December 26th, 2008
|11:31 pm - Dev Patel in: D for Destiny|
I would not consider myself a Danny Boyle fan, per se. I don't think I understood Trainspotting at all. I liked 28 Days Later but didn't see what all the hype was about. Sunshine was really good until it wasn't. I respect and admire him as a filmmaker, however, for his incessant genre-hopping, his almost pathological need not to be pigeon-holed. It's hard to even describe what makes a "Danny Boyle film."
Today, I saw Slumdog Millionaire. While, as usual, I'm not sure that it's the amazing, awe-inspiring, life-changing piece of cinema the critics make it out to be, it's quite good, and I really enjoyed it.
Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of Jamal Malik, titular slumdog, who does very well on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He is accused of cheating, because how in the hell could a kid who grew up in the slums, a kid who serves chaa know all the answers? How? Well, it's this wacky coincidence called Destiny. Jamal's interrogation serves as a deliciously clever frame story in which Jamal relates his life story and shows exactly how he knew the answers: they asked him the right questions. Despite how contrived it is in a fictional setting, I really loved the idea of it because I've always been interested in the fact that we don't all know the same things. What we know is a specific product of our own lives. When we watch those game shows, we're always shouting out the answers and screaming in frustration when the contestant doesn't know such obvious facts. Well, obvious is relative.
The major plot of Jamal's life story is a movie love story. He becomes separated from his childhood sweetheart and spends the rest of his life trying to find her again. incidentist calls her a "love object" rather than a "love interest," and, sadly, he's right. Latika doesn't really have a character besides That Girl Jamal Is Really Attached To. The movie sells the love story really well anyway, however.
Obviously, I have a different perspective on this movie than most of you, being Indian and having been to India, where this movie was shot on location. So I can tell you with confidence that, yeah, that's what India is like. One of those beggar girls even looked familiar. Heh. But it was really cool to see a movie set in India about Indians that doesn't suck. What's up, BOLLYWOOD? WHY ARE ALL YOUR MOVIES SHOT THE EXACT SAME WAY? Danny Boyle is kind of a kinetic director, I think, and he's somehow able to use images to do more than they should. He doesn't make India look like a more wondrous place than it is, but he makes it feel justly vibrant all the same. It was really interesting to see my country represented filmically like that in a movie that's going to be seen by so many non-Indians. I didn't even feel culturally appropriated or anything like that; it's not like Boyle felt he had to turn his star into a white guy or anything (COUGH COUGH COUGH). Go, white people, learn about Indian culture from this movie if that is your wont! (P.S. Best tour of the Taj Mahal ever.)
The only white people in this movie are silly tourists. The star is Dev Patel, who's graduated from Skins, which is where Danny Boyle's daughter saw him. I always hated Anwar, but Jamal was nothing like Anwar, and I think Dev Patel has made me like Anwar a little more in retrospect. Also of note are the police inspector, Irrfan Khan, who was familiar to me from The Namesake and some Bollywood movies including Chocolate (the unauthorized remake/rip-off of The Usual Suspects), and the Millionaire host, Anil Kapoor, who is a really famous Bollywood actor. But not as famous as Amitabh Bachchan, who really is the most famous man in India. That dude is in EVERYTHING.
The three major characters—Jamal, his brother Salim, and Latika—are played by three different actors as they grow up. They begin as street urchins and end as...well, that would be giving it away. The story overall is rather Dickensian, but even though there were few real surprises, I was engrossed the whole way through. And the climax, holy shit, when the fates of all three characters intertwine and come to a head...again: even though there was very little doubt as to the outcome, it was gloriously tense and exciting and this-is-it-oh-my-God-edge-of-your-seat. Some may call it manipulative, but Boyle had me in his crafty little hands.
latropita's dharmavati's sake, let me also throw in a mention of the kickin' soundtrack by A.R. Rahman, composer for many Bollywood films including the Oscar-nominated Lagaan (which is my favorite Bollywood film), with guest appearances by M.I.A. Also, the movie ends with a song-and-dance number, if you're into that sort of thing.
