D. All of the above
January 26, 2009 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Is Slumdog Millionaire

A) A white man's imagined India
B) The reality of Mumbai
C) An immensely likeable slice of broad entertainment – nothing else
D) All of the above?

And will it win the Oscar for Best Picture now that it's taken the Producers Guild Award for Best Picture and the SAG award for Best Ensemble?
posted by crossoverman (118 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
i no like this movie. is veddy veddy bad movie.
posted by billybobtoo at 5:46 PM on January 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


A very slight film with great cinematography and a fantastic soundtrack (even if I'm suffering from "Paper Planes" fatigue).
posted by Bookhouse at 5:47 PM on January 26, 2009


Double, kinda. (Just hit the Slumdog Millionaire tag for the previously.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:49 PM on January 26, 2009


I was very touched when Leonardo slipped forever into the sea.
posted by found missing at 5:49 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was very touched when Ewan slipped forever into The Worst Toilet in Scotland.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:55 PM on January 26, 2009 [14 favorites]


Eh. it was sort of like watching a boring Midnight's Children written by a guy who once saw a fuzzy Bollywood movie at midnight after getting wasted on Gin and Tonics. "But this is how they are, man!"
posted by OrangeDrink at 5:55 PM on January 26, 2009


Oh crap, there's gonna be a pop (culture) quiz?!
posted by DU at 5:58 PM on January 26, 2009


(Also, pro-test-taking-tip: Answer C logically excludes A and B rendering D impossible. You just improved your chances from 25% to 33%!)
posted by DU at 6:01 PM on January 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


Are there song-and-dance numbers in it? Cause it isn't about the real India if there's no song-and-dance numbers.
posted by Xoebe at 6:01 PM on January 26, 2009


pop culture needs a diaper change
posted by mannequito at 6:03 PM on January 26, 2009


There's a song-and-dance number during the credits which is Boyle's compromise in making a Bollywood film. But there's also a kiss in it, which would never happen in a Bollywood film. So... A) A white man's imagined India?
posted by crossoverman at 6:04 PM on January 26, 2009


How about it's none of the above?

To be specific, it is a modernization of Dickensian Child Fable told with modern/western filmmaking techniques and makes much use of big, specteral notions of Indian culture with its foundation of fatalism/epic love stories/written destinies and... well... even a dance routine.

Rather than pigeonhole folks, just let it be what it is, a surprisingly nice amalgamation.

There's really nothing better than an emotional ending that actually takes the time and effort to earn it.

And not to be a dick or anything, but if anyone found the ending cliched and cheesy you're either:

A) a contrarian asshole who dislikes what others do
B) dead inside
C) someone thoroughly disappointing that underworld 3 is lacking Kate Beckinsale
D) All of the avove
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 6:08 PM on January 26, 2009 [30 favorites]


"Things other people like suck." Jeez, you guys...
posted by chowflap at 6:10 PM on January 26, 2009


Are there song-and-dance numbers in it? Cause it isn't about the real India if there's no song-and-dance numbers.
posted by Xoebe at 6:01 PM on January 26 [+] [!]


Technically. I wouldn't want to spoil, but let's just say it's a fun touch.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 6:11 PM on January 26, 2009


B) dead inside

I mean, I'm not a contrarian and I hate Kate Beckinsale. So, B) dead inside.

Also, the film doesn't earn its happy ending, it serves it up to us on a plate of beans and most people are enjoying the taste. Just not me.
posted by crossoverman at 6:17 PM on January 26, 2009


The ending (I'm not talking about the dance sequence) WAS cliched and cheesy, but it was quite charming and pretty much the only ending that would fit and stay true to the thread of destiny woven through the rest of the film.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:21 PM on January 26, 2009



And not to be a dick or anything, but if anyone found the ending cliched and cheesy you're either:

A) a contrarian asshole who dislikes what others do
B) dead inside
C) someone thoroughly disappointing that underworld 3 is lacking Kate Beckinsale
D) All of the avove

posted by Lacking Subtlety at 9:08 PM on January 26 [2 favorites +] [!]


Eponsyterical.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:25 PM on January 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


All I wanna do is *shoot, shoot shoot* and-a take ya monayy!

meta, that.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:27 PM on January 26, 2009


E) Proof that Danny Boyle is a moral schizophrenic
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:28 PM on January 26, 2009


I was disappointed, as the movie failed to live up to its promise. As soon as the kids (both the really young ones and the middle school aged ones) disappeared, they movie's quality declined. It could have been so much better than it was.

So overall, meh. Unfortunate comparisons to City of God were made in my mind and they did not come out in favor of Slumdog.
posted by Hactar at 6:28 PM on January 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I know, right, everyone knows that of the 1 billion Indians 975 million have access to beautiful silk garments, enormous dowries and sexy dance moves.
posted by plexi at 6:30 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Unfortunate comparisons to City of God.
posted by rdone at 6:33 PM on January 26, 2009


SPOILER ALERT

*WOW! That was a BIG movie!
posted by humannaire at 6:34 PM on January 26, 2009


I was very touched when Ewan slipped forever into The Worst Toilet in Scotland.

Heh. Count the Boylisms throughout.

Loved this movie, BTW.
posted by Artw at 6:34 PM on January 26, 2009


nothing better than an emotional ending that actually takes the time and effort to earn it.

You call the abrupt suicide of the most complex character "effort?" I call it supreme laziness.

"Oh, there's this brother, he's very morally ambiguous, we can't figure how to feel about him, let's just 'let' HIM make that judgment, and we can call the loose ends wrapped up." Such mediocrity is the rightful result of a focus group, not a best adapted screenplay.

Don't get me started on whatsherface, the totally one-dimensional female lead. Bollywood movies and Danny Boyle movies both usually have richer characters than this film did. We can call Slumdog a hybrid, though. Say, Bollockswood.

It was like the film was going for an expression than in oppressive culture, personality is sublimated to survival, luck and the march of capitalistic culture. Which is fine, but then, screw the tacked-on romantic ending. I can't enjoy such flat romance. The actual directing, though, was indeed top-notch, except for the excessive dutch angles in the first act.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:37 PM on January 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't get me started on whatsherface, the totally one-dimensional female lead.

I thought she was both complex and really hot. Mostly really, really complex, though. Like a hot ass puzzle.
posted by plexi at 6:41 PM on January 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I get the impression from all the stories about how Indians hate and/or love the movie that a bunch of editors demanded a story of some kind and one never really emerged.
posted by Artw at 6:48 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually it's a business deal. Pretty impressive how Hollywood buzz is bought and sold just like that.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 7:00 PM on January 26, 2009


I'm disturbed by plexi's choic not to hyphenate " hot ass puzzle".
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:07 PM on January 26, 2009 [17 favorites]


Boyle's realism just skims the surface; issues of poverty, child exploitation, images of brutality and violence are forgotten as quickly as they play out on the screen. The only question that remains is: will the boy get the girl, and how?
posted by dhruva at 7:10 PM on January 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I liked it, and of the options so far, it is indeed the Best Picture in my book.

No it's not even close to City of God. No, it doesn't deal with every social issue in the whole subcontinent. Yes, it is a simple little fairy tale that is hopelessly, pathetically romantic.

