Today marks the home viewing release of 2008's Academy Award winner for best picture, Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire," as well as Guillaume Canet's "Tell No One" and Nacho Vigalondo's "Timecrimes." indieWIRE runs down the options for you, as well as offering some details on films recently released on internet VOD.
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Featuring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor
Synopsis: Structured, in all seriousness, around questions posed on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” the film thwacks to life when police interrogators rough up eighteen-year-old Jamal (Dev Patel) for allegedly cheating his way to millions on the popular game show. “What the hell can a slumdog possibly know?” they ask rhetorically, alluding to Jamal’s orphaned, uneducated past. Jamal wakes from a battered slumber to rejoinder: “The answers. I knew the answers.” Roll opening credits as Boyle flashbacks to Jamal and other dirty-soled boys sifting through trash. How DID Jamal know the answers? Not through study, or curiosity or innate brilliance. Our universal hero learned the harder way—from the school of hard knocks, natch. (care of indieWIRE's review)
iW Critic's Poll Rank: #28
Major Awards: By no means an extensive list, but 8 Academy Awards including best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best cinematography; 7 BAFTAS including best picture and best director; 5 Critic's Choice including best picture and best director; 4 Golden Globes; the National Board of Review for best picture, the DGA, PGA, and WGA awards in its eligible categories; the SAG for best ensemble...
Festival Plays: Telluride; Toronto
Box Office Gross: $139,341,484 (US/CAN); $152,959,975 (Foreign)
DVD Extras: Commentary by Danny Boyle & Dev Patel, 12 Deleted Scenes, Behind The Scenes of "The Toilet Scene," Making of Featurette
"In championing Forrest Gump’s purity, Robert Zemeckis‘s film mocked both U.S. history and the complexities of adulthood, helping to fan the flames of American anti-intellectualism to a towering mid-Nineties blaze. Boyle’s ode to dumb love and circumstance hasn’t the same deliberation, but “Slumdog Millionaire” does manage to make bombastic offense. Jamal’s success on the TV show makes him a hero to slumdogs everywhere (they gather around televisions in the cities and on the farms with that nostalgic fellow-feeling), but he doesn’t care about being rich. He just wants to be with Latika. Quite instructive to the billions of poor people in the world foolishly aspiring to subsistence, let alone wealth. See that heartwarming montage of Jamal through the years, laughing despite the begging, stealing, and enslavement? He’s postcolonial, post-material, totally adorable. Love is all Jamal needs. Love and a lobotomy." - indieWIRE's review of the film.
"Tell No One" (Music Box Films)
Director/Writer: Guillaume Canet
Featuring: François Cluzet, Marie-Josée Croze, Kristin Scott Thomas
Synopsis: Claude Chabrol regular Francois Cluzet plays Alexandre Beck, a pediatrician haunted by the brutal murder of his wife Margot (Marie-Josee Croze) eight years ago at their idyllic lakeside retreat. Only his friendship with his gay sister’s partner (Kristin Scott-Thomas) keeps him tethered to the world beyond his grief. On the anniversary of Margot’s death, Alex receives an email containing language known only to his wife, which leads to a webcam showing her looking toward him from a crowd, apparently alive. Alex’s desperate quest to locate Margot is thwarted when the police dig up a couple of bodies near the lake where Margot was murdered, along with evidence that implicates Alex. Top cop Francois Berleand reopens the case, with Alex as principal suspect, and the games begin. Aided by a droll lowlife himself in trouble with the law, Alex must outwit and outrace a host of pursuers, including the real perps, to discover the truth about Margot’s disappearance. (care of indieWIRE's interview with Canet)
iW Critic's Poll Rank: #61
Major Awards: 4 Cesars including best director and best actor.
