Actor Interview: Aussie Paul Eenhoorn talks ‘Land Ho!’

Experienced Aussie actor Paul Eenhoorn was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk about his most recent role as Colin in last summer’s delightful and breezy buddy-comedy adventure Land Ho! The film tells the story of two former brothers-in-law, Colin and Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) who take a much-needed trip to Iceland to escape the humdrum of their daily lives back in the States. He also opens up about his experience in the industry, his move from Australia to Seattle and what it was like filming in Iceland.

Other notable performances of his include the titular lead in Chad Hartigan’s 2013 drama This Is Martin Bonner; as Hugh in the 2011 heist/adventure Rogue Saints; and as a Lead Detective in the controversial 2007 documentary Zoo. He’s known mostly for his affable, charming personas but he has had the opportunity to take a villainous part before and did so in the 2004 family comedy Max Rules.


Getting to visit different parts of the world to tell stories is part of the trade. You went all the way to Iceland to tell this one. I would imagine you enjoy traveling, would that be a fair assessment? Travel is the best but when you’re shooting all you get to see is locations and the road there and back. Most times that is at ungodly hours, but with Iceland we really hauled all over to get to locations. Some of which have untended roads after September so it was rough at time. Still you can’t visit Iceland and not love it.

What was it that caught your eye about this project? (If all it took was the fact you’d be getting to go to this exotic location, I wouldn’t blame you. . .) I wanted to work with Martha Stevens and Aaron Katz, they are the new wave of directors coming up. Plus the production company Gamechanger Films offered me a reasonable deal so how could I say no.

Beyond the distinct personalities, what struck me early on was the camaraderie you and Earl Lynn Nelson shared. It was as though you weren’t given a script and were instead improvising much of the dialogue. In fact, the exchanges were such that I was convinced you two had been life-long friends (despite the script having you play former brothers-in-law). Had you known Nelson before shooting the film or was it more of a ‘learn-on-the-go’ kind of experience? If you’re an actor in film you have to form that connection, with people you don’t know, otherwise it falls flat. I didn’t know Earl Lynn but we spent a weekend shooting the opening scenes and we did  Iceland a few months later . . .

One of the things that really made Land Ho! an enjoyable diversion was the unique and picturesque setting. With principal photography lasting a bit over two weeks and occurring in seven cities, including the capital port city of Reykjavík, I’d imagine the shoot introduced some challenges. What was the experience like? Were there any unique challenges of filming a movie there? It was a twenty day shoot with a couple of days off here and there. The main problem for me was that it was cold all the time. It was fall there. I pulled a muscle in my thigh and I couldn’t work it off. Basically the conditions were rugged and I wasn’t prepared for the cold at all . . .

Tell me a little bit about your character Mitch. Is he anything like you? Colin is introspective which I am at times but I’m more like Mitch in ways except I don’t do anatomy jokes . . . 

You hail from Australia but now are based out of Seattle. Has moving to the States opened up more opportunities for you? Do you have plans to return to Australia at any point? Seattle isn’t L.A. but then that’s good at times too. The quality of life in Seattle is more to my liking, And yes the U.S. offers far more opportunity than Australia I’m sorry to say. I will head back to Australia one day . . . it’s a great place to live.

Seattle is most definitely known for the iconic bands and musicians that call the city their home. I’ve visited a few times myself and have always been fascinated with how much of a cultural melting pot it really is, though I have never stopped to consider its influence on the film industry. Could you describe what it’s like living there as an actor? I’ve shot a lot in Seattle but I had to travel to L.A. to get my first break on Chad Hartigan’s film This Is Martin Bonner. L.A. is the center of the filmmaking universe though Seattle production values are fast catching up. I do other things to make money and I would rather do that close to home base than in L.A.

In the film Earl Lynn Nelson plays a rather outgoing man, a retired doctor looking to keep himself busy in retirement. I understand this role was his very first. What was it like working with him? He seems like a pretty easy guy to get along with. Earl Lynn is very consistent, you know what you’re going to get from him so that made my job easier, if you call shooting any film easy. He did do a few gigs with Martha Stevens before this one.

What was it that got you into acting? Any family influences? Nope. I started shooting television when I was younger, I was in a band too so I always knew I wanted to act. My mom was a ballerina so that may be an influence . . .

What does the future look like for you? Do you have any current projects in the works? We have shot the opening of my next film Pendulum and we will be playing that in L.A. in late October. We are looking for funding. It’s a totally different part from Martin Bonner and Land Ho! Which is a good thing I think. I have not seen the cut but we are doing a cast and crew screening the second week of October.

I would like to thank Mr. Eenhoorn for taking the time out of his schedule to talk to me. Be sure to keep an eye out for Land Ho!, which is now available to stream online or rent through several DVD vendors including RedBox. Meanwhile, I will be seeking out Pendulum in the coming months. 


