New York

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SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE the Best Movie of 2008?

The National Board of Review announced their choice for the best film of 2008: Danny Boyle's SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Now those who know me well, or those who simply read my reviews on this site, must know that this genuinely shocked me, and I pretty actively disliked SLUMDOG. Even more shocking to me than the best movie award is the acknowledgement to Simon Beaufoy script, for Best Adapted Screenplay as I find the screenplay particularly reprehensible. Now I realize that I'm not going to agree with every honor bestowed by critics groups around the world, but I'm always a bit surprised when a movie I dislike fairly seriously garners enough support from other film buffs to win such honors. I'm sure Beth Caldwell is feeling the same way about all the honors being bestowed on FROZEN RIVER.

Anyway, upon reading this I immediately wanted to find out more about the NBR, to see how authoritative they might be. This is what I discovered on their website:

"The screening membership comprises knowledgeable film buffs, academics, young film professionals, and students in the New York metropolitan area."

Hmmm... I guess this must just be a highly divisive film. I know there are Chlotrudis members whose opinions I respect who love SLUMDOG as well.

The NBR's other honors follow:

Film: "Slumdog Millionaire"
Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Actor: Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"
Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Foreign Language Film: "Mongol"
Documentary: "Man On Wire"
Animated Feature: "Wall-E"
Ensemble Cast: "Doubt"
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Directorial Debut: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"
Original Screenplay: Nick Schenk, "Gran Torino"
Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Eric Roth, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Spotlight Award: Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"
Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression: "Trumbo"

TOP TEN FILMS

* "Burn After Reading"
* "Changeling"
* "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"
* "The Dark Knight"
* "Defiance"
* "Frost/Nixon"
* "Gran Torino"
* "Milk"
* "Wall-E"
* "The Wrestler"

TOP FIVE FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMS

* Edge Of Heaven
* Let The Right One In
* Roman De Guerre
* A Secret
* Waltz With Bashir

TOP FIVE DOCUMENTARY FILMS

* American Teen
* The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
* Dear Zachary
* Encounters At The End Of The World
* Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired

STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING Gets Started in New York

I missed a trailer in my round-up of movies of Chlotrudis interest opening this year. This weekend, in fact, in New York City, people can enjoy STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING, a literary look at an aging professor and the young woman writing her thesis on him. It features terrific performances from Lauren Ambrose and Lili Taylor, but this film belongs to the sublime Frank Langella. Definitely worth a look.

NYAFF Notes

posted for Tomfish

I just got back from a weekend full of good to great movies at the New York Asian Film Festival.

Most anticipated on my must-see list is Chan-wook Park's newest film, I'M A CYBORG BUT THAT'S OK. I was a little afraid that A) My expectations were way too high and B) Park's leaving his Vengeance mode and hitting up what is being marketed as a romantic comedy would just not measure up to his past successes.

After seeing LADY VENGEANCE, I was ready to deem Park as the Greatest Living Director, but seeing he only had 4 movies under his belt at the time I figured it was a bit premature. After finishing my viewing of I'M A CYBORG (in seats that made the Ryerson seem like the fluffiest down) I will now proclaim it: Chan-wook Park is the Greatest Living Director. Shut up, Miyazaki.

CYBORG took two of my main movie peeves (romantic comedies and movies that make mental illness look cute) and turned them on their ear. Every single piece of information, every little cute quirk, every seemingly throw-away bit comes full-circle and gets neatly wrapped up before the movies end.

I guess I'll make some quick notes about the other movies I caught.

  • THE BANQUET - Wire-fu does Hamlet. Everyone dies. Zhang Ziyi pulls off Gertrude. Plus she's hot.
  • RETRIBUTION - Kiyoshi Kurasawa makes the creepiest movies you'll ever see. RETRIBUTION is a more linear story than CURE, CHARISMA or PULSE, but it still made it hard to sleep that night. I'm not sure if he likes exploring similar themes or is making references to his earlier films, but there was a scene that reminded me of his earlier moves every now and then.
  • EXILED - Johnnie To does Sergio Leone. I love cowboy movies, I love frontier justice, I love Tony Wong, I love EXILED.
  • DOG BITE DOG - This may have been one of the best over-the-top brutal violent movies ever, if only the last 15 minutes weren't so damn gawdawful.
  • DASEPO NIAUGHTY GIRLS - Nice to look at, slightly funny. No depth.
  • HULA GIRLS - There's a spate of movies in Japan right now where a ragtag group of misfits banD together and overcome adversity to finish off with a grand finale. WATER BOYS, SWING GIRLS, etc. HULA GIRLS fit this formula to a T. It's a very good movie, but someone has to break this mold soon. LINDA! LINDA! LINDA! has come the closest. The fact that this movie takes place in a coal mining town and the mother only accepts her daughter's foray into hula after watching her had me shouting "Dance, Billy, Dance!" in a brogue accent all night.

So every movie is worth a viewing, although I don't think you should lose any sleep if you miss DASEPO NAUGHTY GIRLS...

Tom