Posts Tagged ‘Freida Pinto’

American Melancholy

Hillbilly Elegy

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto, Owen Asztalos

This film is only available on Netflix

Frost/ Nixon and Rush director Ron Howard brings to life J. D. Vance’s autobiographical tale Hillbilly Elegy to the screen featuring superb performances by Oscar nominees Amy Adams (The Fighter, American Hustle, Vice) and the wonderfully talented Glenn Close (The Wife, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs) as mother and daughter. Amy Adams plays the troubled mother Bev, a nurse in Ohio who has a heroin addiction and is trying to keep her young family together, namely her daughter Lindsay played by Haley Bennett (Rules Don’t Apply, The Girl on the Train) and J. D. played by the talented Gabriel Basso (Super 8, The Whole Truth).

Glenn Close plays Bev’s mother and grandmother to her two children, the matriarchal Mamaw who ultimately steps in to raise the young J.D. when he is a boy, the younger version brilliantly played by Owen Asztalos who holds his own in some heart wrenching scenes between Amy Adams and Glenn Close.

The adult J. D. has completed law school at Yale in Connecticut and is about to be interviewed for his first legal appointment as a junior attorney at law. Before he gets to that interview in the prestigious and affluent environment of Yale in Connecticut he has to head back to Middleton in Ohio to deal with his mother Bev, expertly played by Amy Adams who has had a relapse on heroin.

J. D. doesn’t come from a wealthy family but through his grandmother’s encouragement, he studied hard, worked to pay the bills and got into law school. He was determined to escape the trap of cyclic poverty that his mother and grandmother had been trapped in.

His beautiful girlfriend Usha is back home in Connecticut awaiting for his return and is played by Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto. J. D. has kept the divide between affluent Connecticut and his Hillbilly past very distinctive by not sharing his violent upbringing in Jackson, Kentucky or Middleton, Ohio with Usha.

Hillbilly Elegy is told through a series of childhood flashbacks to a younger J. D. as he had to deal with his mother’s erratic behaviour, which provides some brilliant scenes between Owen Asztalos and experienced Hollywood actresses Glenn Close and Amy Adams.

What makes Glenn Close’s performance as the chain smoking Hillbilly matriarch so brilliant is that she is playing it against type, a struggling grandmother who gets meals on wheels and barely has enough cash to feed her grandson.

Close’s performance is astounding, a far cry from her lavish and equally superb performances in The Wife, as Sunny von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune and her breakout performance as the scheming Marquise de Merteuil in the Oscar winning French drama Dangerous Liaisons. Glenn Close has never won an Oscar and she deserves to win for this supporting performance in Hillbilly Elegy.

Hillbilly Elegy is a melancholic look back at one man’s struggle to lift himself out of poverty and the immense impression his mother and grandmother made on his life and how he overcome his dire circumstances to rise up and join the professional classes while never dismissing his impoverished heritage.

Hillbilly Elegy gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is recommended viewing for those that love a good family drama.

2008 Toronto Film Festival

2008 Toronto International Film Festival Winners

tiff_2008_poster_toronto

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.
Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

Passchendaele

Opening Night film: Passchendaele directed by Paul Gross; starring Paul Gross, Gil Bellows and Caroline Dhavernas

slumdog_millionaire

People’s Choice Award: Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle; starring Freida Pinto, Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan

Best Canadian Feature Film: Lost Song directed by Rodrigue Jean; starring Suzie LeBlanc, .

Adoration

Best Canadian Feature Film: (Special Jury Citation)Adoration directed by Atom Egoyan; starring Scott Speedman, , &

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Toronto_International_Film_Festival

Coincidental Exhibitions

Strange Coincidences

So let me tell you a remarkably strange story about coincidences, clear and imagined. In October 2008, whilst returning from a break in the Drakensberg, I had a two day stay in Durban. The first night, I accompanied a family friend to an Exhibition opening at Kizo Gallery, Umhlanga. Being a Monday evening, it was a fairly sedate but definitely prolific crowd that gathered. The artist was Aparna Swarup and featured a beautiful collection of photographs of Allahabad, a place in India, where there is a confluence of three holy rivers. At the exhibition I met the artist’s husband, an Indian diplomat based in Pretoria, Vikas Swarup. The husband was cordial and polite. A chance encounter I thought nothing of at the time.

Golden Globes

Fours months later in January 2009, I am in Johannesburg, watching the Golden Globe awards and suddenly there is buzz about the new Danny Boyle film Slumdog Millionaire. Of course Slumdog wins countless Golden Globe awards and suddenly there is loads of media attention. Looking up the Golden Globe awards, I found that the film Slumdog Millionaire was based on a book Q & A by Vikas Swarup. I still didn’t make any connection until I returned to Durban and the family friend mentioned that the artist’s husband I met was Vikas Swarup and the book was an Indian version centering on a wonderful story of how a poverty-stricken boy comes to be on the Quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire set in Mumbai.

slumdog_millionaire

From Shallow Grave

shallow_grave_ver1

to Slumdog Millionaire

The film rights had been taken up and Q and A was filmed as Slumdog Millionaire tipped for Oscar glory. What better director than Danny Boyle the Manchester bred director who had brought British cinema into limelight again with such films as the Scottish thriller Shallow Grave and Trainspotting and launched the careers of Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox.

Trainspotting was an instant cult hit in the early 1990s and with a superb soundtrack and frenetic direction, filmgoers saw Edinburgh, crack addiction and trains in an entirely different light. Having met the author of Q and A, now suitably piqued by the curiosity of Danny Boyle’s film version, I purchased the novel and devoured it within a week relishing the wonderful way Swarup entwines the stories of his hero, Jamal with how he manages to reach the final and tantalizing finale of the Quiz show and shedding some light on the horrors and joys of contemporary India.

2009 Oscars come and go, Slumdog Millionaire sweeps the board, the soundtrack wins best original score, the film wins best director for Boyle and suddenly the stars Freda Pinto and Dev Patel are appearing on US talk shows, dancing Bollywood style with the likes of Ellen de Generes. The best part about seeing Slumdog Millionaire for me was watching it in the Supernova theatre at Suncoast Coast and experiencing the full brilliance of such a wonderful and frenetic film, a lush and hectic slant on modern day India. Nothing like watching a film on the big screen, the impact of which surely diminishes once a viewer sees it on DVD.

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