Sunday, September 07, 2008

"Millionaire" Oscar-bound - TIFF, Day 3

You hope for it to happen, and then, finally, it does: a movie that rocks you to the core, inspires, delights, shocks, compels, surprises. That's what Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire did Saturday morning at the press and industry screening at the Varsity: two separate rounds of applause at the end. The film, left an orphan -- like its main character -- when Warner Independent folded, and now to be released by Fox Searchlight in November, tells the story of an Indian street urchin who grows up and gets on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? -- and improbably, amazingly, keeps answering the questions correctly.

Like a Bollywood Dickens tale, directed by Brit Boyle with the same flash and panache he brought to Trainspotting and 28 Days Later (but on a far bigger scale), Slumdog is a love story, a look at a culture of vast wealth and brutal poverty, and a keen take on a country that's at "the center of the world" in the 21st century. Dev Patel stars as the grown-up hero, Jamil, a gofer who serves tea -- a "chai wallah" -- to the phone workers in a Mombai call center. Two amazing kid actors play him during the hard, scary years of Jamil's youth, as his destiny leads him, his brother, and the beautiful, feisty orphaned girl Latika from one adventure to the next. Oscars, here they come.

Talked to Jonathan Demme and Anne Hathaway (for Rachel Getting Married), in a big round corner booth at the Empire, a closed bar on Cumberland. The red velvet upholstery was riddled with little holes. I conjectured they were cigarette burns, Hathaway said they were from stiletto heels --dancers gone wild. Demme, who'd been there for hours doing interviews with his star, took a look around, startled, and said, "Oh, we're in a bar!?" Hathaway, Agent 99 in Get Smart, the princess in The Princess Diaries, pulls off something altogether different, and darker, in Rachel Getting Married, a verite portrait of a family celebrating a wedding, and still reeling from a profound loss.

Also saw a wicked little black Irish comedy, A Film With Me In It, which shares a dark comic sensibility with the work of Martin McDonough and offers a self-satirizing cameo from Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan.... Interviewed Ed Harris for his loping, likable, Viggo Mortensen co-starring western, Appaloosa.... Saw Amos Gatai's Plus tard, tu comprendras (One Day You'll Understand), which I understood but didn't really get: Jeanne Moreau, Dominique Blanc, Hippolyte Girardot and Emmanuelle Devos as a family in Paris in the late 1980s, still haunted by the Nazi occupation of France and its tragic impact on their Jewish forebears.


Anonymous giggles said...

Glad to hear some nice films may make it out of the can.. A friend of a friend who played a barfly in the loverly "Station Agent" went to TIFF to screen "Bonneville" and I whined that I would love to go to TIFF and he "Just go! You can go!" (Oh to be financially independent, with grown children!) So earlier this summer I looked on-line to see some details and the only movies mentioned on the website at that time seemed really avant-garde, off the wall stuff..... I love independent film and the more obscure stuff (like "Bonneville" Did it ever make it to any screens in Philly?) But what I saw on the website was just toooooooo weird... (Although, as I write this I think, well it's never too late....) Sounds like you are seeing some real gems.... Good to know! Tell us more!

1:24 PM  

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