CAPTAIN MARVEL FILM REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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Last night I went to a preview screening of Captain Marvel two days ahead of its release date to review it for Scenestr magazine. I have been to all sorts of screenings over the years, long before I got to be a freelance writer, Karen was winning tickets in competitions and taking me along. However until last night I had never been to a preview screening of a Marvel blockbuster. I attended it at the top of the Myer Centre in the Brisbane CBD with other press and social media influencers who had been invited along as well as elite female athletes which was on theme for the story of a powerful woman. We were given lanyards and a free drink from a makeshift bar. The VMAX cinema the film screened in was perfect for making use of big theatre sound. I do think there are things that could’ve been done better in the film but overall I enjoyed Captain Marvel and you can read my review here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/captain-marvel-review-20190306

This is coincidentally the 90th piece of writing I have had published with Scenestr and my 150th overall. 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

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OVER 1,000 VIEWS FOR THE FOUNDER REVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD KONG DOWN EVEN IF YOU SHOULD

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The eighth film to feature the monster King Kong is a mess of tones and idiotic character motivations but the titular character has lost none of his appeal and that along with some bright sparks of imagination maybe enough to hold audience interest throughout.

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The year is 1973 and American involvement in the Vietnam War is coming to an end. Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), agents of government organization Monarch obtain funding to lead an expedition to a newly discovered island in the South Pacific shaped like a skull. They recruit an attack helicopter squadron from the U.S. Army, war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), geologists, and for a tracker/hunter James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) a former Captain in the British Special Air Service. Tooled up with bombs for seismic recording and ammunition galore they plan to fly in, do tests and observe before flying out three days later on the other side of the island. With the island covered in storm clouds fizzling with red lightning they take off in their open door gunships to see what they can find paradoxically armed to the teeth for what should be map drawing and yet completely unprepared for what they do find.

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What they find is a 100 foot tall bipedal ape who quickly takes them apart after their bomb dropping seemingly awakes the beast in him. Considering these helicopters are more than capable of flying to altitudes well over 10,000 feet it seems a special kind of stupid when these war veterans fail to change tactics in the face of overwhelming force but it ain’t every day you get set upon by a giant monkey. Besides such escapes would not only derail the plot but the set pieces which are the better parts of the film. The monsters and monsters fights never cease to be entertaining and inventive whereas the human characters often are either incredibly stupid or incredibly bland. Given the cast assembled that is a special achievement in itself.

Plenty of these actors you’ve seen do better work in other films, disappointingly Samuel L. Jackson’s Ahab like Lt Col. Preston Packard fails to convince as a leader who wants a winnable war and is prepared to risk losing more men in a personal vendetta against Kong following the initial onslaught. Image result for kong: skull islandBrie Larson fills out a tank top well but besides being one of the more sensible human characters never makes much of an impact. Image result for kong: skull islandTom Hiddleston fills out a tight T-shirt well but fares even worse.

Two performances manage to stand out, one is Shea Whigham as one of Packard’s men Captain Earl Cole who takes everything in his stride like the pragmatic war weary soldier that he is because what else can he do. John C. Reilly is the second in a role that should be thankless but becomes the most memorable. Playing a downed World War II pilot named Hank Marlow (geddit) who crashed on the island twenty eight years earlier he is part exposition and part comic relief but conveys the heartache of these years lost to the world. Image result for kong: skull island nixon bobbleheadThe filmmakers seemed to recognise the impact Reilly’s performance has and give him a credits sequence that satisfies in a very simple way and maybe nails the subtext that often eludes them. A good example of missed character opportunities is Hiddleston’s Captain Conrad (geddit) mentions a father who went missing in World War II but never takes an interest in a man of that generation who went missing from his family too during that same war.

The pacing is good, the first act rushing to get to the island where the action is but taking the time to establish the different characters. The film slows down in between major action scenes too to help us get to know the human characters more but for the most part the dialogue isn’t there and the decisions made by these people cannot enamour us to them. “Kong: Skull Island” suffers from the same fate as stable mate “Godzilla”, they got the monsters right but the humans fail to hold interest for the most part.

