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Slumdog Millionaire

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Slumdog Millionaire held up well to a second viewing, and was favorably received by my sister, niece, father, and a family friend.

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Often I think people react negatively to things because they're expecting them to be something other than what they are: "Why isn't this movie Millions? or Trainspotting? or The New World? or Twilight?"

It's never a good idea to go in having decided what a film should be.

The movie I watched felt like a B/B-... engaging for its whimsical pop spirit, vivid imagery, and slick ability to draw a "general audience" into a world they would not normally want to go on a Friday night at the movies. (Note: I've already been called a Slumdog "hater" elsewhere, primarily because I failed to join the Hallelujah Chorus that the film is receiving. I'd give the film a "B/B-" grade--I thought it was an entertaining movie. If that qualifies as "Slumdog hate," well... fine then. I just don't understand the wild cries of "Best Picture of the Year".)

But I gotta say: I know more about the character, personality, heart, mind, interests, and capabilities of a certain robot in the first ten minutes of his movie than I do about the central character of Slumdog Millionaire after two hours. I don't think it's imposing too many expectations on a film to hope that the characters are, well... characters.

I'm glad folks are enjoying it. More power to you. I look forward to reading about what it means to you, and how... rather than just that you liked it.

I'm not going on here to try and make people see it my way. But when others seem to be trying to diagnose *why* I was disappointed, in spite of my aforementioned explanations, I need to answer. (I'm assuming these notes have to do with my comments, since I'm the only one here who's expressed such frustrations.) My frustrations were not due to preconceived notions or expectations. They come from:

  • an inability to suspend disbelief due to what I perceive as frequent implausibility;
  • a frustration with frequent cliches (the romance is a pile of cliches; the convenient and easy escapes;
  • a sense of being treated as if I couldn't think for myself (constant flashbacks, constant megaphone tactics telling me how to feel before I've had a chance to think);
  • generalizations, generalizations, generalizations;
  • a discomforting clash between Bollywood superficiality and real-world horrors;
  • my fruitless search for characters who weren't just "types," but, well... engaging characters.

Now, I'm happy to give the film another chance. I'm a big fan of Boyle, even if I haven't been a big fan of all of his films (I admire Trainspotting, love Millions, enjoy Shallow Grave and 28 Days Later, but let's not forget A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach, and Sunshine.) For me, he's always an engaging stylist, but the films seem to succeed or fail for me on the strength of their screenplays. Sometimes the style fails to disguise a lack of substance... sometimes that seems to be what he's most interested in; and sometimes his style enhances and opens up the richness of the story.

If I go back and find that the torture scene makes sense; that the characters are personalities rather than one-note "types;" that the film really has something to show us about India beyond a soap-opera sense of "I will find you, no matter how long it takes!"; that the fusion of cheap pop cliches and "gritty" real-world horrors actually *means* something... well, I'll quickly write a very different review. It's happened plenty of times before.

Earlier, Winston said,

Look at the tragedies in this film; religious murders/riots resulting in the loss of their mother, human trafficking (which is really what the whole orphanage situation was), rape, murder, betrayal, all set in the extreme (unimaginable) poverty of the slums of India. This film didn't shirk back from showing us the world we live in.

You're right. It didn't. But the story it's telling treats those things as just background, while the story in the foreground is as unremarkable as they come.

And that's why I have a hard time accepting the

"Gets the Girl/Wins the Game Show"

conclusion, and the general reception of the film as the feel-good movie of the year. You could tell this same story in the context of the Holocaust, and there would be cries of outrage at how that chapter of history was exploited to serve as the "obstacle" in the path of a young boy chasing his dream girl. It would take a very skillful storyteller to tell that story with any sense of propriety. I'm not saying it couldn't be done. I'm just saying it feels exploitative, disrespectful, and cheap.

I had the same reaction during Titanic: They went to such great lengths to recreate the scale and detail of a great historical tragedy, but they chose to focus on the shallowest, most cliched, crowd-pleasing thread of storytelling. The film was as narrow in its vision as the teens it followed. (But hey, at least they had personalities!)

My heart goes out to the sex slaves in Calcutta, especially as they're getting younger all the time. The abuses there are an abomination of unimaginable proportions. But golly, this film's got one rockin' soundtrack! "A soaring, crowd-pleasing fantasy!!" (Wall Street Journal)

Edited by Overstreet

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"B/B-"

I can't remember a time where you were so hard on a film that you gave a "B" to. That must be why people are calling you names.

