Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reel Insight Episode 71: Ewan McGregor

Our first episode of 2012 was so much fun to record. I hope you have as good a time listening - might I recommend some alcohol?  We talk about what we've been up to (Any suggestions for my upcoming 30 days of Oscar posts are most welcome) and what we've seen lately (Larry Crowne and Wild Target).  Our random segment this week is because Rachel "has a burr in her ass" about some of the new technology issues that are pissing her off.  Let us know what you think about them.  Then we get into a pretty funny star of the week discussion about Ewan McGregor (the young Obi-Wan himself).  Let us know what you think - send us an e-mail at Reel Insight at gmail.

New movies with Ewan McGregor
The Island - This movie sticks in your head.  The basic premise is that society has evolved to a point where we can create clones to provide organs when aging or accident strips humans of health.  However, the company that promises organs to the very wealthy can't just grow organs without the person around them, which is against society's rules.  So these clones are raised in secret and in order to keep them complacent underground, they are told that the world has been contaminated and they must live underground and stay away from one another.  However, they can win the lottery and go to "The Island", a preserved paradise.  McGregor and Scarlett Johanssen live in this society, and when ScarJo wins the lottery, McGregor has to figure out what to do - go with her or break out.  Lots of questions about what it means to be a clone or to create "slaves", and quite a few really good action sequences.  I liked this much more than I thought I would.  4 of 5 stars/lambs

Brassed Off - A very British indie-type love story drama about a brass band made up of coal miners in England.  They're in danger of the Tories closing their mine and being out of work, and the town closing up.  But they play on. McGregor is the romantic lead, but Pete Postlethwaite is the band's conductor and is the main driver of the story.  Charming, and terrific soundtrack of Brass Band music.  4 of 5 stars/lambs

Trainspotting - I remember watching this in college a LOT.  But I can't say I remembered it.  And now I can't figure out why I would watch this many many times over. Every few decades, definitely, but several times in a year?  It's so bizarre - and I know that's the point.  Danny Boyle's heroin-induced look at a group of losers who are trying to make their way in the world.  McGregor narrates the story (which definitely inspired Aranofsky's Requiem for a Dream) of him trying to get off drugs, and then the strong desire to get back on them.  There are a lot of amazing actors I would never have known back then, but are common now (Johnny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, Kelly McDonald among many others you'll recognize).  A really terrific beginning (whether it was or not) for them all, strong acting, insanity, and a wonderfully crafted movie that sticks with you for ages. 5 of 5 stars, for being awesome, not because I liked it.

Beginners - I have heard a lot about this movie, particularly Christopher Plummer's performance.  But other than than I have trouble understanding what they loved about this movie.  McGregor is the son of a man who after his wife's death tells his son he's gay, and goes into the lifestyle with a vengeance.  Sadly, that exploration is cut short by cancer.  The movie is told in flashbacks, with the current story a romance between McGregor and Melanie Laurent (who I really want to be my friend, she seems awesome!).  The continuity between the two stories is the terrier, Arthur, that is particularly needy and cannot be left alone, so he's in most scenes.  If the dog hadn't been there, I would have had a hard time enjoying the film.  It's fairly slowly paced, and ultimately is pretty depressing when you think about this man who raised a son and had a wife for so much of his life living a lie about himself.  They try to explore that dichotomy - it seems McGregor's obsession for much of the film - but it ultimately didn't get very far.  Good, but not great.  3 of 5 stars/lambs

Deception - Very odd thriller co-starring Hugh Jackman as a bad guy, and Michelle Williams as the love interest.  Lots of stolen identities, an anonymous sex-club and thievery.  I don't want to give too much away, but it's nice to see Jackman as a bad guy.

Incendiary - More with Michelle Williams, though this time she's British.  While she's having an affair with McGregor (a journalist), her husband and son are killed when a terrorist bombs a soccer stadium in London.  This of course screws her up quite a bit.  And with his help she investigates it a bit and finds the family of one of the terrorists and befriends them (they have no idea where their father/son has gone or that he was one of the bombers).  Her dead husband was also, ironically, on the bomb squad, and his boss knew that her family was in danger and she gets pissed that he didn't do more to protect them.  I really liked Williams playing British, it worked well.  Not a great movie subject though.

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