So what?
posted by rokusan at 7:15 PM on January 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I liked it. I thought it was a really satisfying movie. Yes, we all knew how it was going to end, but I had fun getting there.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:17 PM on January 26, 2009


You call the abrupt suicide of the most complex character "effort?" I call it supreme laziness.

gee, thanks.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:17 PM on January 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


E) a good movie.

The wrangling over this is as stupid as the pissing matches over Eyes Wide Shut not being realistic or accurately depicting New York. In both cases it is a dreadful misunderstanding of what fiction is and does.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:29 PM on January 26, 2009 [16 favorites]


You call the abrupt suicide.

Abrupt? It was set up in pretty typical Boyle fashion, and telecast heavily for half the film.
posted by rokusan at 7:32 PM on January 26, 2009


I can't vouch first hand, but I'm good friends with an Indian guy from work (who has some very interesting stories from his upbringing, lived in slums, slept on streets, starved for days, etc). After seeing the movie, he said there we're only 2 things that were not accurate: A) The slumdog would never be on the millionaire show in the first place, and B) the police torture wasn't violent enough. According to him, everything else was realistic, the burning of the slums by middle class Hindu's, the gouging of kids eyes out, the selling and stealing on the train, the outhouses, everything. His claim for why the Indians don't like the movie, is that it is their reality, and they don't want to see it exploited on film. That's why they, as a population, tend to like the fantastic fantasy tale of Bollywood, and not gritty realism in American film, as escapism. At any rate, I liked it.
posted by Mach5 at 7:32 PM on January 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


I don't know. I liked the movie and now plan on reading the book, Q & A.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:34 PM on January 26, 2009


As stupid as the pissing matches over Eyes Wide Shut not being realistic or accurately depicting New York. In both cases it is a dreadful misunderstanding of what fiction is and does.

Man, I just favorited that so hard that I think I punched through to the other side.
posted by rokusan at 7:35 PM on January 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jesus, I was wondering who threw that punch.

*rubs jaw and winces*
posted by fleetmouse at 7:37 PM on January 26, 2009


Mach5: my mother didn't live in the slums but is personally familiar with them, and her opinions mirror your friend's. The child begging parts in particular struck her as accurate.
posted by naju at 7:40 PM on January 26, 2009


Can't wait for the Oscars -- just so we don't have to talk about this sad batch of movies any more. Just saw Coraline today, and it's much better than any of the best picture nominees.
posted by muckster at 7:40 PM on January 26, 2009


> There's really nothing better than an emotional ending that actually takes the time and effort to earn it.

Absolutely. And Slumdog didn't do a damn thing to earn its ending.

*** SPOILERS ***

What did Jamil do to earn his happy ending? He didn't stand up to any villains. He didn't stay true to any heart felt beliefs. He didn't even really make any hard choices (other than maybe jumping into the bottom of the latrine). He just hopped on the crest of a wave, and rode along.

Latika was so one-dimensional you could see through her. What, exactly, did she do to earn Jamil's undying love? Oh, right, she's hot.

You could boil this movie down to 10 minutes. Show the kids running from the riots, and Jamil noticing Latika for the first time in the rain. Cut to the final scene & the happily ever after. That's it. That's the emotional journey Jamil & Latika took.

The only character with any real arc or development at all is Salim. Who is literally in the lead as they run from the riots? Who decides to make a break for it from Maman & save his brother -- even though staying would have been in his own best interest? Who frees Latika?

I've got nothing against a well done schmaltzy fair tale. But this movie ain't it.
posted by FfejL at 7:41 PM on January 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah, and so I should see "Benjamin Button"? No, thanks. Hollywood, buh-bye!
posted by No Robots at 7:43 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't think much of the novel, but it was much better than the movie. The novel didn't have much going other than the gimmicky hook, but it really embraced it -- it felt like there was no point to the guy's life other than leading him to the answers to those particular obscure trivia questions. I like stories that treat the characters' lives as big Rube Goldberg devices constructed by fate to lead to a single culminating scene.

The movie didn't embrace fate's machinations in the same way. It elevated the romance and the relationship with the brother above the trivia gimmick. And they were both insipid. Crushes that last for fifteen years are not instances of respectable love; they are pathological. Stop glorifying them, Hollywood. You too, Bollywood.

I finished The White Tiger, last year's Booker winner, last month. That was a much better novel set in India. I'd definitely watch a movie based on that book.
posted by painquale at 7:45 PM on January 26, 2009


Everyone on Metafilter hates happiness.
posted by plexi at 7:53 PM on January 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


I get the impression from all the stories about how Indians hate and/or love the movie that a bunch of editors demanded a story of some kind and one never really emerged.

My impression as well. And both the A) and C) links provided clear evidence that whatever our differences, Indian academics can be just as tired and wheezy as Western ones when asked to respond kneejerkily to a pop phenomenon.

I particularly liked this bit from the LA Times:

"These ideas, that there are still moments of joy in the slum, appeal to Western critics," said Aseem Chhabra, an Asia Foundation associate fellow and culture critic.

Ah yes, only a Western imperialist pig-dog critic would find it appealing to learn that life in the slums of Bombay includes even the most fleeting moments of joy and faintest glimmers of hope. We Indian academics, who often as not grew up waited on hand and foot by those some of us consider lesser human beings in the eyes of our diety, understand that life in the slum is one of unremitting inky-black horror. As it should be.
posted by gompa at 8:05 PM on January 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


(other than maybe jumping into the bottom of the latrine)

And of all the flashbacks, that might have been the most redundant - since he already knew the name of the actor before getting stuck in the latrine and before the actor's helicopter arrived.

The whole film is contrived beyond belief - it's nice and convenient that he learned all these answers chronologically through his life. But beyond that, it was hard to be emotionally invested when so many of the flashbacks treated his life so tritely. The death of his mother is an afterthought in that flashback. The burning of the children's eyes also goes so long without explanation it seems like a random scene of cruelty.
posted by crossoverman at 8:10 PM on January 26, 2009


I saw one of the many alternate endings. My favorite one was the one where Micky Roarke corner dives on Jamil at the train station and they both die.

Actually it was good film. Quite entertaining.
posted by tkchrist at 8:14 PM on January 26, 2009


I finished The White Tiger, last year's Booker winner, last month. That was a much better novel set in India. I'd definitely watch a movie based on that book.

Of course, as a story of someone who grew up in poverty in rural India and then one-way-or-another worked their way up to be a gangster like figure in Bangalore I;d expect any movie of it to be rather Slumdog-ish.
posted by Artw at 8:14 PM on January 26, 2009


(Very good book for a Booker though.)
posted by Artw at 8:15 PM on January 26, 2009



The whole film is contrived beyond belief


Y-you mean IT WASN'T TRUE!? T-that it was a work of fiction that used chronological plot devices to reveal character! Noooooooooo! No other good films would do such a thing!


May I suggest you only watch documentaries from now on.
posted by tkchrist at 8:17 PM on January 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


May I suggest you only watch documentaries from now on.