I thought it was an entertaining movie. If that qualifies as "Slumdog hate," well... fine then. I just don't understand the wild cries of "Best Picture of the Year"

Let's just call it a makeup call for the poor distribution and groupthink unwillingness to critically love love love Sunshine. ;)

But I gotta say: I know more about the character, personality, heart, mind, interests, and capabilities of a certain robot in the first ten minutes of his movie than I do about the central character of Slumdog Millionaire after two hours. I don't think it's imposing too many expectations on a film to hope that the characters are, well... characters.

Yes, that little robot sure was cute. He isn't human though, and we humans typically change every decade or so. We get quirks. We develop issues, we make mistakes, we get into trouble, we fall in love, we fall in lust, we take advantage, we hurt, we inflict pain -- and all of this makes us change, over and over again. How old were these two brothers? Thirty? It's tough to cram in all the answers to every change these kids have experienced in two hours. I personally thought Boyle did a pretty good job of this. Looking back on it though I can definitely see your points, especially about the torture scenes in the beginning. They don't make sense at all. But I guess I wasn't thinking about that when I was watching them.

Put me in the "liked it, enjoyed it, but won't fall in love with it" category. Although I will qualify that "liked it" with a "quite a bit." And the three other people I went with, who aren't real film geeks, really had a postitive experience with it, which felt good to me because it was my idea to see the film together.

How can this film possibly ever qualify for an Oscar though? Isn't it a foreign film? At the very least it's an Indian film made by a British man. Was it with American money? What qualifies it as a non-foreign film in the standings anyway?

Edited by stef

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How can this film possibly ever qualify for an Oscar though?

Very good question. Three Colors: Blue was disqualified because it was a Polish director's film making a movie in French, in the French language. How is this different?

Edited by Overstreet

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Barbara Nicolosi:

Slumdog Millionaire is the most over-rated movie since Crash. Which means it has a good chance of winning the Academy Award. Especially if they put it up against the highly mediocre Milk - this year's Brokeback . . .

Slumdog suffers from a story problem I internalized several years ago and have since thought of as "The Horse Whisperer Problem". That is, the opening moments of The Horse Whisperer were so dark and hard to watch - a horse and little girl rider getting hit by a truck and then lying on the side of the road with broken legs and gushing wounds - that the film could never overcome their emotional impact. Personally, no moment of ultimate triumph/survival in Slum Dog could overcome the sheer awfulness of the film's early sequences . . .

I think the reason this movie is getting buzz and praise from Christian critics (???!!!! I've stopped trying to figure out what most of us are smoking at the movies...) is because in the end a poor, nice kid gets good things. You know, money and a pretty girl, which according to the Gospel is what life is all about, right? And then it is ethnic too, which makes it almost unassailable to Christian critics who don't want to seem culturally insensitive. . . .

stef wrote:

: How can this film possibly ever qualify for an Oscar though?

Um, because it's a film. Period. (Well, the fact that it played in American theatres is key here, too.)

: Isn't it a foreign film?

Irrelevant. Life Is Beautiful and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were nominated for Best Picture despite having directors that were native to those countries (unlike Slumdog Millionaire, which may be set in India but was directed by a Brit -- and Brits are just Americans with funny accents, as far as the Oscars are concerned).

: What qualifies it as a non-foreign film in the standings anyway?

There is no award for "non-foreign films". Or for "foreign films", technically speaking. There is Best Picture, and there is Best Foreign LANGUAGE Film. Though apparently American films made in foreign languages (such as Letters from Iwo Jima) don't count as "Foreign LANGUAGE Films", which is just weird.

Overstreet wrote:

: Three Colors: Blue was disqualified because it was a Polish director's film making a movie in French, in the French language. How is this different?

I assume we're talking about Best Foreign Language Film now, and not Best Picture. In that case, the rules have changed in recent years.

It used to be that a nominee in this category had to be made in a language that was indigenous to the country which nominated it. So if Poland nominated a French-language movie -- no matter where it was made, and no matter who directed it -- then it would not have qualified. (This is why Lilja 4-Ever, a Swedish movie set mostly in Russia, with mostly Russian dialogue, was disqualified a few years ago. And this is why the Soviets could nominate Dersu Uzula, even though the director was Japanese: the film was shot in Russia, and the dialogue was Russian, so it was a "Russian" movie as far as the Academy was concerned.)

