COVID-19 DIARY – TWO MAN TARANTINO REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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March 24

While the British people solemly remembered all that they had lost I paradoxically on the other side of the world I found myself returning to the Brisbane Powerhouse for the first time since March 13, 2020 when I had attended the Brisbane Comedy Festival as the first restrictions were announced in Australia. No more than 500 people at a venue starting Monday the 16th of february.

Now here I was back on the 25th of March, 2021 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Interestingly enough I was there to review the show Two Man Tarantino for Scenestr magazine. I had previously reviewed the show back in 2018 for the Wonderland Festival so I was setting myself an interesting challenge.

The show seemed even better this time around to me and you can read my review here –Two Man Tarantino Review @ Brisbane Powerhouse (scenestr.com.au)

Again there was no mask wearing and the theatre was packed as per current health guidelines.

Karen and I also enjoyed our beloved Snack Bar Menu pizza after the show.

In such moments you can’t help but feel that something has been regained if only briefly after having been absent for so long.

But the virus never rests. It is always out there waiting to strike.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ‘TRIPLE X’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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March 11

I was fortunate enough to be on assignment with Scenestr once again on the Thursday the 11th of March.

Since the pandemic hit Brisbane I had been to three films and one stand-up show.

Now I was going to the theatre again to see Triple X, which had its season cut short a year ago due to COVID.

It was a privilege to be there to see the show’s return that had been promised by Queensland Theatre and delivered against some unprecedented odds.

At the end of the show the lead performer and writer Glace Chase appeared to be becoming emotional.

The show itself was wonderful, detailing a love story rife with laughs and pain and yearning.

What was interesting for me having not been to the theatre in a while was the measures.

We had to sign in on a Qld Government App at the venue. The menu was slightly altered to mostly packed foods and drinks.

And yet…

Looking out over the lobby before going into the show there was a sizeable crowd and nobody was wearing a mask because the current health advice was not to.

Then when we went into the venue it was a packed house with everybody seated together with no spare seats in between.

Again completely in keeping with the health advice but being aware of what was being experienced elsewhere in this world made our current circumstances seem a little surreal.

There were 41 active cases in Queensland on the 11th of March, 2021. 

Not many at all but substantially up from 11 at the beginning of the month and even from January where when had we gone into lockdown for three days.

The highest number of active cases then had been 30 on the 15th of January.

Clearly the number of cases in hotel quarantine was increasing.

Anyway the show was wonderful and you can read my review here Triple X Review @ Queensland Theare (scenestr.com.au)

I was fortunate to have interviewed the director Paige Rattray two years earlier in the lead up to the run Hedda directed by her too. 

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

COVID-19 DIARY – ‘HOTMESS’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

December 06

I was very fortunate to be back on assignment for Scenestr magazine, this time my first live event since COVID shut down the Brisbane Comedy Festival in March.

It was at The Sideshow in Brisbane’s West End. West End has its own character and history as a southside boy from the suburbs I am fairly ignorant of.

It’s down from the city’s South Bank precinct which I am more familiar with which is a giant cultural and restaurant hub with museums, art gallery and markets.

West End is the cheaper hippier end of this.

I remember going to see show with David Hasselholf years ago and seeing young people eating on a window sill out of saucepans in an apartment above a set of shops and just being delighted by it.

Places like West End are in danger of losing such culture with increased urban development but it was alive and well on sunday night December 6.

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We entered what looked like a regular cafe, went up some stairs, got served at some makeshift bar and sat on pretty simple chairs. Nobody was wearing masks, we just didn’t do that in Queensland.

There were 13 active cases in the state.

The venue had the setting of being in someone’s large living room for a get together on a sunday arvo for a few laughs.

It was good to have a laugh.

The comedians were diverse in their styles and backgrounds and led by MC Steph Tisdell who got the crowd supporting them fully and open to the experimentation of the event.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/hot-mess-comedy-brisbane-review-the-sideshow-20201208

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.

With some delight we saw some Christmas decorations and entered a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant we had seen packed only two hours later completely empty.
As someone who has always enjoyed quiet places Karen and I settled in for some fried rice.
There was a garden inside with a pond and we had the whole place to ourselves as West End started to quiet down for the night.

