Even with a two-time Academy Award winner, a Golden Globe winner, and Golden Globe nominee, director Mira Nair couldn’t put together a biopic worthy of moviegoers’ money, let alone any awards. Amelia may not have soared as high as hoped in theaters, but it’ll get a second go-around when the DVD and Blu-ray takes flight on February 2nd.
Based on the true story of renowned aviatrix Amelia Earhart (Hilary Swank), Amelia tells of how the young girl from Kansas grew up to earn the title "Queen of the Air." Aviation achievements aren’t the film’s sole focus. It also explores the relationships between Amelia and her husband, George P. Putnam (Richard Gere), and her lover, Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor).
After predicting Amelia could bring Swank another round at the Oscars, it ultimately fell flat. Even with poor theatrical and critical performances, I’ve still got a flicker of interest in getting a copy of the film. Perhaps not enough interest to drop .99 on the Blu-ray, but maybe to hand over .98 for the DVD. Both versions come with a modest selection of bonus material appropriate in terms of price and content. You can check out the full list below.
Coty Prestige will extend its Davidoff Adventure franchise in February 2010 with a new version, Davidoff Adventure Eau Fraîche. The scent will again be fronted by actor Ewan McGregor in selected markets worldwide.
The line is being positioned as ideal for the rugged yet handsome adventurer, the escapist free spirit who revels in the freshness of nature after a hard day’s exploring.
As its name suggests, the juice is green and fresh, in contrast to the hot spices and fiery temperament of the original Davidoff Adventure fragrance.
The top opens on notes of green mandarin, bergamot and neroli, building to a heart of ginger and basil. The base is a blend of cedar wood, vetiver and musk.
The flacon, designed to evoke the classic adventurer’s hip flask, is transparent, to showcase the cool green fragrance within. The outer carton sports a green, leather-look design with saddle-stitch edging.
The advertising campaign features McGregor standing alone, next to his motorbike, enjoying a solitary moment at sundown next to a river.
The visual aims to evoke the excitement of the actor’s real-life adventures: Long Way Round, his 20,000-mile round-the-world motorcycle journey in 2004; and his latest expedition Long Way Down, from the northernmost point of Scotland to the southernmost tip of Africa.
Davidoff Adventure Eau Fraîche will be available as a 50ml and 100ml edt, plus a 150ml shower gel and 75g deo stick. The recommended domestic price points are around €50, €65, €19 and €21, respectively.
Though it remains undetermined whether Roman Polanski will be coming to the United States, his latest film will be playing in this country. On Friday, Summit Entertainment, said it had acquired North American distribution rights for Mr. Polanski’s feature “The Ghost Writer.” The film, adapted from the Robert Harris novel “The Ghost,” tells the story of an author (played by Ewan McGregor) who agrees to help write the memoirs of a former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan) and finds himself drawn into political and sexual intrigues. The film is directed by Mr. Polanski, who also wrote the screenplay with Mr. Harris.
In a statement, Summit said it planned to release the film during the first half of next year. Mr. Polanski fled the United States in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Ewan McGregor cuddled up to his co-star Melanie Laurent on the set of their new movie, Beginners in Los Angeles yesterday. The duo shared a scene with an adorable pup who sadly did not receive a credit on IMdb so I couldn’t tell you his name!
Melanie, who just had a hit run in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, is following in the footsteps of her compatriot and also good friend Marion Cotillard. This will be her second major American film to hit the big screen.
In this Mike Mills indie film, McGregor stars a young man rocked by two announcements from his elderly father (Christopher Plummer)…one, that he has terminal cancer, and two, that he’s coming out of the closet.
Also starring is Croatian actor Goran Visnjic whom you might remember from his run on ER, is rumored to be playing the lover of veteran actor, Plummer’s character.
Sadly, the film is not slated to hit theaters till sometime in 2011.
Silver Lake serves as backdrop for new indie L.A. film
November 24, 2009 By Richard Verrier
Obi-Wan Kenobi dropped in on Silver Lake this week.
Traveling far from his starring role in "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," Scottish actor Ewan McGregor has joined Christopher Plummer and "ER" actor Goran Visnjic in a low-budget independent movie called "Beginners" that has begun filming on the streets of L.A.
In the movie, which is set in the Silver Lake area, McGregor portrays a young man whose world is shaken when his father, played by Plummer, reveals a double whammy -- that he has terminal cancer and is gay. In a far cry from his role as the heartthrob doctor in "ER," Visnjic is cast as Plummer's partner.
The $3-million film, directed and written by Mike Mills, is among about 50 projects that received approval for tax credits under the state's new film incentive program.
The city figures prominently in the film. So far, the production has shot at Griffith Park, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and on Monday will move to Highland Park to film a Halloween party scene. The crew will also spend several days downtown filming at the Biltmore Hotel.
Even the city's Silver Lake dog park will have a bit part in the movie, location manager Chris Miller said.
Despite the movie's small budget, Miller is especially grateful for the local storyline. His last job, working on the remake of the musical "Fame," ended seven months ago.
"There's so little work out there, I'm just fortunate to be working right now," he said.
Based on the article “The Yankee Bandit: The Life and Times of Eddie Dodson, World’s Greatest Bank Robber”, written by Timothy Ford and published by Gear Magazine, The Electric Slide tells the true story of suave hipster and celebrity-magnet Eddie Dodson, who in 1980s Los Angeles owned and ran one of the city’s most stylish art deco furniture stores. Celebrities flocked to buy the latest pieces and Eddie was living the high life along with the Hollywood elite.
But when Eddie met cool and unimpressed Jenny, he decided to do the most outrageous thing he could think of to win her attention - he robbed a bank. Eddie discovered in himself the uncanny ability to charm pretty bank tellers into emptying their drawers of cash and getting away with it. And Jenny discovered that a boyfriend who robbed banks was about as hot as it got.
