Ewan McGregor

The absolute worst thing you could say about Steven Soderbergh’s latest film is that its lead, Gina Carano, is consistently out-acted by Channing Tatum. On its surface and for obvious reasons that’s a pretty damning statement. But when viewed as a whole performer instead of just an actress you quickly realize that Carano has a very particular set of other skills. Skills she has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make her a nightmare for people like Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and other male stars with recognizably pretty faces. A nightmare for them, but entertaining as hell for the rest of us.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in his favorite Jedi robe, grabs his lightsaber and heads out to see the latest George Lucas movie…and boy does he look stupid. After realizing that Red Tails has nothing to do with the color of creatures’ backsides in the Tattooine cantina, he then dresses in his favorite “Team Jacob” tee shirt to see the latest vampire/werewolf movie. Again, he looks ridiculous. Finally, he sulks into a movie theater showing the new Steven Soderbergh film, falls in love with new action star Gina Carano and is happy.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Audiences have been eagerly awaiting the release of soon-to-be retired (or so was once widely claimed) Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, Haywire, after advanced screenings confirmed what the trailer suggested – a literally kick-ass time at the movies. Starring a Hollywood unknown, Gina Carano is known more for her mixed martial arts skills and those skills are put to the test on the big screen as she goes up against a powerful boys club comprised of the likes of Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Fassbender. Playing a black ops solider betrayed by her company, Carano is forced to not only figure out why she was double crossed, but do so while trying to keep herself from being killed in the process (and leaving an impressive body count of her own in her wake.) Soderbergh turned to composer David Holmes to create the musical landscape for a film that is not only action-packed, but also dramatic, thrilling, emotional, even funny at times and overall – fun. But what made this film such a fun time at the movies? Many factors of course (the story, the actors, the direction), but the element that seemed to keep this idea of playfulness running throughout was provided by the score, and almost subconsciously so. Holmes is no stranger to scoring a film that flips the script every other scene and forces the audience to not only try and keep up with the action, but unravel the truth behind the story as well. He […]

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It’s really a shame. One of the positive by-products of the studio system’s reluctance to hire strong, visioned directors has been a decent uptick in actors and writers stepping into the director’s chair. They’re being welcomed, and those uninterested in the mainstream are also putting their own blood, sweat, and financing into making art their own way. Sadly, not all projects will make it through. According to Cinema Blend, that’s the story with Ewan McGregor‘s directorial debut – a story about a 1968 yacht race. Apparently someone else got to the idea (legally) before he did. In a statement to Nylon Guys Magazine, the actor said, “My wife was going to design it, I wasn’t going to be in it. And then I found out someone else is doing it. I was gutted.” I find myself gutted, too, because McGregor is the kind of talent that seems like he could beautifully translate to the language behind the camera. Fortunately, this isn’t the end of the story. This particular project might be gone (or it might always return…), but McGregor is intent on finding a solid subject matter and taking his first turn calling out “Action!”. Hopefully he finds something worthwhile soon.

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Director Lasse Hallström’s newest picture, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, is about an eccentric sheik who loves fishing so much he’s willing to pay obscene amounts of money to create a permanent river in the deserts of Yemen, stocked with salmon. It then becomes up to his legal council to find a fisheries expert who can make it happen. And here we have the set-up for a really boring movie. Except, watching the trailer, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen doesn’t seem boring at all. Most of that probably has to do with the fact that the legal council and the fisheries expert are played by Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, two actors with more charm in their fingernails than most people have in their whole bodies. I kind of have big crushes on both of them, so watching McGregor play nervous and proper, and Blunt playing blunt and driven, and seeing the two of them turn banter into romance…well, it all just seems to be too cute for words. Add in Kristin Scott Thomas as a sassy newspaper woman with shady motives, and this may be a movie with too much charm for its own good.

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Did you not already get your fill of the Jack and the Beanstalk myth from this year’s Puss in Boots? Good, because Bryan Singer has his own (live-action) take on the tale, and the results look to be similarly cartoonish. Listen, you try to make magic beans look menacing while also crafting a giant goddamn beanstalk that pops up out of the ground without it looking totally bizarre and silly, okay? Oh, you did already? Oh. Oh, that looks nice! While there was a fair bit of buzz around Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer before the film blossomed into existence (see what I did there?) mainly regarding Singer talking about the project for over two years, casting rumors as to who would be starring as the titular Jack (Aaron Johnson and Andrew Garfield were both talked about before the role went to another superhero kiddo, X-Men: First Class‘s Nicholas Hoult), and a delay that pushed the film back almost a year, news on the project has been surprisingly scarce since it started filming earlier this year. So what’s the finished result of the classic tale reimagined going to look like? Well, if you believe this trailer, a bit like a cross between Puss and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Check out the first trailer for Jack the Giant Killer, complete with its own big-eyed orange kitty (seriously), after the break.

