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

MINOR ROLES THAT HAD A MAJOR IMPACT – JAGUAR OWNER FROM SPEED

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A minor role will usually only involve a few minutes of screen time but will usually see the character given a name and have some relevance to the main characters. A friend who in a twist is the key villain, a mother who only offers advice in one scene, somebody whose importance to the plot is only revealed at the eleventh hour. Other times it’s a showy role for only one scene and everybody is talking about that performance after they leave the film.

A long time ago there were these ice skaters named Torville and Dean. They scored a perfect 6 from all the judges in their final routine at the 1984 Winter Olympics and naturally became legends. Image result for torvill and dean in australia 1994Following their Gold Medal winning performance at the winter Olympics they went professional and performed for several years. In 1994 they returned to the Winter Olympics and won Bronze. Some time passed and they came to Australia to perform. My family were fans and on a whim one day decided they would see if they could get tickets. It was not in my parent’s nature to go to such shows, they were luxuries to be weighed up heavily. Hence the last minute enquiry and the resulting lack of availability. So as a consolation prize we decided we’d go to the movies. Speed termed as a “Die Hard on a Bus” was out  with Keanu Reeves playing against type. We knew of his Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), Parenthood (1989) and Point Break (1991) although only the first had been really watched by me as the others were probably deemed too adult. We went in with no expectations, my father, mother and siblings. I still think about that night every now and again watching Speed up on the big screen. Kids become teenagers and get too old to go see movies with their parents. Then your parents tend to not want to go out to the movies because its easier to wait until it comes out on Foxtel. 🙂 Speed was on the cusp of that change and an unexpected gift. This action film inadvertently became a family film  because we all have that memory and we all enjoyed that night and that movie. A great movie will be universally loved and bring people together.

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Torville and Dean would have been a once in a lifetime experience but there are no memories from that day tinged with disappointment only amazement. It turned out Speed was to be bonafide classic with amazing cinematography, a rip roaring score, amazing stunts, witty dialogue, and a fantastic ensemble cast. There’s no denying that Joe Morton, Jeff Daniels, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves have a huge part to play in engaging the audience and making them care about the outcome. As a kid who’d never seen Easy Rider it made Hopper relevant again, it introduced the world to Sandra Bullock and it allowed Reeves to be seen in a new light. Yet there is not one speaking part in that film that isn’t memorable. That gun wielding latino “Stop the busss!”, the aw shucks tourist “We’re at the airport…I’ve already been to the airport.”, the lady with the G-string coming out of the elevator, the elderly African American couple weeping “The baby.” just before that incredible jump. I could fill out the rest of the year in this series of posts with actors from Speed. I’m half tempted to, but on initial viewing there was one guy who we all strode out of the cinema talking about-the black guy who’s car gets commandeered.

Credited as Jaguar Owner Glenn Plummer is still listed seventh on the cast listing at IMDB. An ordinary man finding himself in the extraordinary situation of flying down the LA Freeway after a commuter bus that has a bomb on it. I look back now and wonder how this played to African American audiences to see a black man in an expensive vehicle have his car commandeered at gunpoint by a white police officer (Keanu Reeves’s Jack Traven) who then proceeds to wreck said vehicle and put both of their lives in danger. Related imageAt the time this was standard behaviour for film action heroes to pull guns when civilians black or white did not play nice with them. Now I wonder if Plummer’s performance is a little over the top, at the time African Americans were featuring more and more in films and to Australian audiences any unique ways they spoke were lively and fresh and exciting to see. Bad Boys come out a couple of years later and the banter between Martin Lawrence and Will Smith was riveting because we weren’t used to seeing this in mainstream American films. Now two decades later I wonder if Glenn Plummer was encouraged to ham it up but I like to think he maintained his dignity. Related imageThe characters always plays as real to the situation, the off hand way he says “Take the phone.” after losing his car door feels right but you know a white guy wouldn’t say it the same way and that’s kind of the point. Well I guess it will be interesting to hear what you think but I thoroughly enjoyed  Glenn Plummer’s performance as Jaguar Owner and it seems I wasn’t the only one.

They made a point of having his character now named Maurice appear in a similar manner in the sequel Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) courtesy of an amazingly ridiculous coincidence and he got some high profile roles directly after Speed in Showgirls (1995), Up Close & Personal (1996). More recently Glenn Plummer had roles in The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Saw II (2005), Sons of Anarchy (2008) and Suits (2016).

He has also branched out into other jobs co-writing, producing and directing in 2006 VooDoo Curse: The Giddeh (2006) and the upcoming Charlie Charlie (2017).

Some people will remember him in his early work in Menace II Society (1993) and his break out role in South Central (1992). Others know him from his recent television work. Yet if you’ve seen Speed it’s doubtful you’ll not remember him in that. He took a small thankless role and sold every line, every joke, every reaction and I hope to see him again soon holding my full attention with his incredible talent.

-Lloyd Marken

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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES REVIEW AVAILABLE AT BUZZ MAGAZINE

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Johnny Depp plumbs new depths in the latest Pirates movie out tomorrow. Thankfully Geoffrey Rush remains a better part of a franchise on its way out. I wish I could tell you otherwise but alas you can read more of my thoughts here http://buzzmagazine.com.au/pirates-of-the-caribbean-dead-men-tell-no-tales/

I’m very grateful to have another review of a brand new blockbuster movie published over at the wonderful Buzz Magazine. It means a lot to get published on such sites and I appreciate anybody taking the time to click on the extra link and check out my work.

