Eklund Editorials: Roland – West of Hell (2018)

I have a spreadsheet that contains everything Michael Eklund has acted in and my goal is to watch all of it and blog about it along the way. There will be spoilers.

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A gunslinger, a vengeful ex-slave, and a runaway discover their train is haunted by a sinister force.

When a movie is classified as a “supernatural horror western hybrid” it gets my attention. I like all those things! I also adore movies that take horror and wrap it up in another genre, taking the tropes from both and intertwining them. If this film wasn’t already on my list thanks to the spreadsheet I think I would watch it just for the genre.

WEST OF HELL is set in Georgia, 1872 on a train bound for Atlanta (or so we’re led to believe) with a small cast of cliche characters. The players read like a silly joke: A priest, a gunslinger, a runaway and an ex-slave seeking revenge walk onto a train… It would be less grievous if the characters had a broader background or even darker personalities, but it’s variations on a theme. Clue has more interesting characters. All of the characters have sins and a dark past which they’re running from, with the exception of Jericho (Lance Henriksen) an ex-slave who is seeking revenge for his daughter who was scalped by his former master. The man who scalped his daughter happens to have his own daughter on the train and Jericho has his eye on exacting revenge eye for an eye style by scalping her. Roland (Michael Eklund) is being paid $500 to protect her and deliver her safely to Atlanta.

Image from: http://www.clingerdigital.com

Roland and the woman he’s supposed to protect Annie Hargraves

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Eklund Editorials: Luke Petrie – Chokeslam (2016)

I have a spreadsheet that contains everything Michael Eklund has acted in and my goal is to watch all of it and blog about it along the way. There will be spoilers.

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Ten years since High School graduation, deli clerk (Chris Marquette) still lives in the shadow of the humiliating public rejection of his marriage proposal to High School sweetheart Sheena DeWilde (Amanda Crew). Sheena is now a successful, if troubled, Pro-Wrestler, and is returning to town for their High School reunion and announce her retirement. Corey struggles both to make the event a success for Sheena, and to remind her of what they once had.

Chokeslam is another rom-com.

Is this going to be a thing? How many rom-coms am I going to watch for this project and dangit, how many am I going to enjoy?

I really thought going into this movie that I wouldn’t like it. I should know by now to ignore ratings especially with Canadian media because I’ve found lower budget Canadian films and TV shows aren’t judged to the same level as other projects. I read a few reviews that automatically took away stars, points, whatever their unit of measurement was because Chokeslam had a lower budget. Shouldn’t we be looking at all lower budget films on the same level?

With that in mind Chokeslam makes the most of its funding, filmed in small town Lumsden and larger city Regina, Saskatchewan it takes the traditional romantic comedy framework and twists it by adding wrestling and a rather complex female role with issues and troubles that make her multi-layered and interesting. Sheena (Crew) is the wrestler coming back to the small town she grew up in and that’s known only for her (there are big billboards with her picture and stage name on them coming into town). Amanda Crew does an outstanding job. Leading man Chris Marquette playing Corey Swanson has just as many layers, shaped by first a failed marriage proposal to Sheena and then a misunderstanding that landed him in hospital. His life is as simple as wanting to own the deli he works in.

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Michael Eklund as Luke Petrie

But what about Michael Eklund? In this movie he plays Luke Petrie, the quintessential “popular guy in high school who has amounted to nothing in life.”

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Eklund Editorials: Gus – Stegman is Dead (2017)

I have a spreadsheet that contains everything Michael Eklund has acted in and my goal is to watch all of it and blog about it along the way. There will be spoilers.

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Bizarre assassins come together to unravel a dead man’s blackmail secrets and why he’s already dead on the set of his own porn film.

The summary isn’t exactly correct. Michael Eklund’s character Gus isn’t an assassin, he’s an (ex) thief, with a wife and an adorable daughter. Stegman is Dead is a comedic crime thriller that has numerous faults and just as many funny, interesting moments. The plot isn’t linear, it travels around and up and over itself, sometimes revealing a little secret or re-examining a fact we already knew.

This low budget film was shot in Winnipeg during one of the many seasons in Canada known as winter. One interesting part to me is how the film dealt with the Canadian outdoor scenes while still maintaining the visual look of a crime thriller. You know how movies of this genre and genres of its ilk (action, thriller, spy, heist) have guys in suits swanning their way into buildings with fanfare and guns blazing? Usually they’re set in places like Vegas, Los Angeles etc., where coats are just an illusion. Well, Ekland’s Gus wears a heavy winter coat outside that he tucks into the trunk of his car before he goes in. He wears a suit underneath and BOOM! problem solved and we still get to see an Eklund in a suit.

