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Slumdog Millionaire

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Once again, Prof. Morefield lowers one heck of a critical bomb. This time it's in defense of Slumdog.

Sometimes, though, good things happen to good people. Not merely because they are good. Not necessarily as a reward for their goodness, but because for one soul-lifting moment the veil is lifted and the fog of so many things we can't understand rolls away to give us a glimpse of the universe we know must be latent somewhere beneath the dirt, and death, and shit, even if we too often despair from the weight of doubt borne out the infrequency of such glimpses.

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Once again, Prof. Morefield lowers one heck of a critical bomb. This time it's in defense of Slumdog.

Sometimes, though, good things happen to good people. Not merely because they are good. Not necessarily as a reward for their goodness, but because for one soul-lifting moment the veil is lifted and the fog of so many things we can't understand rolls away to give us a glimpse of the universe we know must be latent somewhere beneath the dirt, and death, and shit, even if we too often despair from the weight of doubt borne out the infrequency of such glimpses.

GREAT QUOTE!

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Slumdog Millionaire won eight Oscars for cinematography, director, film editing, original score, one of the original songs (Jai Ho), sound mixing, adapted screenplay and, of course, best picture.

Well I'm pleased, though some of you won't be. Slumdog wasn't the best picture of the past year, but it was, in my view, the best of the nominations.

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Slumdog actor beaten by dad

THESE shocking images show Oscar winning Slumdog actor Azharuddin Mohammed receiving a vicious beating at the hands of his father.

Only days after walking down the red carpet in Hollywood the ten-year-old film star was slapped and kicked by dad, Ismail, after refusing to be put on display like a trophy.

London Sun, February 27

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One qualm expressed about the film is something along the lines of, "Who wants to watch a movie about a slum kid winning piles of money?" That qualm is shared by the film's screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, in a terrific interview for the Creative Screenwriting podcast (November 21, 2008). It also seems clear that the energy of the narrative and the shooting style (the practical, shoot-on-the-fly reality of filming with handheld cameras in the midsts of the slums) had more to do with a response to the energy of the city, rather than being any attempt to specifically ape the flourishes of Bollywood.

I was captured by the underdog thing. The idea that someone with no education, who knows nothing, who's kind of looked down on in society. To get on a show that's all about being clever, and beat them at their own game. Not through intellect, but just through having lived a life. A hard life.

But I was very ambivalent about the game show. I'm not a big fan of get rich quick game shows and I don

Edited by Ron Reed

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Been a week or so since seeing Slumdog. I read through a chunk of the thread until getting bogged down in the "-porn" debates. I'm not wanting to rehash that debate, except to say that while Boyle et al may be guilty of exploiting their young impoverished actors, the film doesn't seem to be about titillating its audience in terms of its approach to poverty. Some of the kids end up good, some bad, all being used by the system to some degree. In the end, Jamal unwittingly uses the system against itself to find the one thing he's looking for--true love. (Or was he looking to blave?)

I'm intrigued by Boyle's use of "the real India" and love as destiny ("it is written") as the two themes threading through the movie. In particular, the scene in which the younger Salim and Jamal serve as fake tour guides to show the women washing clothes in the river while their friends rip off the rental Mercedes gives a small coherent scene of both Western fears and Eastern critiques of the tourist. The naive tourists want to see the "real" India--in search of authentic experience, by which they obviously mean, poverty in action (perhaps modelled on scenes they saw in "Ghandi" or something), they find themselves throwing money at the very kid who set them up to be robbed by the street gangs. Their chauffer, who knows better, is chastised for beating young Jamal, while the wife urges her husband to give even more money in addition to what they've already lost to the young thief. The tourist desire of the true Indian experience is ironically fulfilled in being ripped off twice by the very people purporting to show them the real India. The critique of the Westerner is seen in his buffoonery in not realizing the exploitative nature of his request while he himself is being exploited by his trusted guide. Forster explores this some in "A Passage to India" but I don't think Lean's film captured 1/8 of its nuance. At the same time, the film shows that the tourist was foolish to venture beyond the safety of his travel agency cocoon, a common Western complaint of traveling in "foreign parts". Its an interesting vignette.

That brings to mind the characterization of Jamal--always goodhearted, he is conveniently moral. He takes care to tell the truth (when appropriate) but his younger self is a scrappy streetwise theif and hustler. How did he turn into the paragon of virtue winning the gameshow for Lakita's attention? That, I think, would have been worth exploring. But Boyle's not interested in it--he needs Jamal to be honest at the time of the questioning to gain our symptathies and to buy into the "destiny" stuff. Lakita herself is not much more than a type--secretly in love with Jamal all these years, but the gangster's mistress and wrapped up in the trappings of wealth? I don't buy it. As an audience member, I don't care cause I'm wrapped up in the emotion of the story--but as I think back on it, I'm a sucker.