Nah, don't let that stuff fool you, either. Errol Morris totally stages his interviews; I've heard those people are almost never already seated and giving lengthy testimonials before he shows up with his camera.
posted by gompa at 8:20 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


E. A staggeringly over-rated film that in years hence many film critics will look back and wonder why they thought it was anything better than middling entertainment
posted by Flashman at 8:21 PM on January 26, 2009


For the record, I vote Milk, and I ADORE Doubt.

Okay, so the suicide wasn't abrupt, just contrived.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:22 PM on January 26, 2009


May I suggest you only watch documentaries from now on.

Kill the Positivist!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:23 PM on January 26, 2009


I felt the same way after watching Slumdog Millionaire as I did after watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—it was a rush-job version of whatever cultural IT girl is currently in. Completely and totally overrated, riding on the coat-tails of a rich cultural heritage that, frankly, doesn't need a goddamned Western watered-down "interpretation" just so the Plebes can check another country off their multicultural movie checklist.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:38 PM on January 26, 2009


I don't know what it is, all I know is I'm sick of hearing about it. That and Bengibinginses of the Button. Hey Hollywood I've got a awsome script for you. It's about a boy that likes to dance but he comes from a coal mining town in Orlando. He helps Clarence get his wings, and then he shows Qeen La Tffa the true meaning of Xmas, the end.
posted by nola at 8:38 PM on January 26, 2009


boyle did for slums what he did for heroin! made it look glamorous :P
posted by kliuless at 8:52 PM on January 26, 2009


Wait, how is a film in Mandarin, filmed in China, with all east Asian born actors by a Taiwanese director "riding on the coat-tails of a rich cultural heritage that, frankly, doesn't need a goddamned Western watered-down "interpretation"?
posted by minifigs at 9:33 PM on January 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


E. A staggeringly over-rated film that in years hence many film critics will look back and wonder why they thought it was anything better than middling entertainment.

My God, this comment seems to have traveled through a worm hole from 1997.
posted by Rangeboy at 10:33 PM on January 26, 2009


I had already added my two paisa on the movie, and have nothing additional to say about the movie, per se.

Some interesting bits about the reaction to the movie though:- first, this new wave of chest-beating/ 'introspection' is mostly because the movie was released here in India on Jan 23rd, and the folks associated with the movie started doing their regular rounds of television shows and such. Second, there seems to be a vast gap even within those people who liked the movie; contrary to Irrfan Khan's dystopic view ("As far as the filth goes we're a dead and dying society"), the Home Minister seems to think it showcases entrepreneurship in the slums. On the other end, an educational institution found it necessary to take a full-page ad in today's papers to publish a rant against the movie, while a slum-dwellers' welfare group finds the "dog" in the title problematic. English is an Indian language, and we're not used to the term 'slumdog' in these parts, they seem to imply.

Questions on izzat in front of 'phoren' people are, of course, nothing really new; there's a long and chequered history of that, going all the way to 1920's and Gandhiji, a long tradition that, while at one time questioned self-rule in India, now most decidedly shouldn't, as this article argues. Indeed, most ex-pat Indian or upper-middle Indian negative responses seem to be all about how do you explain India to your non-Indian colleagues or friends, that they've had 'normal' lives and upbringing, and that not all of India is about gouging eyes off young kids.

To those people, I'd say this: neither a person nor a movie can ever explain 'India' fully to anyone. Like it or not, India just does not make 'sense' to most of the world's people, they don't see how it 'works' (or doesn't), they struggle to establish causal relationships between the bits they see, and struggle even more in drawing an all-encompassing narrative to bind them all. India is each of these bits, each of these struggles, all these million mutinies taken together, and some more, something enigmatic.
posted by the cydonian at 11:09 PM on January 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


While I did enjoy the film, I agree that it did not deliver on the promises it made in the first act, leaving it flawed. If you can't be true to yourself, then you don't have anything.
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 12:15 AM on January 27, 2009


Unfortunate comparisons to City of God were made in my mind and they did not come out in favor of Slumdog.

That's almost exactly what I said after walking out of the theatre, but I enjoyed the film.
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:41 AM on January 27, 2009


I thought the best act was with the first third with the really wee kids. They were funny, entertaining and I thought they acted brilliantly. It tailed off markedly after that.

The story is simplistic and daft but I have definitely spent a worse couple of hours in the cinema.

If you really want an insight into Mumbai I would suggest reading Maximum City. A lot of the things that are tangentially mentioned in the film are explored much more fully in the book and it is a great read.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:54 AM on January 27, 2009


The cydonian's got it.

I naively didn't think people were looking for "the real India" in this story. I didn't know Westerners would look to it to feel informed about life in India. It was a sort of fairy tale story, I thought. I thought that much was sort of obvious.

But maybe I'm wrong. I'm no film critic. I just didn't like it, the way I never liked God of Small Things or the guy who taught my yoga class.

But I love Jhumpa Lahiri. So here we are.
posted by anniecat at 2:08 AM on January 27, 2009


Sri Cydonianji always nails it; it's near axiomatic.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:33 AM on January 27, 2009


Can I phone a friend?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:32 AM on January 27, 2009


well trainspotting is how i view scotland glasgow (heroin addicts in) edinburgh... or like chungking express (and hard boiled) for hong kong (or the departed for boston ;) i could go on!
posted by kliuless at 4:04 AM on January 27, 2009


metafilter makes baby jeebus cry.

I liked the movie. I don't care if it's not an accurate portrayal of India or not, I'm sure Disney didn't do an accurate portrayal of the Hundred Acre Wood, but I liked Pooh just the same.
posted by Hands of Manos at 5:45 AM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dammit, I'm supposed to see this movie this weekend and now I read that there are scenes of eye-gouging and police torture? How violent are they? I can't stand violence in movies!

Well actually, martial arts/action movie violence I can handle, it's the torture/pain/cruel/senseless violence that freaks me out!

Don't ask me about Kill Bill - I'd love to, but can't for the life of me watch Kill Bill
posted by bitteroldman at 6:16 AM on January 27, 2009


Oh, it's a "stereotypical Western portrayal, Indians say"? I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've heard rave reviews from my coworker who grew up in Mumbai, and criticisms of stereotypes from someone who just lumped a billion people's opinions together as what "Indians say", and I'm going to trust the former more.
posted by roystgnr at 6:20 AM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


How violent are they?

Most of it, esp the eye stuff is, implied... and the police torture is over very quickly.

Interestingly the information on the BBFC's website (mild spoilers) on why it was given a 15 in the UK gives two other incidents that I can't remember at all.

Interesting what Doyle says here about the trouble the film had with MPAA

BS: To your mind, is there a legitimate ratings controversy with the film?

DB: I was very disappointed, yeah, because in the original contract with Warner Bros. in America you have to say that the film will not be longer than a time you agree on — with us it was two hours — and you have to agree that it'll be a PG-13 or lower. So I deliberately shot everything to get that certificate because I take those contracts very seriously. And then the MPAA saw it and said it was too intense, and we said OK, we appealed for advice about how to reduce sufficiently. And they came back and said there's no point in trying to do anything about it really, because the overall journey is too intense. Because in fact I think they realized when they went back to look at it that I had shot it to get a PG-13, there's no particular moments in it where you see anything that shocking, really. It's implied. I guess it is intense, because it's an intense city. But you've got to do it justice, both in joy and in horror — they both sit alongside one another the whole time.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:27 AM on January 27, 2009


It's heartwarming, hypocritical middlebrow pap for the petit bourgeoisie in search of an exotic night out -- the movie equivalent of ordering in Indian. A perfect recipe for an Oscar. I have high hopes that the awards will be the orgy of self-congratulation Hollywood excels at: Best Picture and Best Director for a crap film about brown people; Best Actor to Penn for the weakest performance in the career of America's greatest actor of his generation (he can do a gay saint with a slight lisp in a mellow tearjerker that's so revolutionary that it even argues that gays are people, too; acting is something else entirely -- he basically deserved an Oscar his entire career, winning for Milk is like Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman, it's a mean joke).

