WHEN I WAS A WARDIE – I – THE BALI BOMBINGS

I was a casual on call hospital wardsman from September 2002 to February 2006 at the Royal Brisbane/Women’s Hospital.

On the 12th of October 2002 a terrorist attack killed 202 people from over 20 countries in Bali. Two suicide bombers positioned themselves at nightspots The Sari Club and Paddy’s Bar while a remote bomb was detonated outside the American consulate. In what remains the largest loss of Australian life due to a terrorist attack 88 Australians were killed.

Hundreds more were wounded, in the largest aero medical evacuation carried out by the Royal Australian Air Force since the Vietnam War 66 survivors were flown to Darwin within the first 24 hours of the bomb blast. Some were transported further on from Darwin.

I had not been in the job for a month when I met two of survivors of the Bali bombings.

When I began work at the hospital there had been construction of several new buildings, the Ned Hanlon Building was the main one and the maternity ward on level six and the special care nursery on level five were already operating there. There was also X-Ray on level three.

The RBH as it was for me growing up still stood but we were in the process of moving and opening up new wards in the new building. One ward at the old building was set up to receive patients coming down from Darwin from originally Bali.

I was working evening shifts 2:30pm to 10:30pm. One night I was paged to go up to that ward, it was to be my first experience dealing with young patients that I would see naked and burns victims. I was 21 and didn’t know how I would react, I was a little nervous.

I came in and was instructed to put on a green robe. I did bed turns with two patients as the nurse cleaned and dressed them. One was an older gentlemen, one was a blonde haired woman in her mid 20s.

I found to my surprise I was not embarrassed by the nudity even in a young member of the opposite sex nor was I horrified by the burns.

I was there to do a job and was concentrating on doing it right.

Having the nurse helped too, I just did as she told me. I do remember seeing black poking out from under bandages wrapped around hands. I remember the redness all over the skin of the woman’s torso.

I would go on to deal with worse burns victims. I remember thinking the gown was more a precaution given it didn’t seem to get that messy compared to some patient handling I had already experienced. Of course it was for their protection as well.

I remember talking to the female patient, she was a member of the Australian Federal Police. I assumed she had been in Bali on holidays but didn’t ask.

That first month at the hospital I worked full time hours before deciding I couldn’t balance it and my studies. I did work the rest of the week in that area but I never got called back to that ward.

I oddly found some comfort and took some pride in those few minutes of doing bed turns. My country had endured its worst terrorist attack in history and I had been given an opportunity, however small, to help the survivors directly.

I never had to worry about my own safety the way current health care workers have and will during this pandemic crisis.

Many have and will get COVID-19 because there isn’t enough equipment to protect them.

Some of them are going to die because there won’t be enough equipment to save them when they get sick.

They’re running into the jaws of death right now for us.

To help us.

To save us.

I stand in awe of them.

-Lloyd Marken

 

DAVE HUGHES’S ‘RIDICULOUS’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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On Friday the 13th of March, 2020 I was on assignment for Scenestr magazine at the Brisbane Comedy Festival. I was there to see famous stand-up comedian Dave Hughes.

Earlier in the week the World Health Organisation had labelled the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic. Italy hit with several cases had shut down the country to having people only going to work. France shut down children attending school.

Friday morning the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been urging people to attend the weekend football. By afternoon he was saying that come Monday no large crowds of 500 or more could gather in public.

A member of his cabinet, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had tested positive for the virus. The Formula 1 in Melbourne had been cancelled as had the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Wall Street had seen the biggest falls in stocks in one day of trading since the crash of 1987.

Heading into the weekend there was no doubt we were about to experience an economic recession, see our country shut down travel, business and events as much as possible. The most vulnerable in our community to the disease are also the most vulnerable to the pressures that will come to supermarket stocks, health care support or temporary employment.

We’re in for some rough days ahead and so it was some comfort to find quite a few people out at the Brisbane Comedy Festival ready to laugh and to see Dave Hughes a stand-up as recognisable and reliable as any stand-up in this country.

Hughesy made us laugh, laugh about the virus, laugh at ourselves, laugh at him and laugh at our lives. It was a nice reminder of how we need to face the days ahead. With support for our fellow humans and with a sense of hope and optimism. It was a privilege to attend and you can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/dave-hughes-review-brisbane-comedy-festival-2020-20200316

Karen and I caught up with some friends beforehand and enjoyed our beloved snack bar menu pizzas from the Powerhouse. Then we were off to the Powerhouse Theatre, the largest venue at the Powerhouse reserved for big stars, like Hughesy, to perform.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

The following Monday, the Brisbane Comedy Festival was cancelled. In addition to big name comedians, there are a lot of shows and acts there that run on the smell of an oily rag with performers who sometimes work other jobs during the day. Such cancellations are going to provide them with significant challenges in the weeks ahead too but I know we all want to keep each other safe.

I hope you’re safe, I hope you are able to get toilet paper in your part of the world, I hope we treat each other right and help each other in the weeks ahead. I’ll try me best to do so.

-Lloyd Marken

MY FAVOURITE FILMS OF 2019

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It is time once again to do my annual favourite films of the year list which allows for late 2019 American releases to reach Australian shores. What was a little interesting for me this year is I saw less films on the big screen or through their streaming services. From a total of 57 last year I went down to only 45 this year.

There were a lot of good films I saw, and it was no struggle to think of a top five but I did find it difficult to fill out a list of 10 films for the Honourable Mentions. Maybe the depth of quality wasn’t there this year or maybe as in every other year I missed a lot of good ones.

I hear good things about Waves and Honey Boy, I’m intrigued by The Peanut Butter Falcon and I have just seen on DVD Best Picture winner Parasite. I really want to see Apollo 11, Ad Astra, Booksmart, The Lighthouse, Richard Jewell, Pain and Glory, For Sama and The Farewell. Just a random observation, some of the best films I saw this year centred around men in crisis.

With the close of the fourth decade I have lived through I got thinking about an end of decade list which also got me thinking about how certain films are lauded in their year of release but you don’t often go back and think on them. If anyone is interested I couldn’t imagine Warrior and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy not featuring on that decade list. I think Black Swan, The Tree of Life, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inside Llewyn Davis, Dunkirk would all stand a good chance of making it. 20th Century Women I think too and maybe Nocturnal Animals. Films like Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, Ladies in Black and In The Aisles have stayed with me. But high fliers like First Man, In This Corner of the World, Eye in the Sky, A Star Is Born, Blade Runner 2049 would not be a given but I sure like to think they’d be in that list.  It is interesting how time redefines classics.

Star ratings are on a four star scale as per the reviews I read from the late great film critic Roger Ebert.

 

Alita: Battle Angel Published at Scenestr 12FEB19 ***

Captain Marvel Published at Scenestr 06MAR19 ***

Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Published at Scenestr 20MAR19 ***

The Trouble With You Not Reviewed **

Shazam Not Reviewed ***

Hellboy Published at Scenestr 11APR19 **1/2

Red Joan Published at X-Press Magazine 06JUN19 ***

Godzilla II: King of the Monsters Published at Scenestr 31MAY19 **1/2

X-Men: Dark Phoenix Not Reviewed *1/2

Men in Black: International Not Reviewed **1/2

Toy Story 4 Not Reviewed **1/2

Always Be My Maybe Not Reviewed ***

Late Night Not Reviewed **1/2

Shaft Not Reviewed **1/2

IT: Chapter 2 Not Reviewed **1/2

Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark Published at Scenestr 29SEP19 ***

Little MonstersPublished at Weekend Notes 13OCT19 ***

Chained for Life Not Reviewed **1/2

Zombieland: Double Tap Not Reviewed **

Terminator: Dark Fate Published at Scenestr 01NOV19 **

El Camino Not Reviewed **1/2

Dolemite Is My Name Not Reviewed ***

Knives Out Not Reviewed ***

The Rise of Skywalker Not Reviewed *1/2

Jojo Rabbit Not Reviewed **1/2

 

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Published at Scenestr 01AUG19 ***

Hobbs and Shaw is fine perfectly fine fun entertainment. There is no real sense of stakes even though apparently the world needs saving, there’s no real characters here but just the established personalities of Statham and The Rock that we enjoy hanging with and seeing playing off of each other.

I was surprised after seeing how crazy cool Idris Elba was as Luther that he did not make much of a compelling nor threatening bad guy. Even winning a fist fight in an early scene doesn’t make him a threat because our heroes always manage to get away from him. Early Terminator films managed this while still maintaining the villain was a threat.

For a series that has done a lot of things practically the Fast and Furious series is really embracing the CGI these days and it just makes the action scenes have less impact. Still Vanessa Kirby knows the value of a good stare down the lens, there is still wit in the dialogue, two great cameos and some fun with the action choreography.

Alita: Battle Angel almost made the grade instead, for all that film’s flaws I think I cared more about the characters in it but Hobbs & Shaw is a more streamlined product. The fact this film made the list reflects poorly on the list rather than well on Hobbs & Shaw but it was fun to watch.

The ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise is one of those Hollywood fairytales they tell little studio execs to help them drift off to sleep when they’re worried about the changing nature of the global box office.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home Not Reviewed ***

Another perfectly fine blockbuster, this one a sequel and a comic book film. What director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers still get right is the teenage stuff. The previous Spider-Man film worked as a high school comedy and this one suffers from a couple of issues, first a lot has happened in the MCU since the last film and Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is suffering a loss and needing guidance as he matures but the metaphor doesn’t land as well as it did in the last film.

Jake Gyllenhaal is kind of the older cool kid who betrays you? Whatever. Still there are some cool sequences, great laughs and at least here the filmmakers invest in giving their character a real arc and growth compared to most other 2019 blockbusters.