Festival Plays: Athens; COL/COA; Seattle; Glasgow; Florida
Box Office Gross: $6,177,192 (US/CAN); $27,207,993 (Foreign)
DVD Extras: Dubbed English 2.0 soundtrack; Deleted Scenes; Outtakes
"Even if all of this demands a rather preposterous explanation, a wonderfully overblown coda, and a slightly overlong running time, it’s still enormously fun to watch, the kind of film that Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to make, but which, in Canet’s hands, looks almost laid back." - indieWIRE's review of the film.
"The main challenge was to adapt the novel for the screen. There were things that were easily resolved in the book that wouldn’t work on film. Like a character who says, “I heard that ... etc. ” In a movie, that’s impossible. The problem was the book was so well written, the moment you take something out, the rest falls apart. I changed the ending - but Harlan Coben loved what we came up with." - indieWIRE's interview with Canet.
"Timecrimes" (Magnolia Pictures)
Director/Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Featuring: Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernández, Bárbara Goenaga
Synopsis: It all starts with the middle-aged Hector (Karra Elejalde) and his investigations into the strange occurrences that seem to be taking place in the woods across from the backyard of the new home he is currently furnishing with his wife, Clara (Candela Fernandez). Walking to the site of the glimpsed weirdness, Hector tries to help a beautiful, naked, unconscious woman and for his trouble gets a knife in the arm from a man whose head is wrapped entirely in bandages. Aided by a scientist (Vigalondo) stationed at a nearby laboratory, Hector escapes this pursuer only to hide himself in a device that sends him back an hour in time.. (care of indieWIRE's review of the film)
Major Awards: Next Wave Award at Austin Fantastic Fest; Black Tulip Award at the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival
Festival Plays: Austin Fantastic Fest; Sundance; Stiges; Seattle; Edinburgh
Box Office Gross: $39,127 (US/CAN); $487,387 (Foreign)
DVD Extras: The Making of Timecrimes; Cast and Crew Interviews; Makeup Featurette; Timecrimes Internet Game Featurettes
"Ages have seemingly passed since a filmmaker fashioned something inventive and exciting out of the time-travel subgenre. 2004’s brief micro indie cause celebre “Primer” feels a long way off now, but Spanish sci-fi entry “Timecrimes”—relatively more polished but still modestly “small”—brings back memories of that out-of-leftfield marvel, while going its own fresh way. Unconcerned with special effects or jargon, “Timecrimes,” the debut feature from writer-director Nacho Vigalondo, makes its temporal loop-de-loops easy to follow while producing something thoroughly mind-bending and, what’s more, successful as an entertaining thriller." - indieWIRE's review of the film.
"I love time travel, literary sci-fi, the crime stories from authors like James Cain... I loved the intimate appeal of making a film like the American Fritz Lang movies: few characters, few locations, and a deep crime logic. From there I added the time travel element, like those crazy novels from the sixties. And threw in a little softcore eroticism for good measure. Then I realized this would be a De Palma story with a time machine. How could I stop at this point?." - indieWIRE's interview with Vigalondo.
Recently available on Internet VOD:
Ben Solomon's "Captured", a new documentary about the turbulent evolution of New York's lower east side (available on Amazon VOD).
Sarah Friedland and Esy Casey’s "Thing With No Name", which follows two women in sub-Saharan African villages as they begin a program of anti-retroviral drugs after having been diagnosed with full-blown AIDS (available on iTunes)
Cristina Kotz Cornejo's "3 Americas", about Boston teenager América, who faces difficulties common to those of her peers, and spends her days shoplifting and dodging her alcoholic uncle. But she faces new problems when she's sent to Buenos Aires to live with her Spanish-speaking, anti-American grandmother Lucía. (available on Jaman)
Jaffar Mahmood's "Shades of Ray", about American-born Ray Rehman comes home one night to find his Pakistani father on his doorstep. Ray’s Caucasian mother threw him out. It’s an awkward time for his father to move in as Ray just proposed to his Caucasian girlfriend—who hasn’t given him an answer (available on Amazon VOD, check out indieWIRE's interview with Mahmood as well as an exclusive clip of the film here).