In place of the 1933 original’s “Beauty and the Beast” subtext there’s analogies about man’s thirst for war and the environment protecting the ecosystem. For all the fetishizing of 1970s technology and call-backs to “Apocalypse Now” though the best bits are striking new images whether it be Kong slurping squid tentacles like noodles, a Nixon bobble head on the dash of a crashing Huey or a soldier placing a carbine on a prehistoric skull.  Image result for kong: skull islandA bit more of the creative genius that went into these neat images being directed towards the screenplay might have elevated this into a classic. As it is, fans of monster films should find enough here to enjoy and celebrate, for the rest of us the blockbuster season has just begun and there surely must be better films to come.

-Lloyd Marken

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BEST DRESSED AWARDS SEASON 2017 PART II

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The Independent Film Spirit Awards were held the day before the Oscars and saw Moonlight sweep the ceremony. There were many big stars there on the night but for me my favourite dress was worn by a newcomer. Lily Gladstone who was nominated for Best Supporting Female for her work in Certain Women wore a Adrianna Papell with a fabric I can’t shake the feeling I’ve seen somewhere before.

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The next day the 89th Academy Awards too place and the stars came out in a dazzling array of gowns. To make sure this post doesn’t end at 100 words and two photos I’ll add in the gowns that my wife and mother liked. Well they liked several but these are the ones they offered up as a favourite if they had to only pick one and believe me they didn’t want to.

 

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My mother liked Taraji P. Henson wearing custom made Alberta Ferretti for best dress then Meryl Streep’s, Nicole Kidman’s. Others enjoyed were Kirsten Dunst and Auli’i Cravachi’s white dress on the red carpet, Denzel Washington’s wife, Samuel L. Jackson in his blue velvet suit jacket and Aldis Hodge. Alberta Ferretti has been designing for 44 years and once in the 1990s renovated a 13th century castle into a hotel.

 

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Karen’s favourite was television presenter Guiliana Rancic wearing Georges Chakra couture and enjoyed the trend of blue velvet throughout liking Taraji’s dress and SammyJ’s suit as well. She was also taken with Auli’i Cravachi’s red dress that she performed in on stage and Ruth Negga’s dress.Lebanese based Georges Chakra is a major international haute couture fashion house regularly dressing celebrities and featuring on fashion magazines in Gossip Girl and The Devil Wears Prada. A Chakra collection has been present at every Paris Fashion Week since 2001. Rancic who covers several red carpets a year for her work with E! Entertainment Television Network uses him as one of her go to designers.

Which leaves me in the awkward position of repeating one of their choices. There were no clear stand outs for me, that’s why Brie Larson’s Rodarte dress from the Golden Globes remains so special. A real immediate absolute favourite don’t always come around. That said I think my favourite Oscar dress is Taraji’s too. For the sake of variety I will point out Felicity Jones looked cute, I liked Busy Phillips dress and I think Nicole Kidman’s dress showed off her figure well.

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So what was your favourite dress at the Oscars? Did you enjoy Janelle Monae trying to channel Halle Berry’s classic dress wearing Ellie Saab herself, Image result for janelle monae oscarslovers of Salma Hayek did you approve of her choice, Image result for salma hayek oscars 2017 was there a favourite suit of the evening, Image result for samuel l. jackson 2017 oscars anybody dig the gold outfits

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or was red more your colour

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or did you stand up and applause any dress that got the twins out front and centre? Let us know below.

Until next year.

-Lloyd Marken

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BEST DRESSED AWARDS SEASON 2017 PART I

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I do not claim to be any kind of expert when it comes to fashion but like all art I know what I like and so in a change from my lengthy diatribes about film I figured I’d indulge in a quick recap of favourites from recent award ceremonies. Easily there are many dresses from them all that I could list but for brevity sake I’ll point out a personal favourite and leave it open to you the reader to share some of your picks. I’ll avoid pointing out ones that I did not like since I do believe risks are to be taken if we’re to have a vibrant variety of clothes at these things and life in general. Besides it’s all subjective right.

