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See who Breakaway Daily was rubbing shoulders with at the Copperhead premiere last week and you could win yourself an official movie prize pack consisting of a signed Copperhead poster, book, and movie ticket! (Scroll down for more info) Ron Maxwell, director of Gettysburg and Gods And Generals, returns to the Civil War for his latest film, Copperhead. Inspired by the Harold Frederic book, The Copperhead, the film stars Billy Campbell, Peter Fonda, Angus MacFayden, Francois Arnaud, and Augustus Prew.
I felt very privileged when I was invited to attend the Special Maritime Screening of Copperhead at the Fredericton Playhouse on June 6th. Ron Maxwell chose Fredericton for its Canadian premiere based on his love of the people and the film industry in New Brunswick. This marks the first Canadian screening of Ron Maxwell’s new civil war drama that is set to hit theaters at the end of this month! This film was shot entirely on location at the Kings Landing Historical Settlement near Fredericton last June. The historic settlement provided a ready-made set for the film that is unlike any civil war film before. I met with the director Ron Maxwell and some of the talented cast at the premiere. Check out all the interviews, and my in-depth coverage in the video below! You will also see behind the scenes footage and photos of the cast on set! You can even win yourself an awesome Copperhead movie prize pack by answering a question from the video!
Film #35 of 2013: Vertical Limit (2000)
Trapped near the summit of K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, Annie Garrett radios to base camp for help. Brother Peter hears Annie’s message and assembles a team to save her and her group before they succumb to K2’s unforgiving elements. But, as Annie lays injured in an icy cavern, the rescuers face several terrifying events that could end the rescue attempt — and their lives Stars: Scott Glenn, Chris O’Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin TunneyWith winter winding down I have been celebrating the last of a very long winter with some snow movies – Winter in Wartime, Alaska, and Vertical Limit.
This film, like Alaska, I had watched when it first came out but didn’t really remember much of it, so I watched it again in a high def on my big screen and that of course makes a big difference when you are watching all the breathtaking scenery of mountain climbers battling the elements!
This is a really exciting action film, and so far t I think has stood the test of time (it is now 13 years old!) Sure it is not perfect, I am sure it is full of inaccuracies and some of the effects at the begging were giveaway. But I like that at the heart of it is a brother stopping at nothing and putting himself in harms way to constantly save his sister.
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Film #34 of 2013: Foreverland (2011)
A young man with cystic fibrosis, along with the sister of a fallen friend, goes in search of a legendary healing shrine in Mexico.
Another Max Thieriot film! I guess I can’t get enough! I thought he was great in this Canadian film (go Canada!), that was a nice spiritual journey film. Showing that the journey is more important then the destination. I watched it during the day. I didn’t want to watch it before bed as I didn’t think I could handle Max’s character dying. In the final scene it is unclear if he does indeed live a full life or not, but it is a happy ending.
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Film #33 of 2013: Alaska (1996)
Jake Barnes and his two kids, Sean (Thora Birch) and Jessie (Vincent Kartheiser), have moved to Alaska after his wife died. He is a former airline pilot now delivering toilet paper (I kid you not) across the mountains. During an emergency delivery in a storm his plane goes down somewhere in the mountains. Annoyed that the authorities aren’t doing enough, Jessie and Sean set out on an adventure to find their father with the help of a polar bear which they have saved from a ferocious poacher. Conflict ensues.
This is an oldie but a goldie and features the newly engaged Vincent Kartheiser (who is going to marry Alexis Bledel). I remembered watching this when it first came out (I must have been 10 years old) and I always liked it. It is always interesting when you re-watch a movie because it is almost like you have never watched it before! It is that new of an experience, I didn’t really remember much of it. The brother and sister duo were so fearless, and the visuals were really beautiful, plus the polar bear was so cute! A nice relaxing film I watched the other evening before bed – however I tossed and turned all night for some reason…
Film #32 of 2013: The Family Tree (2011)
A mother and wife stricken with memory loss allows a dysfunctional family a second chance at harmony and happiness.
I don’t really know what to say about this film. This film had a lot of good actors in it but it just didn’t have that much emotion. It wasn’t really funny, sexy, or dark. It was just sort of all on the surface. I liked Britt Robertson and Max Thieriot’s performances however, and they were the main reason for watching and staying with the film. It is about a very dysfunctional family that will make yours seem normal!
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Film #31 of 2013: The First Time
A romantic comedy centered on the two high schoolers: Dave, who until now has pined for a girl he can’t have, and Aubrey, a creative type who’s dating a guy who doesn’t quite understand her.