Sadly the MJ (Zendaya) love story had a lot of beats we’re become familiar with after two decades and three iterations of the couple on screen. I’m hoping the filmmakers can right the ship for the trilogy closer and get back to bringing something new to the screen that is still true to Peter Parker. But a perfectly enjoyable comic book movie.

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Memory: The Origins of Alien Published at Weekend Notes 13OCT19 ***

This documentary which I caught at the Brisbane International Film Festival 2019 worked best when telling the life of screenwriter Dan O’Bannon. It was interesting to look at such a celebrated film as Alien and analyse how its themes are still relevant and hear some of the stories behind the scenes.

We learn a lot about the importance of H.R. Giger’s design, the influence of H.P. Lovecraft and the steely determination and creative sensibilities of Scott just one feature into his career. We also reflect on how ground-breaking the ideas of Alien were and how much the film stands up decades on where others may have dated.

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Published at X-Press Magazine 16MAY19 ***

Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat, John Wick 3 isn’t even the best John Wick movie, I’m not particularly excited at the prospect of a John Wick 4. There are a million things I could complain about in this film. Yes it is an example of style of substance but God damnit could we please have some substance. Atomic Blonde is cut from the same cloth and is a better film.

And yet… and yet I think about the fight with the library or in the knife museum and my heart just swells to know there are still people prepared to put this much thought and wit and inventiveness and craft into their action scenes. If they could do the same to the rest of their filmmaking we’d really have something on our hands here but for now this film will nonetheless be talked about 10 years from now for the fight scenes. There is a lot to enjoy here.

The evergreen Keanu Reeves is back as the titular assassin John Wick and he’s all out of the bubblegum he was chewing in Speed, so now he’s just kicking butt. In the original film, there was the first act’s slow burn observation of Wick retired and grieving his wife. If the sequels have lacked this mystery and heart, Reeves has continued to give it his all.

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Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound Not Reviewed ***

As a fan of cinema this documentary was quite interesting, it give a brief summation of the history of sound effects in film and how much it adds to the cinematic experience.

There was a heavy focus on films from the 1970s and the genius of Walter Murch and Ben Burtt who added so much to classics from that era and revolutionised the industry.

However there were some great stories of trailblazing women in the industry like Barbara Streisand and Cecilia Hall and I wondered what other stories there are to tell form more recent times.

Ford vs. Ferrari Not Reviewed ***

My Uncle raced cars and bikes and God knows what else. A mechanic by trade he ended up becoming an Engineer. I hear my Grandfather when he got his first car as a middle aged father was a bit of a boy racer. My father was not a boy racer and yet when I mentioned this film to him he told me all about Le Mans in the 1960s and the showdown between two legendary car companies and families.

The trailers will have you believe this is a racing car movie and I suppose that is fair. There is racing in it quite a bit and it is done well. Yet in telling a real life story director James Mangold does not skirt some harsh realities that transpired here.

This is really about the passing of a time where great individuals could do great things but they had to navigate the corporate world to do it. Company boards and stocks were becoming a thing and visionaries couldn’t just build the fastest car in the world in their garage. If the film is to be believed they could still sure as hell rip apart the engine in the shop with a wrench and hammer and figure out how to make it go faster than a computer. But that time was coming to an end and this film is about how to navigate the new world with an old dreamer’s ambition.

It’s funny then to finding ourselves rooting for the designer/former racer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver/mechanic Ken Miles (Christian Bale) working for the car company Ford that made its name on the innovation of the factory production line going up against Enzo Ferrari who truly loved cars and racing and whose company today still makes their cars “by hand”.

In Shelby’s struggle to get the GT40 made and to have Ken Miles race it at Le Mans, James Mangold and his team have obviously seen similarities to their own struggles to realise visions in storytelling within the workings of a major film studio. Miles is the best racer for the job and that is not a good enough reason for Ford to have him behind the wheel though it should be the ONLY reason.

A wonderful tale about pursuing excellence in your life and the possible costs that come with it, this is a film that strives to solidify the legacy of Miles and Shelby and does no favours for Ford Junior.

At one point this was film to be shot by Michael Mann with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. I sure would have loved to have seen that film. Yet it should be said that Damon and Bale are great in this as are the rest of the cast.

The film is shot naturalistic without the film colourisation of other recent period pieces. There are obvious CGI additions which is disappointing and stand out in the trailers but during the film the editing and sound come together well to get you caught up in the moment.

It’s easy to mock this as the Dad movie of 2019, a tale boomers will recall and can share with their GenX kids however there is a message here for all dreamers to take note of.

There’s a point at 7,000 RPM… where everything fades. The machine becomes weightless. Just disappears. And all that’s left is a body moving through space and time. 7,000 RPM. That’s where you meet it. You feel it coming. It creeps up on you, close in your ear. Asks you a question. The only question that matters. Who are you?.”

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Rocketman Reviewed at Scenestr 29MAY19 ***

There are moments in this Elton John biopic directed by Derek Fletcher starring Taron Egerton and Jaimie Bell, Richard Madden and Gemma Jones that are transcendent.

The moment when the song Rocketman arrives in the film’s narrative is sheer perfection in terms of visual storytelling and emotional resonance. If all the film was at that level it would easily make the top 10 but for me that is not what happened here. Whole scores of scenes and songs felt dreary, uninventive and unnecessary. Maybe that’s just me but there is too much to recommend here to not say you should see it.

As an exercise in capturing what we have loved about this extraordinarily talented, passionate, big hearted, temperamental and damaged man and his music this film hits its target and reminds even rock stars were just once little boys who want love and we all want love don’t we?

Stepfathers, soccer, the fans that fill those stadiums and even the Piano Man’s deep love of all music is glossed over, but a little household in 1950s Pinner looms large…But Pinner is the key. It explains the drugs, the straight marriage and why Taupin is a brother and not just a best friend.

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Long Shot Published at Scenestr 23APR19 ***

A romantic comedy for the 21st century with the star power of Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen.

There is a lot of delving into privacy, political campaigns and male/female dynamics in this film and not just surface references but actual thoughts about these subjects. Yet it retains a light touch (okay it gets a little gross but overall), gets big laughs and has a sweet heart and a smart brain.

It’s not the best film of the year but it shows the romantic comedy is far from played out and why we enjoy them.

Charlize, who has made a career out of playing strong women, gets to flex her comedic muscles again and shows once more she is at the height of her powers. There is a moment where she just stands wearing a pair of sunglasses and it may be the funniest bit in the whole movie. This is star-driven in the oldest sense, the stars coast through the film and, conversely, the film coasts off them, neither gives away just how hard it all is.

 

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Danger Close Not Reviewed ***

Kriv Stenders is one of the best directors working in Australia right now having made the excellent Australia Day and the even better The Go-Betweens: Right Here both in 2017. So it was good news to hear he was doing a film adaptation of the Battle of Long Tan. In a rubber plantation in Vietnam in 1966 an Australian infantry company held off an attack of a numerically superior force. It’s the kind of against the odd battles that make for great storytelling and there are many important stories about Long Tan. Sad stories, touching stories and inspiring stories like there are from all of the Vietnam war.

Danger Close can’t do them all justice and Stenders seems to have been stuck in the middle of waiting to be honest about the nature of soldiers, the futility of war, the politics of the military and telling an exciting rip roaring yarn. He is not without ambition and if he doesn’t quite pull it all together in a consistent and affecting masterpiece he certainly honours certain individuals who were there on the day and maintains some technical fidelity to history and military practice.

Where he fails is in finding a character to follow through the battle and display an affective arc. Even though the film is based on real life, it amazingly stays true to certain war film clichés of rebels who will make good, guys with gals at home who may not be long for this world and hard nosed leaders who will soften around their men and harden even more around the enemy.

Students of the battle will recognise the crucial points are conveyed more or less for what they were and heroic acts and the heroes who carried them out are remembered. Not a perfect film it is an admirable attempt at doing justice to the story of Delta Company, 6RAR on that that day.

The greatest feat Stenders can hang his hat on is how he gets the blood pumping in the lead up to significant actions, he knows how to stage a battle scene and Hollywood should take note, this was one of the most exciting action films of the year.

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Avengers: Endgame Not Reviewed ***

What does it matter what I think about the highest grossing film of all time? I preferred Infinity War to be honest, that was a story told on the run, banking on a cinematic history to fill in the gaps of characterisation and earn emotional buy in.

It was fun though and Endgame to the Russo brothers credit actually wants this to be less fun. They want this to have resonance, to have impact and to matter and they accept that happy endings are not a given, some things can’t be magically reversed. There is a finality to this chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I hope they stick with rather than go for the cheap cash grab.

I’m sure smarter minds could unpack about how this is not cinema. Sorry, but I had to because I get it, why he said it and I understand why some people disagree and that’s fine too. Yet compare this to say The Return of the King, that is better storytelling more organically unfolding and building towards a climax and yes also a blockbuster.

On the other hand Star Wars and Game of Thrones both ended in 2019 like this iteration of The Avengers and there was a lot more dissatisfaction with those wrap-ups. It’s hard to stick the landing for something that taps into the zeitgeist so much and in a world of increasing split fanbases, identity politics, disparate audiences and general disconnect, it’s kind of nice to have these blockbusters that most people enjoy and share together and are all relatively happy with.

Looking back over the film it feels like a string of moments rather than a story but when I think about where some of these characters ended up at the end of this and how it made us all feel I do smile. It’s almost one of relief but it is one of satisfaction.

