THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS REVIEW ON SCENESTR

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Recently I have been fortunate enough to do some work with Scenestr Magazine. This week I was lucky enough to attend the Queensland premiere of the movie The Fate of the Furious and my review of the film has gone online here http://scenestr.com.au/news/movies-and-tv/the-fate-of-the-furious-review-20170412

I appreciate people taking the time to click through on the link rather than the convenience of reading a review from here. The actioner starring Vin Diesel is a fun way to spend two hours but I’m most excited about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opening later this month although Thor: Ragnarok’s stocks have gone through the roof this week. 🙂

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 and fortunately for me I have had 3 reviews published by them for Queensland Ballet’s Raw, Logan and Hidden Figures.

-Lloyd Marken

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SOME STATS FROM 2016

This is just a quick stocktake for the second quarter of the year to see where we stand heading into the last third of the year. Think of it as less a self-congratulatory pat on the back and more a shameless plug for previous posts.

Image result for united kingdomConsistently most of my views come from the USA ( who overtook the top spot from Australian readers early this year and don’t look like handing it back anytime soon), Australia, the UK, Canada and then Spain. Early this year Brazil powered ahead to No.5 but Spain has shot back in the past couple of weeks. Near the end of August Great Britain had the most views for the month but then the world turned, the East Coast woke up and America took out the No.1 spot just like they did in the Olympics. I wonder if the U.K. could take out a month though in the future.

Top 5 Most Views by Country 2016

  1. United States 1,209 Views
  2. Australia 922 Views
  3. United Kingdom 811 Views
  4. Canada 220 Views
  5. Spain 122 Views

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts 2016

  1. Captain Reg Saunders of the Australian Army 129 Views
  2. Eye in the Sky is Pure Perfection 77 Views
  3. The Heroes of Kibeho 76 Views
  4. 10 Pics from the Sticks Part IV: Flaxton Mill Road to Mapleton Falls and Back Again 66 Views
  5. South Vietnamese General Ngo Quang Truong’s War 56 Views
  6. 10 Pics from the Sticks Part V: Lake Baroon to Kondalilla Falls 55 Likes
  7. Youth is Wasted on the Old 54 Views
  8. Suicide Squad Will Test Your Will to Live 52 Views
  9. Deadpool: Finally a Happy Ending for Ryan Reynolds 45 Views
  10. Stars Wars Has Return to our Screen and Our Hearts 45 Views

Top 15 Most Liked Posts

15. A Couple of Nice Guys to Spend Time and A Brave New World with New Ghostbusters

Rounding out the Top 15 are the last two film reviews with 10 Likes equally. On paper one is a old school masculine driven film and the other a revived franchise that re-casts women as the central heroes. Both have similarities though, in The Nice Guys a young daughter is usually the most sensible and smartest person in the room despite the guys loudly throwing punches and shooting guns, she maybe the one who makes the biggest difference. Both are also about people having to face overwhelming challenges to find out who they really are and take up that mantle. In one two damaged but good men discover they can do the right thing and in the other women surrounded by naysayers prove they maybe the only ones who can save us from Ghosts. Sadly I found The Nice Guys a delight despite a third act finale that didn’t quite take off for me but Ghostbusters was another example of a tired old regular reboot blockbuster. Not bad by any stretch but lacking the laughs and confident subversion of Paul Feig’s previous films.

14. Hail, Caesar! A Lovely Film For Those Who Loves Films 10 Likes

As a film buff, Hail, Caesar! may speak to me more than the average cinema goer. There’s the usual clever Coen dialogue to be found here and even a lot of depth underneath the surface. I doubt it will go down as one of their classics, it feels very much like an inbetweener (yes I know this isn’t a real word) for them but I liked it quite a bit and you can’t deny what the heart wants – the heart wants.

13. Lance Corporal Michelle Norris MC 11 Likes

Those who may say women can’t serve in combat may want to look up Cpl Norris. A 19 year old medic when deployed to Iraq she became the first female soldier ever to be awarded the Military Cross. Subsequently 3 other female soldiers have earned the Gallantry Award.

