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Slumdog Millionaire


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#41 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 03:37 AM

MLeary wrote:
: Suderman agrees with the thumbs-downers.

Ahem. smile.gif

#42 Stephen Lamb

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 12:04 AM

QUOTE (Nick Alexander @ Dec 10 2008, 11:24 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Quick question for those who have seen it...

How strong is the violence in the film? And how dominant is the violence in the film? How about a scale of 1 to 10?


Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, I would also note the scene where a girl is abducted, a knife held to her throat, and then the camera shows us the knife slicing her cheek as the car drives away.

#43 Stephen Lamb

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 12:12 AM

QUOTE (Overstreet @ Dec 17 2008, 09:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This plunged me into the abyss of real-world horrors and wanted me to celebrate the guy getting the girl at the end? What about the boy who'd been blinded (for starters)? This isn't my idea of the kind of love that's going to save the world. And "It is written", or "Destiny," or whatever label you slap on it doesn't move me. It didn't look like Providence. It was about as profound as The Tale of Despereaux on Steroids wrapping up with "Thank God for Good Luck!"

I like amusement park rides, but not when they take me through a replica of Calcutta's Red-Light district.

While the film takes stabs at the hollowness of capitalism and greed, this film's eagerness to please the audience with every single shot, song, line, and moment felt too much like a product of that very machine.

I'm not saying that those of you who love it didn't encounter something real. I'm just saying... this is how it felt to me. And I say that as a big fan of Danny Boyle. I believed in Millions one hundred times more than I believe in this film. Heck, I found 28 Days Later more affecting.

I remember thinking in the opening moments, "They'd better have a damned good explanation for why they're putting us through torture scenes like this." I've seen enough episodes of Alias and 24 that I just don't go for grisly torture for the sake of suspense anymore. I was upset with Ridley Scott for making an action scene out of torture in Body of Lies. And when it turned out that the torture was being carried out against Jamal because of the freaking game-show streak... I couldn't believe it. Are you kidding me? And then he just turns around and goes back on TV as if nothing happened? Sorry... you've booted me so far out of my suspension of disbelief I can't possibly get back.


Absolutely. I thought the exact same thing as I was watching it. I haven't been this disturbed by the violence in a film since Vantage Point, which was a pointless violent shoot-em-up that billed itself as an intelligent drama.

And I second the comment about Millions.


#44 Winston

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 11:14 AM

D. It is Written

I loved that the film ended on this note; tying everything together. I'm surprised at how many here disliked this film honestly; while I don't think it is my favorite film of the year (Man on Wire or Wall-E are much more personal favorites), there was something beautiful about this movie, and it wasn't just the lead actress or the cinematography.

QUOTE
It seems many people agree that there is a change in tone, or mood, or quality, or something about two-thirds of the way through, but opinions vary on whether the movie gets better or worse as a result.


I agree with this; to be honest the reason this isn't the best movie of the year that I saw is because I wasn't fully wrapped up in it until the third act.

But I'm beginning to understand that is the very power of the film.

QUOTE
I couldn't feel good about the ending, and I can't believe the movie wanted me to, considering all of the horrors and heartbreaks we'd passed through as if we were on an amusement-park rollercoaster ride.


I think this film was a beautiful portrayal of hope in desolation. No one has mentioned this yet in this thread, but it is the thought I keep coming back to after seeing the film last night -

This film is a fictional embodiment of the Problem of Evil. Now, don't get me wrong, this film isn't Christian, it is at best existential and at worst hollywood-feel-good. But at the core, the film asks us to believe that there is goodness, love, and beauty in the midst of the tragedy of this world.

Take the outhouse episode; it is a very literal expression of this: despite being covered in shit, this kid is ecstatic at what he has received, blissfully unaware of his current situation.


I ran into a friend at the theater who has spent a year in India working in the slums and with orphans. She told me (and this helped me enjoy the film more in hindsight) that they got everything right, down to the smallest details.

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.

But it also held on to beauty, to hope, to "destiny." And I guess my Christian response to this movie was, man, I understand what they are getting at. I see that tragedy and I want to know that there is something greater written, and I believe there is. I could not understand this world, these tragedies, unless I had something in my life that was greater than them.

I'm not really for reading Christ into movies, which is why I don't say this was a Christian movie; but it struck me on a level that not many films do, because it challenged me to ask if my faith caused me to believe that there was something greater.

I wanted to talk about the film on a technical level, but this post is long enough.

#45 Winston

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 12:22 PM

To clarify on my "this was the power of the film."

The film wasn't able to have its visceral effect without the two thirds of the film that "seemed weaker." The scope of what was exposed in those first two thirds is immense; the history of the two brothers and Latika, their characters, but even more the situation in India. We understand fully what it is like to live in India.

I think the problems that Overstreet had were not so much that the film is yelling FEEL FEEL FEEL, but that it is a whole gamut of emotions intertwined; there is no overwhelming feeling that is expressed in the first two thirds. There is the shock and confusion over his torture, the joy and innocence of watching these children somehow cling to innocence, the horror and anger as they are subjected to a myriad of problems.

This film could not have such an emphatic third act unless we fully understood its context, and there was no better way to expose this context than the masterful editing, writing, and directing in the first two thirds.