We haven’t really talked about the effects, the story or the performances. But why bother, you saw it, I liked all the same things you did. Seeing Peggy through the window, getting a little girl all the cheeseburgers in the world, Rene Russo inspiring fat Thor, oh yeah-fat Thor!, the Avengers assembling and Tony Stark being Iron Man one last time. I love you 3,000 and finally seeing a girl about that dance.

 

 

THE TEN

 

 

10. Bombshell Not Reviewed ***1/2

I was surprised to find how emotionally affecting I found Bombshell which may come as a surprise given the harrowing subject matter. I thought maybe the film would get the cliff notes and be about the actors transforming into people we know from the media world. I had watched and had a lot to recommend from The Loudest Voice which told the story of Ailes and Greta Carlson.

Russell Crowe played him as a fascinating and terrifying figure in that mini-series. A man who changed the media and political landscape of the United States of America granting him power and wealth which would be terrifying to take on if you suffered abuse from it.

I had heard that story and I was not sure if I wanted to revisit it, but the focus here is different. Ailes was a giant in The Loudest Voice, here he is a boss in a workplace that is about to have a reckoning with its culture, excesses and injustices.

At the centre of it are three women and something that Bombshell does well is understand the nuances and complexity of us as individuals in a workplace with ambition, competitiveness and alliances. I knew Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie would be brilliant with it, I did not know the latter would move me to tears after knowing what Ailes was capable of but she did – she’s that good.

Director Jay Roach probably does not get enough credit given his stellar cast who double as producers taking reign about the kind of stories they want to work on but he should. He’s made some good HBO films about Presidential campaigns that feature stars looking exactly like the real life figures they play. His choices aren’t flashy but they are in support of the story and the point of the story being told. This is more than just the movie where Charlize Theron nailed her portrayal of Megyn Kelly, this is good movie and you should see it.

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9. Uncut Gems Not Reviewed ***1/2

I don’t know if I’m recommending this movie for you to see.

When we meet Howard Ratner, New York jeweller, we get the sense of unease almost from the get go. Not just from him but from the people that surround him. His store seems to be full of customers and staff who can’t quite be trusted, they push hard for their own needs, take up the space in the room, shuffle their feet and lean forward, they’ve got friends with them, their clothes are good but not well maintained and they’re sweating in the North Atlantic.

They’re sharks and Howard is right at home with them, because in his mind he is a shark too. There are people in his life who would not disagree. Then we see quite clearly that Howard is a gambler. Life is a hustle and he is a hustler, life has been pretty good to him so he probably has come to the conclusion to keep hustling. The film is an examination of how he might be right but maybe not quite.

Life is a gamble, we’re all gambling in that sense and that is fine but Howard IS a gambler and that is not living a life. That is ruining one and all the lives that circle it. The difference between us and a gambler is not about when they say no and when we do. Everybody makes bad calls and has to deal with bad luck. The difference is the gambler never says no – they can’t.

The fact that Sandler makes you care about the outcome of a man who is self-destructing at maximum warp is kind of a miracle. Maybe, we like Howard, like the thrill of seeing if a bad bet will pay off? Well researched, the film captures a certain New York energy I thought the city had lost with all the foreign capital put into it (albeit this is set a few years ago).

Watch out for clothing designer/model/photographer/director and actress Julia Fox who yes is sexy as hell in this film but brings a lot to the role of Howard’s mistress and fellow hustler Julia. Are they playing each other or is there real affection there? What is she hoping to achieve for herself? Eric Bogosian is in this too and he’s always good. Directors the Safdie Brothers have arrived.

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8. Joker Not Reviewed ***1/2

Joker is a good example of how sometimes when a film is released there wis a lot of conversation around it that may have nothing to do with what you think of the film. To be fair I think director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix intended the film to be ambivalent of what it was saying to a degree that what audiences get out of it will depend on what they put in.

Men’s Right Activists, Feminists, the left, the right, mental health advocates, the rich, the poor, civic responsibility, crime, fake news, anarchy, the Fourth Estate, corruption. If these things are near and dear to your heart the film may well be a rallying cry for them, I think it’s more thoughtful than that.

Maybe, just maybe it’s a call to reflect on all of these things and how we’re all a little lost and need to help each other and see things from other perspectives. Or maybe that’s just my agenda.

In any event Joaquin Phoenix is absolutely mesmerising in this film, vulnerable and terrifying in equal measure. I often remark how Charlize Theron is currently at the height of her powers, well I think Joaquin belongs in that group too.

The film is well lit, not a single frame does not seem to have been meticulously planned out in location, set dressing and lighting. I think the period setting of the film is even deliberate criticising nostalgia and the rose coloured glasses that get applied to history which is full of injustices and calling on historical references.

There’s symbolism galore and neat touches throughout, notice how we see Arthur repeatedly banging his head against walls while he is also trying to free his thinking and socially break through barriers. The way Arthur metamorphoses before our eyes has become instantly iconic too.

I also think the filmmakers are very direct in what they think of murder and violence and how where the Joker ends up is not a happy ending but a cautionary tale. The Joker is not a fantasy for me, not a defiant rebel chant either but a sad reflection that we need to do better.

7. Good Boys Published at Scenestr 10SEP19 ***1/2

Good Boys is one of the funniest and best gross out mainstream comedies in years. In fact I’d say the good ones are in short supply and this is one of the great ones. There’s real depth and insight into it and a lot of thought and care has gone into it as a visual piece of entertainment as well as a story that strings together a series of jokes.

But at the end of the day what you need to know about it is it will make you laugh, often and hard.

The script from Lee Eisenberg and director Gene Stupnitsky is smart, filthy, and full of heart. It understands the roles that these three boys play in each other’s lives and how their loyalty can become frayed but never compromised. Note in particular how Max is the leader but often when they are discussing a course of action the camera frames him centre with Lucas and Thor on each of his shoulders coaxing him towards riskier or safer choices reflective of their personalities.

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6. Marriage Story Not Reviewed ****

Marriage Story is, yes, about a divorce but it is also about also about marriage and being a parent. I’m painfully aware there are a lot of men right now suffering because they have lost their families and try as they might they can’t find a way to get them back in the current system. Marriage Story might speak to them but it might also speak to a whole lot of women who feel unheard and unappreciated by their husbands who find their voice and independence when they leave them.

What I liked about this film maybe most of all is that I understood both Scarlett Johansson’s Nicole and Adam Driver’s Charlie. The film opens with a sequence that shows how each views the other in a good way. Everything that follows reflects this, they may not work as a couple but they understand the other person very well.

There are cutaways we as the audience see but the other spouse does not and we wish that maybe they had found a way of communicating better and if there is hope to be found in the ending it is that maybe they have.

Noah Baumbach makes impressive films with performances that comes across as natural in the moment but are more likely painfully rehearsed to get to this point. One absolute stand-out moment is when Nicole unpacks why she has left Charlie prompted on by lawyer played by Laura Dern. It feels so off the cuff and yet it is perfect. I would have been more than happy if Driver or Johansson had walked with Oscars for their respective performances. This is a grown-up film for grown-ups and I hope they continue to get made and find audiences.

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5. 1917 Review Published at Scenestr 10JAN20 ****

One of the great films of the year 1917 at one point appeared to be the frontrunner for Best Picture. Mythic in its technique and singular and everyday in its focus. Lots will be made about Roger Deakins cinematography in service to making the film appear as one long continuous take but the film is also a master class in acting. Exciting, moving and personal for director Sam Mendes it cracks the Top Five with a bullet. Simply a must-see.

More than a harrowing and kinetic tale, ‘1917’ repeatedly reminds of both how humanity is lost in war and how it touchingly endures. There was nothing natural, colourful or human in those trenches except the men left breathing. They cracked wise, held each other close and laid down their lives for their fellow man. ‘1917’ remembers this and asks us to never forget.

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4. Midnight Family Review Published at Weekend Notes 10OCT19 ****

In Mexico City there is a family of ambulance paramedics named the Ochoas. Director Luke Lorentzen has made a documentary about their lives in this work and in a city of nine million people that has 45 official ambulance vans and crews.

The Ochoas are effectively small business owners trying to survive in a market and corrupt system that makes them have to hustle. They’re also saving lives on a daily basis. As someone who worked in hospitals I was quite touched by this movie and the people in it. I also enjoy seeing a city at night in the way only an ambo sees it. A great documentary to check out.

Many patients remain off-screen as we observe the ambulance crew going to work while loved ones or bystanders look on. It’s haunting stuff as you still hear them cry out in pain, see mothers tear up or the paramedics stare off in the distance after a hard job. …The documentary film is not for the fainthearted but perhaps that is fitting given that neither is the job of a paramedic.

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3. The Irishman Not Reviewed ****

The Irishman is a film about what is coming for us all eventually. Some of us won’t have time to reflect in that moment but all of us reflect throughout our lives about how we are living them. Whole years can become a series of fleeting memories that fell away in short order while small moments loom large.

Frank Sheeran tells us the story of his life and it’s pretty sad to think that of his big moments are conversation in bars with middle aged men and the people he shot dead for them. Not even most of those murders register for him but one does. The narrative of the film opens up and closes like an accordion. The closer we get to a day in the 1970s the more the film slows down and before and after the narrative kicks into a faster gear. This is how Frank remembers his life.

Sheeran wanted to be a good father but what does he really remember about his time with his children? It is fascinating to have the man who made Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Casino and The Gangs of New York make this film at his current age with his fellow contemporaries including most of the people he made those films with.

The CGI used to make this cast appear younger is not always effective but there is a weight lent to the cast portraying a whole life of a character having lived much of one themselves. Joe Pesci who often has played motor mouths and physical guys here is deafeningly quiet as a different type of mobster and in a certain way the real partner of Sheeran’s life Russell Bufalino.