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.

My wife enjoyed the film well enough so maybe it’s just me but I feel a responsibility to tell you that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is still out in cinemas and a damn fine film. Once again I appreciate anybody who clicks on the link to read it and hope you enjoy.

-Lloyd Marken

ALIEN CONVENANT SURE WON’T BE MISTAKEN FOR ALIEN: COVETED

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Alien: Convenant has opened to mixed reviews and solid if not exciting box office. Such a reaction may spell the end of Ridley Scott’s plan to close out a new trilogy of Alien films for this decade but will this film grow in prestige with time. Setting out to serve two audiences it may fail to completely satisfy either but there’s no denying there’s good stuff here. Is it enough?

GenXers growing up in the shadow of the first two films were always keen for more go arounds when rumours would arise of James Cameron or Ridley Scott returning to the franchise. At one point long before Avatar took up his time there were even rumours Scott would direct a film written and produced by Cameron but alas that was not to be.

in 2012 though Scott returned to science fiction for the first time since 1982 with Blade Runner to make a Prometheus that would deal with origins of the Aliens and answer finally who was that infamous space jockey. The infamous space jockey turned out to be a giant, bald grey humanoid who took a shot of tequila and made human kind. Or at least one of his ilk did a million years ago. Beyond that we didn’t learn much about them but the ending of Prometheus promised us we would find out in the next film. We don’t.

Prometheus saw the Hollywood debut of Noomi Rapace who did a solid turn as Elizabeth Shaw and before heading off on a new adventure at the end setting up a compulsory sequel. Don’t expect to see much of her in this sequel.

Prometheus sported some incredible visuals but its weak point were fucking moronic characters who played cute with space cobras and took off space helmets for no good reason so they could propel the narrative forward, felt ill and possibly contaminated but still had sex with their girlfriends and in a panic ran in straight lines ahead of rolling giant objects bearing down on them.

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Thankfully there were bright spots and not just some neat sexual tension between naked push-ups champ Charlize Theron and handsome Idris Elba. There was Michael Fassbender as peroxided android David. A character you definitely couldn’t trust but was endlessly fascinating whom with a mix of intelligence and naivety engaged me.

I had time for some of the human characters in Prometheus, but I wanted to find out what happened next to David. To this end Alien: Convenant is more of the same. Michael Fassbender returning as David and also starring as Walter a newer model android is easily the most engaging performance/s of the film. Nothing against Katherine Waterston or Danny McBride who acquit themselves well but they’re types and also lambs for the slaughter. Nobody is still wearing a space helmet again but at least the word quarantine comes up in conversation and it just seems like the momentum is always against the human characters here that you understand why mistakes are made even if they are still clearly mistakes.

I guess you want to hear the plot right? Okay people on a ship in cyrosleep going to a planet. Fire on ship, people wake up. Get signal from other planet. Decide to go there because it is habitable and just had people die on fire on ship. Get there and….aliens. Sort of.

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There-done. I can’t state this enough Fassbender and Guy Pearce having a conversation in a white room at the beginning of the film was far more thrilling for me than an Alien tearing down spaceship corridors in the third act. Everything with David and Walter was far more fascinating to me than the alien scares and I suspect the same for Ridley Scott. Despite this though I do think the venerable director has had a red hot go at making the xenomorph scary again and giving us fantastically gross deaths to try and top the chest-bursting scene of the original. Creatures in long grass leaping out at dusk illuminated by nearby burning wreckage. Bursting open backs rather than stomachs. Neomorphs braying quietly an inch from you like a horse. The classic cliché of a shower sex coupling interrupted by other appendages moving in are memorable images as are pathogens moving through ear canals. If there is any complaint it is that it would have been nice to up the creep factor a bit with some of these sequences. Sadly the creatures themselves often move too fast and with little weight obviously rendered by computer their movements are now too sleek compared to the haunting creature in the earlier films. However the scene much touted in the marketing where a belayed Waterston does battle with the classic xenomorph on top of a careening space vehicle while packing a modified Steyr assault rifle is the kind of sequence that couldn’t have been done 20 years ago the same way and makes great use of modern technology.

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The film itself is less pretty than Prometheus sporting harsher colours, the planet in this film replaces the bare black volcanic rock with forests and medieval like structures but the sky is darker, the colours even more muted adding up to convey a nightmarish quality of a ruined world. Positively gothic. Which is kind of the point and maybe why this may struggle to find a huge audience. This is a dour film offering no real easy answers. There’s plenty of horror and action in it but its more interested in bigger themes. Yet saying that big themes and moodiness is why this film won’t click with some is just an excuse. Plenty of dour films can still entertain you with their effectiveness. There are interesting ideas in Alien: Convenant, some neat deaths and two compelling performances from Michael Fassbender. I was angry about the idea of having already waited five years for answers when Convenant was only going to leave me hanging for more but I am now intrigued to see where Scott takes this. Yet that does not a satisfying film make and Alien: Convenant is far from satisfying. Wait for it to come out on Disc or streaming. While Alien: Convenant seeks to address some of the criticisms of Prometheus I would argue the latter is still the better film. I’m also putting it out there in this corner of the internet, Sir Ridley I’d like to see Alien 5 with Ripley, Newt and Hicks more than I ever wanted to see this.

-Lloyd Marken

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