So Slumdog Millionaire gets two brown thumbs up from me. A solid piece of filmmaking. (That's rated R for no discernible reason. I suppose there was "some violence, disturbing images and language," but not more than a PG-13. If The Dark Knight can scrape by with a PG-13, anything can. The R is for Racist!)
What sort of movie will Danny Boyle make next?
Neo-noir detective story
Martial arts fantasy epic
Claymation psychological thriller
Current Mood: satisfied
Current Music: To My Boy - Model
Also, I am jealous you had the feeling of watching a movie about Indians and not feeling culturally appropriated.
To be fair, I rarely feel culturally appropriated. I just don't roll that way.
|Date:||December 27th, 2008 05:50 am (UTC)|| |
i watched it today too! it gets two white thumbs up from me. i loved it from start to finish.
i never really liked Anwar either. i thought Dev Patel was fabulous in this though. youngest!Jamal was adorable.
All the little kids were adorable! Because they were little kids.
|Date:||December 27th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC)|| |
I LOVED THIS MOVIE SO, SO MUCH.
I wasn't the biggest fan of Anwar on Skins, and in retrospect it's a shame that character was rather underwritten, because Dev Patel's obviously capable of a lot more. Maybe it took Danny Boyle to bring it out of him (and you didn't like Trainspotting? *gasp* That's one of my favorite movies EVER). Anyway, I thought it was gorgeously shot, and the little kids! OMG! They were fantastic! I agree that Latika wasn't fleshed out that much, but it's a tribute to the script that I was rooting for the romance anyway. Also, the actress who played her as an adult was GORGEOUS. OMG. And the soundtrack was amazing and I loved the dance number at the end and...yeah. I just adored every single thing about this movie. Two white thumbs up from me :-)
I saw Trainspotting when I was too young to get it, I think. I might appreciate it more now.
I agree with all your other stuff! Oh, look at that, you even got an icon.
P.S. Maybe sometime next week, Gorgonzola fries?
I saw this a couple of days ago and I loved it so much! I didn't realize how involved I was until I found myself holding my breath at some of the later moments. I also loved the dance number at the end. I was really not expecting it and then it came on and all I could think was 'Holy fuck, this is awesome!"
Funny story about the violence/rating: Two older women left this movie because they claimed that it was too violent and they kept waiting for the story to happen. I really wanted to tell them they really should be staying that but I can't actually say that to the customers who were already unhappy with a film. They'll never know what they missed.
I didn't realize how involved I was until I found myself holding my breath at some of the later moments.
I also loved the dance number at the end. I was really not expecting it and then it came on and all I could think was 'Holy fuck, this is awesome!"
Hee. Well, it wouldn't be an Indian movie without one.
My mother and father saw Slumdog Millionaire. Mom loved it. Sis (whose boyriend is Indian) has been meaning to.
Myself, I've not seen any of Boyle's movies, at least not consciously. Maybe I'll see this one, but I've so little desire to go to a movie lately...
Yeah, there aren't a lot of movies out I have a strong desire to see either. But you should see this one! It's good! And you will feel culturally enriched.
HEY THAT'S MY NAME! I have actually heard some of the soundtrack music and it is pretty badass! I'm glad you liked it, I keep hearing great reviews but none from people I actually know!
The R is for Racist!
HEY THAT'S MY NAME! I have actually heard some of the soundtrack music and it is pretty badass!
I thought you had posted it! But I looked through your journal and...maybe that was someone else??
I keep hearing great reviews but none from people I actually know!
You know me!
The R is for Racist!
When the world sets me up like that, I have to take it.
I thought you had posted it! But I looked through your journal and...maybe that was someone else??
Hahahahaha. No, that was totally not me. Thank you for thinking of me??
OH MARTIAL ARTS FANTASY EPICS NOT FULL OF WHITE PEOPLE. CRY.