There is a scene in this film that is almost like a proposal even though Scorsese wisely plays it straight. In the end Sheeran is looking for absolution and love from his family but he gave up his soul and love to two giants in his life and one made him choose between them and its haunted him ever since.

I love a lot about this movie. I love the shots that frame putting a watch on like you would every morning and how that watch would mean a lot to you and yet these are things you can’t take with you. About how a certain way something was cooked at a certain place that you ate on a given day will be front and centre in your memory as much as the events of that day.

Some love has been given to Al Pacino and Joe Pesci but Robert De Niro is really good in this movie. I think we sadly take him for granted a little bit and this film reminds us he’s still got the chops. It’s kind of small miracle that his film got made and that it is this good. Scorsese has remained a great artist long into his eighth decade, others have given the game away or lost their edge but Scorsese is still one of the all time greats and this film can only grow in stature as time goes on. I saw this at New Farm Cinemas on my 39th birthday and it was a great present.

2. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Not Reviewed

If The Irishman was about looking back over a whole life then Quentin Tarantino’s film is a love letter to a time and place. Or maybe more accurately how we remember a time and place in our mind. Tarantino is 56 years old, its fair to say the kid who made Reservoir Dogs has matured as a filmmaker and gone through different phrases over the years. He is now one of a handful of auteurs left in a Hollywood where a corporation like Disney owns a third of the market share.

I can’t say I’ve always been a fan but with nine films to his belt I’d care to wager most are outright classics. Up until now I’d liked his earlier films more so than each successive one that followed while finding a lot to recommend about them all. That has all changed now.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood may be my favourite Quentin Tarantino movie!

Sure it holds a nostalgia for a time and place that I have an interest in but the lesson of the film is it is all so beautiful and fleeting, as your time passes be open to the idea of moving with it and enjoying the next stage. Set in 1969 this is a Hollywood in upheaval with Easy Riders taking over from the old moguls, a society reckoning with old prejudices and new opportunities.

Actor Rick Dalton is not doing too well in this new world, he’s a square jawed face with a haircut with no interest in method acting and the type of realism that the new breed of filmmakers want. He’s also a man on the wrong side of 40 who might have missed his chance. Think Steve McQueen if he hadn’t done The Magnificent Seven and suddenly everybody wants to make Five Easy Pieces with Jack Nicholson (of course McQueen, Kirk Douglas and Paul Newman all made the transition through this era but they were stars already and often classic trained actors too). Understandably Dalton wishes it was 1961 again and he was cool and they were no Goddamn hippies about and he was still on the rise.

His only friend in the world is Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) who was his stunt double but is now more his Batman. Like a lot of Batmen, he’s more capable and reliant than the one he serves. Both are loyal to each other though and have that kind of friendship you develop sometimes where you’re a buttress of support for the other one. The film for the most part follows a day in their life that will provide important lessons for Dalton and see Booth meet some unsavoury characters. Then months later we come to the night of the Manson murders.

I won’t spoil the plot but I like the way Tarantino paces this film. There is a scene where Booth feeds his dogs and it shows a lot about his life and circumstances. The period details are nicely done and there are some great set-ups and pay offs throughout. I like the things alluded to but never answered and the repetition of themes.

There is also meta commentary on Tarantino and his career and influences as well. It feels like the kind of film you make late in your career when you’re at the height of your powers. With this Tarantino proves he is.

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1. Blinded By The Light Review Published at Scenestr 22OCT19 ****

This was my favourite film of 2019, the little seen Blinded By The Light. Whenever I bring it up with people they ask about if it’s Yesterday? No it’s not Yesterday, it’s a lot better than that.

It’s about Javed Khan, a teenage son of Pakistani immigrants coming of age in Luton in 1987. He becomes inspired and finds direction in his life through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Yesterday is a love story with two lead characters in it who don’t know what they want and banks on the nostalgia we have for Beatles tunes. There is a big difference.

The film does delve into racism and economic downturns and is more authentic and affecting for it but this film made my heart soar. It’s about love and family and following your dreams. This was the most emotionally moving film I saw all year and I dare you not to be moved.

‘Blinded By The Light’ is the most feel-good and first real good film of 2019. Directed by Gurinder Chadha, who pulled off a similar feat in 2002 with ‘Bend It Like Beckham’.

Well that is it for another year, I hope you enjoyed reading this list. I would love to hear what your favourite films of the year are. Any that you would recommend, some you are surprised didn’t make the list and any that you think are overrated?

Until next time, take care, we are in the midst of interesting times but we will get through them together. Stay safe.

-Lloyd Marken

SPEED: THE MOVIE, THE PLAY REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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On the 1st of March, 2020 I was lucky enough to be assignment with Scenestr magainzne to attend the latest production from Act/React theatre company. I’m a big fan you may have noted from my previous reviews of their productions Love/Hate Actually, Kiss of the Vampire Squid, Titanic: The Movie, The Play and last Christmas Die Hard: The Movie, The Play.

Interestingly enough this production made it’s debut years ago before all of these shows and before I had even heard of Act/React or was working as a freelance writer. It maybe the best one out of the lot of them, it was certainly fun to finally get to see it as part of this year’s Brisbane Comedy Festival.

Karen was unable to make it due to a sore back so I took a mate of mine. We certainly made the cute couple leading to us being asked by one of the performers during the show if we were a couple. We both shrugged and answered “Sure, why not?”. This led to an offer to come back to his place to enjoy some sandwiches. I later advised my mate proudly that I would bring the salami. He correctly pointed out that would make me the meat in the sandwich. While disembarking the bus I cheekily signalled to the performer to call me but alas the moment had passed.

It was a little bit of a shame to have Karen miss the show. At one moment I was asked to relay messages over the phone to ‘Keanu’ on how to defuse the bomb and my mate had his haircut commented on. I’m happy to report my friend had a good time and I was glad he could make it.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/speed-the-movie-the-play-review-brisbane-comedy-festival-2020-20200306

If you’re a local, definitely check them out, many shows have already sold out but there are a few tickets left.

-Lloyd Marken

 

AARON CHEN’S ‘MR CIGARETTE’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The annual Brisbane Comedy Festival has kicked off and I was lucky to attend stand-up comedian Aaron Chen’s new show at the Turbine Studio, Brisbane Powerhouse on assignment for Scenestr.

I came across Chen last year when I attended After Hours and reviewed it for Weekend Notes. After Hours was hosted by Dusty Rich and featured artists with shows doing medleys or their best number or scene and stand-ups effectively doing a tight 5 set. That night Rhys Nicholson absolutely killed and was the best on the night but Chen caught my attention with his swagger commanding presence on stage milking laughs out of thin air on the sheer strength of his persona. So I was keen to see his show and am happy to report everything I thought of Aaron Chen after those five minutes last year remains true.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/aaron-chen-review-brisbane-comedy-festival-2020-20200226

My customary photos from the event I am sad to report are lacking because I left my phone at home. Thankfully Karen has stepped in and come to the rescue so there are some photos thanks to her. Hope you enjoy.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

MARVELLING AT THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL

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A couple of years ago I heard about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, those who spoke about it really seemed to dig it but in an age of disparate audiences I alas was a Netflix customer and Mrs Maisel was available on streaming service Amazon Prime in Australia. With so much content to choose from in the world I decided I could make do without Mrs Maisel.

How wrong I was.

The show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a delight, I easily feel it is one of the best shows I’ve seen in the past three years of its run, but this is not a show that should come billed as the best show on TV. A label that misleads and heightens expectations. What makes The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel so good is the way it grows on you and the way it builds to jokes.

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But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, what the hell is the show about? We meet the newly minted Mrs. Maisel at her wedding reception in the mid 1950s. She’s holding court doing a speech, it’s a big reception, she regales us with tales of the courtship of her husband while she was at college. We learn a lot in that opening scene, we learn Midge as we will come to know comes from a well off family, is educated, likes to perform to an audience and is a passionate individual not ready to conform to society’s expectations and always up for a laugh. Its important that we meet Midge right at this moment in her life. This is supposed to be her crowning achievement, she’s graduated, gotten married to a good man and is going to pump out 3 kids by 30 and be a good mother and wife in a well to do family. Except well none of that is going to happen and what is going to help this young, intelligent, witty and ambitious woman survive the ordeals ahead is everything we see she is in these opening moments.

Midge is going to be a stand-up comic and God help me I know this is true – she is going to be a star. To become the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge’s life possibly has to get blown up because without that she doesn’t come to realise she has been living a lie and possibly the biggest lie of them all that she is happy in a life that she was not meant to live.

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I don’t want to give too much away but Midge’s husband walks out on her and the first season is about dealing with the repercussions of that. We meet both families and their friends and personalities of the late 1950s underground comic scene (fyi Luke Kirby as Lenny Bruce is brilliant). You can tell a lot about a show by how much energy is put into the supporting characters. People with one scene that serve a purpose are given wit and charm and a whole lived in history thanks to the writing and the wonderful performers. There are throw away scenes that are some of the best in the series and then other laughs that make you nod and reflect yes that’s so much like so and so.

Out of the terrific ensemble cast, I want to give a shout out to Marin Hinkle as Midge’s mother Rose who is so subtle in her delivery. However even more than that, this show made me realise how much of a national treasure Tony Shalhoub is. I first noticed Shalhoub years ago as a tough FBI agent in The Siege (a change of pace for him as he was already established as a comedy sitcom star) and then I saw him as a laid back space travelling actor in Galaxy Quest. Here… he is Dad and he makes you smile and cry in equal measure. Like all fathers he is far from perfect, but he’s pretty close if you know what I mean. Hinkle and him give gravitas to scenes that are elevated by their presence and deliver pitch perfect comic timing to all the others.