The Golden Globes

My belief is that as an actress you’ve got to wear your second best frock at this event. It’s got the second largest TV audience (20 million this year in the U.S.), it kicks of the awards season (so why not do it in style?) and Oscar nominee voting hasn’t closed at this point. Interesting to note as well while voting for nominees for the SAGs has closed at this point the voting for choosing the winning nominee has not. I’m not happy about this either but I’ve long suspected that sometimes a good dress at the Globes can put you and your film on the radar in a way that a stunning performance and critical acclaim cannot (don’t hate me, I’m as pissed off as you are). Alas special effects gurus for Star Wars facing down Marvel don’t sweat their tuxedo choices the same way. Image result for LUPITA nyong'o golden globes 2014Case in point, Twelve Years a Slave was sizing up as a frontrunner a couple of years ago and Lupita Nyong’o was nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press but did not win. However after her Golden Globes Red Carpet appearance she was named Best Dressed of the night by various outlets and lit up the internet with her outfit. Later she did win the Oscar and also the Screen Actor Guild Award which indicates she was always in the mind of Academy voters but may have gotten a bump from her fierce fashion game.

That being said my favourite for this year was last year’s winner Brie Larson whose fashion game has been just as strong if not stronger than the year she was in competition. The dress was by Rodarte, a luxury label started in 2005 by designers and sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy that’s already scooped up many accolades. The ballet costumes in Black Swan…yeah they did those.

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The Screen Actors Guild

Literally the Actor’s Union awards with a smaller audience watching this (3.9 million Americans in 2017) often leads to participants letting their hair down a bit and making riskier fashion choices. At this point Oscar nominees have been announced but voting for the winner won’t close for a couple of weeks yet. With the majority of voters here representing the same people who will vote on Oscar night it’s important again to nail a good speech too.  Especially if you’ve been recognised here when the Hollywood Foreign Press was too busy giving it an overrated Hollywood celebrity they wanted to show up or some foreigner the old white guys of the AMPAS are never going to go for.

There were so many beautiful dresses at the SAG Awards this year that it says a lot about my lack of fashion sense that my choice came down to just loving a certain colour. Every now and again you get a clear front runner but there was nothing here for me and I just kept on coming back to Titus Burgess’s and his beautiful Malan Breton blue suit so sue me – it’s my choice. Originally a model in his youth Malan moved onto work as a stylist to several celebrities before becoming a globally recognised and respected designer.

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BAFTAS

With a few stars not bothering to cross the Atlantic, the weather and Americans fearing somehow that the English are more prudish (English people are laughing everywhere at that statement) means the fashion is never as risky as the SAGS or as glamorous as the Oscars. However there’s still plenty of beautiful fashion on display and it’s getting more TV savvy. A few years ago the red carpet was rained out and all the ladies covered up in black coats and umbrellas on their way in. These days things are run differently and there’s choice frocks out there especially for home grown talent who maybe didn’t get nominated across the pond or are prouder to be here at their nation’s big gig.

Appropriately my favourite then this year was English rose Emily Blunt’s dress. I’m not entirely sure about the black skirt but it was my pick when I watched the show and I’m sticking with it. This is the work of Alexander McQueen (owned by Gucci) Creative Director Sarah Burton. She’s done some interesting work over the years, Princess Kate Middleton’s Wedding Dress being one.

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NEXT UP

Next up are the lesser known Film Independent Spirit Awards on the eve of Oscars which usually sees more comfortable modern sexy dresses. Cocktail dresses as opposed to ball gowns if you will; I seriously have no fucking idea what I’m talking about.

I wonder who’s going to rock the red carpet come February 27. For me here are two particular favourites from Oscars past, Halle Berry in 2002 wearing an Elie Saab creation and Jessica Chastain in 2013 wearing custom made Armani.Image result for halle berry oscar dressRelated image

What do you guys and gals think? What’s been your favourite get up during these recent Award Ceremonies? Evan Rachel Woods glamming up in suits for a change, those who got the twins out, those who upped the sequin game, those who went wild and avant-garde or those who kept it simple? Let me know below.

-Lloyd Marken