The West End Garden Restaurant staff were so good to us, the food was fantastic and the whole place was just wonderful. Karen and I really enjoyed our night out.

Numbers were climbing around the word, I was worried about people who lived there. It was almost surreal what was happening in Australia. It felt like we being kept out of some sick game although I’m sure Victorians would agree they had had their fill.

On the 6th of December the World Health Organisation reported there had been 66,184,789 cases globally with a daily increase of 652,608.

1 million 5 hundred 2 twenty 6 six thousand and 6 hundred and 6 sixty 2 two deaths.

1,526,662 deaths globally from COVID.

With a daily increase of 10,767.

In Australia there had been 27,956 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 908 deaths.

In Canada there had been 402,569 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,299. There had been 12,496 deaths with a daily increase of 89.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,705,975 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15,539. There had been 61,014 deaths with a daily increase of 397.

In India there had been 9,644,222 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 36,011. There had been 140,182 deaths with a daily increase of 482.

In the United States of America the day before, the 5th of December had been a day of big numbers. A new record for daily increase in confirmed cases – 218,671. The highest number of daily recorded deaths since March and April – 2,844.

On the 6th of December there had been 14,191,298 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 213,127. There had been 276,503 deaths with a daily increase of 2,426.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ‘THE BEE GEES: HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART?’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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November 29

 

On Sunday the 29th of November, 2020 I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening of the HBO documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? at New Farm cinemas and I got to take Karen with me.

Just another milestone that things were pretty in our neck of the woods while case numbers continued to rise astronomically abroad. 

I enjoyed the documentary, it rang very poignant for me given Barry Gibb’s advancing years. I can tell you there were quite a few people of Barry’s and my parent’s age in the audience. I even floated the idea of taking my Mum but she had to decline. Maybe in the audience there were people who had known the Bee Gees from their days in Redcliffe. They certainly laughed and nodded at points like they were flicking through the pages of a photo album. Your culture remains your’s for life – it takes hold you of for life.

I grew up in a household of The Beatles and The Bee Gees. I heard The Rolling Stones and David Bowie but they weren’t in the house. I’m prety sure at one point there was a copy of every Bee Gees album on at least LP, tape or CD.

I enjoyed the documentary of which you can read the review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/the-bee-gees-how-can-you-mend-a-broken-heart-film-review-20201201

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.

It sent me down a bit of rabbit-hole of Youtube clips.

I would urge you to listen to a live acoustic performance they did of one of their lesser singles Blue Island from one of their strongest later albums from the early 1990s. The thing is, it’s not a bad song but something magical happens when the harmonies those brothers had together sing it. It is something special.

There is an interview Maurice Gibb had in the wake of doing rehab for alcoholism, (I thought he got clean well before Andy Gibb’s death not after) and Barry Gibb talking about his brothers, his wife – his family to Piers Morgan.

I would urge you to listen to a live acoustic performance they did of one of their lesser singles Blue Island from one of their strongest later albums from the early 1990s. The thing is, it’s not a bad song but something magical happens when the harmonies those brothers had together sing it. It is something special.

There are personal favourites here like The Nights on Broadway (I had no idea they were that broke when they recorded that album), and younger hits like You Win Again which is soooo 80s, their last hit single This Is Where I Came In which I will defend to the death is proof they were still crushing it in 2001, their first big hit as they left Australia in the 60s – Spicks and Specks which is a personal favourite and maybe lesser known to Americans and even Brits I think.

Songs like Alone and Immortality from 1997 which resonates even more now. Absent are the disco hits which I loved as a kid but have listened to a lot more than these gems and I suspect you have too.

Anyway enjoy. 

 

On the 29th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 61,990,265 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 604,549.

There had been 1,451,964 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,520.

In Australia there had been 27,885 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 907 deaths. 

In Canada there had been 359,064 confirmed cases with daily increase of 5,967. There had been 11,895 with a daily increase of 95.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,605,176 confirmed cases with a daily increase 15,871. There had been 58,030 deaths with a daily increase of 479.

In India there had been 9,392,919 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 41,810. There had been 136,696 Indian deaths with a daily increase of 496.

In the United States of America there had been 12,939,666 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 175,669. There had been 262,736 deaths with a daily increase of 1,276. 

