I, TONYA REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The chance to review films for a publication is always a special treat. Cinema is my first love though and so getting to be a film critic if only sporadically is a way to live that dream. I was very lucky to review the new film Margot Robbie film I, Tonya for Scenestr magazine.

Margot Robbie was once a 17 year old playing a role in a small budgeted independent action film on the Gold Coast. There was an overweight 27 year old on that film set too working as a production runner. Based on Margot’s performance in that film I wouldn’t have thought Oscar buzz was in her future. A performance I saw a year later in a Gold Coast cinema with cast and crew. By then Margot was already down south working hard on the Australian soap Neighbours. It’s 10 years later and Margot Robbie is one of the hottest young talents in America, a first-rate actress, a woman with her own production company forming her own projects to ensure she’s not just the girl in the bikini or the hotpants. Her work in The Wolf of Wall Street, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and now I, Tonya is simply first rate. To go from where we were to where she is now is truly remarkable and I look forward to a long prolific career with many more great performances. I take my hat off to you Ms. Robbie and congratulations on becoming an Academy Award nominee. Most deserved.

On some level it’s very surreal for me to have known at one point a very big star for a brief period of time where they were not a big star. It’s also weird to then have my dream job of writing for publications be involved with a Margot Robbie film but also rewarding. I feel a small measure of success in the industry I love which is nice.

Karen and I went to a preview screening of I, Tonya at Chermside cinemas two days before it opened nationwide. My review was published the next day, there were things I was trying to get across about the strength of the performances, the depth of the storytelling and the pacing of the picture that I hope come through. It is one of those reviews where it feels like I’m getting there but not quite where I want it to be. Deadlines can be good for getting past your own doubts.

I hope you like the review which can be read here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/i-tonya-review-20180124 and enjoy the film. Once again to all my readers thank you so much for your continued support and interest. The trailer below by the way in my humble opinion is one of the best film trailers of 2017. Maybe it’s the music.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

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THE YEAR THAT WAS 2017 ON LLOYD MARKEN WORDPRESS

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Following on from last year I’m doing a quick recap of stats for 2017 which I always find a little interesting. This year the site has seen a few changes, a lot of posts now refer to reviews I’ve had published elsewhere and don’t include screenshots or gifs from movies which may attract views. I don’t know. My stats have gone through the roof due to the large interest shown to a post I did on the movie The Founder which I think got placed on a site by WordPress that increased traffic to the post. At the same time I haven’t engaged with my fellow bloggers or sought to grow my blogging community and so you’ll see number of likes has decreased as a result. All I can say is I enjoy my current blogging community and the size of it and am grateful for their continued interest and I want to remain able to keep up with them semi-regularly and so don’t worry a lot about getting new followers. Always nice to grow though. I have some plans for 2018 but I had some plans for 2017 and not all of them came to fruition so we’ll just see what happens.

The United States retains the crown for most views this year, the United Kingdom comes second place after barely coming in third last year with Autralia now in third place. Congratulations to Canada who remains in fourth and has cracked over 1,000 views for the year. It was hard fought but Germany cracks the Top 5 this year. Spain, Brazil and France all fall out of the Top 10 this year. A post I wrote about a good man I knew who passed away saw an uptick in views from his homeland of Malaysia and one of his favourite countries in the world Japan. Goodbye Kelly Chen, you will are so obviously missed by so many far and wide. I’m particularly touched to see my post has resonated with those who knew him best. Any mention of Taika Watitti sees an uptick in New Zealand view. Congratulations to Indonesia and India who cracked the Top 10 this year, hope you’re enjoying the blog.

 

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Top 10 Most Views by Country

  1. The United States of America                                                                               9,126 Views
  2. The United Kingdom                                                                                              2,339 Views
  3. Australia                                                                                                                   1,848 Views
  4. Canada                                                                                                                      1,057 Views
  5. Germany                                                                                                                      166 Views
  6. Japan                                                                                                                            163 Views
  7. Indonesia                                                                                                                     120 Views
  8. New Zealand                                                                                                               113 Views
  9. India                                                                                                                             100 Views
  10. Malaysia                                                                                                                         92 Views

 

stats 2017

 

Out of 105 posts published for the year the following 25 got the most views. In 2015 the blog started to grow with 1,609 views, 333 visitors, 23 Likes and 30 comments. In 2016 the blog received 5,673 views, 3,206 visitors, 546 Likes and 751 comments. In 2017 this grew to 16,767 views (more than a third of which were for The Founder Review), 11,891 visitors, 1,240 Likes and 1,707 comments. This was helped in no small part thanks to the support and interest from my fellow bloggers.