I liked the film, but like much candy, its oddly unsatisfying, Snickers marketing to the contrary.

I

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That brings to mind the characterization of Jamal--always goodhearted, he is conveniently moral. He takes care to tell the truth (when appropriate) but his younger self is a scrappy streetwise theif and hustler. How did he turn into the paragon of virtue winning the gameshow for Lakita's attention? That, I think, would have been worth exploring. But Boyle's not interested in it--he needs Jamal to be honest at the time of the questioning to gain our symptathies and to buy into the "destiny" stuff. Lakita herself is not much more than a type--secretly in love with Jamal all these years, but the gangster's mistress and wrapped up in the trappings of wealth? I don't buy it. As an audience member, I don't care cause I'm wrapped up in the emotion of the story--but as I think back on it, I'm a sucker.

I liked the film, but like much candy, its oddly unsatisfying, Snickers marketing to the contrary.

I watched this about a week ago myself, and came away underwhelmed. I absolutely agree with your breakdown of the characters of Jamal and Latika. This relationship just doesn't work at all for me. There just "no there there".

My other problem with the film (and it has probably already been discussed) is the complete lack of believability that the order of questions asked during the game show just happen to correspond to Jamal's life in linear fashion. I'd like to see what Alejandro Innaritu would have done with this material.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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My other problem with the film (and it has probably already been discussed) is the complete lack of believability that the order of questions asked during the game show just happen to correspond to Jamal's life in linear fashion. I'd like to see what Alejandro Innaritu would have done with this material.

I thought Boyle mixed this up a little bit--so that it wasn't completely an A-B-C structure. For example, we learned why he knew what a Colt .45 was before the question, not after it. And it had nothing to do with Billy Dee Williams. But I think in general, that the questions were in mostly chronological order corresponding to Jamal's age, is a contrivance that allows the audience to follow the storyline. Not as exciting as the Limey or Memento, but still, I liked it for what it was.

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: My other problem with the film (and it has probably already been discussed) is the complete lack of

: believability that the order of questions asked during the game show just happen to correspond to

: Jamal's life in linear fashion

I think that's coherrent with the film's internal logic even though it remains wildly improbable. It happens because "it is written".

And in any case, if you want to go down the probability route, then the probabilty of someone knowing the answers to all those questions simply because every question has had an impact on their life is probably far far smaller than the probability that that particular set of questions wiill be asked in an order that is, in general, chronological.

Matt

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I never took the chronology or the probability as an important part of the story. IMHO, it is a literary/cinematic technique that allows us to walk with a young man through the chapters of his life. The game show is really inconsequential in the final analysis - he didn't even go on it to win but to be reunited with his love.

Edited by Denny Wayman

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I never took the chronology or the probability as an important part of the story. IMHO, it is a literary/cinematic technique that allows us to walk with a young man through the chapters of his life. The game show is really inconsequential in the final analysis - he didn't even go on it to win but to be reunited with his love.

Unfortunately, for me, since I never bought into the love story, the technique is all I'm left with, and it didn't elevate the story beyond a lot of well framed images. I find this the case with a lot of Boyle's films. Trainspotting, 28 days later, Millions, even Shallow Grave, have terrific literary/cinematic technique, plus characters and situations that I got involved with. At other times, the technique is there, but the involvement in character is lacking. I never got involved with any of the characters in Slumdog, which for me falls somewhere in the middle of Boyle's The Beach and A Life Less Ordinary, both of which look great, but fell far short in terms of building characters or stories that I cared about.

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I did a "10 Years Later" on Slumdog:

Quote

 

One of the most memorable and problematic images from Slumdog Millionaire is of a young Jamal, covered in excrement, triumphantly raising his arms in and letting out a joyful cry. He has pushed through a flock of onlookers and received the autograph of a favorite movie actor. 

He is, of course, still covered in shit. But he got the autograph, and the effort of crawling through the filth will be cosmically rewarded when that same actor is the subject of a question on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on which the adult Jamal is a contestant.

Are the autograph and the moment of joy it provokes adequate compensation for the degradation endured to procure it? Do the twenty million rupees won make up for the harrowing experiences that comprise the background to the foreground of Jamal’s hard-earned trivia answers?

 

 

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