Oh, and Best Supporting Actor to a dead guy who once played a gay guy and has just made a billion dollars for Time Warner in a colossally shitty movie (Warner is in the process of laying off hundreds of people anyway, but whatever).
posted by matteo at 7:31 AM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I loved this movie, and it inspired me to watch Hindi cinema. How is that wrong?
posted by cereselle at 7:37 AM on January 27, 2009


Matteo hasn't seen Slumdog Millionaire.
posted by minifigs at 8:10 AM on January 27, 2009


matteo, I do not want to subscribe to your newsletter
posted by found missing at 8:14 AM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen the movie, yet, but I always find these discussions of "does it deserve all its praise" to be funny. Is someone making you praise the film when you don't want to? Does it really matter to you if someone else likes it? Does it really matter to you if everyone else likes it? Have you seen the list of the highest grossing movies of all time? If undeserved praise or adoration really drives you nuts, I highly recommend you work to get over it, for your own sake. Otherwise, you're in for a lifetime of continual disappointment.

Also, don't worry about the Oscars. whatever your feelings about him, Jim Norton gives a nice review of what bullshit The Oscars are in his latest book. It's worth recalling that Marlon Brando was passed over for his performance in Streetcar Named Desire. That Kubrick's 2001 lost Best Picture to Oliver! and that Ellen Burstyn lost the Best Actress prize (for Requiem For a Dream) to Julia Roberts. Also, Martin Scorcese was famously snubbed for decades until The Departed finally won. I haven't even mentioned Titanic, yet.

For real. Ignore the Oscars. It's not worth the headache. Here's a clip of Brando winning an Oscar for The Godfather to cheer you up.
posted by shmegegge at 8:34 AM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now Paul Blart: Mall Cop, THERE'S a movie that knows how to stick to a good old-fashioned White-American narrative.
posted by naju at 8:37 AM on January 27, 2009


Matteo hasn't seen Slumdog Millionaire.

I wish.
posted by matteo at 8:51 AM on January 27, 2009


In other news, slumdogs across India firebombed cinemas in mass riots, brought on by the film's cavalier use of the word "dog".
Armed police guarded cinemas in eastern India today after slum dwellers ransacked a picture house showing Slumdog Millionaire because they didn't like the use of the word "dog" in the title.

Several hundred people rampaged through the cinema in Patna, capital of the eastern state of Bihar, on Monday and tore down posters advertising the film. They said the title was humiliating and vowed to continue their protests until it was changed.
They are, as one sign reads, the future of India.
posted by plexi at 9:21 AM on January 27, 2009


Wait: Kate Beckinsale isn't in Underworld 3?
posted by and for no one at 9:44 AM on January 27, 2009


Here's a little gem to add to what shmegegge said:
-Do the Right Thing never won an Oscar.

-Remember what Kim Basinger did? Onstage she said, “The best film of the year is not even nominated, and it’s Do the Right Thing.” I didn’t even know her. But when Driving Miss Motherfucking Daisy won Best Picture, that hurt … No one’s talking about Driving Miss Daisy now.

--How I Made It: Spike Lee on 'Do the Right Thing'
posted by No Robots at 1:20 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


(other than maybe jumping into the bottom of the latrine)

Man, that whole scene was just like that short story where the sun never comes out, and then one day it's gonna come out and they lock the one girl in the closet so she doesn't get to see it. I wish there was somewhere I could ask about the name of that story.
posted by inigo2 at 1:24 PM on January 27, 2009


I'm pretty sure that's the plot to C.H.U.D.
posted by shmegegge at 1:27 PM on January 27, 2009


C.H.U.D.
posted by shmegegge at 1:28 PM on January 27, 2009


PREPARE FOR THREAD EVISCERATION

Okay.

I made a point near the start of this thread and witnessed some responses that... I didn't agree with... As much as I don't want to pull this kinda shit. I'm going to do it. Attention slumdog haters:

Most of you are wrong (or in this case, missed the point).

Qualifier #1: I've seen thousands of films. I was a film major. This makes me no more intelligent than anyone else here (yay metafilter being awesome), but I've written about so many countless movies in so many different ways and approach every single movie I see from an analytical perspective. This is meant to assure the reader I am not falling into a trap of a pre-set conventional movie approach (read: singular).

Qualifier #2: American movie-goers who often dislike things (or just the ones that end up commenting on the internet) are OBSESSED with movie logic. Which in my estimation, is functionally retarded. Movies are fundamentally chaotic (try making one. you'll see real fast). So really, there's emotional truth and character truth, and using plot points to build up those truths. But for some reason American's have such trouble getting over movie logic. (Most obvious examples: look up "Movie mistakes!" and it's all continuity errors, not like, casting keanu reeves with a british accent). But really they will look at things a character DOES before to justify a later action, never mind actual subtexts that have been building up. This is the reason why American's love psychological realism (read: what's going on in his/her mind!??!!)

Qualifier #3: American movie-goers are over-schmaltzed.

Qualifier #4: I'm American.

Qualifier #5: The Dark Knight is not the pinnacle of cinema (though heath's performance might have been).... just kinda getting that out of the way because I find it overhangs the internets.

Qualifier #6: No this wasn't the best movie of the year. Of course it's not. That would be The Wrestler or Let The Right One In. But it is a top ten/top fifteen. Basically, the film has merit.

Thesis!!!) That whatever people are criticizing the film for, whether they be "surfaceness" or "hollow" qualities; that the film is light and fluffy, or contrived or whatever word you deem, is a complete and total misconception. Labelling the film as such almost presupposes that the film (or filmmakers) does/do not know exactly what kind of film they are making. I would put forth that they do. And from that, they are actually operating on a level of understanding where they deal with a lot of the solutions to the "surfaceness" issue, by using subtexts/emotions/thematics/foreign themes/other strengths to override them.

Issue #1: Contrived.