Over a period of months, Eddie and Jenny robbed over 70 banks in the Los Angeles area, often narrowly escaping the increasingly frustrated FBI. When the authorities interviewed the tellers who had been robbed, each of the described Eddie “like a movie star, the most charming man they had ever met.” The media, jumping on the story, dubbed him “The Gentleman Bandit.” But Eddie’s criminal lucky streak would not last forever as the FBI closed in and angry loan sharks with unpaid debts threatened his life.
November 18, 2009 6:42 a.m. EST Anne Lu - Celebrity News Service News Writer
Los Angeles, CA (CNS) - Ewan McGregor will be leading other celebrities in a charity gala to benefit orphan children around the world. The "Star Wars" star is set to host the Go Go Gala 2009 on November 20.
The second annual gala, by non-profit organization Go Campaign, aims to raise money for orphans and vulnerable children around the world.
Funds raised this year will support orphaned infants in rural China; a kindergarten for HIV/AIDS affected kids in Moshi, Tanzania; a mobile education unit in Haiti; legal rights and health rights education for children in Arusha, Tanzania; the construction of an eco-building and micro-business in the mountains of Peru; and a shelter for refugee youth returning to Liberia, among many others.
Gracing the event are stars Evangeline Lilly, Jessica Alba, Jonah Hill, Cash Warren, Cheryl Tiegs, Jesse Metcalf, John Togo, Danielle Bisutti, Dave Stewart and his Rock Fabulous Quartet, and Cirque du Soleil performers.
The night, to be held at Social Hollywood on November 20, will also honor TOMS shoes founder and chief shoe giver Blake Mycoskie.
All proceeds from the event will go directly to support the charity.
UNICEF ambassadors Ewan McGregor, Claudia Schiffer and Her Majesty Queen Rania are fronting a new marketing drive to mark the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In a new series of ads they highlight the problems facing children today and appeal for aid.
On November 20, 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) represents a major milestone in the historic effort to achieve a world fit for children.,” said Chief of the Gender and Rights Unit of UNICEF’s Policy and Practice Division, Dan Seymour.
“As a binding treaty of international law, it codifies principles that Member States of the United Nations agreed to be universal – for all children, in all countries and cultures, at all times and without exception, simply through the fact of their being born into the human family.”
He added, “The treaty has inspired changes in laws to better protect children, altered the way international organizations see their work for children, and supported an agenda to better protect children in situations of armed conflict.”
“This 20th anniversary of the CRC reminds us, most of all, of what we have left to do.”
The Convention is demanding a revolution that places children at the heart of human development.
Ewan McGregor is at home in Los Angeles, trying to persuade me that he hasn’t “gone Hollywood”. That making a string of films back to back with Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey, Hilary Swank and George Clooney is all in a day’s work. That leaving the UK behind and moving his family to California is just the latest logical step in his life. He’s a charismatic and charming chap, and he almost has me convinced. And then a duck walks into the room. A duck wearing a nappy.
“Oh, hang on,” McGregor says, looking round. “My duck is making a noise.”
I can tell. This isn’t the quietest or, I’d guess at a glance, most house-trained of guests. So how did a down-to-earth actor, who claims not to get caught up in the fact he makes movies costing millions of dollars, acquire a duck for a pet?
“Well, it’s a long story,” he says grudgingly. No, he’s not getting off that easily.
“OK, it’s just a duck. The kids had a project at school where they hatched duck eggs, and we took one, and now we’ve got a duck. She’s a house duck. She wears a diaper, a big nappy. You can get these nappies from a website that does things for ducks. Otherwise they’d just poo everywhere because they don’t have control of their, ehm, selves.”
At least he has the good grace to laugh at the ridiculousness of what he’s saying. But then again, McGregor has always taken whatever the movie world has thrown at him, good or bad, in his stride.
The last time we met, just over a year and a half ago, he was in an infectiously positive frame of mind. We had got together for lunch at his favourite gastropub, just round the corner from his old gaff in St John’s Wood in London.
He was coming to the end of a stage run playing Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, and had received good reviews. Cassandra’s Dream, the film he made with Woody Allen, was just about to open the Glasgow Film Festival, and he was still buzzed about having worked with the legend. He was also enthusiastic about Deception, the thriller in which he starred opposite Hugh Jackman, and Incendiary, a terrorism-themed drama starring Michelle Williams.
Now here we are, some months later. Cassandra’s Dream, Deception and Incendiary all bombed at the box office. The gastropub grub has been swapped for Californian cuisine. But don’t think for one minute that McGregor has regrets about making any of those movies or about uprooting his family and settling down Stateside.
“An awful lot of my films haven’t been huge box office successes,” he admits, “but I don’t look at it as being a mark of whether they’re good or not. The film with Hugh, they were still rewriting the ending as we were shooting it and no-one ever quite cracked it. The Woody Allen film I’ll always think is great. I’ll never forget reading the script and being so excited by the story of it. Incendiary … I don’t want to be mean about anyone, but the script involved lots of flashing back and forward. And in the edit, they decided to completely change the structure of the film and make it entirely linear. And it didn’t work very well. I don’t know if people got nervous about the subject. It was a better script than a film.”
Anyone who has followed McGregor’s career – from the early splash of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting to the international blockbusters of Moulin Rouge! and the second Star Wars trilogy – might think that the lack of a recent hit and the move to Los Angeles aren’t unconnected. But again the actor sets me right.
“More than anything, I just felt like a change. There’s an element of it that’s about my work, but it’s not the most important element because I was offered scripts that were shooting over here when I was living in London anyway. I bought a house here when I was making The Island [directed by Michael Bay] in 2005, and I loved it. I just felt like trying to see what it was like to live somewhere else. And as a result it has freed me up to think this isn’t it forever. I like it at the moment, but I could go and live somewhere else. It could be anywhere.”
In fact, he tells me, the only difficult thing about the whole process was sorting through the logistics of new schools for his daughters – 13-year-old Clara, seven-year-old Esther, and Jamiyan, the Mongolian girl he and wife Ève adopted, who is also seven.
