Did the President’s fiscal policy help make the new trilogy a reality? Also after the jump:

  • Listen to Kyle Newman‘s Han Solo-centric radio drama
  • Who wants Tommy Wiseau to direct the new trilogy?
  • Ewan McGregor is totally willing to return as Obi-Wan
  • George Lucas is giving the Bay Area another Yoda statue
  • Rancho Obi-Wan’s Steve Sansweet shows off his collection

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Five years after making his feature debut with the Guillermo del Toro-produced ghost story The Orphanage, filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona is back with The Impossible, which deals with an entirely different kind of fear. Instead of tangling with things that go bump in the night, the family at the center of the new film are facing the less fanciful terrors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts star as a couple on winter vacation in Thailand with their three sons when tragedy hits. Torn apart in the chaos, the family struggles to reunite as they help and are helped by strangers along the way. Watch the new trailer after the jump.

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After a decade of false starts on the big screen, an adaptation Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections looked to finally be making some headway on the small screen. HBO began developing it as a series with producer Scott Rudin last fall, and quickly signed director Noah Baumbach as well as a high-profile cast including Ewan McGregor, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest. The novel, which won the National Book Award in 2001, centers around an elderly couple and three adult children as they gather for “one last Christmas” near the turn of the millennium.

But alas, it seems this incarnation of the project isn’t going anywhere, either. After viewing the pilot, the premium cable has chosen to pass on the series. While HBO apparently liked the episode and the performances, it was concerned about the long-term sustainability of the premise. The book’s plot jumps back and forth through time, filling in the characters’ backstories, and HBO worried that it would be difficult for viewers to follow. The decision was not related to this week’s straight-to-series order of True Detective; with Luck off its plate, HBO would have had the resources to do both. [Deadline]

After the jump, the West Wing gang prove they’ve still got their walk-and-talk skills.

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A couple years ago Juan Antonio Bayona got a lot of attention for his debut feature, the Guillermo del Toro-produced supernatural thriller The Orphanage. Now Bayona returns with a film called The Impossible. And while it isn’t a horror film, exactly — not in the way that The Orphanage was — it certainly deals with horror in a specific way.

The Impossible is based in part upon the Indian Ocean tsunami that ravaged Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia in 2004. It stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as a couple vacationing in the country when the tsunami hits the Thai coastline. The results are, as we know from history, devastating.

We’ve got a new trailer for the film, which you can see below. Read More »

Scottish actor Ewan McGregor has earned a pristine reputation by jumping between Hollywood blockbusters and small indies, all helmed by some of the best directors around. One month he’s in Trainspotting, Perfect Sense or Beginners, then he’ll do Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, Tim Burton’s Big Fish or George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels.

His latest film, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, fits into the former category. Directed by Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules) and written by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) it’s the fictional story of how a publicity stunt aimed to paint foreign relations in a good light turns into a transformative journey for two people (played by McGregor and Emily Blunt) who are tasked with trying to introduce the geographically specific sport of salmon fishing into the unforgiving heat of Yemen.

I recently spoke to McGregor about his reaction to the film’s lengthy and specific title, what distinguishes Hallström from some of the other directors he’s worked with, how it felt to be publicly praised by Beginners co-star Christopher Plummer at the Oscars, and his thoughts on the recently moved Jack the Giant Killer. I also snuck in a Star Wars question for good measure.

Read the interview after the jump.

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Last month I received a cryptic e-mail inviting me to a private screening of a new Star Wars film edited by Topher Grace — which is funny because I had no idea there was a new Star Wars film in the works, with or without Grace’s involvement. I was told the screening was a secret private event arranged only for friends only and was asked not to talk about it beforehand. The event was held somewhere in the Hollywood area in a a screening room filled with filmmakers, editors, actors, actresses and only a few press friends. I was told I could blog about it afterwards if I wanted, so here goes…

For those of you who don’t know, Topher Grace is a film geek. He loves the Star Wars films, the Back to the Future movies and all the same signature titles of any film geek who grew up in the 1980s. He recently became interested in the editing process and wanted to learn more about the art form. Instead of cutting a short film, he wanted to use something he was more familiar with.

His idea was to edit the Star Wars prequels into one movie, as they would provide him a lot of footage to work with. He used footage from all three prequels, a couple cuts from the original trilogy, some music from The Clone Wars television series, and even a dialogue bit from Anthony Daniels’ (C-3PO) audio book recordings. He even created a new opening text crawl to set up his version of the story.

The result is an 85-minute movie titled Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. It should be noted that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is almost 7 hours in total length, and the shortest film (Episode 1) is more than 51 minutes longer than Grace’s fan cut. What this means is a lot of footage ended up on the editing room floor, and a lot of creative choices were made in the editing process. And the result? Topher Grace’s Star Wars film is probably the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.

Whats most shocking is that with only 85 minutes of footage, Topher was able to completely tell the main narrative of Anakin Skywalker’s road from Jedi to the Sith. While I know the missing pieces and could even fill in the blanks in my head as the film raced past, none of those points were really needed. Whats better is that the character motivations are even more clear and identifiable, a real character arc not bogged down by podraces, galactic senates, Jar Jar Binks, politics or most of the needless parts of the Star Wars prequels. It not only clarifies the story, but makes the film a lot more action-packed.
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Is there any film project more tenacious than Terry Gilliam‘s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote? The film just cannot be, er, killed, no matter what happens. Casting problems? It will overcome. Funding and script issues? This movie shrugs them off. Acts of God aren’t even enough.

The film first came together in 2000, with Gilliam directing Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort in the lead roles. The production was beset by disastrous weather, interruption from planes, and injury to Rochefort. The production was scrapped, inspiring the documentary Lost in La Mancha.

The film was revived in 2009 with a rewritten script and possible new casting, with Robert Duvall replacing Rochefort and Ewan McGregor eventually taking Depp’s role. But financing for that version dried up and the project went dormant again. Now the film’s screenwriter, Tony Grisoni, says the film is potentially happening once more. Read More »

I know already I’ve gone on and on about how excited I am by HBO’s adaptation of Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections, but considering the talent signed on — Noah Baumbach, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Dianne Wiest — can you blame me? Today the good news continues with the report that Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rhys Ifans could be up for parts in the series as well. More details after the jump.

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