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Top 25 Most Viewed Posts 2017

  1. Ray Kroc…What An Asshole                                                                                5,992 Views
  2. Goodbye Kelly Chen and Thank You                                                                    303 Views
  3. Minor Roles That Had A Major Impact – Lucy From Going In Style               187 Views
  4. Extras Who Add A Little Something – Kathy Larson and Missy Wolff           141 Views
  5. The Appropriately Titled Jack Reacher: Never Go Back                                    131 Viewstime jack nothing reacher
  6. Review of Young Australian Filmmaker Shorts Available on Scenestr         127 Views
  7. Extras Who Add A Little Something – John B. Destry                                         112 Views
  8. Minor Roles That Had A Major Impact – Dr Lamar from Gattaca                     89 ViewsRelated image
  9. Minor Roles That Had A Major Impact – Stephanie from The Naked Gun      89 Views
  10. Star Character Actors: Stephen Tobolowsky                                                         85 Views
  11. Best Dressed Award Season 2017 Part I                                                                 85 Views
  12. The Mystery Blogger Award Nomination                                                               84 Views
  13. The Seven Ages of Clint Eastwood                                                                           80 ViewsImage result for honkytonk man clint eastwood
  14. The Long Overdue Film About Jadotville                                                               76 Views
  15. Hugh Jackman as The Wolverine                                                                             72 Views
  16. You Can’t Keep A Good Kong Down Even If You Should                                     72 Views
  17. Star Character Actors – J.T. Walsh                                                                            71 ViewsImage result for j.t. walsh young
  18. Over 1,000 Views for The Founder Review                                                            70 Views
  19. Major General John Cantwell – Hero, Veteran, Human Being                            69 ViewsImage result for major general john cantwell
  20. La La Land: A Modern Musical                                                                                 68 Views
  21. The Seven Ages of Harrison Ford                                                                             67 ViewsImage result for harrison ford WITNESS
  22. Spider-Man: Homecoming and Atomic Blonde Reviews Available at Buzz    66 Views
  23. My Favourite Films of 2016                                                                                       65 Views
  24. Minor Roles That Had A Major Impact – Jaguar Owner from Speed                 64 Views
  25. The Perspective of the Girl on The Train                                                                64 Views

As you can see the posts about extras and characters actors were very popular so I hope to bring them back in a way in 2018. Also I really liked the idea of doing the Seven Ages posts but unfortunately the time needed and the titles that have to be seen makes that challenging. Going through all the posts and figuring out what got most likes will simply take too long but please continue to like my posts if you like them because it is always a thrill for me when I see those little icons below the post. A lot of my posts were about reviews published elsewhere this year which seem to attract attention mostly from my long time core readers. Thank you very much for supporting me in these new ventures, it has meant a lot and I think also shows my editors that I do have an audience that I bring along with me. It really is appreciated.

For Your Consideration

Now it’s time for some shameless self-promotion where I point out reviews I’m very proud of from that year that you might want to check out. In going over the 105 posts for the year there were many I’m pleased with and glad found an audience but citing them seemed redundant. They are a time and place and people either read them then or will discover them later. Some of the posts I do on here now have become more personal whether it is me remembering BIFF or describing a recent holiday to Newcastle. 20171001_110615There are some reviews I’m proud of and some reviews I’m not. Yet again they either found an audience or they didn’t, people seemed to like the Tom Hanks Top 5 over at Heavy and had lots to say about my review of Dunkirk. My review for Queensland Ballet’s Raw and Hidden Figures at Scenestr will always have personal significance for me and I worked really hard for them to be good. I felt energised when writing about The Go-Betweens: Right Here than I was when writing about Kingsman: The Golden Circle. I enjoyed my list of Best Films for 2016 Image result for eye in the skyand look forward to doing one for 2017 once the bulk of Oscar releases arrive here in Australia. Come on Ladybird! I should take this opportunity to mention that 20th Century Women and Nocturnal Animals would have easily made the 2016 list if I had seen those movies at the time. I’m humbled to see the review of The Siege at Jadotville was met with approval from someone who’s father had served at Jadotville. If from my small corner of the internet someone has learnt a bit more about the Irish at Jadotville or the strength of Major General John Cantwell then that makes me very proud. In the end though I just want to say cite two pieces. The first is a review I did of the movie Fences, I just like my review which mentions something about one of my grandfathers. Image result for fences movieThe second… Many years ago I worked with a young man on the set of a film being shot on the Gold Coast named Vigilante. He passed away earlier this year and while I didn’t know him very well I was struck by thoughts of how he had lived his life. Not just personal career achievements but the measure of the man was in how he had treated others and enriched their lives. This is a legacy to aspire to and I tried to put into words my memories of him in a post. I would urge people to take a look if they haven’t. His name was Kelly Chen.