This was an enjoyable teen movie that was reminiscent of those classic 80’s films. It was based heavily on dialogue but the actors did a great job of grabbing your attention. I just wish it would have had a bit more going on or something, I like what they were trying to achieve though but again in the end it was all about sex. LOL
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Film #30 of 2013: A Passionate Woman (2010)
Set in Leeds in the Fifties Cold War period, Billie Piper stars as Betty, a young wife and mother who reluctantly falls passionately and hopelessly in love with her charismatic Polish neighbour, Alex Crazenovski, played by Theo James. But little does Betty know that some 30 years later, in Eighties Thatcherite Britain, her affair will implode on her beloved son Mark’s wedding day.
Great romantic film with Theo James and Billie Piper. Did I mention Theo James? Too bad he wasn’t in the second half, but the second half was interesting too as it showed that even though you might be in a passionate relationship with someone, it may not stand the test of time.
Film #29 of 2013: Parental Guidance (2012)
Artie and Diane agree to look after their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents need to leave town for work. Problems arise when the kids’ 21st-century behavior collides with Artie and Diane’s old-school methods.
Cute, sometimes smart, sometimes gross family fun film. It started out a lot more intelligent at the beginning then turned into a more generic movie you have seen a thousand times. I liked how they brought in the new technical world (smart house, email, twitter, facebook) and think it should have focused on that a bit more. It was so funny when Crysta’s character doesn’t know what his boss referring to when he mentions “hash tagging” and “poking.” The funniest parts were one of the kids wanting to watch the “Saw” films, the tofu and the almond milk!
Film #28 of 2013: The Call (2013)
A veteran 911 operator must confront a killer from the past to save a young girl’s life.
I don’t believe in call waiting because I rushed to the theater to see The Call during opening weekend.I went and saw it in an absolutely jam packed theater on my birthday, and I must say my expectations were pretty low because I didn’t find the trailer that captivating. I thought it was going to be a “Speed” wannabe and have a typical, predictable plot. Boy was I wrong! It was freaking awesome and way better then trailer lets it out to be. It looks like it is just going to be a car chase movie with a kidnapped girl stuck in the truck the whole time (and while that is also true) it is so much more then that. Be sure not to answer your phone during this movie. You won’t want to miss a second.
If you think this is a Scream copy think again – although you might find yourself screaming! There are some similarities however between The Call and Scream like the phone connection, one of the main characters being called Casey, the recurrence of a one liner (“do you like scary movies”/”it’s already done”) and even the poster is a bit reminiscent.
This film has everything a good thriller should have – amazing acting, thrills, and great character development on both sides of the “good” and “evil” spectrum. There are some really scary and intense scenes a horror fan will also love, the woman in front of me kept going “oh my god!”
The film delivered on the real substance of being a 911 Dispatcher, something rarely shown in thrillers. It gave the audience a look into the real moment to moment split second decisions made by these seldom praised messengers of help. Halle Berry was spot on in her portrayal of Jordan – the 911 operator.
Berry, who has a knack for finding the toughness beneath vulnerability, and vice versa delivers a tense and unfussy performance. She gets support from Denise Dowse as a co-worker and Roma Maffia (Nip Tuck, Nick of Time) as her supervisor. Jordan is a cop’s daughter who’s dating Paul (also a cop) and following their make-out session on the balcony of the call center during her break, Jordan receives an emergency call from a terrified girl whose home is being broken into. Jordan does her best to help, but after a series of instructions and a fatal mistake, the killer takes the phone and speaks words that will be repeated throughout the film – “it’s already done.” Later we find out that the girl has been murdered, as a news clip shows her dead body at the scene of the crime (which I have never seen in real life on the news yet!) Of course Jordan blames herself and this riveting scene pulls you into the story and hooks your attention for what’s to come.
Jordan returns to the high-wire stress of the phones when teenager Casey Welson (played by Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin) calls from the trunk of a car. We find out later, that she has been abducted by the same deranged man with a plan. Conveniently for the film, Casey is using a prepaid and disposable phone, making her location harder to trace and thereby drawing out the tension. Listen for fitting music like “Puttin’ On the Ritz” to be thumping inside the car (this also is useful as the kidnapper can’t hear the 911 calls Casey is making).
This lifeline connection between Jordan and Casey is the heart of the film. Jordan talking Casey through this harrowing nightmare doesn’t even begin to describe the 96 minutes of insanity you’re in for when you go see The Call. Most of the film takes place in either the 911 call center (aka “the hive”) or the inside of the trunk, yet the film is never dull with action being delivered by the second.
