Canadian Eric Schweig…

o-canada-niagaraWow, can you believe that another rendition of Speakeasy and Silver Screenings‘ O Canada! Blogathon is here. Time sure flies.

For my third year joining in, I’ve decided to pick an actor again (last year, although it feels like yesterday, I looked at The Grand Seduction and the previous year, Donald Sutherland). An actor that I feel is underrated. May I introduce to you Eric Schweig. Born in 1967 (19 June to be precise), his real name is actually Ray Dean Thrasher. Oh, and in case it wasn’t obvious, he was born in Canada. Inuvik, Northwest Territories.

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Now…you’ll probably know where I’m heading with this post…(for those of you new to my Blog, let me just say that The Last of the Mohicans is my absolute favourite movie of all time)…so, yep, I’m heading down the Uncas (Last of the Mohicans route). But what other route should I take? It is, after all, this movie which introduced me to this actor. I’d never heard of him before then (granted, according on IMDB it was only his 3rd movie) and must admit I haven’t seen too much with him in it (although he’s been in a fair amount). It takes quite something to share screen presence with Daniel Day-Lewis and boy, oh boy, does Eric Schweig manage to do this. While he doesn’t have the lead role, he is definitely noticed. Or maybe it’s just that I have a bit of a weakness for the Uncas/Alice love story. But really, I thoroughly enjoy the ease with which he takes on the character of Uncas (and no, here we won’t discuss how true to the book the movie is – this is a post about an actor, therefore a movie). So, for a long time, all I had was the 25 year old Eric Schweig  – back then my parents and I had no TV in the house (by choice) and besides, Video Cassettes were limited. IMDB and the internet didn’t exist, so, unless an actor was making Magazine gossip, you weren’t really aware of who else was out there and what they were acting in. My Quinlan’s Films Stars book also dated too quickly.EricSchweig

Only a number of years later with my own place and a TV, I happened to catch the trail-end of Follow the River (1995). Unfortunately didn’t see too much of Eric Schweig‘s character, however, it did trigger me to go find some other roles I’d enjoyed him in. And I found…

SkinsfilmSkins (2002). Here he plays Rudy Yellow Lodge, a police office in an Indian Reservation. He is joined by Graham Greene (also a Canadian) who takes on the role of Mogie Yellow Lodge, Rudy‘s alcoholic brother. While not always easy to watch it was an eye opener and I did actually enjoy it. The cast also includes, amongst others, wonderful fellow Canadians Gary Farmer, Michelle Thrush and Nathaniel Arcand as well as Gil Birmingham (not Canadian)  It also presented to me an Eric Schweig 10 years older to what I’d be introduced to. In this darker, more serious role, he is still great to watch. In contrast, his smaller role in The Missing about which I’m not going to say too much here other than, I really needed to watch The Last of the Mohicans again.

I’ve got Dead Man’s Walk waiting to be watched and trying to find Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (not only because of Eric Schweig but I want to see it regardless of who’s in it) and Into the West is also proving difficult to find (once again with Eric Schweig but on my to-watch list anyway). He’s been in so many movies and series and I’m embarrassed to say that for such a wonderful actor I really haven’t seen enough of him.

But, that’s not all. As a means of connecting to his heritage, Eric Schweig carves masks (look them up, they are gorgeous), a skill developed from his early childhood days of carving. In fact, I believe he never intended to get into acting but was involved with woodwork and framing work.

So, here’s to a Canadian who really is worth noticing.

 

Delightful…The Grand Seduction

O Canada BannerIt has been ages since I’ve watched such a feel-good, yet not soppy/sappy, movie. One that makes you smile and feel positive! The Grand Seduction (2013) is just such one…

This is a “remake” of fellow Canadian production, the 2003 La grande séduction which also looks lovely (I’ll have to give it a watch). It all takes place in the harbour (don’t call it a village) of Tickle Head, Newfoundland where all residents, bar a few, are unemployed. With fishing no longer an option, the only alternative is to apply for a “Petrochemical Byproduct Re-purposing Facility” i.e.a petrochemical factory. However, the catch is this…they need a resident doctor in order to be considered and, well…they don’t have one. In addition, the local residents need some convincing that they should care and hope for something more than the monthly welfare payouts.

thegrandseductionposterLuckily, former-Tickle-Head-mayor-now-airport-security Tom (Lawrence Barry) finds cocaine stashed away in Dr Lewis’ (Taylor Kitsch) bag as he is returning from a cricket tour. And so it starts…Dr Lewis goes to Tickle Head for a month as the doctor and no charges of possession will be pressed. That gives the harbor just enough time to convince him to stay on permanently thus giving them the much needed factory.

Headed by Murray (the wonderful Brendan Gleeson) residents give the harbour a clean and revamp to make a good first impression. Being big hockey fans, they even learn to play cricket (which they though was an animal) and pretend that is their passion, all because Dr Lewis is a cricket fanatic. Ah, it is absolutely lovely how they go about kitting out their “team”. I don’t want to mention much more because you absolutely have to see this for yourself. Together with all the other “little” gestures to make the place enticing. Naturally, all with an ulterior motive.