But like I say, the rules have changed now. So a film like Water, which was directed by a Canadian but takes place in India, with all the dialogue in Hindi, can now be nominated by Canada for Best Foreign Language Film even though Hindi is not one of our native tongues. (All previous Canadian nominees for this award have been in French, I think, with the exception of Atanarjuat, which was in an Inuit dialect.) But apparently the nominees for this category still have to come from nations OUTSIDE of the United States (hence, as mentioned above, Letters from Iwo Jima -- an American film with dialogue in Japanese -- was ineligible for this category).

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Ah.

I agree with Nicolosi about the story, but I don't like her generalization that "Christian film critics" are praising the film out of a fear of "seeming culturally insensitive." Which Christian film critics is she accusing, do you suppose?

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Overstreet wrote:

: I agree with Nicolosi about the story, but I don't like her generalization that "Christian film critics" are praising the film out of a fear of "seeming culturally insensitive." Which Christian film critics is she accusing, do you suppose?

No idea. I haven't done any "film forum" style round-ups on this one. :)

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For me, he's always an engaging stylist, but the films seem to succeed or fail for me on the strength of their screenplays.

Which is based on a novel. Has that gone mentioned here -- even by our novelists?

Is the novel available in English?

Is the torture scene in the novel? Is it explained there? Does the explanation carry over, in any way, to the film?

I'd be interested in the answers to all of these questions, although I don't know that they'd change my mind about the film.

EDIT: Here's the Amazon link to the book. The Booklist and Publisher's Weekly summaries indicate that the protagonist is thrown in jail after winning the jackpot, then questioned by a lawyer. I'm thinking the torture scenes were added to the screenplay, unnecessarily.

Edited by Christian

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Sicinski:

Am I part of a backlash on this one? Hard to say, since I certainly came to it with full knowledge of its overblown hype, but I was also kind of rooting for Slumdog, seeing as I'm a fan of latter-day Boyle (esp. 28 Days Later and Sunshine). But the fact is Slumdog doesn't deliver on its promise, and it seems to me that it promises quite a lot. Depending on your point of view, the film is a romantic fairy tale of Jamal (Dev Patel), the Muslim slum kid from Mumbai, who makes it all the way to the final question on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" all to impress his long lost love, Latika (Freida Pinto). His travails along the way only show the adversity this daring young boy must overcome. But does the film have anything at all to say about India? We get young kids playing on the megalopolis trash heaps, violent outbreaks of the Hindu / Muslim conflict, Oliver Twist-style orphan exploitation, the loss of his brother to mobsters, eventual low-level employment at a call center, and, once Jamal starts succeeding on the game show, torture under interrogation by shady police. The question is, are these moments to be taken seriously, as social critique, or are they just "the bad stuff" that our hero must undergo in order to satisfy his quest to reunite with his beloved? The tagline, "It is written" gives a clue, but these grim interludes take up so much of the screen time it's difficult to just write them off as mere plot hurdles. Boyle does seem to have an investment in showing us hard times in "the real India," but the fairy tale demands of Slumdog mean that these hardships are so overblown (while simultaneously being subjected to Anthony Dod Mantle's aestheticizing, high-neon cinematography) as to ask a Western viewer to recoil, getting our "exceptionalist" hackles up. ("Well, tonight thank God it's them, instead of you....") Slumdog, in its brightest moments and its darkest, never departs from a touristic and yes, a colonialist gaze, even as it tries to be frivolous, frothy uplift. But perhaps more damning still is that Slumdog is a dull slog of a film. Whether this is because Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy cannot ascertain whether or not they are committed to partial seriousness, or if the problem is that the filmmakers simply can't "do" action, car chases, romantic sweep, or the vicarious thrill of being on a game show, I'm not sure. But all of these elements fall flat on the screen, and this is made all the more apparent by the question-by-question flashback structure, since, rather like a Michael Snow or Hollis Frampton film, Slumdog never lets you forget just how much more of its running time you have yet to undergo. But what do I know? Folks are falling in love with Slumdog left and right, so it seems to hit some strange pleasure center that is clearly dead in me. Nevertheless, no excuse for an idiot contrivance like a bathroom break between a question and an answer. Please.

