Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 100: Slumdog Millionaire

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #102
Year: 2008
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel and Freida Patel

Longtime followers of my blog may notice a few things right away in this, my 100th post at Twohundredfifty. First, I'm no longer typing out the English versions of the numerals representing what day I'm on. Now that I'm into triple digits, it would make the titles far too clunky to keep typing out the words every day. Second, if you read my Twitter (, you know that I'm taking a one week vacation from the blog after this post. I had some idea of how burned out I would become by watching and writing a thousand words about a movie every day for 250 days, but I really had no fucking idea. I need to rest, I need to watch some things that aren't obligatory, and I need to focus on my studies with one less interruption for a week. I'll be back next Monday with a post on Apocalypse Now. Third, you may notice that I just wrote about Gandhi and now I'm writing about Slumdog Millionaire. You may think I'm trying to get the Indian stuff out of the way all at once so I don't have to think about it for any longer than I have to. And, well, there it is. But seriously – it was a coincidence.

Slumdog Millionaire exists as a landmark in my personal experience in my life as a movie lover. For one, it came out in 2008, which was the first year I made an effort to see every movie I thought would be nominated in major categories at the Academy Awards. I had watched the Oscars every year for a decade, but I mostly just watched it to see movie stars and root for the few movies I had actually seen. Also, Slumdog Millionaire was the first movie I ever watched on a computer – albeit somewhat less than legally. Now I watch a considerable portion of the movies I see on Netflix Instant Queue right here on my Macbook Pro, but two years ago, I could barely comprehend that the Internet had full movies in it, just waiting to be watched. The video quality for this particular film was poor, but I loved it. It was only then that I realized the democratization sweeping film, consequences be damned. Of course, watching a movie from your laptop will never replace going to the cinema, but to but it bluntly, it'll do in a pinch.

But on to the movie itself: I liked Slumdog Millionaire, but I didn't love it. I thought the way it dealt with time was well done, bouncing from the game show studio, to backstage where Jamal Malik was being tortured, to the places throughout India where he gathered the life experiences necessary to answer the questions. The way the screenwriters made his experiences tie in to the questions being asked him was often very clever. The portrayal of urban India was stark and eye-opening. But for me, something was missing. The movie was always competent, sometimes good, but never great. The performances left a lot to be desired, the way the script tied everything together was sometimes a little bit hokey, and the Bollywood ending did not jell with my cultural experiences at all. Admittedly, I haven't seen the movie since that first viewing, and my opinion may have softened since then, but gimme a break – I've been doing this thing for 100 goddamn days.

The Good: The depiction of modern urban India. The ensuing controversy over whether it was accurate was mostly propagandists defending the very slums that Danny Boyle was exposing, and hopefully things start looking up with this film as a small part of the reason why.

The Bad: Probably the ending. I get it, I just don't like it.

The Skinny: #102 is way too high. If I saw this on the list in the 240s, I would probably be okay with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment