometimes you have to click on a link to read it.

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 magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. The magazine is 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

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BRINGING BACK BIFF – BIFF 2005 PART I

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The 14th Brisbane International Film Festival was some of the most fun I ever had. I had graduated from University and moved back in with my parents but was still working at the hospital casual. I bought a BIFF Take 10 Pass and decided to go hard or go home. Evidently so did the organisers of BIFF, there were over 200 films screened, a free public screening program across the suburbs for kids called Cine Sparks and a relocation to South Bank Cinemas. While the bulk of movies screening were at South Bank, the BIFF Offices were still located at Regent. In 2004 the whole program ran out of the Regent in their 4 cinemas. This time they were screening downstairs in the classically elegant Regent 1, in the 1970s refurbished Regent 3. Over at South Bank films were screening at South Bank Cinema 3 and 4. The former IMAX screen (the only one in Brisbane and no more even then) South Bank Cinema 5 was where the Showcase screenings occurred. While a bigger cinema I don’t think there were special conversions for playing on this screen. Of course all these years later I can’t recall exactly what I bought tickets for and what I get into as a Volly though I will try.

I can tell you one day we needed to get something from the Regent down to South Bank. There is a lot of downtime as a Volly. I was 25 and overweight but maintaining irregular exercise with weights and jogging. I offered to run from the South Bank Cinemas across the river into the Regent in the city. There were cars allocated to the festival from one of our sponsors Mazda but God bless’em they let me do the run. As I ran across the fountain courtyard at South Bank I saw a bagpiper and offered him some change. I asked could he play The Bonnie Banks O’Loch Lomond? I ran off to the bridge in the hot sun hearing his notes fade into the background of the traffic and the wind blowing over the bridge. A long time ago a tourist bus driver sang this to me and a group in Scotland and I’ve asked every bag piper to play it ever since. A young one once answered he didn’t he was just learning. Another night in town an older player with some personality told me “Every bagpiper knows that song!”. Maybe I settled for Scotland the Brave that day, maybe it was the young guy. Maybe it was someone else and I heard Loch Lomond. I can’t remember which but I remember smiling like a big kid as he powered my legs forward as the sweat began to pour and I had to pace my breathing. I was young, hanging out at the film festival again, running with the wind and enjoying every second.

Most likely I saw the movies I did in 2004 for free during shifts as a volunteer. In 2005 I decided I would buy tickets to movies I really wanted to see so as a paying customer I could relax I wouldn’t be called away. I also did shifts as a Volly at all hours of the day any day of the week. Still I didn’t attend Opening Night as Volunteer or cinemagoer. I was just too shy.

Just wanted to let Beetley Pete know a favourite of his Bombon: El Perro screened at BIFF 2005. Unfortunately, no I didn’t see it Pete but I will.

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I AM A SEX ADDICT: There was a screening at Regent Cinema 1 at 7:10mpm on 30JUL2005 but most likely the first film I paid to see at BIFF that year was I Am A Sex Addict at South Bank Cinema 3 at 6:40pm on Thursday the 28th of July the day after opening night with U-Carmen eKhayelitsha from South Africa. If you see the photo above and notice the word sex in the title you’ll pretty much know why I chose to see this. I was a young man, always been a horndog and was single. I was interested in depictions of sex, discussions about sex and relationships and what could be learned about sexual addiction. So was this film some smut or did it have something to say? I believe the latter, Caveh Zahedi was genuinely a sex addict and was far from likeable with some of his decisions in his life. Yet the honesty to say that and put himself forward warts and all seems brave. Caveh Zahedi attended BIFF 2005, before the film screened he was asked to introduce the film. The only thing he would say is “Everything you’re about to see is absolutely true and actually happened.” There was humour in it to be sure but also some dark places. I’m not sure I would like Caveh very much. He films people when they want their privacy, was snarky that a porn star didn’t want to do a sex scene with him and revealed one co-star as an alcoholic. He does throw that kind of full disclosure about himself painting himself in an uncompromising and embarrassing light at times. It would be interesting to see now what I think of it but at the time I found it fascinating and remember it as a good movie that also raised interesting discussion. Caveh must have known that and fronted up to the crowd afterwards where he was quite charming, self effacing but also straight forward. It was nice to see that by film’s end he was in a solid relationship and happy.

THE LOVE CRIMES OF GILLIAN GUESS: Right after in South Bank Cinema 3 at 9:10pm was the Canadian film The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess. Again a pick from my insatiable 24 year old libido. Directed by Bruce McDonald and starring Joely Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) the film tells the story of the real life case of juror Gillian Guess who slept with the man on trial who she was on the jury for. Another film that would be fascinating to watch in through the prism of now and some hopeful extra maturity. A few things stand out, first of all the film I remember being very sexy. Secondly with the running set-up of Gillian telling her story on a talk show and flashbacks to her adolescence perspective was everything and we were treated to looking at Gillian’s story in many different ways. Despite the sexiness, Bruce McDonald I believe had some insight into how women can be viewed. How some can be led to believe that their sex is the only power they’ve got and how people can appear one way and that’s not the whole story. How men can view women too. How condescending and smug they can be at times. This was one of my favorite films I saw at any BIFF and something I probably would never have seen otherwise. It also turned me on to seeing Canadian films if I could at BIFF. Sadly alas I missed Maudie and Weirdos (which I found out was directed by Bruce McDonald too) this year but maybe next time.