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After reading this thread, I think I find myself in the minority. I absolutely loved this movie even <strike>cried</strike> sobbed at the end. As a responsible film watcher I probably should go back and think about the plot but I don't want to. I just had an excellent time.

I'll admit the plot doesn't change movie history but I loved it, the characters and the look of the film. Watching it was a profound spiritual experience. Modern-day India isn't pretty or easy to watch but I think an important experience for an American audience to have. I wish this film was nearly as popular as crap like <i>Marley and Me</i>

This is the first of the end-of-year Oscar hopeful films I've seen so I can't rank it among my favorites of the year.

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After reading this thread, I think I find myself in the minority. I absolutely loved this movie even <strike>cried</strike> sobbed at the end. As a responsible film watcher I probably should go back and think about the plot but I don't want to. I just had an excellent time.

OK, I'll cop to it, I cried too, and I think it was because that's what Boyle was going for and he got it out of me. No biggie, though, just ask anyone here -- I'm a crier.

I also can see why someone wouldn't cry at the end, if at the beginning they went into the torture scenes ticked off from the start. It would alter the entire viewing experience from the beginning.

I'll admit the plot doesn't change movie history but I loved it, the characters and the look of the film. Watching it was a profound spiritual experience....

This is the first of the end-of-year Oscar hopeful films I've seen so I can't rank it among my favorites of the year.

Slumdog was fun. Doubt should win everything.

[Note that I haven't seen The Wrestler or Reservation Road. Yet.]

[Edit: And apparently no one anywhere is seeing Synecdoche, New York, what's it on like three screens nationwide? Ugh.]

Edited by stef

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Very good thoughts, Peter. I encourage you to post it on Mike's blog, since he's the one offering the article.

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...Nothing necessarily pretty about a fairy tale. The important thing in a fairy tale is that eventually, somehow, someone good or innocent must triumph over the wicked or guilty.

I like this, Beth. Thinking about SLUMDOG as a fairy tale, on the Grimm side. Reminds me of PAN'S LABYRINTH, as well.

I saw the film again this Sunday, took my family. I was pretty sure my daughters would love the film.

For the first long while, I was thinking "why isn't this my favourite movie of the year?" But again, by the end, I was thinking "Good movie. My interest waned a bit later on, though." Now, it didn't wane very low - even when I was less engaged, I was still engaged.

(I was going to write more, but my daughters are stuck in the snow and I need to go help them...)

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Thinking about it overnight, there is one thing really special that Danny Boyle did in this film that I don't think I've ever seen before in a film....

the entire movie builds up to this natural climax, where the audience is fooled into thinking that the answer was given in the course of the film, when it actually wasn't (and Jamal has to rely upon luck, or "destiny" to carry the day.

... Anyway, I thought that was cool.

Great observation, Nick. That really came through to me seeing the film a second time.

If I heard right, when we first get the snippet in the film where the brothers arrive late to class, and the teacher throws the book at them, we actually hear someone - I think it's one of the brothers - say "Athos." It's wonderfully ambiguous: it could be the answer to the question, or it could be one of the brothers calling the other brother by his "Three Musketeers name." Just a bit of a red herring, but effective to kind of help smudge the whole memory for the audience.

Edited by Ron Reed

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As for Jeffrey's response to the film, it reminded me of a local CBC radio call-in show on New Year's eve, with a local film critic (Ken Eisner) fielding calls from listeners raving their favourites. One woman hailed SLUMDOG, saying it "blew her away." Eisner responded that that's fine, if you like films to blow you away: he does not.

So it occurs to me that there's something here about sensibility. Particularly in recent years, Mr Overstreet has felt especially drawn to contemplative, spacious films, THE NEW WORLD being a good example. (Very deft reference to that, Beth.) Somewhere - perhaps in your book, Jeff? - you mention the fact that such films provide you a quiet place in the middle of an exceedingly hectic life. And it seems to fit that you find the kinetic style of SLUMLORD offputting, and therefore that it's weaknesses glare. I found SLUMDOG's tempo and flash exhilarating: it seemed to me to fit with the sort of chaotic sensory overload that seems to be so common an experience of India, with its overwhelming clashes of opposites. Neither Mr Eisner nor Mr Overstreet appreciate that overwhelm - it perhaps feels to them like meeting an extreme extrovert at a party after he's had a few drinks. Where for me, it was like meeting up with an ebullient, extroverted friend with a wicked imagination, full of crazy schemes.