 

 

 

 

 

12. 10 Pics form the Sticks Part V: Lake Baroon to Kondalilla Falls 11 Likes

1711Part of an ongoing series of blogs about hikes I’ve been on, I gained confidence from the excellent Cindy Bruchman’s series Five Shots to post these and they seem to have gone down well. When my sister came over from England with her Canadian partner I decided they would enjoy the spectacular views of The Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. That day was even  more enjoyable for the opportunity to get acquainted with them. A wonderful memory.

11. South Vietnam General Ngo Quang Truong’s War 11 Likes

It may surprise some to find out that the South Vietnamese military had one particularly good leader who was respected by all sides and would eventually turn back a North Vietnamese invasion in 1962 when mass American ground troops had left South East Asia. He lost the war he fought and his country but he never stopped rising to every occasion including re-settling in America with his family and making a new life.

 

10. The Year of Blogging Dangerously 11 Likes

Well this is awkward, this was a similarly themed post from April and includes shouts outs to reviews from previous years like my love for About Time, Craig Ferguson and David Letterman.

 

 

9. Birth Days 11 Likes

A little short story I wrote for university that played with narrative structure. Essentially relating birth moments throughout a lifetime with certain patterns emerging again and again over the years. It means a great deal to me all the positive feedback I’ve received for it.

8. Alice Going Through the Looking Glass and the Sequel Motions 12 Likes

Not a particularly good film or good review but it’s nice to have fans.

 

 

 

 

7. Love and Friendship: Too Sorely Needed Attributes 13 Likes

Image result for love and friendship movieWhat I like to call a clean review. Fairly concise, not too boring to read hopefully and sums up what is good about a pretty decent movie. The number of likes probably reflects an interest in the film itself which has been getting good notices.

 

 

6. Central Intelligence – There’s Worse Films Out There 13 Likes

I felt inspired writing this review to touch upon this guy I knew in high school who became a bit of a success story. The film itself didn’t bowl me over but there were funny moments to be had and The Rock and Kevin Hart are two very likeable star personalities who played well off each other.

5. Suicide Squad Will Test Your Will To Live 14 Likes

Image result for amy adams vanity fairThe film depicts the character of Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller and Deadshot very well. I’m intrigued to see a better film with these performers playing off the dynamics of their core relationships. That unfortunately is not what this film was and a rant and Amy Adams Vanity Fairs photo shoots ensured. People seemed to enjoy reading which is a relief because it was one of my longer rants of late.

4. Star Trek: Beyond Covers Familiar Ground 14 Likes

star trek star review trek beyondStar Trek: Beyond has been well received by most critics and fans so pay to attention to my opinion but here it is for those that are interested and it seems to have intrigued some.

3. The Hunt for the Wilderpeople Turns up a New Zealand Gem 20 Likes

Out of the 2016 films I’ve reviewed so far the best ones have been Eye in the Sky and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Those that have seen the film seem to have been enchanted by it and that good will meant people were just happy to share their joy of the film here on this post as well. It really is a gem, be sure to check it out.

2. 10 Pics from the Sticks Part IV: Flaxton Mill Road to Mapleton Falls and Back Again 20 Likes

1619Karen and I went hiking one day up at the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walks and came across an echidna in the wild which was a real treat. I also touch upon a trip we took with her grandfather to the same area not long before he passed away.

1. Captain Reg Saunders of the Australian Army 51 Likes

Blame GP Cox and his amazing blog which started about retelling the experiences of his father as a Paratrooper in the Pacific during World War II and now is just a fine source of history from that period. When GP posts something within 24 hours he receives 100 Likes, goodness knows how many views. He’s built this following up over time with fine consistent work and consistent supportive interest in the blogs of his followers. As soon as he reblogged on his site my post about the first known Aboriginal to be commissioned as an officer in the Australian Army – the stats on that post shot up. Captain Reg Saunders was a war hero who endured much upon his return home and always overcame the racial indignities of his time with humour and resilience. We could learn a lot from his example.