“The actual decision to move was quite easy,” he insists. “I think the kids were into it, because we’d spent time out here every year anyway, either to do a movie or some work-related thing. And once we had the house, we’d come out and spend summers here, so it was a world that the girls knew and liked. And we’re over on the west side, not far from the sea. We’re not, like, in Hollywood as such. We’re more in Santa Monica, which is a slightly different, more relaxed vibe.”
The new location is a gift for a self-confessed motorbike nut like McGregor, who made two documented trips across the world (Long Way Round) and through Africa (Long Way Down) with best friend Charley Boorman.
“On more days than not, I can get on my bike and tear off without putting on any waterproofs,” he laughs. “That makes me quite happy. I had to pick up some scenes for The Men Who Stare At Goats [his upcoming film with George Clooney] down in the south-eastern tip of California, near Arizona and Mexico, and I just rode down on my bike. It took me the best part of a day, but it was too nice an opportunity not to.”
The Men Who Stare At Goats is the first in a number of films McGregor has coming out that promise to put him back on the A-list. One could be forgiven for thinking that, despite the actor’s excitement over Woody Allen et al at our last meeting, this time he’s really got something to crow about.
Between early 2008 and now, of course, he has appeared as a Vatican priest in a bona fide smash Angels & Demons, the movie version of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code prequel. In two weeks’ time, he stars opposite double Oscar-winner Hilary Swank in Amelia, a biopic of 1930s aviation heroine Amelia Earhart. He also has the comedy-drama I Love You Phillip Morris, in which he plays Jim Carrey’s gay lover, awaiting release. On top of that, he’s currently in Glasgow filming The Last Word with his Young Adam director David Mackenzie, while Roman Polanski is finishing the post-production of The Ghost, with McGregor as a prime minister’s ghostwriter, from the inside of a Swiss prison. “He’s one of the very few completely brilliant directors that I’ve worked with,” is the only comment McGregor will make on Polanski, who could serve up to two years in prison for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl. Last week, the US formally asked the Swiss authorities to hand over the 76-year-old filmmaker who has been in custody since his arrest September as he arrived in Zurich to attend a film festival.
A cast to die for
But it’s The Men Who Stare At Goats that truly has a cast to die for. George Clooney … Kevin Spacey … Jeff Bridges … Ewan McGregor … It has a nice ring to it, no? Based on Jon Ronson’s non-fiction book of the same name, the film casts McGregor as a journalist who meets a US Special Forces operator (Clooney) who claims to be part of an experimental military unit consisting of “warrior monks” who are attempting to redefine modern warfare by unleashing their psychic powers. You know, stuff like reading the enemy’s thoughts, walking through solid walls, killing a goat just by staring at it.
McGregor seems to have had a blast making the film, and was particularly impressed with the sincerity of his co-star Clooney, a man who puts his celebrity status to good use. “He’s very passionate about his work in Darfur,” says the Scot about his friend’s role as the UN’s peace envoy to the region of Sudan which has suffered a humanitarian crisis due to a vicious ethnic civil war.
McGregor, who passed through the African country on his second motorbike trip with Boorman, said: “It’s so much more than just lip service. He spends a lot of time trying to get very high-powered people involved, getting helicopters down there to help, getting aid into the country. So he really is totally involved in it and, at the same time, very low-key about it; he doesn’t ram it down your throat. I’ve got so much respect for him. And he’s also a very funny man to be around.”
We know Clooney is at the top of his game. But what is it about McGregor as an actor that makes him the right casting for a big American film, albeit one made through Clooney’s production company rather than a major Hollywood studio? I put the question to Grant Heslov, director of The Men Who Stare At Goats and Clooney’s production partner.
“What I like about Ewan is that he feels a bit like an everyman to me,” explains Heslov, who was Oscar-nominated for his script for Good Night And Good Luck. “He’s like the guy you could meet in the pub and just strike up a conversation with. His normal personality is so attractive; he’s handsome in a way that works for the character; and he’s an incredibly funny guy with a great sense of humour.”
McGregor claims he can’t assess his standing within the Hollywood hierarchy, but perhaps his Goats director can. “As an actor, he’s incredibly well respected,” maintains Heslov. “He has an incredible reputation for being a great guy to work with, and that was certainly borne out when I was working with him – professional and pleasure.” So does McGregor still put bums on seats? “I think he does, yeah.”
McGregor, meanwhile, is still trying to convince me that winning Hollywood’s approval has nothing to do with the career choices he makes. Take Amelia, for example. He’d been trying for years to find a project he could share with Swank and it was her, and her alone, who made him want to sign up to the biopic of flying ace Earhart. In it he plays Gene Vidal (the father of author Gore Vidal), a key player in the early days of the commercial aviation industry.
Airplanes played a major role in making Amelia, and not just as props on the set. Because of scheduling conflicts, McGregor ended up shooting Amelia with Swank in Toronto at the same time as he was shooting I Love You Phillip Morris with Carrey in Louisiana.
“We worked it out by hook or by crook, and literally for two months I went back and forward from Louisiana to Toronto,” McGregor remembers. “If I had a day off, I was on an airplane; and if I wasn’t, I was shooting one film or the other. I found it really exciting, the process of working on two films at once.
“In the middle of these two films there was an Easter break, and Ève and the girls came to Toronto. They met me there, where I was working for a few days, and then we all flew down to Louisiana together and spent a week down there. I mean, I was working but I still had them around for a couple of weeks in the middle of that and, funnily enough, in both locations. It was quite cool for them: we went to Niagara Falls and stuff, and had a bit of family time, which was good.”
So, still not “gone Hollywood” then? Shooting here, there and everywhere? “Last year was Louisiana, Toronto, Puerto Rico, Italy and LA,” he says, reeling off the list. “And since then there’s been Berlin, London and Glasgow. I shot six weeks in LA last year – but Ève and the kids weren’t here because they were in France. You know, it doesn’t really matter where you live as an actor; you’ll probably end up shooting somewhere else.”