What I really enjoyed about the film was how they had an interesting back story for the “bad guy” Michael Foster, played by Canadian actor Michael Eklund. I recognized him right away from his work in Blood Ties, Walk All Over Me, and The Divide. This sort of Norman Bates mentally unstable character is really fun to watch. He was really believable (as he always is) as the sick and twisted abductor and serial killer. They could have just had it be a random killer with no motive, no back story, and whom lived alone in a rundown apartment. Instead it was more chilling because the psycho was a suburban family man, a seemingly “normal” guy.
When Casey gets abducted I knew he had some reason to want girls with blonde hair, because as his previous victim had blonde hair as well. He could have easily killed her many times during the drive, but he didn’t. It is also interesting why he went for her and not her friend, since her friend left alone too – I guess she wasn’t blonde enough!
[I knew I should have used the mahogany red hair dye!]
The film takes huge turn (and becomes reminiscent of House at the End of the Street) when we learn Michael had a sister he was very close to. Paul is shown looking at pictures in the abductors (rather large and quite nice) house when he sees a shrine to his deceased sister. We see throughout the film many shots of her and Michael and his sister together. She is beautiful and has long blonde hair. (Dah dah dah dah!)
Through the police interviewing Michael wife (who is seemingly oblivious to the whole thing) we learn that he may be at a remote cabin. Micheal’s childhood home burned down, but a nearby secondary cottage still stands. Michael’s wife was under the assumption he had been renovating it – the only thing he is renovating is his warped mind! The police raid the cottage but find no one. Jordan is mentally forlorn by the prospect of a second failure to save a girl from Michael, and takes matters into her own hands going to the cabin for clues. While there, she finds photographs of Michael and his sister, but this time she is sick in a hospital bed and has lost her hair. Jordan is stunned when she finds a photograph of him kissing her on the mouth.
Recognizing the sound of a flagpole from the final moments of the 911 call, Jordan finds a hidden trap door amongst the dirt where the primary house used to stand. She pulls it open and finds a rickety ladder leading down into blackness. She takes out her cellphone to dial 911 (hello full circle moment) and accidentally fumbles it into the pit. She decides to go down into the blackness and from there we are led into the darkness of Michael’s psyche.
Combining clues from the second half of the film as well as observations of Michael in the cellar, you realize Michael had romantic feelings towards his sister and wanted to marry her. It shows him taking off his wedding ring and putting it on a glass hand next to her photo. It is unclear if she felt the same about him. Michael’s deep, dark, borderline incestuous secrets involving the sister he idolized are the reason for him kidnapping young girls. He is trying desperately to get her back in some way.
Michael also has a prop head that he treats like his sister, but he needs a replacement for her hair. He’s apparently been taking the scalps of the girls who have hair similar to his sister’s. So far, their hair have not been close enough, leading to repeated killings.
When the (now scantly-clad) Casey briefly gets away and sneaks into a room in the killers lair she sees something horrifying and screams. You’re not gonna want to see that,” he tells Casey, denying us the scary sight. By delaying our gratification, he makes us eager to return to the room. Later we do indeed see what was so terrifying. It isn’t what you would expect – a bloody head or a corpse…it is a bloody bed. This is the room where he keeps her photographs, mementos, and her clothes (that he is shown inhaling deeply.)
Jordan finds Casey tied in the cellar as Michael is about to scalp her (good timing!). He shows some remorse for his actions but says he can’t stop. Jordan attacks him, freeing Casey. Casey and Jordan fight against Michael and manage to knock him out. People in the theater applauded at this, I thought we were close to a standing ovation!
Jordan and Casey want him to suffer the way he has made others suffer so they tie him up in the cellar where they abandon him to die. They tell him they will use the cover story that Casey escaped and they don’t know where her abductor went. “It’s already done” Jordan tells him as she slams the door. It is unclear if they are just trying to scare him and will eventually call the police (since at the present time she can’t get a signal), or if in fact they are really going to leave him in his own dungeon where there is no escape for him unless he is Houdini.
It is a real hoot when the disbelieving killer confronts the suddenly unstoppable Halle Berry.”You’re just an operator,” he protests. “You can’t do this!” He says. In the movies, she can!
Film #27 of 2013: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
In 1968, a Czech doctor with an active sex life meets a woman who wants monogamy, and then the Soviet invasion further disrupts their lives.
Keeping my Daniel Day-Lewis marathon going, thought this would be a good and sexy film but it was actually kind of weird because it was almost like 3 movies in 1 – a raunchy movie with women showing their private parts a lot, a war film, and then at the end a family dog film! It is based on a book that I have not read, so perhaps that is why I felt it was missing something. I still like what it stood for and it was very cinematic and intriguing. DDDL was good in it, I just found the film kind of disjointed or something. It was no 9 1/2 weeks! But I still wouldn’t mind DDL being my doctor!
Juliette Binoche and Daniel Day Lewis in The Unbearable Lightness of Being.