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Lead Rachel Brosnahan as Midge had been cast in some prominent roles in House of Cards and The Blacklist but here she gets to be the star and she makes the most of it. Midge is not perfect, she likes the spotlight a bit too much and drinking might be an issue down the road but for the most part she is quick witted, resilient, optimistic and giving to others. Something that I admire deeply about her is how she stands up for herself and keeps pursuing goals. You can’t make it in this business if you can’t roll with some heavy punches.

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I think what I love most about the show is at the centre of it are two women with an impossible big dream who chase it because they’ve got nothing to lose. Alex Borstein plays Susie Myerson who sees Midge perform stand-up comedy and decides to become her manager although she’s never been a manager before in her life. The juxtaposition of these two is regularly played up in the show with great results. Midge is well dressed in fashionable outfits and has her looks regularly commented upon. Susie dresses like a man and gets mistaken for one or even just ignored. Midge comes from a lot and is about to lose a lot of it forcing her to show a new independence she has always inherently had. Susie has come from nothing and so had nothing to lose but upsets the stability of the life she had established for herself by deciding to chase something larger. They’re both betting on the other to come through for them in a big way and they’re doing it because they believe in each other and doesn’t that just make your heart soar.

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The most recent season three ended with a setback for the two as they looked up at a plane rising into the New York skyline with their dreams seemingly on board leaving with it. All I could think was, “they’ll be okay, they’re gonna make it, they’re together.’

The production values are big for a TV show and there are lots of neat ways they frame things, take for example how a trip from New York to Paris is represented. The sound track is wonderful, fans of The Gilmore Girls (a show I missed but had a well off family at the centre of it, whip smart dialogue and establishing tracking shots that panned around a set and was also run by Amy Sherman Palladino) will recognise the work of the Palladinos here (her husband Daniel works on her shows too) but I think this might even be a show for people who didn’t appreciate Gilmore Girls.

There are flaws, Midge’s children only seem to be around when it is important to the plot, sometimes I wonder if favorite characters are consistently drawn or if we spend a little too many episodes in a setting because they’ve shelled out the budget for it and damnit now they’re going to make the most out of it. Catskills and Miami anyone?

Yet it is a series that grows on you, pays off little bread crumbs it left for you a million years ago. Truths that rarely go spoken but give so much satisfaction when they’re said at the height of a pivotal scene by a character. Sometimes this show is so good it warms your heart-it really does. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is my favourite TV show and you should definitely see it.

-Lloyd Marken

BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN) FILM REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR AND FROOTY

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I was very fortunate to attend a preview screening of Birds of Prey with Karen on Wednesday 05FEB2020 at the Myer Centre in the Brisbane CBD on assignment for Scenestr for the first time in 2020. I always feel fortunate to attend such screenings and get to review new films. The crowd we were with seemed to enjoy the film and I found there was a lot I appreciated about the film but I worried if it would find an audience. So far box office has been soft for the film but I believe when it finds its audience it is going to become quite beloved by them.

There is an irreverent rebellious attitude to the production and a manic joy. I thought similar thoughts about Suicide Squad that seemed well cast with interesting characters in desperate need of a plot and being able to make more of the potential of its premise and explore the unique possibilities that could come from it. Birds of Prey, a female centric sidequel spin-off, is a step in the right decision with better action and a better plot but still full of dropped ideas and unexplored potential.

There are to my mind no positive male characters in it but I can live with my heroes, anti-heroes and villains coming in all genders, races and creeds. No doubt the film is saying something about the female experience and exploring gender politics but how much it really says I’ll leave to the individual viewer to decide.

For me like before with Suicide Squad, I hold out hope of seeing some of these performers bringing to life these characters again. You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/birds-of-prey-and-the-fantabulous-emancipation-of-one-harley-quinn-film-review-20200206

Afterwards Karen and I enjoyed some pizzas at the Hilton Hotel lobby.

About a month later Karen and I were with friends seeing a movie at Palace Cinemas and came across some print issues of Scenestr and its sister publication Frooty.

My editor who runs Frooty asked if my review of Rocketman could be published in the first print issue of Frooty last year which I was stoked about and agreed to. Karen found my review of Harley Quinn had now been published in Frooty Issue #10. I guess I didn’t need to be asked a second time… However being in print is always a thrill and I hope the readers of Frooty enjoyed.

The review features on page 11 of the March 2020 issue which you can read a digital version of here http://frooty.com.au/read/2020/issue-10/FROOTY-10.html#p=11

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Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

Started in 2017 and produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises, Frooty is an online national magazine that covers news and entertainment with a queer perspective. Their first print issue rolled out in July 2019 across five major states (QLD, NSW, Vic, SA, WA) and have followed monthly since. Frooty is one of the country’s widest circulating queer titles.

-Lloyd Marken

OVER 1,OOO VIEWS FOR MINOR ROLES THAT HAD A MAJOR IMPACT – STEPHANIE FROM ‘THE NAKED GUN’

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Another milestone to celebrate on the site, last month another one of my posts reached over 1,000 views.

From my series of posts Minor Roles That Had A Major Impact published in 2017, this one centred around the Learner Driver named Stephanie caught up in a movie car chase in the comedy The Naked Gun who rises to the occasion.

A classic example of a minor character having a huge effect on the plot and just making an impact in terms of the quality of the performance.

And now some stats for the sake of those who love stats.  The post was originally published 17MAR2017 and closed out 2017 as the 8th most popular post on my blog from 2017 with 89 views. It currently sits at 1,051 views having reached 1,000 views on the  22nd of January this year. The most popular month so far was September 2018 where it accumulated 101 views, the only time thus far it has reached triple digits in a month. That month had a daily average of 3 views. Most days there is at least one view on average. It currently has 16 likes from my fellow bloggers.

I don’t know if these posts appear silly, self-congratulatory or just embarrassing. But I never thought so many people might read any of my post when I started blogging five years ago let alone 1,000 so whenever it happens it feels like something worth noting. I hope you enjoy.

-Lloyd Marken

1917 REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I attended with my wife Karen a preview screening of the film 1917 at the Myer Centre on the 5th of December last year. That seems a long time ago now, Christmas and New Year’s have happened since, I’ve been working in my humble public servant job, the film has become an Oscar contender and my country has been burning.

Some of us have tried to help where we can. Others have forced handshakes and tried to re-write history in their press interviews. A special few have been helping and making a real difference and I stand in awe of them.

I hope you are all well.

1917 is one of the best films of the year, you can find my review here  https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/1917-film-review-20200110

Karen and I enjoyed the film, another great gem from Universal Studios this year that has included Blinded by the Light and Good Boys.

There were sausage rolls and Scotch and in a new twist we got our photo published in the Socials Page of The West End Magazine which you can find here https://www.westendmagazine.com/1917-premiere/#&gid=1&pid=4

I remember there was a buzz in the air after the screening with people talking excitedly amongst themselves about how good the film was. Karen and I went to the Hilton Hotel lobby to grab something to eat. We’re quite fond of the place. I’m interested to know what you all thought of the film.

I wish you all the best in 2020.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

RASA REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I saw my sixth and final Wonderland show on assignment for Scenestr magazine last Friday evening. I feel incredibly lucky to continue to work for Scenestr and review some amazing talent and work for them.

Karen and I went and saw stand-up comedian Ashwin Segkar’s show Rasa which we both enjoyed and was a great way to cap off the festival for another year. You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/ashwin-segkar-rasa-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-2019-20191203

Afterwards Karen and I did partake some more of beloved pepperoni and basil and margherita pizzas at the Brisbane Powerhouse bar. Another special year at Wonderland had come to an end. What will 2020 bring?

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

SLACK MIRROR REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I felt very fortunate to be on assignment with Scenestr magazine for six shows at Wonderland Festival 2019. It proved a very diverse array of shows from the highly anticipated Die Hard: The Movie, The Play to the quirky and moving Awesome Ocean Party to the amazing singing of Amity Dry in Fortified to the unbridled energy and fun of Big Glittery Shitshow.

The shows I covered in my second and final week just added to the range of what I show. First up from the wonderful Amy Currie and Drew Lochrie came a scary, humorous and thought provoking Slack Mirror, a series of drama sketches that came with laughs and big ideas from two very talented thespians and comedy improvisers whose work I was familiar with in Act/React and Impromafia productions.

You can read my review of the show here https://scenestr.com.au/arts/slack-mirror-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-2019-20191129

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

BIG GLITTERY SHITSHOW REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The first weekend of Wonderland Festival 2019 went off with a bang for me with Karen and I attending the Big Glittery Shitshow at the Stores Studio on Saturday night 22NOV2019.

It is not so much what happened but how it happened that matters so much with this show but it was some of the most fun I’ve had attending a show all year and I highly recommend the talents of all involved.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/arts/big-glittery-sh-tshow-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-2019-20191126

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

FORTIFIED REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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Following attending Awesome Ocean Party and Die Hard: The Movie, The Play Thursday the 21st of November the following evening we attended the cabaret Fortified starring Amity Dry in the Turbine Studio.

Fortified deals with divorce and Dry is to be commended for what feels like a very raw and honest show about her thoughts, feelings, and hopes for what happened and what will come of it.

I couldn’t shake the feeling though afterwards that at times my sympathies had not gone where I thought they should. That again could be something about how real and open this show was, it could also be my own interpretation of the show but it didn’t feel like it was by design or with purpose. It felt like something had been missed in the telling.  A one-sided perspective it felt odd to wonder more about the others involved then come away even more deeply moved by Dry’s own tale of survival.