Which only begs the question: who changes the duck’s diapers if daddy’s away at work so much?
The annual and classy BAFTA Awards announced some of the presenters for this year’s upcoming gala. Scheduled to appear are a mix of Yankees and Brits including Amy Adams, Bencicio Del Toro, Minnie Driver, Ewan McGregor and "Slumdog Millionaire" star Dev Patel.
This year’s recipients include (get ready for it) the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film winner Robert De Niro; the BAFTA/LA Humanitarian Award winner Colin Firth; Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year Emily Blunt, and Danny Boyle who is receiving the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Artistic Excellence in Directing. Make your guesses on who will present to whom.
Ewan: I'm Always Up for a Hollywood Strip; McGregor's Loving His New Life in LA but One Thing Never Changes... He wants to Get His Kit Off!
By Rick Fulton
Of all Hollywood's top stars Ewan McGregor is the one who has left nothing to the imagination.
In films such as Trainspotting, Young Adam, Velvet Goldmine and Pillow Book the 38-year-old Scot has exposed himself more than any other current worldwide name.
And he admits he's up for it again.
"Performing nude in a film is for me the most natural thing to do," he shrugs without a shadow of embarrassment. "It's like driving a car. I would do it again if I was asked."
Currently filming The Last Word with Bond girl Eva Green in Scotland, it's his first time filming on home soil since Young Adam in 2003.
The Crieff-born star has lived in London since the late Eighties when he moved down to study at drama school, but headed for Los Angeles last year with wife Ève and his three daughters Clara, Esther and adopted Jamiyan.
And Ewan freely admits he doesn't pine for Scotland.
"I haven't lived in Scotland since 1988," he says. "I've learned how to miss Scotland. I don't miss anything at the moment, I'm just enjoying the change.
"I only ever lived in London. I spent most of my time travelling around anyway so it's much more about where my family are.
"I realised that we don't have to live anywhere, we can live wherever we like.
"I have had a house in LA for quite a long time so I decided to go and live in it for a while. It's good."
Being in LA has also perked up Ewan's career, which some critics claimed was looking shaky after he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the three Star Wars prequels.
Films like Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and Little Voice, as well as a cameo role in ER in 1997, made him an indie favourite. But The Phantom Menace in 1999, Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005 seemed to take his attention with only Moulin Rouge! in 2001 a highlight of that time.
And while Harrison Ford became a massive start thanks to the first three Star Wars, they didn't do the same for Ewan as the prequels and much of his acting was critically panned.
Films such as Eye of the Beholder, Down with Love, The Island, Stormbreaker, Miss Potter, Stay and Cassandra's Dream either bombed or just didn't have the spark fans loved in Ewan's early movies.
Suddenly though he's back. In May this year he had a huge role alongside Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons, which will be followed next month by two more big movies.
First he stars with George Clooney in paranormal comedy The Men Who Stare at Goats, which got its London premiere last night. It hits cinemas on November 6. The following week sees the release of Amelia, in which he stars alongside Hilary Swank. She plays the female adventurer Amelia Earhart while he is her lover, Gore Vidal. And although he hasn't got a British release yet he also plays the gay lover of Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris.
If Ewan was ever worried about the film choices he was making he isn't showing it now.
In black jeans, dusty black motorcycle boots, two white long- sleeve T-shirts in layers under a black jacket, Ewan, who quit booze in 2001, seems relaxed with other journalists reckoning he is more easy going than in previous years.
It's been 13 years since Trainspotting made Ewan the hottest actor in Britain and put Scotland on the movie making-map.
"That film was hugely important for me," Ewan agrees. "It was important in my career but mainly important in Britain and for British films. The mid-Nineties were a real high point - Oasis, Blur, Trainspotting. It was a great time to be young and striking out to do your first work."
And while it would now be difficult to put Ewan in a room and point to someone who was more famous, he claims he still gets star struck.
He says: "The last time I remember being gob-smacked was when I met (Pink Floyd's) David Gilmour. I didn't really know what to say.
"I remember standing next to him at a party our kids were at and I wanted to tell him how much his music had meant to me, but I couldn't find the words.
"Then I met him again after I saw them playing at the Albert Hall and I was able to put my words together and tell him."
Trainspotting was the second collaboration with director Danny Boyle who gave him his film break in 1994's Shallow Grave. They went on to make A Life Less Ordinary in 1997 before Danny dropped Ewan in favour of Leonardo DiCaprio for The Beach.
DiCaprio was the world's biggest actor at the time thanks to Titanic but Danny's choice created a feud between the old friends and they only started building bridges in June this year when he and Danny, now an Oscar-winner with Slumdog Millionaire, met at the Shanghai film festival.
"I loved working with Danny, I've never felt closer to a director and we don't have a relationship anymore, which is quite sad, but I savour what we did have," Ewan says.
"Shallow Grave was a really important film in Britain and then the follow-up, Trainspotting, was just off the charts."
Ewan looks back at Shallow Grave fondly, even though they filmed it in a freezing warehouse and he and co-star Christopher Eccleston had to film the scenes in just T-shirts and jeans while the crew were in hats and scarves.
Grinning he adds: "I do miss that long hair. I will grow it longer one day. I just keep cutting it for films."
A newly-revived Hollywood player, Ewan may not be showing the grittier acting side he displayed junkie Renton in Trainspotting and bisexual rocker Curt Wild in Velvet Goldmine, but his motorbike travel shows add some roll to the rock.
Long Way Round took Ewan and his pal Charley Boorman 19,000 miles from London to New York in 2004, travelling eastwards through Europe and Asia.
Then two years ago in Long Way Down he drove from John O'Groats to South Africa.
While Charley is still on his bike, Ewan reveals he's curbed the travelling for a while.