"The whole film is contrived beyond belief - it's nice and convenient that he learned all these answers chronologically through his life. But beyond that, it was hard to be emotionally invested when so many of the flashbacks treated his life so tritely. The death of his mother is an afterthought in that flashback. The burning of the children's eyes also goes so long without explanation it seems like a random scene of cruelty.
posted by crossoverman at 8:10 PM on January 26 [+] [!] "


Quick points: the mother is not an integral part of the story, it's about the 3 kids, and thus stays on focus. Obviously she's important. But not important to the story. "goes so long without explanation." They keep what they're doing with the eyes a secret because it makes people uncomfortable. It's eliciting a reaction. But western audiences hate not knowing what's happening and people seemed really upset that it was a random act of cruelty. However, they do later explain it much more clearly in the scene with the singing kid so they are actually very aware of what they are doing and not being careless. (wait actually didn't they allude to it before "blind kids earn twice as much"? When did that line come? I can't remember")

Anyway,

I %100 agree, this movie was contrived. You bet it's contrived. Why? BECAUSE THE MAIN SUBJECT IS FATE. Seriously? You're complaining about a movie where fate is contrived? That's what fate is! It's the entire point! It is the very notion of lives clashing together no matter what or how it happens. It's not very western, but it sure is hell is an Indian thematic presence. There are other issues of course that people are calling "contrived", but the love angle is the main crux of the film. It is cannot be doubted. As it says "it is written". When that is the literal "answer" of your film, then it asking questions like:

"Latika was so one-dimensional you could see through her. What, exactly, did she do to earn Jamil's undying love? Oh, right, she's hot."

First off, did you see the movie? They had an endless array of experiences together going in an out of each others lives. He cared about her from their meeting. He fought for her constantly. He risked his life. She didn't end up super hot version til the end anyway. Second off, the question is completely pointless. Why do people have to give reasons to earn our love? Are you like the dating-timecube guy who has to have their potential mate serve them? Of course you're not. Also I know the people I love and have loved have been intrinsic things totally built on simple experience. Not a system of emotional quantitative stuff. That's horsecrap. That's movie logic. It's not simply input and output (that's what she said). So once again, a pointless question.

What's more to the "contrived feeling" of the film is that it is structured as a basic deconstruction. By having the only "reality" be the actual millionaire segment, all the flashbacks are "recalling of memory" and not expressed storytelling. Even though they end up servicing our storytelling need for the character's development, one has to remember it is a constructed memory.

Imagine if it was edited chronologically. It would solve a good deal of the contrived and trite feeling of the experience, but the movie would feel so episodic and long and wandering. The fatalistic finale would utterly throw people (some might see it is a revelation!). Basically it wouldn't work. The construct served the story in the end so basically it goes back to not digging the whole fate thing.

Issue #2: Western/Eastern

Let's look at some more quotes:

"What did Jamil do to earn his happy ending? He didn't stand up to any villains. He didn't stay true to any heart felt beliefs. "

What did Jamil do? Did you watch this movie? He continually, repeatedly put his life in jeopardy to try and help her. Stood up to villains??? Are you SERIOUSLY suggesting a movie has to have a traditional villain/hero encounter? Should Jamil and the mob guy have had a sword fight? This is insanity. And didn't "stay true to heart felt beliefs"? Once again, what??? I don't understand. That's ONLY what he did. He was devoted to her and followed it through to all ends. Yes there were many times where she slipped through his grasp, but he was in a powerless position. The important thing is he never altered course from his "heart felt belief".

"He didn't even really make any hard choices (other than maybe jumping into the bottom of the latrine). He just hopped on the crest of a wave, and rode along."

Once again, hard choices? I don't get it. I really don't. But the "rode along" comment I'm assuming has to be directed toward the story's use of his brother. His brother, the dominating force of action is often the one who brandishes power. He is a complete and dominating figure over Jamil and I'm assuming that many take Jamil's so-called "passiveness" toward him as a sign of weakness. I don't buy it. Jamil's reluctance to brandish power is nothing more than an inherent "goodness" in a world where people are in a such a rush to brandish their power. Look at every character who "takes" or "acts" for what they want. Sure, they feel they HAVE TO in the Dickensian world of India, but that very "action" is what condemns them. The entire moral struggle of that is the plight of his brother, whereas Jamil's struggle is to abstain from his brother's corruption.

You perceive Jamil as passive. I perceive him as pure. It's a very western conception that western audiences often have trouble understanding (unless it's a kung fu movie or something). Western movie logic says we have to have actions/consequences. You have to be the hero and storm in and get your girl back. It's what we fucking expect dammit! But that is very non-eastern. And this is an eastern movie.

Issue #3: Misconception/Subtext

"Latika was so one-dimensional you could see through her."

This could perhaps be accurate in a certain regard, but I disagree. You could put it simplistically and say "there was too much there." Too much hardship written into the character and hardship = humanity. But that's trite. I think it is her performance in the kitchen warrants something more than "one-dimensional". Once again, this is a matter of a misconception. Latika is an abuse victim. She has been hollowed out by her hardships. I don't know if you've ever had experiences with abuse victims or rape victims, but... well... that's what the experience can often do. It's a kind of dehumanizing life, and the hardest thing to often do is feel normal. And in the aforementioned kitchen scene. That's what I saw. I saw a girl trying to stonewall Jamil from bringing emotion into her life, struggling to contain her feelings and maintain her hard shell. It may not have been as expressive as one (western) would like, but I found it very moving.

Basically... "One-dimensional" my ass.

"You could boil this movie down to 10 minutes. Show the kids running from the riots, and Jamil noticing Latika for the first time in the rain. Cut to the final scene & the happily ever after. That's it. That's the emotional journey Jamil & Latika took."

Did you ever read The Oddessey? And if you did, was the point ever made clear?

"I've got nothing against a well done schmaltzy fair tale. But this movie ain't it."

Examples. Please.

Issue #4: Cultural Empiricism

I felt the same way after watching Slumdog Millionaire as I did after watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—it was a rush-job version of whatever cultural IT girl is currently in. Completely and totally overrated, riding on the coat-tails of a rich cultural heritage that, frankly, doesn't need a goddamned Western watered-down "interpretation" just so the Plebes can check another country off their multicultural movie checklist.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:38 PM on January 26 [+] [!]


This kind of gets back to one of the articles posted above "white man's view". I kind of find everything about this a little silly. What is the problem with someone making a movie about another culture? Believe me, I'm aware of the hysterics and pratfalls (this is where the film major part came in). Are these films often as good as another culture's self interpretation? Pretty much never. Munich cannot capture anything compared to Waltz with Bashir. Spielberg made amistad too. What could have Ali been in spike lee's hands? True, I kind of have a special hate for the Edward Zwick "white guy saves minorities" movies (glory, last samurai, blood diamond, defiance, notice a pattern?) but that is actually more of a function of execution and bluntness than the construct itself.

And our preoccupation with constructs just silly. It's a non-issue to me. It's the kind of supplementation of the act or action itself replacing the meanings that were intended. Does a white person making an "ethnic" movie simply override all functionality? I don't get it. Yet I find the commentary popping up everywhere and the argument was kind of old in the 90s. More importantly, it's inevitable.

*The Crouching Tiger thing I don't get though. That was a good film and Ang Lee isn't like some American White dude who just liked Kung Fu movies. I don't get the equating with slumdog whatsoever.

Issue #5: What I took...

Slumdog is simple maybe... The lesson? There is no substitute for life's trials. If that is what you wish to say (and there is merit in saying it) then Slumdog succeeds.

Issue #6: Focus-groups/The Academy/What really matters

"Oh, there's this brother, he's very morally ambiguous, we can't figure how to feel about him, let's just 'let' HIM make that judgment, and we can call the loose ends wrapped up." Such mediocrity is the rightful result of a focus group, not a best adapted screenplay.