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BADLANDS: There was a program at the 14th Brisbane International Film Festival, amongst others called Blacktop Dreams which concerned 14 road movies. The 14 were It’s A Mad Mad Mad World, Two-Lane Blacktop, They Live by Night, Vanishing Point, Gun Crazy, Badlands, Don’t Look Back, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Backroads, Near Dark, Roadgames, The Road to God Knows Where, Wrong Side of the Road and Gallivant. Out of the 14 I saw 5 and I still that I didn’t get to see Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. In addition free screening next door at the Suncorp Piazza had the Mad Max movies, Thelma and Louise, The General and goodness knows how many more possible road movies. Jack Sargent who had written Lost Highways: A History of the Road Movie was a guest at BIFF 2005 and at the break up party I asked him about Thelma and Louise but we’ll get to that later. I had seen The Thin Red Line at the cinemas and not been particularly impressed but Roger Ebert had loved Terence Malick and I had read his review of Badlands several times over the years. So on Friday 29JUL2005 at South Bank Cinema 3 for a 3:30pm session I saw it. Related imageBadlands is a beautiful film, still most probably Malick’s best. Telling the story of a young man who went on a killing spree and the girl he took with him it introduced the world to Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen. Having grown up watching them as middle aged people it is still a treat to see them in such a different light, Sheen really did have a bit of James Dean about him in this film. There are no easy answers for why they what they did or how they felt about it. Maybe they just weren’t right in the head, maybe they were scared, in love, maybe they just didn’t want to lose. Their restless, boredom, sadness but also romance is captured wonderfully and I was delighted to find a first rate car chase in the film. Tyres don’t always hold, there’s a power in early car chases where the cars always look like they could lost control. The first classic film I saw at the film festival, what it gave me was an opportunity to see films that hadn’t come to DVD and hadn’t been seen in years let alone on the big screen. Now this is less of a big deal, the Gallery of Modern Art regularly holds screenings of classic films on large screens and cinemas hold special screenings of classic hits regularly now. However a lot of these will be digital screenings, a 35mm print was shipped to Australia to watch this in 2005. For me too, there is something about 35mm film on a big screen even with scratches which is really special. These are experiences I will miss and hope are not completely non-existent in the future. Albeit digital does things easier and with people like Roger Deakins it can look good. I remember carrying a 35mm print up some stairs with another guy and this was only half of the film. They’re heavy. In the projection room I looked over and saw what looked like a videocassette. I was told that was a digital copy. It looked unimpressive, surely that was not the future sitting right there?

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ME AND YOU EVERYONE WE KNOW: Later that day at Regent Cinema 3 there was a film screening at 9:30pm and I attended. It sounded like a quirky love story about outsiders who were hurting. Written and directed by Miranda July and starring her along with John Hawkes I was very interested in it. It started off with Hawks burning his hand which was interesting but sadly I have to say I kind of snoozed and so can’t really fairly tell you what I thought. Having missed some of it I might have even left. This does happen from time to time I have to admit.

PHIL THE ALIEN: You may recall from the post about BIFF 2004 that Phil the Alien was intended to screen there due to some legal issues with the music. It screened twice at BIFF 2005, on Saturday 30th of July at 11:15pm in Regent Cinema 1 and on the following Friday at 10:45pm in South Bank Cinema 3. I’m fairly certain I saw it at the Regent but memory can play funny tricks. I thought Phil the Alien was everything I hoped it would be, telling the story of an alien who crash lands in the wilds of Canada and is befriended by a young boy. The anti E.T. follows with Phil becoming a drunk and a Christian rock singer amongst other things. The biggest star in it at the time was Nicole deBoer who some will remember from the latter seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and who was a completely different character here. Alumni of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart may also be recognised by some here. It was the feature film debut of Rob Stefaniuk who wrote, directed , co-edited and starred as Phil. To my joy it came out a year or two later at my local video story on DVD and got my brother and father to watch it. They didn’t seem so impressed but I can tell you the packed crowd there at BIFF 2005 laughed and clapped and cheered. It was a fantastic crazy Canadian cult film to see at a midnight screening at a film festival with similar minded folks. We might have had to wait another year to get it but Phil the Alien proved well worth the wait. The music by the way was a crucial part of it and I’m glad we waited.

 

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THE GENERAL: On Sunday 31JUL2005 at the Suncorp Piazza 1:30pm I went and saw Buster Keaton’s The General with my friend Mike. This as it turned out would be the only time Mike and I went to BIFF together. The silent film was accompanied live by organ player Ron West who played his organ at the Majestic Theatre in Pomona which still screens silent films and is Australia’s longest continuously running cinema. Ron himself only recently retired in 2011, of course having Ron come and perform in Brisbane was a special treat. The genius of Buster Keaton has not dimmed in all the years, a fantastic physical performer who told a story effortlessly The General still entrances with its scope, speed, daring and yes heart. I was surprised to hear it was not a huge success at the time and led to Buster Keaton having less creative freedom subsequently. In the end though good films endure and their makers remembered. I was glad to see such a film with my friend.

-Lloyd Marken