The other scene that has always stuck with me is their method of “inflating” the number of residents to the required amount. It brings a big smile to my face just thinking about it. In fact, the whole movie is special. What adds to the charm is the various characters, each one so endearing, full of charm which gives that authentic small village/harbour feel. Brendan Gleeson always impresses – he is great in everything he does. After having watched Canadian Taylor Kitsch in only one previous role (and movie) I didn’t think much of, I was thoroughly impressed by him in The Grand Seduction. I guess it is a case of never judge an actor by the only role you’ve seen him in.

Canadian Gordon Pinset is Simon, Murray’s “sidekick”, for which he won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role at the Canadian Screen Awards. Well deserved!

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The scenery is beautiful. It tempts me to go see it for myself. I love visiting small towns and villages – there is always something special about these places away from the hectic city life.

So…give this one a go. I’m almost certain you’ll find yourself grinning from ear to ear. And I promise to give the “original” a watch too.

Thanks to Speakeasy and Silver Screenings for hosting this O Canada Blogathon. Here’s my entry from last year on Donald Sutherland.

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Donald Sutherland, a Canadian of note…

O Canada Banner-2I didn’t know…well, I did but I forgot (or didn’t mentally register) that Donald Sutherland is a Canadian (born in Saint John, New Brunswick). Not that it really matters as it is about the man himself and what he brings to the world of film. But not purely that…for me, it is much more personal. Whenever I watch him he brings back fond memories of my father. He transports me back to the days where my parents introduced me to the amazing experience of Super 8 films. By the time we got them, most people had made the transition to VHS and Beta Video Tapes and because of this my father managed to buy boxes full of Super 8 reels and two projectors (one magnetic the other optical – something pretty much nobody of my generation knows what it means) thus starting my passion for film. And…among all these reels, reels and more reels was what immediately springs to mind at the mention of Donald SutherlandKelly’s Heroes…let me rephrase…not so much the film but his character Oddball. With that, ringing clearly in my ears is my father trying to get the “40, or is it 60 foot of bridge I can get almost everywhere” line and voice right – the line actually being “Sixty feet of bridge I can get almost anywhere.” I just love it! Oh, man, all the scenes with Oddball are great…if you haven’t watched this classic you need to just for him explaining the tank strategy, specifically around the paint-filled ammunition “When we fire it, it makes… pretty pictures. Scares the hell outta people! We have a loudspeaker here, and when we go into battle we play music, very loud. It kind of… calms us down. ” I could go on and on with scenes, quotes and all the positive waves (if you’ve seen it, you’ll understand) and my father trying to get them all right together. I honestly don’t think another actor could pull off the coolness (especially with what I believe is a leather tanker helmet – sorry if I got it wrong but I’m not really clued up as to those type of things) dopiness and amazing facial expressions as does Mr Sutherland. What a role! I must say that credit is due to the entire ensemble cast …they just work!

So, having watched this, my father decided we should go watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer as said actor is also in it and it happened to be showing at the cinema. I’m sure he was great in this role but I must admit, I can’t remember the film at all. Trying to salvage the situation, we then dug out The Dirty Dozen from the reels and expected the same Oddball comic relief from character Vernon Pinkley, which we didn’t get but were still rewarded by fantastic acting by this versatile actor in a much more serious role. I mean, if you can do Kelly’s Heroes, Dirty Dozen, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, M.A.S.H, The Italian Job, The Hunger Games….and the list goes on…you have to be versatile and you have to be good in order to be convincing in every character you take on. And so convincing he is that I never end up thinking of him as one character while watching him being another. What I mean is that I never think of Sherman tanks or PA Announcements while a family of ladies is preparing for Mr Bingley’s ball. Just the other day I was in the situation where I was thinking of the sweet guy from a period drama while watching him in an action film and thus never managed to take the role, and probably actor, seriously.

A few years ago my work colleague was surprised that I enjoy “old” films and next thing he left M.A.S.H on my desk…oh my! It is just absolutely fantastic…crazy…but brilliant. And once again, I think only Mr Sutherland would be the perfect fit. There are just certain characters made for certain actors and nobody will ever be able to fill those shoes.

I’m busy looking up his filmography and can’t believe the number of films listed and always, always great acting (at least in the 20 plus I’ve seen)…be it in small or large roles, big films or B ones, older or the more recent ones…I take my hat off to this man who, at the age of 80, almost 81, has 3 projects against his name for 2016 in IMDB. That is impressive.

But please…do me a favour and watch Kelly’s Heroes. Oh…actually, tackle M.A.S.H too…oh and…

And I will patiently wait to go see Forsaken which looks like a promising western.

 

(Quotes courtesy of IMDB)

(Blogathon courtesy of Speakeasy and Silver Screenings – thank you)