Because this film was focus-grouped... riiiiight. (I know that's not exactly what you're saying, but I'm bringing up the irreverence). The writer of Slumdog was not concerned with focus group thinking. Why? Because I saw him speak for a couple hours about the film, and never did I ever get the sense he was constructing something for audience placation or simplicity. If anything, he was fighting those instincts but kept "giving in to the indulgences of India and its grandness" because it "felt right". I would agree. You can also look at the rest of the films Simon Beaufoy's written and see a collection of solid work that would suggest he does not care about what suggest at all. Even his most commercial script "the full monty" is weighed by a some great character work and nice observation. Hell, it kind of kick started the "weighty film in fluff concept" genre again back then.

And that might be what bothers people. A weighty film in "fluff concept." Some people over-skew the weight (slumdog isn't a cerebral extravaganza, though it is sly) and some people might over-skew the fluff (witness: this thread), but for some reason or another the Oscar's love it. They love weighty stuff that still makes them feel good. Whether it makes them feel better about racism (driving miss daisy/crash, both movies I don't like) or it makes them feel better about whatever the fuck (titanic, etc) they go for it, while still feeling like the movie is important enough.

So that's why slumdog gets into that "best picture" stuff. Cause that's what the majority of folks in the academy value. Do I value it? Not really. I can see through it. OBVSIOULY, most of you can see through it too.

But I recognize academy type films can be both bad and good and often a little bit of hindsight helps: Braveheart (good, tho more hilarious in passing years). Forrest Gump (bad). The Departed (good) Titanic (Bad). You can go back and forth a lot on how things age. But every once and awhile there's a best pic winner that is both an academy type winner and a complete critical/cerebral/audience revelation (silence of the lambs, no country for old men).

Is slumdog the kind of thing that will last forever? Probably not. Unless one of the kid's career's takes off or something. But it is certainly a good movie with some really nice aspects that happens to fall in Academy's wheelhouse. I put it in Shakespeare in Love territory.

More than that... It is what it is.



/There's something to all this. We're disagreeing of a matter of TASTE. You saw the movie and didn't like. You have your reasons. And that's fine.

//I'm just saying. I don't think your reasons are all that great.

///So let's all get back to arguing on the internet.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 1:32 PM on January 27, 2009 [14 favorites]


From plexi's link:

Several hundred people rampaged through the cinema in Patna, capital of the eastern state of Bihar, on Monday and tore down posters advertising the film.


Just to clarify, Bihar is the poorest state in India. (Pause for a moment to think what it takes to earn that kind of superlative.) It is frequently devestated by floods (most recently in the 2008 monsoon). For much of the last twenty years, it has been presided over by one Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was chief minister until corruption and graft landed him in jail, at which point he had his wife installed in his old job and by most reports continued to run the state (and loot it) from behind bars. (Indian democracy being what it is, Lalu is now the federal minister of railways. And incidentally I think a thorough and accurate retelling of Lalu's life and career would make a fascinating film.)

Bihar is home to an active Maoist insurgency (the Naxalites) and is the outpost of first resort for crusading evangelical missionaries keen to find souls ready to be saved for the price of a functional village well. When you drive north out of Delhi on the Grand Trunk Road at night, you can see bodies lying prone on the median, sleeping with their heads just inches from the wheels and exhaust pipes of passing vehicles (or such was the case back in '99-00); these are work crews, their ranks filled predominantly by Biharis, who view this as a better opportunity than anything they can find back home.

On top of this, crowds gather fast and easy in India generally. Mrs. gompa once attracted one of nearly a hundred simply by having her feet henna'd at the roadside on the Mall in Shimla; I was physically removed from her side for a short time by one particularly eager spectator - a Sikh gentleman at least 40 years my senior - who reluctantly acquiesced once I shoved my way back to her side and gave him a series of universal hey that's my wife, jack eye/hand/arm/chest gestures.

Poing being that gathering several hundred people among Bihar's destitute and inciting them to riot would take no more effort than a hey-hey-ho-ho rally outside a Halliburton confab in San Francisco. The sad thing is that the "social activist" who organized this nonsense is preying on their desperation and directing their anger not at the endemic corruption of those that govern them at every level and the rigid caste system that keeps them terminally at the slumdwelling bottom of Indian society but at a movie none of them will ever see.

On preview: Kinda wish I'd posted this ahead of Lacking Subtlety. So it goes.
posted by gompa at 1:41 PM on January 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've seen thousands of films. I was a film major.

The writer of Slumdog was not concerned with focus group thinking. Why? Because I saw him speak for a couple hours about the film, and never did I ever get the sense he was constructing something for audience placation or simplicity.


Yeah well I'm a TA of film majors at [the major film school, you know, that one.] and I give your paper a C+ for not proving your case and falling to impressions and taste instead of anything more argumentatively substantial. Nyaaah nyaaaah TAs are bitter and underpaid.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:15 PM on January 27, 2009


Is this where we give our credentials?
posted by found missing at 4:36 PM on January 27, 2009


You guys got schoooooled!!!
posted by P.o.B. at 5:11 PM on January 27, 2009


I've seen thousands of films. I was a film major.

The writer of Slumdog was not concerned with focus group thinking. Why? Because I saw him speak for a couple hours about the film, and never did I ever get the sense he was constructing something for audience placation or simplicity.

Yeah well I'm a TA of film majors at [the major film school, you know, that one.] and I give your paper a C+ for not proving your case and falling to impressions and taste instead of anything more argumentatively substantial. Nyaaah nyaaaah TAs are bitter and underpaid.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:15 PM on January 27 [+] [!]


Haha. Well this being a matter of writing way-too-long comments whilst at work, I didn't know I was being graded. That you for my C+. The C is for Classy.

Let's bring up something:

Ambroisa, did you just criticize me for making a conclusion based on two hours of a screenwriter talking ad nauseum about his reasons for making screenwriting various decisions in the slumdog script, when you yourself made virtually the same conclusion (although in a different direction) from merely seeing the film and assuming at the writer's intentions?

Don't get me wrong. I'm fine with what you did, but to criticize me for the exact thing you did is folly, especially when my experience features a writer talking about the very issue at hand (And frankly, your statements on the whole felt much more "impressionable" and a matter of "taste" than I felt mind did. But that argument is impossible so let's not go there).

AND If you desperately need support then okay. To paraphrase his words (some are dead on, but I'm mushing them all of it together), Simon: [I'm English. It's my nature to have characters be subdued and to have their conflicts work in subtext. It's a very English thing thing of me, but it's in my nature. Which is what made my travels in India all the more interesting. I had all these inclinations to make the whole thing much more subdued and western and 'english' because that is what feels real to us. But it is not what is real in India. There is an incredible "bigness" to India. A kind of larger than life emotional world. They worship their actors. They characterize their love deeply and extremely. They have an incredible belief in fate and the like. So as much as I rebelled against it, the "Indian" thematic aspects of the story kept drawing me back in. The emotion was too great. It felt so right. So the crux of the film became a big love story (it's not in the book). It became a fatalism thing with the 'it is written.' Really I gave into the emotionality of India. It wasn't my original goal, but like fate, it was in inevitability."