Amity has many fans and I certainly enjoyed her show, all the songs are original and many played in my head days later as did her incredible voice singing them. You can read the review that was published online by Scenestr magazine here https://scenestr.com.au/arts/fortified-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-2019-20191125

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

 

DIE HARD: THE MOVIE, THE PLAY REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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Long term readers will know I am a fan of theatre company Act/React and their work so it may not come as a surprise to find that I went to see their latest at Wonderland Festival 2019 – Die Hard: The Movie, The Play which followed on from seeing their other work Love/Hate Actually, Kiss of the Vampire Squid, Titanic: The Movie, The Play.

It may also come as no surprise given the strength of the talent involved and the premise of recreating Die Hard as live meta theatre that I enjoyed the show very much following on from taking in the wonderfully quirky and heartfelt Awesome Ocean Party earlier that evening.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/arts/die-hard-the-movie-the-play-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-2019-20191126

I was delighted to review both shows for Scenestr magazine who I was on assignment with for the third time at Wonderland Festival and there were more shows to come.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

AWESOME OCEAN PARTY REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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How did I ever not know about Wonderland? Every year at around about this time the festival runs at the Brisbane Powerhouse with a mix of cabaret, comedians, plays and experiments.

This is my third time reviewing shows for Scenestr magazine and it remains something  special that I truly look forward to. As I approached the Powerhouse for my first show I smiled at the lit up ‘W‘ sign above the main entrance. It was good to be back.

Last Thursday I arrived to see shows Awesome Ocean Party and the highly anticipated latest from Act/React’s Die Hard: The Movie, The Play.

More on the latter later but you can read my review of Awesome Ocean Party here https://scenestr.com.au/arts/awesome-ocean-party-brisbane-review-wonderland-festival-2019-20191125. Nominated for Best Cabaret at Melbourne Fringe 2016, the show had a quirky home made charm about it, likeable performers and a lovely message.

 

 

Afterwards attending the show at the Turbine Studio, Karen and I went to the bar and had our beloved favourite Powerhouse pizzas – basil and cheese for Karen and pepperoni for me.

We then made our way to Nakatomi plaza.

To be continued…

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

TERMINATOR: DARK FATE REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I was lucky enough to be on assignment again for Scenestr magazine last Wednesday night to attend a preview screening of Terminator: Dark Fate at Reading Cinemas, Newmarket. There were other critics and fans in attendance.

Sadly while I enjoyed Linda Hamilton’s performance and think this is the best sequel we got since Terminator 2: Judgement Day that is not necessarily high praise. You can read my full review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/terminator-dark-fate-film-review-20191101

 

 

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

‘BLINDED BY THE LIGHT’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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On the 25th of July I attended a preview screening for Blinded by the Light at Palace Barracks on assignment for Scenestr magazine. I didn’t quite know what to expect but what I saw was the first great film of 2019. The release date had just been moved so finally three months later I can tell you about how good this movie is.

Directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) and starring Viveik Kalra as Javed Khan, the film is a wonderful coming of age tale centred around the son of Pakistani immigrants growing up in Luton, England circa 1987.

Javed is finding himself when he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen and uses it to guide him in pursuing his dreams and defining himself. A period piece, there are startling parallels to our own times and nostalgia for a time now gone.

I can’t say enough good things about this movie, with unnecessary sequels like Terminator: Dark Fate and Zombieland: Double Tap pass through our cinemas I would urge anybody to check out this feel good delight and make it the surprise hit of the season.

 

 

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/blinded-by-the-light-review-20191022

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

STORIES ON THE 2019 TEACHX AWARD FINALISTS AVAILABLE ON THE COURIER MAIL, WINNEWS, 7NEWS, ABC RADIO, DAILY MERCURY, THE AUSTRALASIAN MUSLIM TIMES, THE DAILY EXAMINER, THE MORNING BULLETIN, THE SOUTH-EAST ADVERTISER, THE TOWNSVILLE BULLETIN and QUEST NEWSPAPERS.

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On Friday the 4th of October I completed my secondment of higher duties with the Media Team at the Queensland College of Teachers in support of their work for the 2019 TeachX Awards.  It concluded 10 weeks I had worked full time as a writer for the first time in my life.

In the last two and a half weeks I switched gears from writing about nominees to interviewing 15 of the 30 named finalists and writing media releases based on those interviews. I was guided in this endeavour by the manager of the team who is a former journalist of many years and was preparing the other 15 along with various other work.

The aim with media releases is to have them grab the attention of outlets and good ones can go out with very little changes made by the publication when they print the story. I did what I could and through the efforts of my manager and with some luck, the TEACHX Awards received unprecedented media coverage.

 

The 15 Finalists I interviewed included the following below of which I placed links to their initial nominee pieces published on the Queensland College of Teachers website.

Beginning to Teach

Kirra Gold from Marsden State High School

Dr Susanne Sprungala from Kirwan State High School

Gabrielle Milne from Nursey Road Special School

Outstanding Contribution to School Community

Mitchell Robertson from Marsden State High School

Canan Coskun from Wisdom College

Excellence in Teaching

Ruth MacLean from Indooroopilly State High School

Catherine Nicholson from Chancellor State College

Michelle Ragen from Brisbane Grammar School

Innovation to Teaching

Wendy Goldston from Frenchville State School

Thomas Patterson from Marsden State High School

Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning

Tamara Sullivan from Ormiston College

Patrick Egan from Emmaus College

Lynne Hardy from Mackay State High School

Outstanding Contribution to Teaching

Catherine Heiner from Sheldon College

Kirsti Ellerton from the Brisbane School of Distance Education

 

Each one of these 15 were extraordinary teachers and first rate human beings, it was just a privilege to speak to them. Their own individual stories were endlessly fascinating and their passion for their chosen profession and the students they taught shone through.

Amongst them were people who had worked in remote communities, flown into burnt out Dili, become teachers after careers as biologists, engineers, lawyers and builders. Others who had known from a young age there was no other job they were going to do.

Whether they were immigrants, windswept travellers, beginning teachers or experienced lifers they all still burned with a passion for educating the next generation of kids.

Teachers involved in virtual reality and holograms, others part of programs that taught trade skills, grew cultural pride and knowledge and empowered local communities. Ones that taught at special schools, private schools, independent non-denomination schools, state schools and distance education schools.

In the days since my secondment ended I have been updated on where their stories have appeared and will now direct you to links although many are behind paywalls which is fair enough as media outlets strive to remain viable in this digital era.

Media Sponsor The Courier Mail wrote a large article about the Awards and all Finalists.

The Courier Mail also wrote an article about Marsden State High School and theirfour finalists Kirra Gold, Mitchell Robertson, Andrew Peach and Thomas Patterson.

The Courier Mail also wrote an article about Finalist Cathy Nicholson and online posted an article on Canan Coskun.

The Australasian Muslim Times also wrote an article on Canan Coskun.

Regional newspaper The Daily Examiner wrote about Finalists Belinda Rule and Lynne Hardy.

Regional Newspaper Daily Mercury did a whole article on teacher Lynne Hardy.

Regional newspaper The Morning Bulletin wrote an article about Finalists Patrick Egan, Wendy Goldston and Norah Parsons.

Local Quest newspaper wrote an article about three Finalists Michael Senior, Carla Trott and Ruth MacLean and another on Marsden State High School and three of it’s four finalists Kirra Gold, Mitchell Robertson and Andrew Peach.

Quest also wrote an article about Finalists Catherine Heiner and Tamara Sullivan.

Local newspaper The South-East Advertiser wrote an article on four finalists Megan Pearse, Gabrielle Milne, Kirsti Ellerton and Lynne Schylder.

The Townsville Bulletin wrote an article on Finalist Dr Susanne Sprungala.

Thomas Patterson was interviewed by Rebecca Livingston on ABC Radio Brisbane.

Lynne Hardy received television news coverage from 7 News.

 

7News also did a story on Finalist Tamika Megawatt.

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Finally Wendy Goldston received Televison coverage from WINNews and then a competing network Channel 7 a few days later.

 

The TeachX Awards were held last Thursday night at the grand old building of Customs House with Finalists, Sponsors and VIPs attending.

84 year old Miss Merline Muldoon was there with the award category Innovation in Teaching recently named after her. I was lucky enough to wait on Miss Muldoon and her sister Janette.

Merline and Janette spoke to all finalists in their category and various VIPs who were keen to talk to them. Merline also presented on stage to each Innovation Finalist their Certificate and then congratulated the winner Jennifer Irving.

We were very lucky to have Miss Muldoon and other eponyms in attendance and I was honoured to spend time with her. She has a remarkable legacy in Queensland education.

A particular proud moment for me was when I was introduced by my manager to the finalists as the individual who had interviewed half of them. I was lucky enough to speak to a lot of them in person on the night.

It was noted by one winner Andrew Peach, on the night, all the positive energy in the air from the event and how we need to take that with us out into the education sector and through out our lives.

A full list of the winners can be found on the QCT website here https://www.qct.edu.au/news/2019-TeachX-Finalists

The awards had proven once again a success, the next day The Courier Mail printed a story on the winners on their front page and second page, a full feature on page 35 and an editorial piece by QCT Director Deanne Fishburn.

As for me, all I can say is, I was grateful for the opportunity. It bears repeating the event was a huge undertaking requiring a lot of work from a group of strong professionals. The aim was to recognise some of the great work that teachers are doing and to help elevate the profession.

When teachers such as these are involved and the people doing the work are so talented and committed it comes as no surprise to reflect the 2019 TeachX Awards were an unprecedented success.

I was thrilled to be in the room with such people.