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Super-producer Scott Rudin has been trying to get Jonathan Franzen’s much-lauded novel, “The Corrections,” to the screen for nearly a decade, and it’s finally starting to come together, though possibly in a different format than fans of the book may have first expected. Rudin has been working with Noah Baumbach on adapting the novel for the small screen, in the form of an HBO series. Though the exact specifications of the series’ format is not yet known (episode length, frequency, if the series will run in a limited capacity for a set number of episodes, who else would direct episodes), the cast is steadily rounding out. The book focuses on the Lambert family, and Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest were previously announced to play the parents at the center, Alfred and Enid Lambert. But what of their wayward children? Deadline Wickenburg is reporting that Ewan McGregor is on board to play middle child Chip, “a Marxist academic who lost his tenure-track position over an affair with a student and now works for a Lithuanian crime boss defrauding American investors.” Wait, does that sound messed up and weird? Yeah, meet the Lamberts – a severely dysfunctional American family of five. The Corrections slides back and forth through time periods and is told through the voices of different members of the family (Albert, Enid, Chip, and the other two kids, Gary and Denise). While it’s not immediately clear just what went so wrong within and for the family, the novel gradually unveils […]

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Moving away from the feature-length hand sanitizer commercial that was this year’s Contagion, director Steven Soderbergh returns to the screen with another one of his trademark all-star cast outings, but one with significantly more ass-kicking delivered at the hands (and feet) of a particularly-picked leading lady. In Haywire, Soderbergh lets loose cinematic newcomer Gina Carano, a real-life MMA fighter who can more than hold her own with the boys club that rounds out the film’s cast (including Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and Bill Paxton). Packaged as a double-crossing spy thriller, Haywire is big on impressive and crowd-pleasing fight scenes, but the film fizzles when it comes to delivering a particularly clever story for all those flying fists to play out against. The meat of Haywire’s plot is just a standard double-cross story that’s pumped up with the sort of stylistic flash and flair that Soderbergh can deliver handily. Carano plays a highly skilled ex-Marine who now works in the “private sector” on black ops jobs that involves messy endeavors like extraction and assassination. Carano’s Mallory Kane is very good at her job, good enough that she’s often a special request (an “essential element”) for a number of her company’s various contracts, a fact that irks her boss and ex-flame Kenneth (McGregor). Mallory is dispatched for an extraction job in Barcelona that goes well enough, but her performance there directly leads into her next job, a gig that’s ostensibly presented as glorified babysitting, done in […]

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While nudity is generally regarded as an awesome thing, the fact of the matter is that it’s just not necessary for a lot of movies. Enter the gratuitous nude scene, where an actress strips down to her birthday suit for reasons completely unrelated to the plot. Frequently, these roles are covered by B- and C-list stars who like to add an extra zero to their check in exchange for giving the movie-going audience a thrill. While many big name actresses refuse to do nudity — a totally respectable choice, don’t get me wrong — some change their minds when there’s a chance their career can benefit from it. When those women go for a gratuitous nude scene, it usually takes one of four forms:

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Movies We Love

The year was 2005 and Michael Bay was looking to try something new… Sort of. He was looking to try his hand at a genre he had never attempted before, Sci-Fi. So what did he do? Why, he surrounded himself with some of the people that do it best, of course. Some of those people being Steven Spielberg, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. And what did the combination of these four titans give us? Why, Michael Bay’s only box-office disappointment but most under rated film, The Island. I didn’t have the opportunity to catch The Island until three years later however when I was first starting to realize my passion for all things Michael Bay. But even on DVD I knew that this was a special film. It was a film that contained a little bit of everything and yet managed to make it, it’s own.