"We might do another one, but not for a little while I think," he says.
Well, the man is busy.
The Men Who Stare At Goats is out on November 6. Amelia is out on November 13.
(c) 2009 Daily Record; Glasgow (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.
Filmmaker Roman Polanski is finishing his latest movie The Ghost from behind bars, according to his friend Robert Harris.
The director has been in prison in Zurich, Switzerland since September 26, when he was arrested in connection to a 1977 child sex crime.
But Harris, who wrote the screenplay, insists incarcerated Polanski has found a way to finalize his next big screen offering ahead of its scheduled premiere at the Germany's Berlin Film Festival in February.
The 76-year-old, who finished editing on the day of his arrest, has contacted colleagues for help and even passed on instructions for the musical score to composer Alexandre Desplat from jail.
Harris explains, "He can make his wishes known from his cell. I don't think he can make phone calls, but he can communicate."
But the author worries the film will be lost in the controversy surrounding Polanski.
He adds, "What people think of the film is another matter. Whether the film can rise above the circumstances in which the director now finds himself I don't know. We will test to the upper limits the notion that there's no such thing as bad publicity."
Pierce Brosnan plays a British prime minister accused of war crimes in The Ghost, which also stars Ewan McGregor and Kim Cattrall.
Beginners to shoot in November and synopsis revealed
The movie shoots next month in LA, and we'll be keeping an eye on this as more details emerge cause there's not a lot right now. The only details we've heard so far is McGregor suggesting it's a smallish indie production (duh). ["It's] meant to be in LA. [It's] a really interesting story. and quite a small film."
McGregor plays a young man rocked by two announcements from his elderly father (Plummer)…one, that he has terminal cancer, and two, that he’s coming out of the closet. The role of Plummer’s handsome younger boyfriend has not yet been cast, but we’re frankly shocked that the famously gay-friendly McGregor (soon to be seen canoodling with Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris) isn’t playing that part instead.
Ewan McGregor And Christopher Plummer Are Beginners
2009-10-06 By Josh Tyler
Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer are teaming up to work for Mike Mills. Production Weekly says they’re both on board the Thumbsucker director’s next feature, a movie called Beginners. Mills seems to have a thing for single word titles. Throw in an exclamation point or something man.
No word yet on what the movie will be about or for that matter what the heck McGregor and Plummer might be doing in it. In my head I’m imagining Chris Plummer bolting back on his Klingon eyepatch from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and engaging in a battle to the death with Ewan McGregor in full Obi-Wan attire, but that’s probably never going to happen.
What we do know is that the movie starts shooting next month in LA and that Mills has proven he might know what he’s doing behind a camera. Thumbsucker was well regarded and, with people like McGregor and Plummer on board, Beginners seems worth paying attention to.
LOS ANGELES — Roman Polanski's arrest in Switzerland has left his latest film in limbo, with several months of work before the political thriller is ready for theaters.
Polanski's agent, International Creative Management chief Jeff Berg, said Polanski had completed much of the editing on "The Ghost." But other post-production work, including music scoring and sound mixing, had yet to be done, Berg said.
Based on the provocative novel by Robert Harris, "The Ghost" stars Pierce Brosnan as fictional former British leader Adam Lang and Ewan McGregor as a ghostwriter hired to help complete his memoirs. The cast includes Kim Cattrall, Tom Wilkinson, Olivia Williams and James Belushi.
The novel caused a stir in Britain for Lang's resemblance to former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Like Blair, Lang is a once-popular leader brought down by his allegiance with the United States in the war on terror.
While the film does not yet have a U.S. deal, it has distribution in many overseas territories, among them Germany, where it was shot early this year, and France, where Polanski lives. He fled America in 1978 after pleading guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.
Polanski was arrested over the weekend in Zurich, where he had traveled to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film festival. His lawyer said Polanski will fight U.S. attempts to have him returned to the United States.
"The Ghost" is the first Polanski movie with a U.S. setting since 1974's "Chinatown." Locations in Germany had to stand in for the story's New England settings.
"There's a lot of psychological intrigue in the story, as well as espionage and politics, and most of the action takes place in an oceanfront house during the middle of winter — all of it classic Polanski territory," Harris said when the film was announced in 2007.
Berg said Polanski usually finishes his films before lining up U.S. distribution, so the completed movie can be shopped around.
"There is always interest in movies that Roman distributes," Berg said. "It should be accepted on its own merits, but we feel highly confident we'll find proper distribution."
Polanski's films include the horror hit "Rosemary's Baby," the costume drama "Tess" and the Holocaust saga "The Pianist," which earned him the 2002 Academy Award for best director.
A Holocaust survivor himself, Polanski has endured other dire trauma, including the murder of his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, by followers of cult figure Charles Manson in 1969.
With Polanski jailed, it's unknown when work might resume on "The Ghost." Berg said he is confident Polanski will put his legal troubles behind him and finish the film.
"I'm always optimistic when it comes to Roman," Berg said. "He's strong, and he has survived every situation imaginable."
A serendipitous marriage of talent in which all hearts seem to beat as one, "The
Men Who Stare at Goats" takes Jon Ronson’s book about "the apparent
madness at the heart of U.S. military intelligence" and fashions a superbly
written loony-tunes satire, played by a tony cast at the top of its game. Recalling
many similar pics, from "Dr. Strangelove" to "Three Kings," and
the screwy so-insane-it-could-be-true illogic of "Catch-22," this
is upscale liberal movie-making with a populist touch, in Coen brothers style.
welcome at Venice, likely to be echoed at Toronto, should translate into friendly
biz Stateside in November.
Coming in at a tight, well-paced 93 minutes, Grant Heslov’s second feature
-- after his little-seen anti-corporate golf comedy, "Par 6" (2002)
-- clearly benefits from his close working relationship with star George Clooney,
following their writing collaboration on "Good Night, and Good Luck." It
also benefits from the dense but pacey screenplay by Brit playwright Peter
Straughan, whose credits include "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" and "Mrs.
