OK, I know I said I was only going to do this blog thing while I was on the road, but… I got to go to a pre-release screening last night of Slumdog Millionaire, the new film by English director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting). It takes place in teeming Mumbai, following Jamal from his boyhood in the slums to his fidgeting moment on national television when he lands on the game show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” — and answers the questions correctly, one by one. The story unfolds in aching beauty and agony. Keep your eyes out for this in 2009 when it is released.
Afterwards, I went to see the latest by Banksy, who I only knew as a graffiti artist, famed for his politically charged images and his eternal inability to be identified, well, maybe. Bansky’s West Village Pet Store, on Seventh Avenue, is set up in a small shop space and filled with displays of animitronic animals and procesed food products that you can see here and here.
Having recently written a piece about a falcon cam for The New York Times, I stood soaking up the uncomfortable irony of the scene behind the storefront window — two baby surveillance cameras, sitting in their nest, eagerly reaching up to their surveillance camera mama, all moving in a decidedly birdlike manner. Further down the window, chicken nuggets bobbed into a plastic container of sauce.
“I wanted to make art that questioned our relationship with animals and the ethics and sustainability of factory farming,” Banksy explained in an official press release. “But it ended up as chicken nuggets singing.”
Inside, an eerily lifelike chimp sat in his cage, headphones on, transfixed by the television set showing Discovery channel images of chimps mating, face-to-face. His face moved in subtle response, his belly rose and fell with breath, and one hand held a remote while the other rested easily on his groin.