 

For Your Consideration

I don’t think of myself as a particularly good writer but nonetheless sometimes I’m excited by what I come up with. Other times I can’t help but feel it is a bit messy and has nothing of interest to add. My review for Captain America: Civil War for example lacks any real hook. I list a few things I like and what narrative threads may have consequences throughout the franchise but it’s a joyless review for a film that was quite joyful. Suicide Squad an imperfect frustrating film on the other hand led to a funny review (an attempt at being funny anyway) and one that was relatively painless to write. Here are the posts that I’ve enjoyed compiling and seeing reactions to that you may have missed.

Cpl Bryan Budd VC

Published March 29 3 Likes

article-1216591-025CB87C000004B0-562_470x423[1]The closing paragraph I’m particularly proud of but at the end of the day this soldier’s story tells of extraordinary courage and sacrifice and should never be forgotten.

 

 

 

 

Eye in the Sky Is Pure Perfection

Published March 29 8 Likes

The first great film of 2016 has a lot to say without clamping down on one agenda either way. It will spark debate, discussion and thoughts about many aspects of modern warfare but in the end it is a poignant tale about one girl selling bread on a street corner and whether she will survive to see tomorrow.

 

Brooklyn: An Old Irish Tale for Our Times

Published March 21 6 Likes

Brooklyn maybe my favourite film of last year, maybe not the best I’m quite happy Spotlight won the Oscar, but my heart literally swells right now thinking about Brooklyn. I felt like I went to three different funerals while watching it. It’s about falling in love, chasing dreams and planting your feet about who you and where you’re headed in life. It made me think a great deal about my little sister and how much I love her.

Deadpool: Finally a Happy Ending for Ryan Reynolds

Published March 17 6 Likes 

I went for broke trying to be funny here and I’m quite happy with the results. It’s the first time I got to write about Jennifer Garner and I hold no shame in that. People have gone cold on the film already saying it’s not that original and the marketing sold it. Fuck them. Any idiot could say the filmmakers edited around a standard origin story but there’s wit here that you just don’t get in many blockbusters anymore and it punches above its weight in terms of budget and action sequences. In a summer of disappointments Deadpool stands tall against all odds as the little blockbuster that could AND DID.

Youth Is Wasted on the Old

Published January 10 3 Likes

Youth didn’t light up the box office or feature much in the end of year award shows. For me though Youth stays in the mind for a long time after. Michael Caine gives another stellar performance as an ageing composer facing up to what he’ll do with the time he has left and what he has lost along the way.

Thanks again to all those reading and have a great weekend.

-Lloyd Marken

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE-THERE’S WORSE FILMS OUT THERE

I don’t want to go to my 20th high school reunion, I couldn’t have imagined feeling that way when I graduated in 1998. I wasn’t a popular kid at school but I’d finally found my niche and had a gang of friends, wouldn’t we be curious how everybody had turned out and 2018 seemed so far away. I figured I’d be a history teacher and failed actor, married with some kids and just trucking along like anybody else. Then life happened and as those 20 years draw closer to an end I find I’m not where I want to be and I’m not who I hoped I would be. This is not unusual and the advent of social media has chipped away the question of how people are going since for the most part that can be answered in few mouse clicks. I can’t imagine what it is like for someone who was popular in high school and shares similar sentiments to me. I’m told there’s always dark horses who make an impression at reunions since once they were free of school life they went on to accomplish great things.

I think of one man in my  old drama class who did an assignment when we  were studying Brecht. He stood in the middle of the room pretending he was on a ledge planning to commit suicide while a video played of him as someone else(maybe his consciousness) telling him not to jump. There were other props too. I wasn’t a good friend of the man, a nice enough guy, we ran in similar circles but I think we might have even quarrelled once. He was a big tall overweight kid with a soft voice, I guess some people figured he was gay but at our school back in the mid 90s, long before Glee, kids didn’t come out at school. By the time we went to pick up our last report cards a month after graduation rumours were ablaze with kids long assumed to be gay now openly out. Kids can be very incredibly cruel, if I’d been gay I doubt I would’ve come out during those years. I suspect that’s how it was for those kids. Sometimes a party might have happened and somebody would say somebody said something to them but half of that could’ve been just the usual rumour mill. Yet nobody came out until after graduation and then several did immediately. Some it took a bit longer.