"Goats" is officially "inspired" by Ronson’s book, which
accompanied a three-part docu series, shown on Blighty’s Channel 4 in late
2004, called "Crazy Rulers of the World," tracing some of the U.S.
military’s more outre ideas for policing the world, terrorism in particular.
Straughan’s screenplay takes many of the stories from the book -- apparently
true, per Ronson, who’s made a career from recounting "true tales of everyday
craziness" -- and, as a way into the material, invents the character of
a small-time, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based journalist, Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor),
who’s desperate to get into Iraq at the time of the Bush invasion.
After a comically cautionary intertitle ("More of this is true than you
would believe") and an opening gag (repeated, with a variation, at the
end) that immediately sets the tone, the first reel is thick with info and
time shifts from the present (starting in fall 2002) back to the early ’80s,
which are a tad difficult to digest on first viewing.
In a nutshell, Wilton, assigned to interview Gus Lacey (Stephen Root), an
apparent wacko who claims he has special psychic powers, stumbles across an
even crazier story: Back in the ’80s, the government had a top-secret unit
of "psychic spies" who were trained to kill animals by staring at
them. The most gifted of the group, says Lacey, was a certain Lyn Cassady.
Wilton heads for the Middle East in spring 2003, looking for a good war story.
Stuck in Kuwait City, he bumps into "Skip" (Clooney), who initially
claims to be an Arkansas trashcan salesman but is actually Cassady, who’s been
reactivated and is on a super-secret black-op mission to Iraq.
As the two bond, and Wilton persuades Cassady to take him along, it’s clear
Cassady’s elevator stops well short of the top floor. Claiming to be a "remote
viewer," "Jedi warrior" and several other things in between,
Cassady fills Wilton in on the formation 20 years earlier of the New Earth
Army, brainchild of a Vietnam vet-turned-New Age hippie, Bill Django (Jeff
Bridges, with goatee and pigtail).
In one sequence straight out of the Joseph Heller playbook, the U.S. military
decided to adopt Django’s New Earth manual, written with liberal doses of LSD,
as a new template for ways of policing the globe. "We must be the first
superpower to have super powers," exhorts Django, setting up a squad of
psychics he dubs "warrior monks."
As the pic flip-flops between flashbacks illustrating Cassady’s narrative
and the present time, the pair get lost in the desert, kidnapped and traded
by terrorists, and then lost again in the desert. Meanwhile, the backstory
progresses to a point where one new member, Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey), tried
to sabotage the NEA, prepping the movie for its acidly funny climax.
Incredibly dense screenplay traverses not only 20 years of U.S. military abitions,
starting in the Reagan era, but also provides its own riffs on such public
scandals as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. What saves it from getting dramatically
tripped up by its own populist grandstanding are the leading perfs, which motor
the movie far more than the messages.
As the completely nuts Cassady, Clooney anchors the movie in a beautifully
calibrated demo of comic timing and sheer physical presence. More than just
his nebbish straight man, McGregor has some of the best lines, slicing through
Clooney’s utter self-conviction with a handful of well-chosen words. Bridges,
channeling "The Big Lebowski," fits Django like a glove, and Spacey’s
appearance midway adds some welcome tartness to all the New Age weirdness.
Robert Elswit’s beautifully composed widescreen lensing of New Mexico’s deserts
(standing in for Iraq) and Puerto Rico (repping Vietnam and other locations)
is aces, without dominating the characters. Other tech credits, including Tatiana
S. Riegel’s smoothly succinct editing, are top drawer.
End crawl stresses that though some characters are based on real people (the
New Earth Army was reportedly the idea of a certain Col. Jim Channon), the
movie is a work of fiction. Yeah, right.
Jackboots on Whitehall has been called the "British Team America," countless times for its use of puppets, but there's a lot more to the film than that.
It gives us an alternative World War II scenario, in which the Nazis managed to invade Britain. The debut writer/directors, brothers Ed (25) and Rory McHenry (22), have managed to entice an impressive array of stars into lending their voices to the film, including Ewan McGregor, Rosamund Pike and Alan Cumming as a very camp Hitler.
The production is something of a family effort, as the brothers' dad, David McHenry is on production design (his credits include Love and Death on Long Island (1997) and Becoming Jane (2007) among much TV work), their two younger brothers Dom and Jack are helping with the puppets and mum, actress Maureen Bennett is often on set.
The movie is being shot at the Three Mills Studio in Bow, East London. When I visited the set last month, the crew were pretty busy blowing up Hadrian's Wall, the site of a spectacular battle between the Brits - led by MacGregor's Chris, a farmer with exceptionally large hands - and the Nazis, who are copying the invasion tactics of the Romans.
Producer Karl Richards gave us a tour of the set and workshops, before we got the chance to sit down with the McHenry brothers. The sets are full of background details that will reward close watching, as famous London streets get a German-style makeover, whereas Scotland is portrayed as a mysterious, tribal nation that provides the backdrop to a showdown with the Nazis.
Chris, Ewan's character
Props include handmade tanks and period cars, and the costumes have been intricately sewn by the costume department to avoid large seams showing up on the small-size outfits. The crew aren't keen on having too much revealed about the puppets, but the emphasis is "not making a joke about these being puppets. You believe it's about real people," as co-creator, Ed, puts it.
Firstly, though, a chat with Karl about the film:
Netribution: What was your reaction to the project?
Karl: I came onto the project quite late. The director/writers had been trying to make this film for about 3-4 years. It came to my desk around the start of the year, probably January. They first approached us to put in a small amount of money into the film. When I saw the project, I was very, very impressed. I really thought that we could add something to this.
