NEW YORK -- Fox Searchlight Pictures threw the first big movie-biz holiday party of the season on Wednesday night, in the Library of the Hudson Hotel. (It's a "library" with a bar, a billiard table and giant framed cow portraits thick on the walls.) The company had much to be festive about, two of its latest features being the focus of much, as they say, "Oscar buzz."
Director Danny Boyle was on hand to absorb back pats and congratulatory chatter for "Slumdog Millionaire," his quasi-Bollywood love story/adventure movie, which was shot in Mumbai and features, among several other things, one of the year's great soundtracks (by famed Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman). Also in attendance was the film's cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, a madly affable Englishman, who attempted to explain the special camera he'd invented for the picture -- a sort of mini-Steadicam rig, it sounded like, amid the din -- and expressed his great love of India, a country where he's spent a considerable amount of time. Mumbai, especially, he said, is an extraordinarily crowded place ("You open up a cupboard and a family of fifteen comes tumbling out"), and it's a challenge to shoot in, but he'd go back in a minute. Not right this minute, though. First he has to hook up for a new picture with his longtime colleague, the Danish curmudgeon/director Lars Von Trier.
Dodging passing trays of finger foods on the other side of the room was Darren Aronofsky, whose ferocious new movie, "The Wrestler," won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival two months ago, and has just been nominated for Independent Spirit Awards for Best Feature, Best Cinematography and Best Male Lead (the back-to-stay Mickey Rourke). Aronofsky is already mulling his next project, he said - and at some point down the road, he'd like to do a kind of reassembly of his last film, "The Fountain," which has become a sci-fi cult hit on DVD. "It wouldn't be a 'director's cut,'" he said -- more like an alternate story told with the addition of unused footage from the first go-round. This would be a complicated project on a couple of levels, though, and it's at least a few years away.
Mickey Rourke himself arrived a little late at the party, having just wrapped another day's shooting on his next picture, "13," an English-language remake of the twisted French Russian-roulette thriller "13 Zameti," in which he's costarring with Jason Statham, Ray Winstone and 50 Cent (a really nice guy, says the Mick).
Peering out from behind a curtain of lightly streaked hair, Rourke appeared to have shed every ounce of the 35-or-so pounds of muscle he'd put on to play the over-the-hill grappler in Aronofsky's movie. Since he's all work-ethic these days, we wondered about the status of "Sin City 2," in which he's supposed to reprise the role of the brutal Marv. The project appears to have been held up by Robert Rodriguez's dispute with the Directors Guild of America. Rodriguez quit the group -- a fearless career move for a filmmaker -- when it refused to allow him to credit comics auteur Frank Miller as the co-director of the 2005 "Sin City." Once that kerfuffle's cleared up, though, the sequel could get underway pretty quickly. "Frank's ready," said Rourke. "And I'm ready, too."