There. That's the paraphrasing of what he said that night about his reasons for writing Slumdog the way he did. Rather than do that, I made a judgement and expressed it, assuming it was enough.

Grade away. I've TA'd in film school too. Fun stuff.

/Ambroisa, this may seem like I think you are an idiot, but nothing could be further from the truth. You're obviously very intelligent and I love the response and love talking about movies. Will be on the lookout for more. Thanks!
//Please send any recommendations.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 5:13 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Twice!
posted by P.o.B. at 5:43 PM on January 27, 2009


I %100 agree, this movie was contrived. You bet it's contrived. Why? BECAUSE THE MAIN SUBJECT IS FATE. Seriously? You're complaining about a movie where fate is contrived?

Ah yes, the old "but the movie was meant to be shitty" move.

Fate need not be contrived. See: Final Destination 1, 2, and 3.
posted by painquale at 5:53 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, Lacking Subtlety. Why do you think Samil committed suicide?

Was it that he did not want to live anymore?

Was it that he was certain he would be murdered, and knew there was no hope of escape from that fate?

SUBQUESTION

How are your impressions of this based in the TEXT? What evidence of them is there in the TEXT - by which I mean the film, not the panel discussion you attended with the screenwriter which apparently moved you so much, and where you drank authorial-intent koolaid?? Can you divorce your impressions of the film from this encounter?

I suspect there is not really a "fate-based" reading of the film that explains his actions in and of themselves, and that leaves me to the belief that that particular plot twist exists more for the attainment of narrative resolution than for a realistic, or even merely believable, story.

I too think the film has merit, but that it's inflated by the paucity of other such movies this year, and that character development was arguably its weakest suit.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:53 PM on January 27, 2009


You bet it's contrived. Why? BECAUSE THE MAIN SUBJECT IS FATE. Seriously? You're complaining about a movie where fate is contrived?

Ahhh, also, I have a favorite argument like this. Defending The Village (I know, The Village. Of all shitty movies.) Because Don't You Guys Get It? It's ABOUT how stupid and pointless it is trying to scare people?!!? It's not SUPPOSED to be really scary. It's an irony, in its very self!

It doesn't fly, though. It's really subjective, and says a lot more about what a viewer brings to a film - expectations, literacies, prior knowledge. I saw it through an inappropriately avant-garde lens, and no reading of the text will prove that there is "intent" that backs my theory or its opposite. This leads us to the observation that a cinematic text is not bounded by its credits. The experience includes its trailers, press, plaudits, pull-quotes, all of that. How Slumdog is presented IS, to an extent, how Slumdog is.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:59 PM on January 27, 2009


PREPARE FOR THREAD EVISCERATION

I'm waiting...
posted by crossoverman at 7:43 PM on January 27, 2009


This thread is more fun with a bollywood soundtrack.

Dance, cubical-wallah, dance!
posted by Surfurrus at 8:31 PM on January 27, 2009


Hey, did anyone else think Anil Kapoor sneers JUST like Faux news' Dennis Miller?!
posted by Surfurrus at 8:36 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sri Cydonianji always nails it; it's near axiomatic.
It's because of my excellent physique brought on by having a glass of 100% pure cow's milk every day at sunrise, and then gazing intently at a plate of beans.
Seriously, thanks! :-)

BECAUSE THE MAIN SUBJECT IS FATE
Hmmm, why? Because the movie starts off with that cutesy "How did Jamal get his million rupees" titling? The book had none of this fate thing going on, really; in fact, I found all that "it is written" nonsense rather tacky, and exoticization to a level that picturizing Mumbai's chawls or the cute kids ripping off tourists at the Taj wasn't.

On a completely unrelated note, just thought that I'd point out that the movie's Hindi title "Slumdog Crorepati" is inaccurate; while the real Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire does indeed go up to one crore rupees, they only go up to a million in the movie. One million = 10 lakhs = 0.1 crores.

That said, I'd pay good money to watch a movie titled 'Basti ka kutta bangaya crorepati' or 'Basti ka Jamil, Crorepatiyon mein shamil'. 'Slumdog Crorepati' just isn't tacky enough.
posted by the cydonian at 9:10 PM on January 27, 2009


Fate is not a subject in Slumdog Millionaire, it's a screenwriter's crutch. The movie's not trying to say anything about destiny, man's struggle against it, or any such thing, it's just using the concept as an unconvincing plot device. The muscular direction and spiffy editing are all working overtime to disguise the fact that the story would make absolutely no sense whatsoever if it was told chronologically. A lot of bad shit goes down, and then the guy goes on a game show where he happens to know all the answers. He wins. The end. It's a very lazy deus ex machina and deserves, in fact, to be called contrived.
posted by muckster at 9:40 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


the cydonian:

I feel that not only can you never "explain" India to a non-Indian --- one cannot really comprehend India as an Indian.

One of the best bollywood movies in recent years is Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi, which translates to "A thousand desires" (the title coming from a ghazal by Mirza Ghalib). A message during the opening titles of that movie reads:

(paraphrasing)

"This is the story of my imaginary brothers and sisters in the 70s, when India was being pulled in a thousand directions"

I think that is a fairly accurate metaphor for India. Being pulled in a thousand directions and still somehow moving forward.
posted by Idle Curiosity at 10:00 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Muckster puts it well. It's not about fate, it's about coincidence, which is shabby screenwriting.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:13 PM on January 27, 2009


AWWW FUCKING HELL

I just spent an hour freaking writing a response and meta filter comment shit the bed when i posted.

FUCKING HELL



I feel like Comic Book Guy when the bomb drops, "oh I've wasted my life"

FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 12:35 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


godammit all to hell


basically i said hinduism is explains all the fatalism shit

GOOD NIGHT
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 12:35 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's because of my excellent physique brought on by having a glass of 100% pure cow's milk every day at sunrise, and then gazing intently at a plate of beans.
posted by the cydonian at 9:10 PM on January 27


What movie is that from the cydonian (except for the beans part is "the sun" right)?
posted by P.o.B. at 12:42 AM on January 28, 2009


I liked the movie, didn't understand the suicide, want a long yellow scarf and just saw this:

The (brilliant) child stars still live in the slums and were paid less than many Indian domestic servants.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:18 AM on January 28, 2009


Aren't Jamal and Salim Muslims? Their mother is murdered by an anti-Muslim mob. What the hell is Hinduism doing motivating the theme of a movie about persecuted Indian Muslims? Does that explain the suicide, in some fucked-up way? Honestly...
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:34 AM on January 28, 2009


Yes Jamal and Salim are Muslims, and their mother was murdered in an anti-Muslim riot. So why did they (or he, can't remember if both of them) see a Hindu god? You don't think Hinduism/Religion figures in somehow? Why wouldn't he commit suicide? He became devoutly religious and also became a hitman. Don't you think that would build up some kind of duality in his head that he couldn't cope with? Maybe the Cognitive Dissonance became to much for him.
I'm not sure if I get some of the complaints here. If you didn't like the movie great, but it looks like all the whining here seems to be held by the minority of people who've seen this movie.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:12 PM on January 28, 2009


What movie is that from[,] the cydonian (except for the beans part is "the sun" right)?
P.o.B.: Heheh, sorry, that was me being funny. Sir Ubu called Sri Cydonian ji, and I was trying to play along by trying to sound like one of those patriarchs who've figured it all out. No movie references intended. :-)

One of the best bollywood movies in recent years is Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi, which translates to "A thousand desires" (the title coming from a ghazal by Mirza Ghalib).