My first thoughts on the film were creative rather than commercial. Then as we progressed, we realised that there was an opportunity to do the film, and quickly. So we financed it almost 100% in a matter of months, because it was so impressive. The cast, combined with the unique concept that the boys had, really impressed us. All the cast were on board before we were. It couldn't have been made without us, but I don't think we can take a lot of credit for getting it off the ground, that really was the boys.
My first reaction was, what a wonderful script. What a wonderful cast. What a refreshing perspective Ed and Rory had. They're inexperienced as filmmakers, but their perspective is very impressive when you meet them. It's a joy to work with them.
N: So how do the puppets work then?
K: There are three techniques in the puppetry. There's this really old-school method, a very contemporary technique and something that is unique that we've created. It's a combination of animatronics, basic puppeteering and also very innovative post-production techniques. The facial expressions will be put in afterwards. The head is the most complicated part. You could easily do a film like this in full CGI. However, we're using techniques that retain the charm of the puppets.
With one viewing of the test that we did for them, one investor went from "we're interested," to "we must do this." We did a test with Winston Churchill, who is voiced by Timothy Spall, and he is addressing the nation, advising them that the Nazis have invaded, and we have lost. The Nazis are on their way to London. He's hoping that one day we will a great nation again, it's a wonderful speech, as Churchill had so many. It's set in his bunker. After we showed it to the investors - they signed up very quickly.
Small-scale, small crew, but it's so expensive, this stuff. The faces don't do anything when they're filming, they're in fixed positions, which are modelled on their most extreme expressions, or their most characteristic.
N: What happens in the film?
K: It's a WWII satirical comedy with puppets. We pick up the story just before the Nazi invasion. Once that happens, Churchill has to leave London, and the country's only chance of survival is a young farmer from Kent called Chris, played by Ewan McGregor. Chris has got these extraordinarily large hands, hands so big that he wouldn't be able to join the army. He has a chance to be the soldier that he always wanted to be, and he saves the day, basically. The film is a pastiche of 1940s, 50s and 60s war films, of romantic films, like Zulu, Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge over the River Kwai: big British films.
N: What do you think of the Team America comparisons?
K: There are similarities in terms of demographics with films like Team America. There is similar humour, but Jackboots is not quite in line with the vulgar comedy there.
N: How did you get such a starry cast onboard - or at least their voices?
K: The cast came on quite early in the process. Ed and Rory sat down one weekend and wrote their wishlist and not a single person rejected it. I think that gives you some idea of the strength of the script. So that was in place by the time we came on board. Rosamund was the first person to say yes and Ewan was the last. We're trying to get a very big American actor for the character of Fiske. He's a very politically incorrect American character.
A lot of the actors did their voices together and worked off each other. The script went through some rewrites because of ad-libbing. The Nazi boys, in particular, were amazing, they just went off on one! They added some beautiful little moments. Goering in particular is very funny, especially when he talks about Himmler. Hitler meets an interesting end in this - Alan Cumming is very funny.
Jackboots on Whitehall is the first full-length feature from the McHenry brothers. The oldest of the four siblings, Ed, studied fine art at the Ruskin School of Drawing in Oxford and graduated in 2006. He has worked on a number of short films, and had his art exhibited. Rory has worked on cinematography for the short film, Nobody's Business. They gave Netribution some time out of their precious lunch break to answer a few questions.
N: Did you write any of the parts with certain actors in mind, and did you manage to get them?
Rory: When we were writing the first draft, we were coming up with ideas for who we wanted for the characters.
Ed: We couldn't write the character of the vicar without thinking of Richard E Grant. So it was more like fantasy football. Rosamund Pike is a fantastic actress, the best British actress at the moment, she has a fantastic voice. They've all got amazing voices. We just drew up a list of our favourite British actors and actresses. This is who we were basing the characters on as we were writing. The characters all sort of grew after we did some voice recordings. Ewan McGregor burst out laughing when he read the script.
N: Where did the idea for Jackboots come from?
R: We've done short films sort of in this style before.
E: Not on this level.
R: No, no. The idea for this one just came up...
E: We'd written the script on based on our short films-
R: Kind of a Vietnam war film-
E: We ended up deciding to write something more British.
R: It was something we knew more about. It's a comedy on different levels - there are in-jokes for people who know their history.
E: I always really liked British movies from the middle of the century, and a lot of those are war movies, WWII.
R: Pressburger & Powell stuff too.
E: Ealing comedies too, The Lavender Hill Mob... all of those films had a really big influence, on the general charm and style and characters. [Vicar's daughter] Daisy is like a typical 1940s English Rose who we based on characters from those films. We're not war freaks! What we started to learn, as we got through principal photography, and a lot of the prep, up until 6 months ago, the nebulous concept of the film was going to be the characters and the love interest between Chris and Daisy, and everything around that, tanks, guns, explosions, is just background and to make it an exciting movie, but the main thing in this is that the puppets are becoming real people.
N: Did your cinematic family encourage you to get into the film business?
E: Our two younger brothers are working on the film too! Dom is the main puppeteer on set, and Jack, the youngest brother, he's kind of on work experience. Dad's been in on it since the first page of the first draft, so he knows the story better than anyone.
R: We were around our parents' sets when we were little, so it all seems kind of natural. We started off making films with camcorders. Puppet movies, but no animatronics! It was much more basic. They way they move is still very basic.
N: What's been the hardest thing about making your first feature film?
R: You just have to go and do it. You just keep with it.
E: You have to keep rewriting, I'm rewriting the script every day. You've got to just stick with it.
Jackboots on Whitehall is slated for release next year.
The Toronto Film Festival has issued a press release listing over 500 guests for its 2009 edition of the film festival. Included in that list is Ewan’s name!
Other actors include: George Clooney, Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, Colin Firth, Colin Farrell, Michael Douglas, Michael Sheen, Michael Cera, Sir Michael Caine, Naomi Watts, Ellen Page, Rani Mukerji, Woody Harrelson, Til Schweiger, Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Priyanka Chopra, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Paul Dano, Eva Green and Viggo Mortensen.