I watched The Forbidden Kingdom on Friday (well, sort of, since I slept through most of it because it was boring). Apparently, if you are a distinctly Chinese culture with myths about a Monkey King and a Jade Emperor and all that, your prophecy about the one who will save your land will refer to some white kid.
That also happened on the Middleman in one of the two episodes I watched.
I'm beginning to feel like white people are pretty lame and nobody should ever write another story about us ever again, but probably I am just being racist against myself.
|Date:||December 27th, 2008 01:33 pm (UTC)|| |
Super. I've been hearing really good things about Slumdog Millionaire, so I'm happy that you concur.
Also: I listened to the Danny Boyle interview on Fresh Air, and Terry Gross seemed intent on forcing him to make a musical next. He sounded somewhat amenable to the idea.
I have not seen this movie yet! :/ But I have been listening to the aforementioned soundtrack and it is definitely kickass! I'm really looking forward to it but never have the time. Thanks for the review, though. At least I know what to expect. :D
You! Yooooou are the person who linked the soundtrack music!
:D I am such an unabashed AR Rahman fangirl so that kind of got me interested in the movie to begin with!
|Date:||December 27th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)|| |
|Date:||December 27th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)|| |
We saw this yesterday, and I am torn. It had a lot of good elements, but it didn't come together for me. Also I had no idea there was going to be that much violence/despair/torture based on what the trailers showed. So that was a bit jarring. The funny thing is that when Moss and I walked out, we said, "That was definitely a Danny Boyle movie." Because it felt like a Danny Boyle movie. There are common themes that run throughout all the ones I've seen.
One: moral ambiguity. He's way into having characters in all kinds of grey shades. Two: violence/humiliation. Characters in Danny Boyle movies tend to suffer. Not as much as women in Lars von Trier movies, but still. Three: money. Specifically the way people interact with money, and how it changes them. First there was what people called The Moneybags Trilogy (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, and A life Less Ordinary all featured bags of money), then there was Millions and now this one. Clearly money is an issue for Danny Boyle.
This movie was well-acted, stayed interesting (even while cringeworthy), and had a great soundtrack. I'll definitely give it that much, at least.
Also I had no idea there was going to be that much violence/despair/torture based on what the trailers showed.
Yeah, me neither.
The funny thing is that when Moss and I walked out, we said, "That was definitely a Danny Boyle movie." Because it felt like a Danny Boyle movie.
Ha! I guess I haven't seen enough Danny Boyle movies to pick up on it.
This movie was well-acted, stayed interesting (even while cringeworthy), and had a great soundtrack.
|Date:||December 27th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)|| |
I just came on Livejournal to review this, and you've said everything I needed to say already.
So, I get 15 minutes of my life back! Thanks!
15 minutes? But I think I spent, like, an hour writing this! That's not a fair trade.
|Date:||December 27th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)|| |
I am hoping to go see this tonight! Little sister said it was fantastic. So did Ebert.
|Date:||December 28th, 2008 05:56 am (UTC)|| |
So, that was fantastic. (I loved Irrfan Khan especially.) But I don't know why my newspaper is calling it a "feel-good fable" since... you don't feel very good at all for the first chunk of the movie. Although miniature Jamal was absolutely adorable.
Alright, I have to see it. It was the soundtrack that sold me. I never buy CDs, but after I watched Lagaan I had to, had to buy the CD.
I really want to see this but have no idea when I will get a chance to.
several things besides
this post is adorable. you are adorable! I kind of wish I had gone to see this now. I passed on it because of the whole "life-affirming" thing but your post made it sound interesting! Stop making things sound interesting, I'm broke.
Speaking of being Indian, I just found this article about an animated movie based on a (supposedly popular?) Indian fable. I think you would like it if only because there is a part where three Indians do a voice over arguing about how the story actually goes. Also the animation is fabulously different. http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/12/having_wonderful_time_wish_you.html
also when I went to post that link on facebook your excellent walmart family portrait showed up in my feed! you need to either start taking your glasses off or get a pair of lensless frames.
also your sister is gorgeous, god damnit.
this post is adorable. you are adorable!