Oh, I _loooooove_ the movie; appealed to me in so many different levels. One of the more interesting problems that Bollywood movies have is in accurately depicting decades after Independence; most often, they ignore the difference between the decades and somehow trudge along, hoping no one will notice.

The otherwise excellent Chak de India was guilty of this in particular; while the main character was based on India's goalie in the 1980 Asiad, they showed him being hounded by news channels in the movie. There were no news channels in India in 1980. (To the movie's credit, though, they didn't quite _say_ it was the Asiad, but still.) Mani Ratnam's Tamil tribute to the Mumbai underworld through Godfather, Nayakan, achieved this through cars; at three critical junctures in the movie, they showed Kamal Hassan get out of an old style Ford (?), an Ambassador and a Maruti, thus establishing a gap between 1950's and 1980's. Even Slumdog struggled with it a bit; they used music and cars to depict this. The music director, Rahman, sort of mixed the beat of the 90's sleaze-hit Choli ke Peeche into Ringa Ringa, the track which plays when the kids visit the brothel. This goes in tandem with the 2006 remix of the 70's song Aaj ki Raat, which plays as the climax starts, thus establishing the passage of time from 1990's to 2006. Also, the maifa don's car changes from a 1985 Mercedes W 123 in the beginning of the movie to W 208 towards the end.

Hazaroon was one of the few Bollywood movies that established this seperation of time from now to "back then" quite well, much better than any of the examples I cited earlier; there was Pink Floyd, dope, Elvis-style flairs, empty streets in Connaught Place, and this absolute sense of directionlessness that the previous generation had in college. Additionally, the movie was a clever, contemporary rendering of a Vikram Betal story, but with the obvious politico-historical ramifications.

And finally, my mom grew up in 70's Delhi in a house not unlike the one in which the heroine's Telugu family lived. It was quite cute to see characters based on Delhi-based Andhras. :-)

"This is the story of my imaginary brothers and sisters in the 70s, when India was being pulled in a thousand directions"

I think that is a fairly accurate metaphor for India. Being pulled in a thousand directions and still somehow moving forward.


Heh, I agree, and possibly I might have been too subtle here, but I was hinting at this very sentiment in my earlier post. Note that my last link points to a review of Naipaul's A Million Mutinies Now, a book that echoed those very thoughts, and the review talks about how India reacts (reacted) to criticism from the phoren Other. In fact, I had typed an entire para earlier on this (but editted out, to not make this a personal rant), but as I see it, it's easier to explain things Indian than to explain India as a whole. How is bhelpuri made? That's easy. Why does Dharavi exist? Easy again:- Mumbai's unique tapering geography coupled with its massive wealth-generating capacity; close to 5% of India's GDP is generated there. As filthy as the chawls are, going strictly on a per-capita basis, Mumbai's streets _are_ paved with gold (Rs 6,610 in Bihar compared to Rs 48,954 in Mumbai). How does India exist? Who the fuck knows.

Aren't Jamal and Salim Muslims? Their mother is murdered by an anti-Muslim mob. What the hell is Hinduism doing motivating the theme of a movie about persecuted Indian Muslims?

While there was persecution of Indian Muslims in the movie, it wasn't wholly about Indian Muslims alone: judging by her Sanskrit (but secular) name Latika (', the heroine appears to have been born Hindu, and apparently lost her parents in the riots. Lots of Indian commentators also missed this. Also, in the book, Jamal was called Ram Mohammed Thomas, apparently as a metaphor for the identity-less souls on the street.
posted by the cydonian at 12:56 AM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


So why did they (or he, can't remember if both of them) see a Hindu god? You don't think Hinduism/Religion figures in somehow?

What significance could there be to an offensive depiction of Ram for little more than a setup for trivia? If it was a vision, care to guess or report as to its significance to Jamal?

I'm only trying to make sense of religion in the film.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:14 AM on January 29, 2009


'Significant' part of Slumdog Millionaire profits will return to slums
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:37 AM on February 1, 2009


Finally saw it last night, and in spite of AV spoiling it for me, I quite enjoyed it. Pure escapist fantasy, in the best Bollywood tradition.

And to accuse it of not portraying the "real" India is as much of a strawman as accusing - say - The Devil Wears Prada of not portraying the real America.

It was nice, for a change, for the film to be in English but with smatterings of Hindi. I'm more used to trying to follow movies the other way around.

A couple of complaints, though:

* Chod & matachod were used frequently enough, but bhenchod was disappointing absent.

* There were nowhere near enough song & dance numbers. A good filmi needs at least seven big numbers, and a seventy-seven thousand piece orchestra set.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:42 PM on February 2, 2009


What significance could there be to an offensive depiction of Ram for little more than a setup for trivia? If it was a vision, care to guess or report as to its significance to Jamal?

How about the fact that the apparition was *clearly* Lord Shiva, not Lord Rama? This would indicate that Jamal was totally ignorant of the Hindu gods.

(which in itself is a ridiculous proposition; nobody in India of any religion could possibly not be familiar with Lord Rama's customary iconography. in that sense, the trivia questions were mostly woefully simple. as another example, the one about the quote on Ashoka's Pillar - "the truth alone prevails" - would've been obvious to anybody without even the tiniest exposure to India)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:46 PM on February 2, 2009


Finally saw it. Loved it.

I can understand the criticisms that a) it glosses over the plight of those living in slums and (IMO the more trenchant criticism) b) a British director has no business showing/telling Indians how bad things are in their country, but ultimately this movie is a beautifully shot, musically fantastic love story. A love story that has a spectacular dance number during the final credits. If this doesn't pretty much beat you over the head with the fact that Boyle isn't trying to make a documentary, but just a piece of romantic fantasy, then you fail at film criticism. And I'd have to imagine you hated The Sound of Music as well for not spending enough time detailing the atrocities at Aushcwitz.

Methinks there's an academically elitist strain of thinking in lots of the film's critics that people will see SM and go through life thinking that poor people in India don't have it so bad since they'll go on TV and become rich and get the girl. And really, that's such a criminally ignorant reading of the film. In short, you fail at understanding genre.
posted by bardic at 7:33 AM on February 19, 2009


On a completely unrelated note, just thought that I'd point out that the movie's Hindi title "Slumdog Crorepati" is inaccurate; while the real Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire does indeed go up to one crore rupees, they only go up to a million in the movie.

I don't know, I just saw Slumdog and the one I saw went up to 20 million. YMMV.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:24 PM on February 22, 2009


I remember watching the Turkish version of the game show once. It was before they crossed a bunch of zeros off the end of the notoriously inflationary currency.

The show was called something like "Who Wants to Win One Hundred Thousand Million Billion Lire?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:56 PM on February 22, 2009


Oscars 2009: Slumdog Millionaire sweeps the board
posted by Artw at 10:05 PM on February 22, 2009


Pictures of the kids in Mumbai getting ready to go to LA.


This one is quite stunning.

(hope the links work)
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:09 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


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