Tag: Ewan McGregor

Miles Ahead

March 31st, 2016 — 8:40pm

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.28.23 PM****

Miles Ahead- sp

To best appreciate this review click here and listen to Miles Davis as you read the review

This is not your typical biopic that simply traces the life story of an important person. It is rather a cinematic representation of the powerful, free flowing, unpredictable, abstract and arresting sound of the music of Miles Davis. It tumbles on to the screen as his music emerges from his trumpet. We absorb a sense of this man and his music rather than understand a chronological progression that has growth and coherency.

Don Cheadle, actor, director and screen writer of this movie has chosen to use as his point of departure the approximate five-year period in the mid 1970s where this productive jazz artist ceased to produce any music. We meet Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) when a reporter who says he is from Rolling Stone Magazine (Ewan McGregor) visits him with the hope of interviewing him and finding out why he is no longer on the music scene. This leads to flashbacks and flashforwards, cocaine binges, car chases, the search for a tape of a recent personal recorded session by Davis as well as a glimpse of the personality of Davis and his relationship with Francis Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi) a beautiful woman and dancer who was his wife for ten years. We see that Davis at least in his early life was a somewhat self-centered, arrogant man who loved his woman and also abused her. Of course he was a musical genius who came of age in the mid-1950s and ‘60s and we also were shown examples of the impact of the ugly sector of racism as he was arrested for standing on the street in front of the night club where he was the headline performer and put in jail for the night.

We are introduced to a young musician called Junior (Lakeith Lee Stanfield) who is intertwined in the plot as Davis tries to find himself during his five-year unproductive period. This young musician could be symbolic of the many young musicians that Davis has helped on the way up, including Wynston Marsalis. He also could represent the very young Davis himself who pushes the now middle aged Davis to pick up the mantle where he put it down half a decade ago.

As mentioned earlier you will not take away a coherent story from this one hour and forty-minute movie experience. You will hear much of Davis’ great music in the background frequently played quite softly. You will see Don Cheadle skillfully appear to inhabit Davis with convincing mannerisms as well as the way he handled his musical instrument. The photography is magnificent (director of photography was Roberto Schaefer). There are many evening scenes and snatches of semi-dark rooms with white smoke trailing upward surrounding the cast of characters. Miles Davis’ music is always there. This will probably not be a blockbuster movie but may very well get the attention of film critics and demonstrate the genius of Miles Davis who won nine Grammy awards and perhaps the potential Oscar worthiness for the second Oscar nomination for Don Cheadle. (2016)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Drama, Musical

August: Osage County

December 6th, 2013 — 1:36am


August: Osage County sp– Meryl Streep has done it again as she turns in what has to be a sure thing for another Oscar nomination as best actress and we wouldn’t be surprised if Julia Roberts snags one for her supporting role. These two are part of the  most dysfunctional family configurations that you can imagine as they gather in the matriarch’s (Meryl Streep) house after the patriarch(Sam Shepherd) has just killed himself. The setting is bleak but beautiful (if that is possible) Osage County in Oklahoma. The three daughters who come home, are played by Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson. A husband and  boyfriend are played by Ewan McGregor and Dermot Mulroney. Margo Martindale is great as the almost equally mean sister of Steep’s character and her grown son is inhabited by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch. Her husband is wonderfully acted by Chris Cooper. The Director is John Wells who is best known for his television work on ER, West Wing, Shameless, Southland and many other shows. He certainly found the right touch to work with this all star cast as the interaction which develops over the post funeral dinner is spellbinding as are the subplots with the various family members. The screenplay is written by Tracy Letts who originally wrote it as a highly successful  Broadway play which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Wells, in a post screening discussion, stated that he hoped the audience will find a little of their own families in this depiction which we believe is a stretch as much of the family interrelationships were horrendous although fascinating. Streep’s character is anyone’s worst nightmare as a shrew, cruel insensitive pill popping mother about whom we can only gain insight and understanding when we hear her talk about her own mother. Is it ever possible to get away from such a bad piece of luck as to be born into this family? In one sense the movie is a study of how family members might be able to escape from such a toxic environment. We can only imagine how this witch-like matriarch might feel if she is finally abandoned and left alone with her native American housekeeper (perfectly played by Misty Upham). (2013)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

April 30th, 2012 — 6:24am


Salmon Fishing in the Yemen- rm   Simon Beaufoy, who won an Academy Award for best adapted screen play for Slumdog Millionaire, this time adapts a screen play of a fanciful novel by Paul Torday. Director Lass Hallstrom crafts this almost fairy tale story with many levels and it comes across with an authentic ring. Of course it doesn’t hurt that you have some outstanding actors who do a great job. Dr. Albert Jones (Ewan McGregor) is a British government fishing expert who is approached by Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), a financial consultant who is acting on behalf of Sheikh Muhammad (Amr Waked, an excellent Egyptian actor) who is willing to spend at least 50 million dollars to redo the desert country of Yemen to introduce his favorite sport  salmon fishing there. It is suggested at one point that the fishing expert might have “a touch Asbergers” since he can’t seem to help but tell the truth and he has little sense of humor. He is very likeable and there is chemistry between him and Harriet who is initially all business but vulnerable when the short term love of her life seems out of the picture. The British government officials who spur on this outlandish project, add humor to the story but everything always seems possible. We cared about all the characters and somehow never believed that the Shiekh was just a self-indulgent playboy. In the end we are reminded of what it means to have vision, to believe in your ideas as well as the joy in discovering romance in a special relationship. That makes this movie, in our opinion, a successful romantic comedy. (2012)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Romance