Well that’s another bunch of stats for another year. I would like to take this moment to thank you all for your continued support Pete, Cindy, GP, Don, Vinnie, Jay, Sean, Paul, Allen, John K, Michael, Jet, Eddie, Alex, Paol, Jordon, John R, SJS, DB, Emma, The Film Blog guy, Jersey Dreaming, Robin, Eric and anybody else who takes the time to read these posts. It would be helluva lot less fun without you all.

-Lloyd Marken

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THE MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD NOMINATION

Thank you very much to thefilm.blog for the Nomination! Bit of fun so here goes!

The Mystery Blogger Award was created by the wonderful Okoto Enigma, who I’m sure we can all agree can describe the award better in her own words, than I ever could, so without further ado:

“The “Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion”.

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THE RULES

 

Put the award logo/image on your blog
List the rules.
Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question
Share a link to your best post(s)

 

THREE THINGS ABOUT ME

 

  1. I was a hospital wardsman for 3 years as a casual on call. Essentially I cleaned a lot like a janitor but I also did a lot of patient handling and pushing around trolleys and so forth. I saw it as work that would be interesting and hopefully helpful to others.
  2. I graduated in 2004 with Bachelor of Creative Industries (Creative Writing). Like a lot of Arts students I don’t know if it has helped me with employment and certainly my punctuation and grammar suggests it didn’t upskill me but it’s what I wanted to do and I put my mind to it and I’m very proud I have my degree.
  3. I worked as a production runner (gopher) on a B-grade action film shot on the Gold Coast in Australia. It was called Vigilante and was the second feature that Margot Robbie did. I’m chuffed I got to work in the film industry however minor it was.

 

THE QUESTIONS FOR ME TO ANSWER

 

Is there a remake/reboot of a film that you wish you could erase from history?

This is a tough question because nothing immediately comes to mind. The truly terrible remakes I’ve avoided and haven’t gotten a chance to see the classic originals. I don’t think Planet of the Apes directed by Tim Burton was terrible but it was a waste of time really considering the original’s superiority.

If you could put any director and any actor together from any time in history for one film, who would they be? 

Think of the endless possibilities? John Ford with Arnold Schwarznegger, Steven Spielberg with James Stewart, Meryl Streep with Billy Wilder, Scarlett Johansson with Alfred Hitchcock, Todd Haynes with Audrey Hepburn. That said let’s say Spielberg directing Stewart for one choice.

What was your favourite film of 1987? (Totally random one there!)

Favourite film is probably Lethal Weapon but Predator, Innerspace, Robocop, Moonstruck, Good Morning Vietnam, The Living Daylights, Planes, Trains & Automobiles spring to mind. The appeal of Lethal Weapon is the pairing of Glover with Gibson, the excitingly shot action and that classic Shane Black wit. It’s still got real heart too, it’s about a broken man being brought back into the land of the living.

Why do you write about film, or anything really?

I’m a film buff and this allows me to reach people and connect over a shared love. To maybe get better at doing this so one day I can make money out of it but that’s not really it. It’s actually really simple, I write because I want to.

Which film should win Best Picture at the Oscars this weekend?

My best film of 2016 isn’t even nominated, out of the nominees I’d probably give it to Fences but La La Land, Arrival and Moonlight are all better in different ways. It is all very subjective and I’d be happy with any of those nominees winning. I suspect when I see Hell or High Water it will be my favourite.

 

THE BLOGS I NOMINATE

 

Cindy Bruchman

BeetleyPete

Paul S

Windswept and Interesting

It Rains… You Get Wet

Don Ostertag: Off Stage

Wayne’s Journal

Vinnieh

Assholes Watching Movies

Jaccendo

feralc4t

Jimmy

Bunkaryudo

jmountsWrittenInBlood

Jet Eliot

On the Screen Reviews

John Knifton

Alex Raphael

Slip/Through

John Rieber

 

They’re all great blogs to read so check them out. The following five questions I pose to them to answer.

  1. What is your favourite romantic film?
  2. What is the sexiest love scene you’ve ever seen in a film?
  3. Which leading couple in film or television do you think had mad chemistry?
  4. What is one of the worst places you’ve ever worked?
  5. If you were a item from your kitchen, would you be and explain why?

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It’s tough to pick a favourite post, not that I don’t hate a few but only one favourite is tricky. I’ll say it was the short story I wrote Birth Days.