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – TENET FILM REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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August 20

Back on April 21 I bought a hoodie from the United States of America. There was a lot of handwringing about the getting the right size as I never order clothes online. In June the hoodie arrived and it fit but it was too tight. On the 20th of August I got a new one that fit just at the tail wind of winter in my home town, sunny tropical Queensland. That said I got some good weeks out of it and really love my hoodie. I hadn’t got a new jumper or coat in about 19 years.

Proceeds from the sale of the hoodie went towards After School All Stars which were delivering meals to kids in low socio-economic areas during the lockdown of schools in America.

The same day I was due to go to a preview screening of the new movie Tenet for Scenestr magazine.

Tenet was the first blockbuster to be getting released in cinemas since COVID had shut down cinemas earlier in the year. Warner Bros. was betting big that people would return to the cinemas but if they did, the blockbuster would have the run of the movie going public.

Attending a preview screening of a blockbuster is always a thrill for me. The preview screening was in a VMax screening at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.  There were only other critics present at the screening, familiar faces. People seemed fairly relaxed. At the screening of Waves there was some sense of hopefulness and rustiness at what was for some of us the first screening we had been to in a while. Here things were more relaxed but there was security at this one given the high profile nature of the film. There was a media embargo to enforce.

My review was published the following week on Wednesday the 26th of August with the film premiering the next day.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/tenet-film-review-20200826

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.

So far Tenet has grossed $350 million dollars worldwide, the fourth highest grossing film of the year. However $55 million dollars was accumulated in USA and Canada. In North America at the time of opening, 65% of cinemas were operating at 25-40% capacity. In its first five weekends at the US Box office Tenet remained number one but that gross is significantly down on previous Nolan hits. Warner Bros bet big and it has not paid off. Too many territories remain closed and too many people have not returned to cinemas in America and Europe where COVID-19 remains an all too real threat.

I would argue that while Tenet is billed as a blockbuster, it is not a crowdpleaser and in a particularly dispiriting year I think something like Wonder Woman 1984 would have played much better but COVID remains the all too important factor. Its actually a relief to know that people would rather prize their lives over seeing a movie where they deem the risk too much. In Queensland we felt relatively safe with a small number of cases.

Yet on the same day that I went to see Tenet, a supervisor in her 70s at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre in Wacol tested positive for COVID-19. She had been working shifts until she started to have symptoms. She was now admitted to hospital. Her diagnosis led the centre to go into shutdown with testing of 127 youths and over 500 staff at the centre. There were eight active cases in Queensland at the time.

Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk relayed, “What you’re going to hear today is the story of a woman who was sick, and still went to work. It is really really important that if you are sick, you must stay home, as now a whole lot of contact tracing has to happen.

I was about to get a timely reminder in the days ahead that the situation was fluid.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WAVES FILM REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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July 06

I was also on assignment with Scenestr magazine for the first time since the pandemic shut everything down in March.

Cinemas had just re-opened in Queensland and I attended a preview screening of Waves with a bunch of critics at New Farm cinemas. There were no plus ones so Karen wasn’t with me.

Waves is an excellent film which would have made my Top 10 last year if it had been released in Australia. You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/waves-film-review-20200708

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.

There was definitely some joy to be taken that here was another activity back but this one was tempered with some caution.

With developments in Victoria how long would it last?

And until we were really rid of COVID in our lives it was obvious blockbusters and major cinema attendance would not be coming back.

As a film buff people have often asked my feelings on this.

Since this pandemic happened I’ve never really missed movies, I’ve watched some classics and some new stuff on streaming services.

Yes I’ve worried about those who work in the arts.

But more so I’ve worried about everybody who has lost their jobs in recent months.

I love going to the cinema but I haven’t felt I lost her in these recent weeks.

We’ve lost lives. Hundreds and thousands of them.

We’ve lost jobs.

Millions of them.

We’ve lost good health and good prospects for the future for millions more.

I enjoyed seeing a wonderful movie and being a film critic again on the job. Something I am eternally grateful for.

But on the 6th of July I found my cinema had patiently waited for my return and was happy to see me again. I know she will wait for me again and for all of us if need be.

The cinema knows we have lost more than her and so she waits patiently as we turn our thoughts to others who have lost a great deal more.

-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

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

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