George Lucas Calls it Quits

Looks like the big budget Red Tails will be the last foray into larger than life cinema for filmmaker George Lucas. “I’m retiring,” Lucas said recently. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”

George Lucas Pic
Lucas was talking to the New York Times while promoting Red Tails and it looks like the Star Wars filmmaker (what’s your favorite Star Wars flick?) has decided to focus on smaller films, much like the ones he made while a student at USC Film School. “Lucas has decided to devote the rest of his life to what cineastes in the 1970s used to call personal films,” the newspaper said. “They’ll be small in scope, esoteric in subject and screened mostly in art houses.”

Longtime producing partner Rick McCallum adds, “Once this (Red Tails) is finished, he’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do. He will have completed his task as a man and a filmmaker.”

Could some of the backlash against his work on Star Wars in recent years play into this decision to pull back? “Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are? I think there are more important things in the world,” he said.

Well, there you have it. Star Wars fans have stopped the man from making big movies. Do you think this means he will stop tinkering with the sci-fi series for which he is most known?

Gone Stills: Run, Amanda, Run!

Amanda Seyfried stars in Gone, and two new stills from the thriller have arrived. The film (check out the Gone trailer) follows Seyfried’s Jill as she tries desperately to rescue her sister who has been kidnapped.

Amanda Seyfried Stars in Gone
Seyfried is joined in the cast by Sebastian Stan, Michael Pare and Daniel Sunjata.

Jill escaped from a serial killer a year before her sister’s abduction and she believes that the person who kidnapped her sister is the same person. It’s a race against time as Seyfried’s character knows that the sinister individual never keeps his victims alive for more than 24 hours.

Gone Star Amanda Seyfried
Gone arrives in theaters February 24.

This Means War Moves to Valentine’s Day

Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are heading into battle on Valentine’s Day as their romantic adventure This Means War has had its release date moved up. Originally slated to arrive on the 17th, lovers now can partake of the cinematic fireworks a few days early on the day that celebrates love — February 14.

Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine in This Means War
On the heels of a massive release of stills (and don’t miss the This Means War trailer), Witherspoon, Pine and Hardy are set to declare war on Valentine’s Day… you don’t want to miss it!

Top 10 Steven Soderbergh Movies: The Director’s Best

Steven Soderbergh is most likely barely a third of the way through his esteemed career. His latest film, Haywire starring Gina Carano, lands in theaters January 20 and is the first true action film in the Oscar winner’s career. What better time to look back at his esteemed body of work that spans over two decades and give you Movie Fanatic’s Top 10 Films of Steven Soderbergh?

10. The Limey
Terrance Stamp stars as an Irishman who heads to Los Angeles with one purpose: To avenge the murder of his daughter. Peter Fonda plays the record executive who Stamp believes murdered (or at least accidentally killed) his child. And Stamp’s character’s sole mission is to destroy the man who took his daughter’s life. Stamp shines and Fonda is riveting in what also is a mystery as the audience is not so sure that Fonda is guilty. Watch The Limey and decide for yourself!

9. The Good German
George Clooney stars in the 2006 drama that also features Cate Blanchett and Tobey Maguire. Clooney’s in post-World War II Berlin and his journalist character is drawn into a murder investigation. A powerful film shot in black and white that shows off Soderbergh’s talents as a filmmaker, regardless of color and subject matter. 

George Clooney in The Good German
8. Haywire
Soderbergh’s first true action movie explodes and introduces the world to the powerhouse that is Gina Carano. Her character is a spy who has been double-crossed and put within an inch of her life. Possessing a masterful soundtrack, killer action sequences and an all-star cast including Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender, when Haywire arrives January 20, don’t miss it.

7. Sex, Lies and Videotape
One of Soderbergh’s first films is the one that put him on the map. Sex, Lies and Videotape is often imitated and rarely duplicated. The film features one of the best performances by Andie MacDowell and James Spader in their careers.

6. Contagion
The tagline for Contagion says it all: Nothing spreads like fear. An international epidemic threatens the human race’s entire existence and in the hands of Soderbergh a virus movie has never felt so thrilling. Again, the master director gets an all-star cast including Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne.

5. The Informant
Frequent collaborator Matt Damon stars in Soderbergh’s hilarious film about corporate espionage. You know, it seems the filmmaker can tackle any subject matter in any genre and put his unique stamp on it. The Informant proves that in droves. Not that many have seen the film and for movie fans in general, this is one to put in the Netflix queue.

4. Out of Sight
Sexy and thrilling, Soderbergh once again gets the performance of a lifetime out of one of his stars. Jennifer Lopez has never been better on screen and she smolders with her co-star George Clooney in the story of a group of ex-cons and their efforts to finish a job that could put them all in the catbird seat. Come to think of it, Dennis Farina, as Lopez’s father, has never been better than he was in Out of Sight. There again, actors elevate to the master’s cinematic brilliance.

3. Oceans 11
Many wondered why Soderbergh would remake the 1960s classic that starred the Rat Pack. History has shown that Oceans 11 would wind up one of the director’s best, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Bernie Mac and Elliot Gould. What Soderbergh and his cast pulled off was one heck of a heist that goes down as one of the best heist movies of all time. Slick, thrilling and, in many ways, powerful, Oceans 11 is one masterful piece of work.  

2. Erin Brockovich
The final two films in our Soderbergh top 10 had Oscar honor them as they went down in history as one of the medium’s best. The first, Erin Brockovich, gave Julia Roberts her first Academy Award. The film is a powerful and endearing story of a single mother who unearthed one of the biggest health scandals to rock Southern California in the last 30 years. In the hands of Soderbergh, what could have been a film mired in legal jargon was both a thriller and heartwarming tale of what one person can do, despite all the odds stacked against them.

Benicio del Toro in Traffic
1. Traffic
Winner of three Academy Awards — including one for Soderbergh for directing — and nominated for Best Picture, Traffic is an ensemble piece of the highest order with a helmer working firmly in his wheelhouse. It is as relevant today as it was in 2000 when it arrived and painted a picture of the drug war gone wrong. An absolutely stunning piece of filmmaking that gets better every time you watch it.

Johnny Depp to Start Filming Lone Ranger

The New Mexico Film Office is the most unlikely of sources to give us the announcement that Johnny Depp and The Lone Ranger are finally getting at it. The state’s film office released a statement that lets us all know that the latest Depp film is ready to roll in merely weeks.

The Lone Ranger Logo
The release states that filming on Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger will commence principal photography in February.

The film stars Depp as Tonto and J. Edgar’s Armie Hammer as the title character.

The Lone Ranger is proof that New Mexico’s film industry is alive and well,” said Governor Martinez in the statement. As we continue to build upon our reputation as a premier film production center, we are pleased to welcome The Lone Ranger to our state.”

There’s a lot of love going around when it comes to the film. After a series of delays, producer Jerry Bruckheimer also had a statement expressing his joy over filming finally commencing.

“We couldn’t be happier to bring The Lone Ranger production to New Mexico. The state’s world-class crews, local talent and spectacular locations will be critical in helping us take this iconic story and legendary characters to new heights,” Bruckheimer said.

Now all we as audiences have to do is wait the year or more it will take to film and go into post-production so wee can see Depp doing his best Tonto and Lone Ranger fans being treated to a new adventure for the first time in decades.