I didn't feel the film was manhandling me, so much as trying to make me understand, to "get it," to know what it is like to be slumdog in India. And that's a pretty abusive process in an hour and a half, because there is nothing in my experience that can prepare me for that world.

#46 Overstreet

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 07:56 PM

QUOTE
I think the problems that Overstreet had were not so much that the film is yelling FEEL FEEL FEEL, but that it is a whole gamut of emotions intertwined; there is no overwhelming feeling that is expressed in the first two thirds.


No, that's not what I meant at all.

I meant that the film was striving so hard to make me feel something that it was pulling out all kinds of cliches and implausibly extreme measures to involve me emotionally... shortcuts, cheap tricks, rather than storytelling nuance and character development. Start with a torture scene! Never mind that the torture scene is, ultimately, rather implausible and silly, especially considering how the effects of the brutality magically vanish in the events that follow immediately afterward. The film machine-guns commercial-movie cliches at us so fast that I could hardly think about the story. The simplistic characters stood in such stark contrast to the realism of the context that the tension spoiled my ability to care or believe. And the film's pop-song portrayal of true love made the relationship at the center of Twilight seem complicated and interesting by comparison.

But no, I certainly don't want a movie to have one "overwhelming" feeling.

Edited by Overstreet, 22 December 2008 - 07:57 PM.


#47 Stephen Lamb

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 11:03 PM

Quote of the week:
QUOTE (Overstreet @ Dec 22 2008, 06:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
And the film's pop-song portrayal of true love made the relationship at the center of Twilight seem complicated and interesting by comparison.



#48 Winston

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 12:47 AM

Well, I'm glad you admitted that this was just your feelings, because mine absolutely differed.

But I can see where one would get what you felt, and I just wonder if the story could have been told any differently, or if these problems that you had were inherent to the scope of the story.


#49 Overstreet

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 02:57 AM

QUOTE
and I just wonder if the story could have been told any differently


I am convinced that the story could have been told in a way that developed interesting, nuanced characters. Boyle's done it so many times before. I sure don't see that here. And I'm convinced the romance could have been interesting. Take The Fisher King, for example: A fairy tale of a movie. A movie that moves very, very quickly. And yet, somehow, it develops not one but two love stories between four terribly interesting characters of depth, personality, and detail.

The editing, the sound, and the fury of the style strive to make things seem exciting that look to me like lazy storytelling.

For example: How do the boys escape from the villains? How many times have we seen that? Make them think you're playing along and then... Boom! Throw something in one of the bad guys' face! Then... just run! Run into the trees! They're grown men, faster and stronger, but no, they'll be so astonished that they'll never catch you. and even if they try, well... look there! The oldest escape cliche in the book: A passing train! With an open box car, no less! And just in time! The only thing that would be more predictable is if one of them couldn't keep up and was left behind. Oh, wait...

Again and again, I sensed hyperactive style and contextual texture trying to distract me from the laziness of the storytelling. From Jamal's posing as a dishwasher to his game show guesses to his narrow escapes, everything just seemed too easy and convenient, and every hard turn felt exaggerated for shock value.




#50 BethR

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 11:08 AM

QUOTE (Winston @ Dec 22 2008, 11:14 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.

But it also held on to beauty, to hope, to "destiny." And I guess my Christian response to this movie was, man, I understand what they are getting at. I see that tragedy and I want to know that there is something greater written, and I believe there is. I could not understand this world, these tragedies, unless I had something in my life that was greater than them.

FWIW, Winston, I interpreted it much as you do. 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?" Well, it's not. And maybe it's not a "Danny Boyle" movie, either--whatever that may be (and FWIW, Millions is among of my all-time favorites). I'm no fan of violence--I haven't watched Alias or 24 since their first seasons, I passed on Kill Bill 1 & 2, despite all the raves on A&F ("it's played for humor!" "it's redemptive in the end!"), Grindhouse, There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, and I wish I had skipped The Dark Knight. But I didn't watch TDK thinking, "why isn't this movie Gosford Park?"

There were scenes I could barely watch, but as a whole, Slumdog Millionaire worked. Could it have been better? Sure--most things can. As a Bollywood/Hollywood crossover: Brilliant.

#51 BethR

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 01:50 PM

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

#52 Overstreet

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 02:21 PM

QUOTE
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,

QUOTE
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, 27 December 2008 - 05:02 PM.


#53 Persona

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 04:29 PM

QUOTE (Overstreet @ Dec 27 2008, 01:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
"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.
QUOTE (Overstreet @ Dec 27 2008, 01:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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. wink.gif

QUOTE (Overstreet @ Dec 27 2008, 01:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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, 27 December 2008 - 04:33 PM.


#54 Overstreet

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 05:03 PM

QUOTE
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, 27 December 2008 - 05:03 PM.


#55 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 05:33 PM

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, 27 December 2008 - 05:36 PM.


#56 Overstreet

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 05:42 PM

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?


#57 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 06:28 PM

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. smile.gif

#58 Christian

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 10:59 PM

QUOTE (Overstreet @ Dec 27 2008, 02:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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, 27 December 2008 - 11:05 PM.


#59 Overstreet

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 01:38 AM

Sicinski:


QUOTE
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.


#60 LibrarianDeb

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 07:51 PM

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.