All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.imdb.com; Paul Eenhoorn 

Land Ho!

118293_ori

Release: Friday, July 11, 2014 (limited)

[Theater]

As much a gorgeous postcard from the Icelandic coast, Land Ho! also serves as a warm, sentimental comedy about taking advantage of time we can almost measure out in handfuls. In a perpetual disappearing act, it is a hell of a precious thing.

Fittingly, this neat and trim 90-minute package is mindful of that fact. Land Ho!, the cumulative effort of co-writer/directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, neither taxes viewers’ patience nor does it overwhelm the senses unnecessarily. Conversely, you would also have to be knocked-out cold to not appreciate the pragmatism on display — there are no frills here. Growing old may be the natural way of things, but it sure ain’t easy, as this geriatric odd-couple will attest.

Meet loud and audacious Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) and meek and mild-mannered Colin (Paul Eenhoorn), formerly brothers-in-law but recently removed after Mitch’s sister divorces Colin, an occurrence that happens before the film starts rolling. We first see the two convening at Mitch’s humble abode where the two catch up after whiling away many an hour on their lonesome. To get Colin’s mind off of things — not only has he recently been divorced, his wife prior to that passed away much too soon — Mitch has a trip to Iceland planned where they will get away from everything.

The goal is complete detachment from their former selves, to openly embrace whatever comes next. In a sense, this is a send-up of a desire to live fast, die young and worry about the boring stuff we missed later. The irony’s captured in all aspects of this adventure, especially with a 60-something-year-old Mitch whose number one priority seemingly is getting laid. But really though, shouldn’t it be these older gents who earn the right to openly embrace “YOLO” as an actual fact of being?

Earl Lynn Nelson, in his break-out performance is an infectious spirit that perpetuates Land Ho!‘s energy and boundless optimism. He is positively compelling as the geriatric go-getter, even if his commentary at times can fall on the side of sleazy when it comes to talking about women. On offer as well are breathtaking vistas and an absolutely sublime soundtrack, but the chemistry between the pair of “elderly” men reigns supreme. (Although, it’ll be difficult to exit the theater without humming some of the tunes that also happen to strengthen this picture via being laid over several richly visual interludes. Likewise you’ll be forgiven for immediately Googling Iceland when you return home from seeing this one.)

Beginning at the capital port city of Reykjavík our map sprawls outward, encapsulating some classic tourist destinations like the black sand beaches, towering geysers and of course, the hot springs as made famous (and slightly dramatized by) this particular movie poster. Our protagonists make friends with a few locals: a couple who are honeymooning in the quaint bed-and-breakfast Colin and Mitch are inhabiting inadvertently become the direct recipient of Mitch’s advice on successful long-term marriages. Meanwhile, Colin strikes the iron hot with a Canadian photographer while taking a dip in the hot spring-fed rivers nearby Landmannalaugar.

While conversation strictly adheres to matters of practicality and even fatalism — the duo’s rumination on loneliness and wondering where this path ultimately takes them very much mirrors our own — atmosphere and musical selection will distract just enough to never allow the moment to settle too heavily. At times Land Ho! possesses an air of fantasy, as its almost too difficult to believe the turns of fate these two share.

Yet the laughs spill forth freely and come at times at the expense of these good people. Sight gags are in abundance, as are those of an intellectual, buy-into-the-rapport variety. We experience a range of emotion in good old Colin who eventually learns to embrace his surroundings. Watching him cave and take a hit off a joint the size of something Bob Marley would roll isn’t exactly revelatory but it’s the kick in the pants this character needs. There’s also somewhat of a comfort in knowing this would happen sooner or later. Yes, extensive character development is something you will not find but the changes that occur are sufficient enough.

In the end, you must embrace this film in the same way Mitch is embracing a new life as a retired doctor; as Colin, a wounded soul still reaching out for something to make him strong. Dispense with the over-thinking and just go with the flow. I’m not exactly sure how that applies to your viewing habits or how you approach this film but the less you think about Land Ho! and its constant retread of the tracks laid down by road trip movies that have come before, the better you will be for it.

Land-Ho-Movie

3-5Recommendation: If searching for truly unspoiled territory, the quiet musings of Land Ho! will not be the trip you need to take. Avoiding it on that basis is a choice that will dismiss this film entirely too prematurely, however. You should see this film for a stellar first lead performance from Nelson and the absolutely killer scenery he treads across with his bestest buddy. Its thematic presentation is perhaps a tad overwhelmed by said gorgeous visuals, but I find that one of the most acceptable issues to have in a film.

Rated: R

Running Time: 95 mins.

