Saturday, April 09, 2011


The opening night for this year's San Francisco International Film Festival will feature Beginners, a melancholy romance directed by Mark Mills. I got to attend a preview screening this week. The movie is set with a strong sense of place in Los Angeles in 2003 & follows the romance of Oliver (Ewan McGregor) & Anna (Mélanie Laurent), an apparently rootless actress. The film's other center, seen in flashbacks, is Oliver's father (Christopher Plummer), who comes out at the age of 75 after the death of his wife. The 2 stories compete with each other a bit, though they are both seen through the eyes of Oliver, who suffers from a sense of loss. I recognize Mr. McGregor mostly through the Star Wars movies, & I did not realize how charismatic he is. Even though he spends most of the movie being lonely & affectless, he remains lovable. His quiet presence is very watchable. The movie has a light humor, exemplified by Oliver's needy Jack Russel terrier who speaks through subtitles. Mr. Mills treats the gay theme politely but very much from the outside.

Opening night of the festival is Thursday, Apr 21st at the Castro Theatre. Mr. McGregor is expected to be present.

§ Beginners
Director, Mike Mills


sfmike said...

You're just discovering Ewan? He's the charismatic bomb (and the Star Wars movies were probably his worst work). If you get a chance, try to find Dennis Potter's last television serial, the 1993 "Lipstick on Your Collar" which is McGregor's first major role. He's great (and so is the series).

Axel Feldheim said...

There was a period in the 90s when I rarely went out to the movies, & I think Mr. McGregor came on the scene about that time. He was in Trainspotting, right? But of course I was a Star Wars kid, so I saw him in those unfortunate prequels. Dennis Porter was great, & I'll keep in eye out for Lipstick on Your Collar.

I just read your final Amtrack post from yesterday. I was a bit confused when you were describing it last night.

sfmike said...

Yes, he was great in "Trainspotting." And he was also the only decent emotional anchor in the godawful "Moulin Rouge."

Axel Feldheim said...

Oh my god, I forgot, I totally I saw Moulin Rouge! Traviata collides with Boheme. Nicole Kidman lives in an elephant. A gun thrown out a window ricochets off the Eiffel Tower. Rufus Wainwright on the soundtrack for 2 seconds.