I passed on it because of the whole "life-affirming" thing but your post made it sound interesting! Stop making things sound interesting, I'm broke.
Hee! I am sorry! But it goes to some pretty dark places for a supposedly "life-affirming" movie!
Speaking of being Indian, I just found this article about an animated movie based on a (supposedly popular?) Indian fable.
Um, so, the Ramayana is supposedly popular the way The Odyssey is supposedly popular.
I think you would like it if only because there is a part where three Indians do a voice over arguing about how the story actually goes.
I have been linked to Sita Sings the Blues before (I THOUGHT IT WAS BY YOU, EVEN), but I have yet to actually check it out.
you need to either start taking your glasses off or get a pair of lensless frames.
Heh. I almost took my glasses off but decided against it because whatever.
also your sister is gorgeous, god damnit.
She disagrees! But thank you.
I am so glad to know that Amitabh Bachchan is a real guy! That's so cool.
Haaaaa ha ha ha. This is the most hilariously white thing I have heard all day.
But I liked Jamal so much and I liked how he just unabashedly told the whole truth to the police inspector.
Yeah, he was a good kid.
Mr. N thought that the actors playing Jamal and Latika were good dancers at the end. I thought they weren't, evidenced by the quick cuts and endless repetition of just three moves. What's your tie-breaking vote?
Yeeeeeah, they didn't really do much. I mean, they weren't bad or anything, but it was nothing special.
Aw, Dev Patal! The cast of Skins make me think he was sort of an asshole by saying he was just like Anwar. However, he can act! Perhaps I like Anwar a bit more on review, too.
And okay, maybe I partly did want to see this film because I miss Skins so terribly (Are you excited about Series Three? I have to admit I can't wait to have more Pandora in my life..). Even the Anwar parts. However, I utterly loved the movie!
It would be interesting to see what you think of Trainspotting now that you are older (I am also quite a fan).
Everyone wants claymation suspense! (Personally, I would make that dancing burger from Better Off Dead the culprit if it were my film...)
Okay, I'm done stating the obvious.
The cast of Skins make me think he was sort of an asshole by saying he was just like Anwar.
Aw, I think they were joking! Because I saw him on Letterman, and he's clearly not an asshole. He's like Anwar in the awkward sense, though.
(Are you excited about Series Three? I have to admit I can't wait to have more Pandora in my life..)
I don't need more Pandora, but I could use more Effy. I hope the new kids are good.
Everyone wants claymation suspense!
And nobody wants gangster drama!
Hopefully I'll get to see it in the next week or two. Maybe Friday after my dentist appointment. Or maybe when I hang out with sarah_p
next week or the week after.
On a different note, did you get my e-mail about the silly thing that happened with my rename? Feel free to readd me back. Or not. Your call.
Latika doesn't really have a character besides That Girl Jamal Is Really Attached To.
Hmm, I thnk I disagree. We don't see much of her personality as an adult, but that didn't distract me so much because I feel that we did get personality from her as a child. She was feisty and clever and adorable. That first night that she just stubbornly remained outside in the rain until Dev called her in had me crying (the tears were probably mostly because of how beautifully it was shot and how the blocking allowed us to see Salim's eyes wide open in fear/trauma/horror/pain/whatever. And the chili pepper trick? Hee!
So yeah, she wasn't developed and focused on as an adult the way the boys were, but that's ok. And we can even justify that and say that her personality had been crushed down by the years of being owned and used, and now, hopefully, she's finally going to be able to be a person again.
To be honest, Jamal didn't emote or appear to have much personality in the Present scenes either. We only saw more than that because he was the main character and we got flashbacks to moments that made him actually express emotions. Latika just wasn't a main character in the same way that he was, so we didn't get that for her.