I'd thought about a "top ten movies of 2008" post, but everybody in the world does that. So instead, I was going through my movie/theater/jazz performances journal to figure out what I saw that was absolutely essential. Here's three that are easy to find, one opening in American theaters in March, and two I've got no idea.
First, I'll join the crowd on this one: Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven't seen it yet, stop surfing the internet, go put your shoes on and see it now. A wonderful story about the kid from the slums who makes it big on the Mumbai version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." The young kids -- non-actors -- are a wonder.
Second, Kristin Scott Thomas in I Have Loved You For So Long. The female performance of 2008 from what I've seen. Heartbreaking and breathtaking.
Third, The Wrestler. Mickey Rourke is unrecognizeable as Mickey Rourke, but looks more like 50 miles of bad road. He and Marissa Tomei give career performances. Warning: really, really violent.
Opening in American theaters in March, American Violet. Based on a true story that I believe was reported in the New Yorker about a cruddy Texas town where the sheriff and DA keep the black population in the projects under control with periodic bogus drug raids. Mind you, this is all happening in 2000. The ACLU sues their rear ends and . . . . well, no spoilers.
Companion piece to Slumdog Millionaire: Firaaq (it means "separation" in Hindi, I'm told). Opening in India later this month. Opening here, who knows? Directed by the bollywood star Nandita Das, and based on the Hindu riots against Muslims (or the Hindu / Muslim riots, depending on your point of view) in Gujarat, India in 2002. A lovely, relentlessly sad movie.
And finally, Adam Resurrected. I understand this is also opening in January, this time in Germany. This is Jeff Goldbloom's career role, a holocaust survivor story directed by Paul Schrader and based on the short story by Yorum Kaniuk. I was in the movie's thrall, but thought it had zero American commercial potential because it would be overwhelmed by other holocaust movies. Opens in Germany this month. See it at the art house if you can.