– Lloyd Marken

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT IS PAPA FOXTROT GULF

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When you get to a certain age you start using a new sentence, “I was going to but…”. Whatever you were going to do sounds amazing and whatever stopped you never sounds as impressive to your own ears let alone others. I was going to but… We’ve all got regrets and we’ve all got reasons and responsibilities but there’s a sting in that sentence you’ll find in few others. Journalist Kim Barker doesn’t have to say that sentence because she said another “I’ll do it.” A journalist with the Chicago Tribune in 2004 as Operation Iraqi Freedom was getting hot, she put her hand up to cover Operation Enduring Freedom while the more experienced high profile correspondents were in Baghdad. Barker was in that part of the world for the next five years from 2004 to 2009.

Resulting exploits were covered in the resulting bestseller The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hollywood came calling with screenwriter Robert Carlock dropping the time in Pakistan and producers advising they’d beef up the romantic angle of a relationship by telling the story of Kim Baker. Clever. Going off the events of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Taliban Shuffle should be an interesting read. The film effectively plays out as a career comedy with two significant premises. Baker as a woman excels in a workplace, war, country and culture that is male dominated and secondly with the threat of death ever present and removed from direct supervision the journalists play up merry hell allowing the film to indulge in gender politics and crass humour at the same time.

Kim Baker arrives in Afghanistan green and out of her depth relying on everybody else to show her around. She is greeted by Fahim Ahmadzai played by Christopher Abbott who is her ‘fixer’ (local who acts as translator and guide) and carries himself with a quiet dignity.  Alas her cameraman doesn’t get the same amount of screen time. The new kid on campus is set up in a cheap local quarters with other journos including Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) and Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman another talented Englishman in a long line that proves only a Scot can play a Scotsman). Vanderpoel is friendly with no agenda and MacKelpie is friendly because he has an agenda. Or is that the other way around?

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Baker starts going on assignments and finds not only does she have the knack for the work but also the nerve putting herself in harm’s way repeatedly to get the story in all its glory. Baker starts to lose sight of what normal life is, dodging explosions and competing for the next big scoop in between bouts of partying like there’s no tomorrow. Tomorrow though despite not being guaranteed keeps on coming.

There are deep themes here for a mainstream film, Whiskey walks a fine line addressing them while insistently maintaining a light touch. The fears and stakes for Aghan nationals in the war, the young soldiers shot or wounded, the addictive nature of war for people caught up in it, the kidnapping of Westerners, sexism and misogyny in the workplace and in a national culture, the corruption of the Afghan government, the fickle changing interest of the public in world affairs. WTF won’t reveal a great deal of insight about these issues but like its protagonist it takes you through the war and feels something but tries best not to dwell too long on the consequences of it.

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The cast is uniformly excellent straddling this fine line with Margot Robbie ‘a hot chick’ relishing the opportunity to play off a woman and not be a love interest or figure of lust but an actual career orientated individual. Margot you’ve come a long way with your acting since Vigilante and you should be very proud, I know I am to have worked with you once upon a time. Martin Freeman must also be enjoying a different type of role playing a romantic lead in a big American film and remains as charming as ever. Billy Bob Thornton looks the part of an Army Officer although I wonder if his uniform could’ve looked a bit crisper even if on operations. A facial reaction done by him could provide the film’s biggest laugh. Alfred Molina delights as a corrupt Afghan official who takes more than a passing interest in being ‘grilled’ by Kim. It is Abbott as the noble local though that has the most interesting character, the relationship between Ahmadzai and Baker has the biggest and most significant arc in the film. Thanks to Abbott’s performance you will google to find out what happened to the real Kim Barker’s fixer.

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Long before the film went into production there was mention of how Kim Barker was similar to Tina Fey, and while there are many talented comedic actresses out there, that the casting the star feels almost like destiny. The SNL alum was also a fan of Barker and is relishing the opportunity to do a role that honours her father who was both a veteran and journalist. No matter how quirky and beautiful Fey reveals herself to be, her comedy always first and foremost projects her fierce intelligence. It is no different here and if you like Tina Fey you will enjoy this film. If you don’t like Tina Fey then… what do you mean you don’t like Tina Fey?

Directors Glen Ficarra and John Requa shot in New Mexico which convincingly stands in Afghanistan for the most part and the scale and scope of the film is well done bar one car explosion early on that looks Movie World Stunt Show fake. Considering they worked with a modest $35million dollar budget the filmmakers have done exceedingly well. Some fantastic aerial shots with helicopters can’t help but give away we’re in America but they’re also spectacular.

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot tells another story from the War on Terror, it invites us to laugh and then maybe to think but mostly the coda for the film is to live your life to the full, embrace the challenges, get through them and then move on and live your life the best you can now. Like in war. Operation Enduring Freedom ended on the 31st December 2014. US Troops remaining in Afghanistan serve as part of the ongoing Operation Sentinel’s Freedom.

-Lloyd Marken