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

SOME STATS ON MY ‘THE FOUNDER’ REVIEW – OVER 1,000 VIEWS FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL 2017

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I apologise for this ‘tooting of trumpet’post and also for said trumpet not being as impressive as some of my fellow blogs saxophones, clarinets and French horns. Stats though have for a long time been fascinating to me so I thought I would share this never to be repeated occurrence.

I published five reviews in 1 day back in January to effectively catch up on films I’d seen in the past year. The day was January 18, 2017 and concluded with a post about The Founder titled Ray Kroc…What An Asshole! It proved the most popular of those five reviews and closed out the month less than a fortnight later with 53 views averaging 3 views a day with the majority coming in the first 48 hours. So far, so normal for this blog. Some posts retain interest over the months. Last year reviews for Eye in the Sky, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Star Trek: Beyond kept getting interest months after being published with a few views sprinkled here and there. So it was no surprise when some love came the way of Ray Kroc Asshole in February. Yet it quickly became apparent something else was afoot and due to fellow blogger Beetley Pete’s own experiences and knowledge it was ascertained that the review was being featured on some app which greatly increased it’s profile. There were also a lot of people coming out of The Founder and google searching Ray Kroc Asshole and variations on that. Also as Beetley Pete pointed out as the post became my most seen it started to feature on references to my site through various means. The more popular a post becomes the more it defaults to coming up in searches and references. It’s not in my humble opinion one of my best or worst reviews. It is relatively short though and I think reflects a broad consensus on the film which is that it is well made with a particularly great Michael Keaton performance but that it is hard to enjoy due to Kroc being such a…well you know.

In February there were 372 views with an average per day of 13 views for that month.

In March there were 212 views with an average per day of 6 views for that month.

Fair to say as April began the views were slowing down but with 637 views there was a good chance one day we might reach 1,000. Then the views shot up following digital and disc release of the title across the world. April 19 I posted happily that the milestone of 1,000 views had been reached, quite a lucky break for my little corner of the internet.

Yet the views while slowing down again now kept coming for the rest of the month and I just to share some of these stats. In April Ray Kroc….What An Asshole received 1,098 views with an average of 36 views per day. On the 23rd of April it received 135 views which only a handful of other posts on this blog have received in their lifetime. Captain Reg Saunders of the Australian Army has received 141 views mostly due to it kindly being featured on GP Cox’s site. 124 views for The Heroes of Kibeho have been received and that is a reflection of how painful, moving and important the story of those Australian soldiers is. While my review of the ever popular Hunt for the Wilderpeople has received 123 views. 115 views have been received for a post about South Vienamese General Ngo Quang Truong whose story can only be heard more. My Sunshine Blogger Award post has not retained interest but still has 107 views all up. 99 views have been received for a review of my favourite film from last year Eye in the Sky.  For that week there were 414 views, more than the crazy amount of views in February 2017.

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In fact with this crazy amount of views that stats for the blog are out of whack. There were 1,712 views in America for 2016, for just this past month there have been 1,077 views from the United States of America. 2017 with 5,495 views and 3,277 visitors now has almost as many as the whole year of 2016 with 5,673 views and 3,206 visitors and it’s not really because the blog has grown in popularity but just because this post has featured on an app and is now in the google search matrix.

Again this isn’t really a reflection on what I’ve done but more on the skill of IT gurus and the makers of The Founder who at the very least created a strong reaction from the audience to the central character.

An interesting tidbit, the most popular blog post from April was Over 1,000 Views For The Founder with 56 views. Either way, fluke or not, I’m very grateful for it and I hope those people who came across the post enjoyed reading it.

-Lloyd Marken

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OVER 1,000 VIEWS FOR THE FOUNDER REVIEW

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A minor milestone was reached today when the views for my review of The Founder reached four digits.

The review was published January 18, 2017, the fifth review I posted that day and a relatively short one compared to some of my posts. It accumulated the customary likes and views over a 48 hour period that I’m thrilled to often receive with each individual post and then everything quietened down which is customary too especially if another post follows in a couple of days.

Then something odd happened in February and I started averaging twenty views a day. Fellow blogger Beetley Pete had a similar uptick in views with a post about whatever happened to the band Jamiroquai. His investigations had revealed that WordPress had gotten into bed with some other company and now our posts were featuring on some app or other. AMP or pinrss references in the stats backed up this likelihood. For whatever reason my Founder review had featured or struck a nerve and now we were off to the races.