I certainly don't mean to dismiss Jeffrey's response with this comment: he's done a great job enumerating the specific weaknesses of the film, and it's not all just about some subjective like / dislike emotional response. But with "love it or hate it" films (or plays, or musicians, or painters, or people), I suspect this visceral, highly personal response plays a pretty significant factor in inclining a person one way or another. Almost like introversion and extroversion. (Perhaps films themselves can be intro- or extroverts? Not in any psychologically precise sense, but you know what I'm suggesting.) If one's gut-level response is to love such a film (for its relentless optimism, for its brashness, its bold colours and broad strokes), then that love covers a multitude of sins. If one's essential response is to recoil from its lack of personal boundaries, all its shortcomings leap to the fore. If you're as smart and experienced a movie-watcher as Jeffrey, you can enumerate those perceptively and clearly: if you're not, you might just get mad.

As far as the question of the film being over-hyped as a romance, and relating to my slight sag of interest in the later stretches, I think I liked the film best when it was about the boy's compassion, friendship, loyalty toward the little girl. His steadfast, relentless desire NOT to leave her behind. He couldn't bear to see her stand alone in the rain, and he couldn't bear the fact that she had been left behind on the train. And he was not going to settle for that. THAT story I find extraordinarily compelling. Heck, I'm the guy who is still David-and-Jonathan friends with the kid he saw standing alone in front of the school, first day of junior high: he looked as lonely and lost and brave-faced as I felt, and there was no flipping way I was going to leave him standing off to the side by himself. Forty years later, he's closer than a brother.

And that's the story I saw from the outset. When that fierce loyalty and compassion, the childhood friendship of acting out Bollywood scenes for each other at the orphanage, transmuted into romantic attraction later, it became slightly less compelling to me. Not because I think such stories - romance stories - are inherently trite, or because I find such a shift less than believable. Only because that narrative isn't anywhere near the centre of my life any more. I've been married almost three decades, and while I love my wife, that story - of finding the right girl, falling head over heels, moving mountains to be together - isn't what my life is about any more. Frankly, it was a central, maybe THE central, narrative of my life in my teens and early twenties; hence my comment that, if I had seen SLUMDOG when I was 22, it would have been my favourite movie of all time. But three decades later, my core narrative is different than the one in (the last chapters of) the film, so it doesn't lock into my psyche in the same way. Whereas the themes of loyalty, compassion, friendship that overcomes suffering - still very close to my heart. Hmm, I'm even thinking that, as a dad of daughters, I felt the same immense desire to care for that little lonely girl in the rain that the central character did. At that phase, his heart was my heart, and the film had unlimited power to secure my identification with the core of the story. Even when his love added elements of eros - which wasn't lost on me either, she had to be just about the most beautiful woman imaginable - the loyalty and faithfulness (and faith) of their childhood friendship remained. But the story that absolutely engaged me was less about them being a couple than about them being friends.

I think it's reductive (and a bit insulting) to say that SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is nothing but a cliched love story, with direst poverty providing obstacles to the star-crossed (but ultimately star-blest) lovers. (Not accusing anyone of having said that, specifically.) It's much more than that - however fast it moves, however contrived its story. (It also occurs to me that stories about destiny, fate, providence, God's will, "It is written"-ness, very often have plotlines that can readily be perceived as contrived. Maybe inevitably, since the point of the story is that Someone or Something HAS contrived the events which are unfolding before us. Such and such an event defies probability? Well of course it does: the narrative is essentially arguing that life is NOT mere probability, it's not all just a matter of change, but rather that events ARE being contrived, orchestrated, shaped, and that sometimes they may even defy believability. I know such things have happened to me.)

Another thought about the narrative contrivances. Hair-breadth escapes, chases, sudden unexpected turns of event - these are the stuff of melodrama. SLUMDOG is a melodrama. So is Oliver Twist, so is Macbeth - dramaturgically speaking, they are narratives that are heavily weighted toward external events. I love playwrights and screenwriters who create stories that are the opposite of this - Chekhov, Horton Foote. But if the central narrative drive of the story captures me, I can be dead keen on these kind of stories as well - Slumdog, Lord Of The Rings, Great Expectations.

