Thursday, November 27, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire: A Great Adventure/Romance.


If you're looking for great movies to see over the holiday weekend, please do not miss SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which, alongside MILK, stands heads and shoulders above anything I've seen all year long.

The sheer scale and scope of Slumdog is staggering, especially for a smaller budget indie film which almost didn't get released until it started winning audience favorite awards at the film festivals -- and has now debuted to universally great praise. If it's not nominated for and Oscar for Best Movie, it not be because it doesn't deserve it.

The story, which takes place in India, but which is spoken mostly in English, is about a boy from the slums of India who is one question away from winning the top award on India's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." At the beginning of the movie, he gets arrested by the police and tortured to confess that somehow he's cheated the system.

But, see, as we learn about the boy and his life (through an ingenious plot device I won't reveal), it becomes apparent that there's nothing you can do to this kid worse than what he's already lived through.

And thus we are plunged into a world that is weirdly similar to the one Americans live in, and yet wholly foreign. A parallel universe that's alternately horrifying -- think modern day Oliver Twist with a horrendous man who uses and abuses children to make money -- and hilarious, such as the Indian phone bank school where everyone takes lessons to learn how to pretend they don't live in India.

At its heart, though, this is a love story and if you have even an inch of romance inside of you, you will, like me, be streaming tears. Does it have a happy ending? Well, I said it was a romance. But I am not going to tell you how it ends. And even if I did, it wouldn't take one single thing away from how it all works out.

Lastly, I've always been a sucker for movies that feature people who come from nowhere, who have to endure great hardship. They're so much more interesting that these endless TV shows featuring rich people whose biggest problem is whether to have the maid clean the ashtrays or do it themselves.

Bring your Kleenexes and do NOT let this movie pass by. Moviemaking and movie watching -- it doesn't get better than this.
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