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Film festivals always seem to end up with a few paint by numbers indie films. Throw in an angsty 30-something unhappy with his life, an awkward relationship with a cute girl and a few gay characters and you have Beginners, or any number of other quirky indie dramedies you might have seen. Despite a pretty stellar cast including Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent, Mike Mills’s movie is a bland and pretentious film that doesn’t add up to much. The film focuses primarily on McGregor’s Oliver, the aforementioned angsty 30-something who’s been thrown into a bit of an existential crisis by the last few years of his father’s life. After the death of his mother, his father Hal finally has the courage to tell Oliver that he’s gay and has been his whole life. With no one to embarrass or disappoint with his true self, Hal lives his remaining few years out in the open enjoying and celebrating who he is, dating a much younger man while organizing parties and pride marches and letter writing campaigns to right wing politicians. But eventually Hal succumbs to the cancer that has riddled his body and the party is over. The film begins with Oliver cleaning out his father’s stuff after his death, but a good portion of the story takes place in flashbacks showing Hal’s last few years as well as some of Oliver’s childhood and his relationship with his mother.

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Mike Mills‘s latest film, Beginners, bares many similarities to his directorial debut, Thumbsucker. Both films are personal tales from the acclaimed filmmaker, they cover similar thematics, and are honest and, somewhat, dark stories told in a heightened manner. That style is mostly due to, as Mills claims, his art background. Nearly every frame in Beginners feels precise and beautifully composed. The auteur director has a style of his own, despite all the inspirations he mentions in our chat. Woody Allen is definitely the clearest influence, but this is the type of film that even Allen himself hasn’t made in quite some time. Here’s what director Mike Mills had to say about losing a father, finding financing, and creating art.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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A trailer for the new film from Thumbsucker director Mike Mills has hit the web. It’s called Beginners and stars Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, and Mélanie Laurent. Beginners tells the story of a father and son, both trying to find their places in the world, the cute little dog that’s going to run along beside them and make everybody’s girlfriend want to see the movie, and the hot chick from Inglorious Basterds that’s going to get their boyfriends to agree.  It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, and is set for release in US theaters on June 3rd. Check out the trailer for yourself after the jump.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr thumbs his nose at the major studio releases like The Warrior’s Way and The Nutcracker in 3D. Not only do they look like direct-to-DVD releases at best and stinkers of the year at worst, the studios didn’t let him see any of them. So he turns his sights on some award-bait films in limited release: Black Swan and I Love You, Phillip Morris.

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Movies just don’t typically exhibit the wild, go for broke attitude on full display in I Love You Phillip Morris and get away with it. So it’s no surprise that distributors had no idea how to handle the movie, which premiered at Sundance in 2009, or that it’s run through a ringer of missed release dates and legal action before finally hitting theaters this weekend. Yet, somehow, co-writers/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have turned a script comprised of wildly fluctuating tones, divergent scenes of broad comic flourishes and carefully calibrated drama, satire mixed with heartfelt personal insight, into a final product that’s a sharp, smart comedy. The rails could have come off Phillip Morris in so many ways, it’s a veritable miracle that the film sticks together as well as it does.

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Fans hoping that Terry Gilliam might have finally gotten The Man Who Killed Don Quixote off the ground can hang their heads in disbelief today. The director announced to Variety that financing fell through a month and a half ago. He’s still got Robert Duvall and Ewan McGregor on board, is dreaming the impossible dream, and he’s looking for more financing, so if you have a few spare bucks… If not, at least go watch Lost in La Mancha in mourning.

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by presenting a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t stick your penis in our anus. Part 26 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Obstacles To Love” with I Love You Phillip Morris.

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Great movies come from all around the world, and so do great DVDs and Blu-rays. Import This! is an irregular feature here at FSR that highlights discs and/or movies unavailable in the US that are worth seeking out for fans of fantastic cinema. Jim Carrey was one of the biggest box-office draws in Hollywood once upon a time, but recent years have seen a perceived slide in popularity. ‘Perceived’ because his last two live-action comedies aren’t considered hits by many people, but they collectively grossed over $400 million worldwide. And yet his latest comedy, one that’s both critically acclaimed and the funniest film he’s done in years, can’t find a distributor in the US. Steven Russell (Carrey) is a god-fearing, happily married family man. Except that he isn’t. A near-death experience forces him to re-evaluate his life and be true to who he really is… and that’s a gay man with flexible morals. Russell heads off to Miami, falls for a younger man, and proceeds to scam and con his way into a lifestyle that he can’t actually afford. His world crashes down when he’s arrested and thrown in jail, but his spirits are soon lifted when he meets and falls madly in love with Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). His number one priority becomes staying in Morris’ life, and if that means using his conman skills to arrange transfers, early releases, new homes, and more, then that’s a risk he’ll happily assume for love.

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Ewan McGregor has replaced Johnny Depp in Terry Gilliam’s newest attempt to bring his film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to life.

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