Okay, enough pondering in public. SLUMDOG isn't my favourite movie of 2008 - SILENT LIGHT (contemplative) or IN BRUGES (melodramatic but resonant) or SHOTGUN STORIES (hmm, sort of alternates between the two, oddly enough) are duking it out to claim that distinction - but it's one of my favourites.

I loved watching those gorgeous leads dance during the credits. But what really thrilled me was the kids dancing together, goofing around. Which pretty much sums up how the whole movie worked for me.

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Good discussion in this thread. I just realized that I left this film off my year-end Top 20, but I'm thinking that the omission DID occur to me as I was compiling the list. I liked the film, but it hasn't grown in my recollection. I've seen it twice. If anything, it's faded a bit. I don't want to overstate that -- it's faded just a bit. But I'm not sure I'm really "on board" with this film.

Guess who's definitely not on board with it? Salman Rushdie!

Edited by Christian

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Thank you, Salman. It's nice to have some company in this dark, cold, lonely corner. I'll pour your a drink, and Michael Sicinski will offer you a cigar.

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Since I really don't like polluting threads like this one with my complaints about a film, when the majority really like it, I'm tempted to delete my previous posts and just refer folks to my new catch-all post about Slumdog.

But would deleting them mess up the flow of the thread too much? I'm open to your thoughts.

(I really didn't want to post more than once or twice here... I just kept finding new comments about my experience of the movie that I felt needed an answer.)

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Never kowtow to the majority. Never.

And there is a huge difference between spice and pollution.

I mean, it's not much of a "conversation" if it's all glee-club praise or hater pile-ons. We need the variety. Need it.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Since I really don't like polluting threads like this one with my complaints about a film, when the majority really like it, I'm tempted to delete my previous posts and just refer folks to my new catch-all post about Slumdog.

NO!!!! Don't, don't, please don't delete your posts! They're smart, interesting, detailed, apt. What's great about this place is to see a variety of people respond from their very different sensibilities, aesthetics, preferences, enthusiasms. Keep it coming, Jeffrey! (But you're wrong about AMERICAN BEAUTY. And PLEASANTVILLE, and I would ask you to refrain from posting any comments about those two films...)

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MLeary wrote:

: : And there is a huge difference between spice and pollution.

:

: Cumin, in this case.

I'm not entirely sure what that means, but :) .

- - -

The Co-Pilot of 'Slumdog'

In 2007, a little known casting director named Loveleen Tandan was hired to find actors for the movie "Slumdog Millionaire," a love story that springs from the chaotic streets of Mumbai. But in filling the parts Ms. Tandan also helped reshape the project itself, and emerged with a big role of her own as the film's co-director in India. "It's not a credit that could exist in any other film," she says.

Wall Street Journal, January 9

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...but it also fools you into thinking that she would know the answer.

She doesn't.

I thought we were led to assume that she wouldn't know the answer. At least, if she did, then the entire karmic tension would have been cut with almost 10 more minutes to go! From the very beginning we are told: "It is written," and this extends to the narrative plotting. I assumed throughout the film that Boyle was trying to contravene this predictable (and thus boring) aspect of the film with all the flashy angles and edits that grant the form of Slumdog some measure of surprise.

I think it's reductive (and a bit insulting) to say that SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is nothing but a cliched love story, with direst poverty providing obstacles to the star-crossed (but ultimately star-blest) lovers. (Not accusing anyone of having said that, specifically.)

Can't this go both ways? It is possible that the film is insulting to those affected by the violent tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India, as Slumdog simply uses this background at the beginning of the film as a narrative device? I can't imagine reading A Fine Balance and then watching this film without noticing the disparity between Mistry's and Boyle's perspective on poverty in that part of the world. I found it pretty insulting that Boyle uses the "suitcase" at the end of Who Want's to Be a Millionaire as a talisman for "making it" in India. The only really successful people we see in the film are gangsters, a crooked game show host, and a guy who wins all his money. I would rather have seen a movie about Jamal in this call center trying to negotiate the new India's middle class, there is a great story there.

And then I am baffled by the film's concept of destiny. Is it Hindu? Islamic? Or is it that nebulous idea that serves as the deus ex machina for so many Hollywood and Bollywood scripts? This is going to sound pedantic, but I can't get on board with the film theologically. Boyle's "It is written" is a bit of a sham compared to the way destiny is described in other 2008 films, like Shotgun Stories, Silent Light, or Wendy and Lucy.

Edited by MLeary

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