Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm A Slum-Blog Millionaire!

The crowds of out-of-town film fanatics that had overtaken State Street and queued up waiting to get into the various venues of the Santa Barbara Film Festival over the weekend thinned out somewhat on Monday. Time for the locals to take back the streets and put their butts in the seats.

I had thought I was one of the few people left in the world who had not seen Slumdog Millionaire. But the Monday evening screening of the movie at the Lobero that was followed by a Q & A with the movie's director Danny Boyle was packed.

Danny Boyle and Roger Durling at Monday night's Q & A.

A couple of days earlier, Jeffery Wells, the Hollywood columnist, told me he thought the movie was "a lock" to win Best Picture honors at the Oscars. Roger Durling, executive director of the Film Fest, seemed to indicate the same thing when he introduced the film on Monday evening by asking the crowd if they were ready to see "the best movie of the year."

I certainly think that Slumdog Millionaire, besides being an astounding example of movie making, is a remarkable piece of story telling. But it certainly has parts, many parts, that are difficult to watch. From the very beginning I found myself wishing the director would take his foot off of the accelerator and give us some more of a buffer zone between those difficult scenes. My seat in the theater could have used a passenger assist bar.

But unlike many other movies, I never once had the feeling that the people I was watching on the screen were acting. No sequence ever seemed staged. The movie is a total reality experience.

In the Q & A I was impressed with Boyle's resourcefulness. For instance he pointed out that in order to effectively shoot action sequences in confined spaces they used prototype handheld cameras that recorded their output to MacBook computers that the camera operators carried on their backs.

In other words, Boyle took a picture with a $15 million budget and made it look like it was $150 million on the screen. Precisely the opposite of what Wendy McCaw has done with the News-Press.

* * *

We interrupt our non-stop Film Fest coverage for this News-Press bulletin:

Remember this claim?

The Teamsters have staged unlawful secondary boycotts at local Santa Barbara businesses and harassed their customers.

Since last fall, that is what Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw cried time and time again through her paper. The above quote comes from a full-page ad that ran in the News-Press in September.

Well on Monday it was announced that the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board has cleared the Teamsters Union, who represents the paper's newsroom employees, of all allegations that their leafleting and other efforts to communicate that were directed at businesses that advertise in the News-Press constituted an unlawful secondary boycott.

BTW, did anyone else notice how quick KEYT was to get this story posted on their website yesterday afternoon? Hmmm . . . I wonder why that was?

Now, back to our regular programming.

* * *

Anne Thompson, who served as moderator for the Writer's Panel on Saturday, has been laid off by Variety.

If you missed the Writer's Panel, as I did, my buddy George has a good account of how it went.

* * *

Is it just me, or was that Debra Messing I saw at the Metro 4 on Sunday and at the Lobero on Monday night?

* * *

My Film Fest picks for Tuesday:

Three Monkeys (Üç maymun) (8 am Metro 4) Roger Durling's second favorite film at this year's fest. But he warns that it is "harsh."

Mile High: How to win...and lose...the White House
. (10 am Victoria Theater) For those among us who didn't get enough of a two year long Presidential campaign.

Going Green From The Ground Up (10 am SB Museum of Art) Locally produced documentary about building green in Santa Barbara.

The Visitor (1 pm Metro 4) I saw this movie when it originally came out earlier this year. It will make you think differently about the immigration process and how people of the Islamic faith have been treated under it since 9/11.

Whiz Kids. (6:30 pm Victoria Hall) A documentary produced by Carpinteria Native and Santa Barbara High alum Michael Duca.

Skin. (7:30 pm Metro 4) Another movie recommended by Roger.

20th Century Boys (20-seiki shônen). (9:45 pm Metro 4) My daughter wants to see this one.

Kristin Scott Thomas receives the Cinema Vanguard Award (8 pm Lobero)

My Film Fest photo gallery has been updated again.