-Lloyd Marken

THE BIFF IS BACK – BIFF 2019 PART III

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Following on from catching Memory: The Origins of Alien and Little Monsters on Friday night, the next day I set off to Dendy cinemas in the inner Eastern suburb of Brisbane Coorparoo to check out two more films at BIFF 2019. At 1pm I saw my first film up in Cinema 8.

 

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MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUNDFor any film buff this is a great introduction in the history of sound in cinema. I would struggle to explain what foley, sound editing and sound mixing all mean? I do know sound is layered in film and that it is a creative aspect like anything else in filmmaking. Such differences are explained and shown clearly in this documentary which for the most part is well paced.

Also director Midge Costin and his team have done a fantastic job cutting together sequences that showcase the power of good sound being added to an image and building up to some wonderful examples of where sound was so important to great cinematic moments.

It features lots of baby boomers and fixates a little too much on the 1970s but this was a pivotal era. Central figures of the American film renaissance like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and David Lynch are all on hand and along with their sound guys Walter Murch (The Conversation, Apocalypse Now) and Ben Burtt (Star Wars).

There are also efforts made to go over the change from the silent era to the advent of sound. However stuff I had been unaware of proved the most fascinating and it was mostly centred around pioneering women. Although I enjoyed hearing about the full scope of Walter Murch’s work in THX 1138. How many sound guys are also credited screenwriters?

For example you can thank Barbara Streisand for Dolby Stereo Sound in cinemas of the modern era. When reinventing herself and stepping into producing with A Star Is Born in 1976 she fought for the new technology to roll out in cinemas for her film to try to capture the energy of stadium concerts in the film.

Babs put her money where her mouth was too, insisting on a dramatically increased post production schedule for the sound mixing and editing out of her own pocket. When the film was a hit, Warner Bros paid her the money – history had been made.

Taking a leaf out of Ben Burtt’s book, Cecelia Hall added distorted animal sounds to the jetfighter plane sound effects for Top Gun and subsequently became the first woman to become nominated for Best Sound Effects Editing. She won four years later for The Hunt for the Red October. I enjoyed the stories of these pioneers and salute them all for their creativity.

 

My next film ran in the same cinema interestingly almost an hour later after I left cinema 8. I did talk to the one of the BIFF Vollys sporting a snazzy coloured T-shirt and advised me I had once done work as a Volly and was happy to see them back.

I asked if they still had the practice of letting Vollys sit in on films at the back after they had started and he told me they did. In fact they get passes to 4 screenings which is fantastic!

I took a seat and ordered a cheese platter, I highly recommend the chutney paste and some orange cheddar cheese that hit the spot. Nearby I could hear young people hanging around between sessions, working on creative projects on their laptops and discussing themes and the creative process. This was the joy of going to BIFF for the first time in 2004 and it made me happy to see evidence that some things never change.

 

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CHAINED FOR LIFE: At 3:30pm I went back into Cinema 8 and saw my last film of the 2019 Brisbane International Film Festival. Following on from an American/Mexican doco, two American documentaries and an Australian/U.K./U.S. zombie comedy I closed out the festival with an American film with a very unique British leading man.

Chained for Life is a satire about how we define desirability and disability in our culture and on film. Starring Jess Weixler and Adam Pearson as two actors on a film set for a horror movie. Interestingly child actor Charlie Korsmo makes a return to our screens as the eccentric “German” film director of the piece.

Weixler is the beautiful actress and the central focus of the film, and the film within the film. Pearson has been cast for his disfigured appearance as the monster of the piece that has a lot of passing references to Frankenstein. Also on board is Stephen Plunkett absolutely nailing it as a absolute wanker of a leading man who thinks he’s so cool and nice to everybody as they’re rolling their eyes at him. One scene with him and Pearson made me exclaim at the screen which just goes to show how good the film is.

There is also a lot of playing around the narrative and I will come clean and say at times the film may be went over my head and stopped resonating a bit but for the most part I was really enjoying what was being depicted and poked fun at.

Pearson with his gentle clear voice is an effortless star and this is the kind of role that lets him play beyond just how he looks while clearly addressing it. Check out an interview below that shows off how much of a pro the guy is.

The film reminded me of the personalities and dynamics of a small film set and not for the first time am I grateful for my older sister and how she gave me an insight and an understanding that others have to search for. A really good and interesting film to check out.

Well that’s it for another year at BIFF, gone too soon. Congratulations to Artistic Director Amanda Slack-Smith for another great programme and to the entire team. If I had to pick a favourite out of the films I saw it would easily be Midnight Family but I enjoyed all the films for different reasons and once again thank you for sharing in the journey.

-Lloyd Marken

EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP IN TEACHING AND LEARNING NOMINEES FOR 2019 TEACHX AWARDS AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

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The 2019 TEACHX Awards are to be held on the 23rd of October and will recognise some of the most outstanding teachers working in the profession across Queensland. The event is run by the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) who have received over 200 nominations across six categories.

In the lead up to the event, the media arm of QCT has published pieces on nominees and I was most fortunate to be placed on what was ultimately a 10 week secondment to their area to write some of these. In the end I wrote just over half with 115 pieces all up.

I have previously posted about the five other categories Outstanding Contribution to TeachingFor Innovation in TeachingExcellence in Beginning to Teach, Outstanding Contribution to School Community and Excellence in Teaching.

The final category published is Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning with 32 nominees of which I wrote pieces for eight.

They were Jeff Jepson, Jacqueline Mikami, Christopher Niven, Matthew O’Brien, Nicole Peltonen, Anthony Ries, Carol Ruskin,  and Tina Watson.

The event is a huge undertaking requiring a lot of work from a group of strong professionals. Like all things done by this team, it is done to recognise some of the great work that teachers are doing and to help elevate the profession. Being called upon to write full time, pieces that support these aims was a dream come true for me.

The people I got to work with were experienced, talented and extremely hard working and I hope I effectively contributed and learnt a thing or two.

Feel free to check out all the nominees and comment on what you liked. All 32 have made an extraordinary contribution to bettering the education of students.

-Lloyd Marken

THE BIFF IS BACK – BIFF 2019 PART II – ‘MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN’ AND ‘LITTLE MONSTERS’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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I went into the final weekend of the Brisbane International Film Festival 2019 having seen the excellent documentary Midnight Family about a Mexico City ambulance crew.

MEMORY: THE ORIGIN OF ALIENS: Then on Friday night I went to Reading Cinemas at Newmarket to see a 6:15pm session of Memory: The Origins of Alien. I film A found interesting for the stories of the film I was unfamiliar with like the involvement of screenwriter of Dan O’Bannon.

 

It was an interesting film even if it seemed a little underfunded and dwelled on some points too long. I’ve been lucky to have a review published over at Weekend Notes that you can check out here https://www.weekendnotes.com/memory-the-origins-of-alien-film-review/

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Exiting Reading, I hopped in the car and drove over to New Farm cinemas who long term readers will recognise is an establishment I have some affection for. Catching a mocha with a mate over at the nearby 24 hour café Death by Decaf frequented by emergency personnel, hipsters, shift workers and young people out on the town. They make a damn fine mocha.

 

LITTLE MONSTERS: Then it was time to take in the late night 9:30pm screening of Aussie zombie comedy Little Monsters starring Lupita Nyongo’o. It was the kind of screening great for a film like this, close to full and with a Friday night crowd who wanted to be there and enjoy themselves. At a point when Neil Diamond’s classic Sweet Caroline featured somebody in the crowd voiced the bassline much to the delight of everyone else.

You can my review that was published on Weekend Notes as well here https://www.weekendnotes.com/little-monsters-film-review/

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Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

-Lloyd Marken

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING NOMINEES FOR 2019 TEACHX AWARDS AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

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The 2019 TEACHX Awards are to be held on the 23rd of October and will recognise some of the most outstanding teachers working in the profession across Queensland. The event is run by the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) who have received over 200 nominations across six categories.

In the lead up to the event, the media arm of QCT is publishing pieces on all the nominees and I was most fortunate to be placed on what was ultimately a 10 week secondment to their area to write some of these, all up I wrote 115 pieces.

I have previously posted about the categories Outstanding Contribution to TeachingFor Innovation in TeachingExcellence in Beginning to Teach and Outstanding Contribution to School Community.

The next category is Excellence in Teaching which received the second most amount of nominations of which I wrote 38 pieces on.

They were Natalie Bell, Lee Freeman, Georgia Gibbons, Morgan Gibbons, Kellie Gill, Clair Goodall, James Gynther, Lissa Gyte, Karen Hamilton, Jason Henry, Rachael Heritage, Julie Hirst, Gina Lyons, Ruth MacLean, Tiffany McCarthy, Suzette Meiring, Tabitha Mojilip, Catherine Nicholson, Brenton O’Neil, Alana PattersonRowena Petersen, Jae Phillips, Lauren Proctor, Michelle Ragen, Amy Rankin, Kristy Raybould, Katrina Riley, Desley Sadler, Raymond Scott, Megan Thirkill, Carla Trott, Paul Trotter, David Turner, Vince Wall, Casey WaltonMargaret Warren, Renee Wilkie and Courtney Wolbers.

The event is a huge undertaking requiring a lot of work from a group of strong professionals. Like all things done by this team, it is done to recognise some of the great work that teachers are doing and to help elevate the profession. Being called upon to write full time, pieces that support these aims is a dream come true for me.

The people I got to work with are experienced, talented and extremely hard working and I hope I effectively contributed and learnt a thing or two.

Feel free to check them out and comment on what you liked. All 65 have made an extraordinary contribution to bettering the education of students.