Sometimes I think about that big kid and his assignment. How close to the truth was that assignment for him, rarely can you do something so honest and compelling if there was not some truth within yourself being expressed. I wish I’d told him how brave and good his performance was, that he was right – life was always worth living.

I saw on a website about ten years ago geared towards looking up old colleagues that he was doing well. After graduation he hit the gym and came out. Within a year all that fat had turned to muscle and he was signed with a casting agency and getting work as a model and an extra. He got bored with that and could see the instability of such a career so he went at Jeans West at 19. Lots of people do that but he went and did business courses part time and ended up being the store manager. By his mid 20s he was running his own business and had also opened up his own art gallery full of work he’d produced. Simply put to the rest of his graduating class and anybody who had unfairly treated him – he’d fucking showed us and good on him.

Dwayne Johnson plays such a man Robbie Wierdicht in Central Intelligence where he is bullied in high school relentlessly except for the kindness of Kevin Hart’s star student Calvin Joyner. Flash forward 20 years and Calvin Joyner is a middle level office drone who never delivered on the promise of his youth. Calvin’s mood is despondent and it’s starting to affect his marriage to his high school sweetheart Maggie Johnson (Danielle Nicolet). Man that’s a thankless role for an actress, even if Maggie is being reasonable she is always without the knowledge of the audience and lead characters and spends most of her time being negative instead of supportive towards Calvin. Nobody should spend their lives with someone who is endlessly miserable but most people stand by their partners through bad times and depression. We get the sense Maggie has been doing that for a while but we don’t see it, plus she never gets to join in on the fun with Calvin and Robbie. Danielle Nicolet does her best but you can see why Rose Bryne has previously commented that guys seem to have the fun roles a lot. One actress who does get to do cool stuff in the film is Amy Ryan but more on her later.

Excitable loud mouth comedian Kevin Hart dials it back a bit here to play regular joe Calvin and The Rock unleashes some of his softer side flipping the script. Hart’s ability to dial up though is well used for his character’s exasperation at his predicament. Robbie Wierdicht comes back into his life randomly one day and suckers him into catching up over some drinks and reveals he is now a buff CIA agent. Dwayne Johnson has always displayed a sense of humour and sweet disposition within his imposing frame. He plays well Robbie remaining in awe of Calvin despite his own new killer skills he expresses himself like a high school senior excited to be hanging with a bro. This is a guy who finally has a friend to hang with. There’s also hints that this maybe partly an act for his character.

Agent Pamela Harris (Amy Ryan) shows up to inform Mr Joyner that Robbie Weirdicht is a liar, a rogue agent who killed his partner and is now an enemy of the state. Robbie declares he’s been framed and needs Calvin’s accounting skills to clear his name and catch the real bad guys.

I’ll be honest, I thought the film was rather average (obvious telegraphed poles rarely amuse me) but I’m thinking back to some bits and smiling. On a $50million budget, director Rawson Marshall Thurber has made some good action sequences even if some of the stunts are CGI augmented and unrealistic. The two leads have good chemistry and seem to enjoy adding new shades to their established personas. At the time I rolled my eyes at too many contrivances and predictability but there are laughs to be had here and one very satisfying cameo at the end. Maybe I’m getting too old for broad comedies but does that mean this film is supposed to appeal to teenagers or to me? Because I’m closer to the age of the central characters.

Central Intelligence is enjoyable enough, my favourite scene is when Hart is asked if you’re in or out? Yet if given the choice between watching it again or going to my own high school reunion, well then not everybody is on Facebook and there’s still some things I’m curious to find out. Maybe I can finally tell that guy, “Hey that Brechtian performance was great and I’m happy you’ve made a good life for yourself.”

-Lloyd Marken

http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/kevin-hart-you-look-amazing-in-the-wind