Men Who Stare at Goats at the Toronto Film Festival
Aug 13, 2009
A second George Clooney movie has been added to the lineup for the Toronto International Film Festival, all but guaranteeing the superstar will come to town next month.
Clooney stars with Ewan McGregor and Jeff Bridges in the dramedy The Men Who Stare At Goats, based on Jon Ronson's bestseller about an experimental arm of the U.S. Army that uses psychic powers to crack the enemy. Directed by Grant Heslov (Leatherheads) it has its North American premiere at TIFF.
Today, the festival announced an additional seven Gala Presentations and 12 Special Presentations for TIFF, which runs Sept. 10 to 19.
For more on the movies added to the lineup and to buy tickets, go to www.tiff.net. Ticket packages are also available by phone at 416-968-FILM or 1-877-968-FILM or in person at the Festival Box Office at Nathan Phillips Square (10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week), at 100 Queen St. W., in the white tent, west of the square.
Fox Searchlight has debuted the official poster for the upcoming biopic Amelia starring Hilary Swank as the legendary aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding).
The film is certain to be an Oscar contender in such areas as Best Picture, Actress and Director, and I wouldn't be surprised to see potential Supporting nods for Ewan McGregor as Amelia's friend and lover Gene Vidal or Richard Gere as Amelia's husband, promoter and publishing magnate George P. Putnam.
Grant Heslov's "The Men Who Stare At Goats" which will premiere at this year's Venice Film Festival has now been given a November 6th U.S. release date.
Starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges, the quirky dark comedy film is inspired by Jon Ronson's non-fiction book of the same name which centers on the government's attempts to garner paranormal abilities to combat its enemies.
Here's a full synopsis of the film:
Reporter Bob Wilton (McGregor) is in search of his next big story when he encounters Lyn Cassady (Clooney), a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit. According to Cassady, the New Earth Army is changing the way wars are fought. A legion of “Warrior Monks” with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy’s thoughts, pass through solid walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it. Now, the program’s founder, Bill Django (Bridges), has gone missing and Cassady’s mission is to find him.
Intrigued by his new acquaintance’s far-fetched stories, Bob impulsively decides to accompany him on the search. When the pair tracks Django to a clandestine training camp run by renegade psychic Larry Hooper (Spacey), the reporter is trapped in the middle of a grudge match between the forces of Django’s New Earth Army and Hooper’s personal militia of super soldiers. In order to survive this wild adventure, Bob will have to outwit an enemy he never thought possible.
Fewer things on this earth are more reassuring than the thoughts, smells and memories of the simple yet hearty wholesome meals of your childhood. And never before has the smell of Mum’s Sunday roast, or the comfortable stodge of a shepherd’s pie been more in demand than in these turbulent economic times. At this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival, Sunday Times food columnist Sue Lawrence talks about her book Taste Ye Back: Great Scots And The Food That Made Them (£12 at amazon.co.uk), a collection of seventy leading Scottish celebrities about their families, childhood and their relationship with food and how it helped shape them into what and who they are today. The Caledonian great and good are all included: Ewan McGregor (who wrote the foreword for the book), Andy Murray (whose first memory is having a bowl of custard thrown over his head) and Gordon Ramsay who began life with rather simpler tastes, citing porridge as his favourite childhood food. This leading food writer promises to deliver an hour of pure food nostalgia, offering up a unique insight into growing up in twentieth century Scotland and the influences that helped mould some of Scotland’s most prominent personalities. You can’t help but be inspired to strip mealtimes back to the simple basics and make it like Granny use to.
The Book Festival's laidback tented village (run there for a G&T if the weather's good) also plays host to other delicious highlights, including Tristram Stuart offering up food for thought by posing the question of how to feed the world while simultaneously reducing the 30 – 50% of food wastage caused by Western greed, Masterchef finalist Fiona Bird on healthy eating for kids and Nel Nelson offering up innovative ideas on improving your emotional and physical well-being by relating daily diet to daily routine.
Turning to the Fringe, runner up of Celebrity Masterchef, author of Independent Book Award-nominated Indian Takeaway (depicting his attempts to cook his way around Britain), occasional Question Time panellist and multi-tasking man of many words Hardeep Singh Kohli will be making his stand-up debut with culinary flair. The Nearly Naked Chef (you can thank the frying pan for that) will highlight the huge impact growing up with Sikh parents had on his cooking, mixing them up with top food tips and anecdotes aplenty.
Injecting a little novelty into the Festival is performance art prankster Richard Dedomenici with his Plane Food Cafe. Part café, part installation, part performance, Dedomenici will be serving up genuine airline cuisine in plastic trays as the audience discover just how and why inflight meals taste different on the ground. Richard's previous performances have included pointing all the guns on HMS Belfast onto his mum's house in Watford, so chow down with caution.
With such a diverse selection of dynamic, innovative food writers and experts, this August you are sure to rediscover your passion and understanding of the food you eat, making mealtime less about necessity and more about creative fun.
Principal photography begins on Jackboots On Whitehall
15 July, 2009 By Sarah Cooper
Principal photography began today (July 15) on animated feature Jackboots On Whitehall at London’s Three Mills Studios. The film will be shooting at the studios for eight weeks.
Written and directed by brothers Edward and Rory McHenry, the comedy adventure will be voiced by Ewan McGregor, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall and Rosamund Pike and follows a group of heroic villagers as they fight against the Nazi invasion of England and rescue Churchill.
Produced by Karl Richards of UK outfit Entertainment Motion Pictures and Patrick Scoffin of McHenry Bros Productions, the financing for the project has come from a combination of private equity and international co-production funds including Matador (UK), MIG (Belgium) and Arcadia (Spain).
International sales are being handled by California-based Media 8 Entertainment.
It contains a synopsis, a cast list, mini-biographies of the book's author and the film's infamous director, several photos (including a few with Ewan) and a 15-second clip that features several shots of Ewan.