Quoted: “You know that a lighthouse looks just like a hard cock but with no balls. . . ?”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

secret_life_of_walter_mitty_ver6

Release: Christmas Day 2013

[Theater]

By the seem of things, Mr. Stiller has been secretly getting all the little memos we, the patient viewers, have continued to slip underneath his door over the years, beseeching, imploring the actor to put his dormant dramatic sensibilities to good use for once — actually act in a movie instead of being the butt of everyone’s jokes. His directorial return with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty confirms that he’s been taking heed of the advice, because not only is this movie one of the more unique experiences of the year, Ben Stiller is simply wonderful as the titular lead character.

An odd little man, Walter is by all accounts Stiller at his best. His hunched demeanor packs all of his signature quirks into a nervous frame, a character that immediately screams ‘introvert,’ but in a fascinating, charming way. As a performer, Stiller hasn’t been this affable in years.

As a director, he might not have been better, either; although his Tropic Thunder was a stroke of genius in itself. Walter’s a difficult man to gauge because he’s perpetually lost in thought, and what’s more, his modest real-world status as a photo-negative developer at Life Magazine, operating out of the building’s dingy basement, is comically off-set by this tendency of his to daydream on a large, epic scale.

It’s quite clear he couldn’t resist exploiting this particularly inventive aspect to his retelling of the 1939 James Thurber short story.

Within the opening half hour we go on a number of mini-adventures that yank us out of the otherwise pretty poorly-written ‘present day’ narrative and into a world only a man like Walter Mitty could dream up. In these moments he can survive falling out of skyscrapers, jump as if he were on the moon, and take on any foe with confidence; he’s also a bona fide Romeo, dramatically courting his real-world crush Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig) and can speak different languages. These moments are so immersive as to almost cause panic early on, begging the question of whether Stiller has enough material as a director to sustain this film’s fantastical elements for nearly two hours.

Though the second act snaps out of this crazy daydreaming phase, and ‘panic’ suddenly becomes a pretty glaring exaggeration. Stiller fortunately wrings out just enough entertaining interaction with supporting characters in some gorgeous locations to tip the scales in favor of Walter Mitty‘s decidedly more conventional, but equally endearing latter half.

When Mitty’s daydreaming is one day matched by his real-world experiences as he goes on a worldwide hunt for one of Life’s staff photographers, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), the true joy of this film begins. It is his negative that he must develop for the last printed edition of Life magazine and his jerk of a boss has threatened him multiple times about it.

Adam Scott provides the film’s greatest flaw in the over-acted and overly aggressive Ted Hendricks, the self-proclaimed “director of the transition” — a man whose only interest is publishing all content online now. He couldn’t care less about the current staff, and much less the awkward Mitty, who is supposed to be providing the cover photo of this last physical edition. In the process of trying to recover this photo (and thus an attempt to keep himself employed), Mitty embarks on a trip to the isolated regions of Greenland and later, Iceland by way of dumb luck but moreover a newfound determination to do something with his life.

The pace at which his life suddenly changes is inspiring and uplifting, and the second act and into the third provides a wonderful montage of beautiful landscapes and free-flowing travel sequences that instantly seduce viewers into believing they’re on this journey with Mitty. The events may happen rather conveniently, haphazardly. Sometimes the plot develops to a degree that can possibly strain credulity.

But just as Walter Mitty is spurred to move on from spot to spot, so must anyone trying to allow themselves to enjoy the spectacle. Sure this story is bound together rather flimsily and certain characters are better written than others — Stiller and Wiig turn out to be a surprisingly romantic pairing, as an example — but nitpicking the details to this wonderful adventure film is like spitting in a child’s face. You just don’t do it.

Stiller’s latest film is kind-hearted and well-intentioned, even if imperfect. It’s a journey that should be given further credit for remaining within the family-friendly PG-rating, which — especially from a comedic standpoint — can technically be viewed as a further restriction on particular content Stiller could have used. It’s safely inside, though there are one or two moments where there’s some obvious holding back.

All the same, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is successful since it balances a great amount of fanciful drama with Stiller’s welcomed quirky and more rugged appeal so the moments that don’t quite work are instantly overshadowed by some wonderful moments — arguably some of 2013’s finest. This is a life that most people are going to want to know the secret to making for themselves.

2013-07-30-secret_life_of_walter_mitty-e1375223868319

3-5Recommendation: A very nice (re?)turn for Stiller in a decidedly more mature and likable role that is enhanced by his own directorial oversight. Performances all around are strong, and Wiig offers a charming performance that helps to reflect Stiller’s conscientious awkwardness. Combine the two leads’ steadily more compelling repartee with the fascinating backdrops and you’ve got one of the most interesting and genuine films of the holiday season.

Rated: PG

Running Time: 125 mins.

Quoted: “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com