-Lloyd Marken

THE BIFF IS BACK – BIFF 2019 PART I – ‘MIDNIGHT FAMILY’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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BIFF IS BACK! The Brisbane International Film Festival is back for another year and long term readers will recall my affection for it. I volunteered at BIFF in 2004, 2005 and 2007. In 2008 I was down to see over 20 movies and met my future wife on the steps of the Palace Cinema on James Street. We lost a BIFF for a while there but it returned in 2017 where I attended with Karen for the first time Opening Night. I was also on assignment with Scenestr magazine to review Australia Day and then last year I was on assignment for Scenestr on opening night.

This year I was wrapping up a work secondment writing for the Queensland College of Teachers so missed Opening Night and ended up sitting out the first few days of the festival.

 

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New Farm Cinemas foyer after seeing ‘Midnight Family’. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

Yet on Wednesday 09OCT2019 at New Farm Cinemas Karen and I attended a 6:15pm session of Midnight Family missing the first few minutes. All up, I have bought tickets to see five films at BIFF 2019 with three of them being docos. I can’t wait to see them all and share with you.

 

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Midnight Family was a great documentary about private ambulance crews in Mexico City. I was lucky enough to have my review published at Weekend Notes which continues on from my first reviews published with them last year being reviews for films I saw BIFF. You can read my review here https://www.weekendnotes.com/midnight-family-film-review-brisbane-international-film-festival-2019/

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

-Lloyd Marken

 

SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I was lucky enough to be on assignment for Scenestr magazine to review the new film Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark produced and co-written by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. We were over at Reading Cinemas in Newmarket which have a first rate large cinema.

 

 

 

I will admit horror films are not my forte but I think there are a few admirable qualities in this film even if it remains a little under served by its own ambitions. My review can be found here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/scary-stories-to-tell-in-the-dark-review-20190926 and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO SCHOOL COMMUNITY NOMINEES FOR 2019 TEACHX AWARDS AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

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The 2019 TEACHX Awards are to be held on the 23rd of October and will recognise some of the most outstanding teachers working in the profession across Queensland. The event is run by the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) who have received over 200 nominations across six categories.

In the lead up to the event, the media arm of QCT is publishing pieces on all the nominees and I have been most fortunate to be placed on secondment in their area to write some of these, all up I wrote 115 pieces.

I have previously posted about the categories Outstanding Contribution to TeachingFor Innovation in Teaching and the category that received the most nominations – Excellence in Beginning to Teach.

The next category is Outstanding Contribution to School Community with 15 nominees of which I wrote about six.

They were Matthew Barber, Thomas McKenna, Tamika Megawatt, Kirsten Mullan, Mitchell Robertson and Joel Ward.

The event is a huge undertaking requiring a lot of work from a group of strong professionals. Like all things done by this team, it is done to recognise some of the great work that teachers are doing and to help elevate the profession. Being called upon to write full time, pieces that support these aims is a dream come true for me.

The people I’m working with are experienced, talented and extremely hard working and I’m doing my best to learn as much as possible from them. Case in point is the design work you see above which was done by one of my colleagues for the event.

Feel free to check them out and comment on what you liked. All 15 have made an extraordinary contribution to bettering the education of students.

-Lloyd Marken

SINCE ALI DIED REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The second week of September this year Karen and I were particularly lucky to be busy attending events for me to review. That Monday night we were in the Brisbane CBD at the Myer Centre for a preview screening of the hilarious Good Boys, Tuesday night we were at QUT’s Kelvin Grove campus to attend Truthmachine playing at the Theatre Republic as part of BrisFest 2019.

We closed out the week Thursday night back at the Theatre Republic to see Since Ali Died by Omar Musa. All of this was on assignment for the amazing Scenestr team. I’m in third year of working for them and I feel very blessed continuing to do this work while I’ve been busy on my secondment with the Queensland College of Teachers.

Also performing as part of the Brisbane Festival was Strut & Fret with their show Blanc de Blanc and comedian Sam Simmons who I was lucky to interview for Scenestr.

Since Ali Dead is for the most part a one-man show from rapper and spoken word poet Omar Musa, son of Malaysian immigrants who grew up in Queanbeyan. A brown Muslim boy who found something to be inspired by and comfortingly familiar in the proud iconic figure of sports and culture.

Afterwards there was a Q&A with Omar who talked about finding the right balance in his work between light and dark, friendly and provocative, funny and heartbreaking.

For me, he got it right and you can read more of my thoughts here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/since-ali-died-review-brisbane-festival-2019-20190913

Karen and I took in our surroundings afterwards at the Theatre Republic which had many different interesting displays which I enjoyed. I grabbed a toasted sandwich at the local bar they had set up and walked up the stairs into an eating area that sat on top of construction scaffolding while local musicians sang beautifully. I’m quite taken how simply spaces can be transformed and little moments can satisfy in big ways.

 

 

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

EXCELLENCE IN BEGINNING TO TEACH NOMINEES FOR 2019 TEACHX AWARDS AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

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The 2019 TEACHX Awards are to be held on the 23rd of October and will recognise some of the most outstanding teachers working in the profession across Queensland. The event is run by the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) who have received over 200 nominations across six categories.

In the lead up to the event, the media arm of QCT is publishing pieces on all the nominees and I have been most fortunate to be placed on secondment in their area to write some of these.

I have previously posted about the categories Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and For Innovation in Teaching. The next category Excellence in Beginning to Teach received the most nominees with 76 and I wrote pieces on 39 of them.

They are as follows: Ayden-Skye Au Quay, Taryn Allen, Gerard Atzeni, Angela Barkle, Mathew Barling, Victoria Barrett, Peita Bates, Morgan BerryAidan Bosworth, Dylan Bowyer, Nikki Boyd, Jamie Brown, Breye Buckland, Mackenzie Burn, Alana ButcherCaleb Chaves, Ashleigh Fuller, Angela Gibson, Mikayla Giuffrida, Kirra Gold, Carolina Gomez Isaza, Georgia Goodwin, Cherie Grace, Katherine HansonAngela Hendry, Stephanie Holmes, Ashleigh HopkinsDesiree HughesDean Jacobs, Brittany Sauta, Taylah Savins-Harrison, Nicole Schirripa, David Seymour, Susanne Sprungala, Lisa Stewart, Karen TaylorJami Thomas, Matthew Tobin and Jade Travis.

The event is a huge undertaking requiring a lot of planning and work from a talented team. Like all things done by this team, it is done to recognise some of the great work that teachers are doing and to help elevate the profession. Being called upon to write full time, pieces that support these aims is a dream come true for me.

The people I’m working with are experienced, talented and extremely hard working and I’m doing my best to learn as much as possible from them. Case in point is the design work you see above which was done by one of my colleagues for the event.

Feel free to check them out and comment on what you liked. All 76 have made an extraordinary contribution to bettering the education of students.

-Lloyd Marken

TRUTHMACHINE REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I returned to the Brisbane Festival in 2019 following the chance to attend and review Ode to Man in 2018. I was on assignment again for Scenestr magazine and found myself at the Theatre Republic at Kelvin Grove campus of the Queensland University of Technology. I’ve studied and worked at QUT over the years and always find myself a little happy to make the rare trip back.

Truthmachine itself has won awards and acclaim travelling throughout the country and I found lots of positive things to acknowledge in my review but I left a little disappointed. You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/arts/truthmachine-review-brisbane-festival-2019-20190911 and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

GOOD BOYS REVIEW AVAILABLE AT SCENESTR

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Part of the fun of being a freelance writer is you grab your opportunities where you can with some unexpected surprises. On assignment for Scenestr, I attended Good Boys which had good talent involved and some funny trailers but I was cautious.

Thankfully Good Boys, primarily the work of Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, I really liked a lot. You can read my review here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/good-boys-review-20190910

 

I’m grateful for opportunities I continue to have with Scenestr and really enjoyed the night. We were back at a preview screening in the Myer Centre and this time along with a complimentary glass of wine being offered was a cordial drink in a party cup. Hot dogs wrapped in pastry were dispersed through the crowd too and at this early evening screenings some food before you go in is much appreciated.

Of more importance, the film is one of the best gross out comedies I’ve seen in the past decade and an instant classic. I will be interested to hear what you guys and gals think.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

INNOVATION IN TEACHING NOMINEES FOR 2019 TEACHX AWARDS AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

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The 2019 TEACHX Awards are to be held on the 23rd of October and will recognise some of the most outstanding teachers working in the profession across Queensland. The event is run by the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) who have received over 200 nominations across six categories.

In the lead up to the event, the media arm of QCT is publishing pieces on all the nominees and I have been most fortunate to be placed on secondment in their area to write some of these.

I previously posted about the first category of nominees to be published on the QCT website – the 15 nominees for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Award.

The next category published was the Innovation in Teaching Award of which there are 23 nominees, 12 of which I wrote the pieces for. They are as follows: Adam Juang, Amanda Kelk, Catherine Wilson, Elizabeth Wilson, Helen Spanos, Jacinda Kontoleon, Kiri Pearce, Nicole ChristianPenelope Couch, Rebecca Goodes, Theo Skordilis and Wendy Goldston.

The event is a huge undertaking requiring strong project management to prepare for the event and have it run smoothly on the night. Like all things done by this team, it is done to recognise some of the great work that teachers are doing and to help elevate the profession. Being called upon to write full time, pieces that support these aims is a dream come true for me.

The people I’m working with are experienced, talented and extremely hard working and I’m doing my best to learn as much as possible from them. Case in point is the design work you see above which was done by one of my colleagues for the event.

Feel free to check them out and comment on what you liked. All 23 have made an extraordinary contribution to bettering the education of students.

-Lloyd Marken