My blog is growing but still a fairly minor thing, I marvel at the way some other bloggers have grown their audiences and take an interest in such a wide field. I’m happy to get 25 – 30 views within initial release, a good post will get 40-50 views and anything else over that is a superstar post. What hits and what doesn’t can never be an exact science. Is it a popular subject matter? When did you release it? Have you touched base with your core fans recently? What is the length of the post? Are there pretty pictures? These are factors that can appear sometimes to make a difference but in the end you have to write about what you want to write about and let the chips fall where they may? Related imageThe second most viewed post this year was about Red Carpet Dresses for Awards Season Part I with 78 views. During the Oscars I did Part II for that Awards Show and it petered out at 34 views. Not that I’m disappointed but the two similar posts do go to show predicting results is impossible.

As time moved on the views slowed down for The Founder but come April 4th they jumped back up again from say 3 views a day to 25 views a day. So here we are. A quick google search indicates what I suspected. The Founder was released digitally on ITunes and Amazon Video April 4th. DVD and Blu Ray release followed April 18th.

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It wasn’t a particularly great review, nor a particularly bad one much like the film itself. If we’re being honest Stats show a lot of google searches with variances on a common theme. When I wrote about The Founder I noted it was a well made film about Ray Kroc performed by Michael Keaton is an Oscar worthy performance. Yet the film portrayed Ray Kroc as an asshole and the film was hard to enjoy as a result. Clearly many other people felt the same way as the popularity of the post has to at least be partly attributed to all these google searches for Ray Kroc is an asshole.

What is the difference between the number 40 and the number 1,000. There are no more comments on the post, I haven’t seen any money from this little deal and I’m sad to admit but it doesn’t reflect an increase in my skillset. This was purely down to algorithms and corporate wheeling and dealing of which I played no part. How many of these viewers actually read the whole post and enjoyed it? Who’s to say.

Yet I am glad it has 1,018 views and counting. Why? Perhaps the answer lies here. Sometime in early 2016 a Jim from Texas commented on a post of mine. His comment inferred he’d been reading a lot of my posts but he had no blog of his own. He just read mine and probably others and liked them and just wanted me to know he did and to keep posting. 1……1,000. I like to think there’s a few Jims from Texas and I thank them and I hope they liked this post.

-Lloyd Marken

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RAY KROC…WHAT AN ASSHOLE!

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The Founder is one of the earlier Oscar bait releases with the resurgent heat of Michael Keaton at its centre with a performance no less engaging than his recent ones in Spotlight and Birdman. Slickly directed by John Lee Hancock with an award winning cast and something to say about one of the lynchpins of latter 20th Century Western consumerism, if there is a shortcoming it is this pure and simple, Ray Kroc ‘The Founder’ of McDonalds was an absolute prick. A mean cruel man ruthlessly destroying lives for his own selfish needs that at the end of it didn’t get anything coming to him. Without the duality of say a character like Tony Soprano it’s hard as an audience member to watch this and not leave the theatre a little bummed out. The only justice to be found maybe in the fact that maybe this outrage will grow in numbers due to the film’s release.

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Fifty two year old travelling salesman Ray Kroc is selling milkshake makers in 1955 when he receives an order from two brothers running a diner out in San Bernardino, California. There he meets Maurice McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) and Richard McDonald (Nick Offerman) who has perfected a system of making consistently uniform food of good quality delivered instantly as you place the order. Kroc is blown away by their innovation but it is when he sees their failed franchise venture complete with Golden Arches that he possibly falls in love for the first time in his life. Related image

He has reached an age at that time where he could comfortably slip into retirement and have a good life. Ray does not want a good life though, he wants a great life and Ray proves most sympathetic when we see him dismissed at every turn for his failed ventures and looked down upon by others who have enjoyed more success. Unfortunately he does not value personal relationships nor the loyalty, kindness and trust of others. His wife Ethel played by Laura Dern is a buttress of patient support while dealing with her own loneliness and his deceit. Married younger women whispering down the end of telephone lines “Are you a bold man?” get him more excited.

McDonalds feeds 1% of the entire global population on a daily basis. Could something that big be built without ruthlessness shown to others. The McDonalds brothers themselves exasperate Ray at various points as he sets up their franchise stores because they don’t want to compromise the quality of the store at any cost. If they’d had their own way would McDonalds exist today? Robert Siegel’s screenplay has some great moments describing how The Golden Arches would become synonymous with America as much as Church Crosses and court houses were and how your own personal identity let alone your business can be bought and stricken from the record if the law and big money is on the other guy’s  side. It’s well made and a little fascinating but it sure as hell won’t make you feel like ba da ba ba bah lovin Ray Kroc.