March 14th, 2012 — 5:29pm


Beginners- nf   We chose to see this movie after Christopher Plummer was awarded the Oscar as best supporting actor for playing a dying 75 year old man who reveals to Oliver his son (Ewan McGregor) that he is gay and wants to come out. He finds a  lover , Andy (Goran Visnjic-we remember him from the  “ER” TV series  ) and has his brief time as a man in love. During this time Oliver meets a quirky beautiful French actress (Melanie Laurent). They are both drawn to each other and it becomes apparent that they both have trouble with relationships perhaps because of the nature of their parent’s relationships. He, having a hidden gay dad, a mom who thought she could fix him and was depicted as not feeling fulfilled. She, with a father who confesses his despair and suicidal thoughts to her rather than to his wife. Director Mike Mill’s put together this story based on his own relationship with his own father and attempts to fill in the picture with mostly skillful shifts of time sequences. It isn’t the story that gives the movie value but it is the complex portrayal of the characters which is done very well. However, with the exception of Oliver we don’t have much of a back-story of the other characters, so in the end, the movie didn’t meet it’s full potential or our expectations. (2011) 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

I Love You Phillip Morris

September 6th, 2010 — 8:37am

Phillip Morris* *
I Love You Phillip Morris
– sp – One of the most remarkable things about this movie is that the outlandish events that are depicted really happened. Jim Carrey plays Steven Russell who realized at a young age that he is gay. He grows up and marries a women dedicated to him and to Jesus and he leads a life as a devoted husband and father up until a certain point. He then has a revelation which causes him to leave his family becomes a con artist and fully involved in a free wheeling partying gay life style. Ultimately his grandiose con games end him up in jail where he meets Phillip Morris played by Ewan McGregor. They fall madly and tenderly in love with each other. Russell’s ability to deceive allows them to be together in jail and amazingly (but true) he escapes from and reenters a Texas jail multiple times. The screenplay crafted and directed by Glen Ficarra and John Requa based on a true story is a combination of a romantic comedy with a little bit of the keystone cops thrown in. It has it’s serious side as the Carrey character has to sadly acknowledge that he doesn’t feel like a real person. There is a well described psychodynamic explanation for this state of mind in the psychoanalytic literature which is quite compatible with the sorrowful circumstances of Russell’s early childhood which was depicted in the movie.. The story provides no insight into Phillip Morris. We are left with the marvel over the cons and the deception, a few smiles from the comedy and at best, a little sadness for a mostly unfulfilled life. Movie scheduled for release in the Fall of 2010 in the U.S. (2010)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Romance


September 6th, 2010 — 3:00am

* * * *
– nf – After hearing Danny Boyle, Director of the big hit Slumdog Millionaire in person at our film course, we decided we wanted to see this picture which was his earlier hit. It is a raw, realistic but yet empathic depiction of heroin addiction in England/Scotland with a mainly a cast of young men played by accomplished actors who interact extremely well. The scenes are creative and at times quite vivid. . You will especially appreciate this film if you are within memory of your twenty’s or if you can get yourself in the mindset of that time of life. If you see this film, it will probably be through Netflix which will give you the opportunity to listen to the discussion by the director, writer and producer in the special feature section. This will add to your appreciation of this excellent fil. 1996

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

The Men Who Stare At Goats

January 16th, 2010 — 2:20am

The Men Who Stare At Goats* *
The Men Who Stare At Goats
– sp – This is a comedy, or more specifically, a farce that is trying to make fun of the US Army for some ventures that they made into exploring the use of new age techniques and the potential of the application of the paranormal for fighting the enemy. The story is loosely based on book by Jon Ronson published in 2004 where he described the ideas of Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon who served in Vietnam War and in the late 1970s proposed the formation of the First Earth Battalion. He produced a 125-page manual of drawings, graphs, maps, polemical essays and point by point redesigns of every aspect of military life. Movie producer Paul Lister who was the guest at our film course told us that the actual manual was shown in the movie. In that manual it was proposed that rather than using bullets and munitions, a new force would attempt to first win the hearts and minds of the enemy by doing such things as using positive vibrations, carrying “symbolic animals” of peace—such as baby lambs—into hostile countries, greeting people with “sparkly eyes.” There was a bit in the movie where the character played by George Clooney tries to flash his eyes to bring about this effect. The overall storyline is that a recently divorced, unhappy newspaper reporter played by Ewan McGregor goes to Iraq to find a good story and meets

Clooney who tells how he is a former Jedi of the above group and is reactivated for a new mission. You add Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges to the mix with this premise and you get some good delivery of comedic situations, which brought about some loud laughs in the movie theater. There are attempts at “remote viewing” walking through walls, killing goats by starring at them etc. They also brought in the idea of giving LSD to people without them knowing it, which the US and the CIA are known to have actually done about 50 years ago. A real film clip shown in the movie of a news report of Iraqi prisoners continually being subjected to bothersome music to break them down to get information. Thus the film seems to also be attempting to satirize recent US actions with prisoners as well as the earlier time when the Earth Battalion was being proposed. Technically speaking, they are also confusing psychological warfare with paranormal or new age warfare. But after all, it is a comedy albeit it somewhat slapstick. In the end the movie goes nowhere. The targets of the satire are nebulous. It was fluffy without any real depth. (2009)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, War

Back to top