Moulin Rouge 2001 Directed by Baz Luhrmann. A juke-box musical set in 1900 Paris wherein struggling, young writer Christian (Ewan McGregor) helps put together a revue for Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent) starring the dazzling courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman) and falls in love with her. She, alas, has been promised to the Duke of Monroth (Richard Roxburgh), Zidler’s potential backer. When Satine mistakes Christian for the Duke, things get complicated. The gimmick is that all the songs are familiar pop.
Lurhman includes aspects of Hollywood musicals, vaudeville, opera, Bollywood and cabaret culture. Great to look at, but… Best Cinematography Academy Award. Free with Amazon Prime.
Big Fish 2003 Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace. Directed by Tim Burton. Will Bloom (Ewan McGregor) has been skeptically listening to his father Edward’s (Albert Finney) tall tales his whole life. Now, cancer ridden, dad is determined to finish the story of his fantastical adventures. Billy Crudup plays young Edward Bloom. With Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Robert Guillaume, Marion Cotillard, Danny DeVito, Louden Wainwright III and Steve Buscemi. Beautifully produced and often poignant. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Deception 2008 Directed by Marcel Langenegger. An erotic thriller. Quiet, nerd accountant Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor) is befriended by slick lawyer Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman) at one of the firms whose books he’s auditing. Suddenly, he’s playing doubles with beautiful women and spending the evening at a sex club with worldly Wyatt in a borrowed $4000 suit. One day at lunch, their phones get switched. Wyatt flies to London. That night, Jonathan receives a call asking only whether he’s available. He tries to tell the woman it was not his phone, but she instructs him where to meet and rings off.
Apparently Wyatt is a member of a sex club. At first Jonathan is awkward, then opens up, calling as well as receiving calls. Every so often Wyatt telephones ostensibly from abroad. One of the women turns out to be someone the accountant previously admired in a subway. When she appears, he wants dinner, to talk, a relationship – against the rules. They nonetheless tenuously begin to date. Then Miss “S” is kidnapped, leaving blood on the sheets. Wyatt, it seems, doesn’t exist. Jonathan is blackmailed to make a wire transfer. Violence and multiple twists occur. Predictable after a point, but entertaining. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Ghost Writer 2010 An adaptation of Robert Harris’ novel The Ghost. Directed by Roman Polanski. An unnamed ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor), hired to finish the autobiography of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), travels to Martha’s Vineyard to work with his subject. His predecessor drowned under unusual circumstances. Lang is under suspicion of seizing suspected terrorists and handing them over to the CIA. Research reveals this and other irregularities to be very plausible. The closer the ghostwriter gets to truth, the more we know his life is in danger. A political, not literary thriller. Free with Amazon Prime.
Salmon Fishing in Yemen 2011 Based on the novel by Paul Torday. Directed by Lasse Halstrom. Absolutely charming. (Not Twee.) England’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office needs to connect with the Middle East in a benevolent way. The Prime Minister’s Secretary Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas) assigns Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) to help realize the dream of wealthy Sheikh Muhammed bin Zaidi bani Tihama (Amr Waked) to bring salmon to his country. She, in turn, contacts Fisheries expert Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), who’s pressured into a job he thinks ridiculous.
Harriet and Alfred meet the Sheikh and travel to Yemen to stock a waterway the powerful ruler had constructed. Yemeni radicals try to stop the project. Shy Alfred is drawn to Harriet but she has a boyfriend. It all comes out right in the end of course. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Zoe 2018 Directed by Drake Doremus. Cole (Ewan McGregor) works on the cutting edge of AI, creating synthetic humans to be companions. His good right arm Zoe (Lea Seydoux), who, among other things, conducts compatibility tests with real couples, is in love with him. She secretly puts herself into the system to see whether they’re compatible. It comes up zero- because, he tells her, she’s synthetic. She eats, drinks, defecates, has sex…
Zoe doesn’t give up. She knows he feels something for her. Even Cole’s ex-wife (Rashida Jones) and son like her. (They know.) Zoe and Cole become a couple. He’s happy…until she’s in a car accident. Operating on her reminds him she’s not real.
Ash (Theo James), her synthetic male counterpart, is jealous of Cole, but understands. After the accident, however, Cole pulls away…and grows miserable. Meanwhile the population is taking a date drug that makes you fall in first love for a couple of hours. Cole and Zoe respectively try it with others. As the next generation of synths is developed, Ash will be disconnected. And Zoe? Most critics didn’t like it. I did. Free with Amazon Prime.
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