-Lloyd Marken

SPOTLIGHT: NOT JUST ONE OF THE YEAR’S BEST PICTURES BUT AN EMOTIONALLY RIVETING STORY

The Boston Globe was founded in 1872 by six Boston businessmen and by the 1890s Wikipedia tells me it was a stronghold with an editorial staff dominated by Irish Catholics. Wikipedia also tells me Tom Winship succeeded his father as editor in 1964 and transformed The Boston Globe from a local paper into regional paper of national distinction. When he stepped down as editor in 1984 it had won not just its first Pulitzer Prize during his twenty year reign but a dozen. From 1993 until 2013 The Boston Globe was owned by The New York Times. In the 1990s it launched an online website which has regularly been ranked as one of the ten best newspaper websites in the country. The quality of their digital work can be seen for example here in this piece. It is a prestigious publication with a storied history, something Boston can be proud of. There are several shots in Spotlight with The Boston Globe marquee; a little romanticism is shown not just for The Globe but for print journalism in general.

This is not a tale about regular journos doing the regular beat to hit that print deadline every day. Spotlight is a specialised team of veteran and talented reporters who are given sometimes months to unearth the specifics of the story. When they pull the lever it needs to be good and it needs to be right because litigation lawyers for the paper have to be ready to stand firm. They are good and they do get it right and in doing so they make the world a better place. They are able to do this type of long form investigative journalism due to the deep coffers of major broadsheets. Coffers that are getting smaller in the digital age it should be noted. In 2001 the team started work on their biggest story, the covering up of sexual abuse of children by the Catholic Church in Boston. As the story broke the scope of it has increased to a global crisis for the Church and its faithful. As Spotlight reporter Michael Rezendez has been quoted by People magazine as saying “Even though I was a lapsed Catholic, I still considered myself a Catholic and thought that one possibly, some day, I would go back to being a practising Catholic. But after this experience, I found it impossible to do that – or even think about doing that. What we discovered was just too shattering.”

The Spotlight team is led by their editor Walter “Robby” Robinson portrayed by Michael Keaton who carries tremendous gravitas as an elder statesmen in this film that it is hard to believe this guy was Beetlejuice. I’ve spent my lifetime watching this man and even in something like Duplicity or Batman he brought such energy to his performance. Not here, here he is quiet and he carries the movie – Mark Ruffalo is not the star. Speaking of Mark, he’s terrific as Michael Rezendes the type of role you might have handed to a young Michael Keaton both professionally determined and yet often radiating a certain swagger. Brian d’Arcy James, predominantly a stage actor, plays Ben Bradlee Jr. who uncovers some interesting facts in old archives before realising uneasily that former perpetrators might be living close to his house. Rachel McAdams one of the most talented young actresses working today plays Sacha Pfeiffer who is the journalist who gets the brunt of the interviews with actual victims. A personal viewpoint of the abuse is never really shown. We meet the victims as adults hurting but determined to tell their story and we see them from the perspective of the journalists who are moved by their stories but have to be professional and have to discern what is true. The reporters confide in each other as the story begins to make them confront their own beliefs, heritage and feelings.

Many years ago a very wise man came to my house with a DVD to watch called The Station Agent. It was reflective of his taste and of many experiences where my best friend introduced me to great films I had never heard of. Director Tom McCarthy has been a filmmaker I have followed ever since. In that film he dealt with broken people discovering they could love again and have a place in the world. One character was getting over the death of a child and McCarthy was spellbinding in the way that he would cause greater effect by underplaying everything and showing wise restraint. That wonderful gift is on display here in a film that deals with something very painful.

Demographics have changed in Boston as they have throughout the rest of America but for the purposes of popular culture there is something distinctly Irish Catholic about Boston, MA. You can imagine then the trauma at the heart of an old respected local broadsheet staffed predominantly by Irish Catholics unearthing the first real proof of the Catholic Church’s cover up of abusive priests. It is arguably two great big Boston institutions at war with each other and there are several small meeting room scenes where old Boston guys sit down and talk about what to do with the kind of polished charm that makes one uneasy. Michael Keaton is riveting in these moments.

Sidenote: Many years ago Keaton starred in another journalism ensemble The Paper, one of those good dramedies Ron Howard did so well back in the day, which was about the daily beat of a regular journalist but also carried this film’s romantic idealism for the good, good journalism could do. Film Critic Roger Ebert who always considered himself a journalist first and foremost loved that movie. I think he would’ve loved this one too and Roger I miss you, I miss your thoughts and your wonderful words about movies even when I disagreed with you.

Films like this make a splash at awards season but often can struggle to find a wide audience. They get labelled ‘Important’, ‘Well Made’ with a ‘Terrific Ensemble Cast’ but people may hesitate to know if the film will involve them or worse be too confronting. Yes Spotlight is well made and about something important boasting an All Star Ensemble. However it is so much more, it’s terribly moving as the victims tell their stories and also as various forces seek to turn around our heroes. The crowd I saw it with on a Tuesday night was visibly moved . At the end we got up without a sound and left the cinema quietly and solemnly. Like we were leaving Church.

-Lloyd Marken