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Gus in winter.

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Eklund Editorials: Bobby – The Divide (2011)

I have a spreadsheet that contains everything Michael Eklund has acted in and my goal is to watch all of it and blog about it along the way. There will be spoilers.

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Survivors of a nuclear attack are grouped together for days in the basement of their apartment building, where fear and dwindling supplies wear away at their dynamic.

This movie is not for kids and not for a lot of adults. It’s dirty, disgusting in parts (there are moments of sexual assault) and will stick with you for days after you finish watching it. That said, I love apocalyptic movies and movies dealing with the idea of the effects of nuclear war. This one does a good job filling that genre. If you’ve seen the movie Threads this movie has some of those gut-wrenching moments that you reflect on some time after. (Threads trailer) The only difference is this movie doesn’t have the documentary feel that Threads does, replacing it with a slow-burn thriller beginning with the nuclear bomb detonating.

The movie centers around the slow deterioration of a group of nine people trying to survive inside a bomb shelter in the basement of their apartment building. Let me be clear though, this isn’t the Walking Dead, that show seems downright clean compared to this movie. The Walking Dead has hope, the Divide takes that away with the kidnapping of the only child in the group early on.

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Eklund Editorials: Johnny Moon – Mr. Right (2015)

I have a spreadsheet that contains everything Michael Eklund has acted in and my goal is to watch all of it and blog about it along the way. There will be spoilers.

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A girl falls for the “perfect” guy, who happens to have a very fatal flaw: he’s a hitman on the run from the crime cartels who employ him.

I dislike romantic comedies. The problem (or upside) to spreadsheets is the need for completion of that spreadsheet. I can’t avoid the few rom-coms that Michael Eklund has been in and this is one of them… kind of. Mr. Right is a hitman-goes-good rom com (HomRomCom, Hom for homicide I freaking love this term) and it is damn good stuff, Eklund only has a supporting role as a baddie named Johnny Moon and I’ll admit I wasn’t sad to see Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick gracing the screen instead. What can I say, they are both adorable and very talented.

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Eklund with Max Landis at TIFF Mr. Right premiere

The Screenplay for Mr. Right is written by Max Landis, that name of course is important because it’s Mr. Landis that was the force behind Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Max and Michael worked together on this film and then Max asked Michael back to play Martin in 2016.

In the film, Michael Eklund plays Johnny Moon, a “local thug” who is brought in by the younger mob family brother named Von to hire Francis (Sam Rockwell) to kill his older brother Richard. However, Francis has started killing the people who hire him instead of his marks, which means that Von and Johnny need to hire Francis on behalf of Richard so Francis will kill the man who hired him.

Clear as mud?

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Eklund Editorials: Eadweard (2015)

I have a spreadsheet that contains everything Michael Eklund has acted in and my goal is to watch all of it and blog about as much of it as I can along the way. There will be spoilers.

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A psychological drama centered around world-famous turn-of-the-century photographer, Eadweard Muybridge who photographed nude and deformed subjects, became the godfather of cinema, murdered his wife’s lover, and was the last American to receive the justifiable homicide verdict.

Do you know who Eadweard Muybridge is?

I didn’t. Turns out he’s the godfather of cinema, a world famous photographer and the last person to ever be told his murder was completely justified because of jealous rage by the courts. His invention the Zoopraxiscope and his encyclopedia of motion inspired Thomas Edison to create a device to allow the multiple camera setup Muybridge used to be performed by just one camera. He’s got a life made for film, yet I’ve never heard of this movie before. Maybe it’s because it’s Canadian or because it’s about a guy that I had never heard of and wasn’t marketed appropriately. Regardless of the reasons, if you haven’t seen this movie you need to.

Michael stars in the title role, and yes, he grew that epic beard his character is wearing and endured having it bleached out. Here in an interview in which Michael talks about the physical transformation:

The interviews are all like this, Michael loving on the movie and saying he couldn’t see anyone else in that role and that’s one reason he had to go after it. It’s also a helluva lot lighter than the Call which I reviewed previously and this is the first movie he did after the Call.

We go from serial killer Michael Foster to photographer Eadweard Muybridge, and he is a guy who loves his work, so much in fact that he ignores his wife entirely for it. She looks for love and comfort elsewhere (and potentially has a baby from that love and comfort.) It’s this affair that will drive him into jealous rage and lead to a acquittal for murder with justifiable cause. Even with all of this, putting motion into pictures and creating an encyclopedia of movement consumes his every waking moment.

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