Slumdog Millionaire

Sabin
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Postby Sabin » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:54 pm

Are we really so sure that "fate" (if we want to talk with terms like this that I personally hate) is predictable? I doubt, honestly. And even if it were, does it always lead to the happiest possible ending? Not on this side of the Atlantic, though I must admit, judging from the reaction of the audience I saw the movie with, that many even here probably like to believe so, once in a while at least.

I mentioned earlier that you could sub out the words "fate" and "destiny" and "written" with "Faith in Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior" and the film wouldn't suffer an iota. It has a ridiculously naive and filtered notion of higher power that is absolutely no different than the most easy and provincial faiths in this country that are so easy to mock. You see a little girl who says that she is going to heaven because she believes in Jesus Christ and it is no different in tone or content than anything in Slumdog Millionaire.

I asked my sister who loves it what the film is about. She said it's about overcoming all obstacles. I asked her if that means the theme is perseverance. She agreed. What does Slumdog Millionaire have to say about perseverance if "it is written?" If "it is destiny?" Nothing. You have an infallible protagonist who is going to win no matter what. The ending is an utterly botched conceit. He has no idea who the Third Musketeer is but there is little doubt of what is going to happen because it is written. The film has nothing to say about faith or the very notion of destiny, how it has become so ingrained in Jamal's head, or what it means to the Indian culture. The film begins on a title sequence telling us what is going to happen and the rest of the film exists within the confines of what I suppose the Zucker "Movie" label would call Underdog Movie. It has nothing to say about anything at all on the planet and I find its shortcomings in the most basic arenas of story structure to be astonishing.
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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:44 pm

I don't mean that the real concept of fate is predictable. I mean that romantic comedies' concept of fate is predictable. True fate is hardly predictable and can sometimes creep up on you when you're least expecting it. That is one of my problems with Slumdog Millionaire. I like the movie, don't get me wrong, but I don't understand the critical acclaim. I mean some of these groups went for the cerebral There Will Be Blood...how do they go from that to Slumdog Millionaire...it's mystifying.
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Postby ITALIANO » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:18 pm

SPOILERS



Are we really so sure that "fate" (if we want to talk with terms like this that I personally hate) is predictable? I doubt, honestly. And even if it were, does it always lead to the happiest possible ending? Not on this side of the Atlantic, though I must admit, judging from the reaction of the audience I saw the movie with, that many even here probably like to believe so, once in a while at least.

But I don't have anything against happy endings - the problem is that I "predicted" not just the ending, but every single narrative point of the story. For example, if you know the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, the moment you see the young hero going to a call center and looking for the phone number of a long-lost relative, you know perfectly well that the same number will be used later during the show in a pivotal moment. It's that kind of movie - you can almost hear the brain of its makers working at it, scene by scene. And then of course it's quite well-made and optimistic, but for me this isn't enough to call it a masterpiece. Definitely not.

But I recognize a Best Picture winner when I see one. And the only reason why I don't say that this will CERTAINLY, 100% win the Oscar (yes, one of my "presumptions") is because I still havent seen Benjamin Button. But it's certainly very, very close.

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Dec 22, 2008 1:54 pm

Well, of course it's predictable...the end is given away at the beginning and in literature for the film "it is written". It's clear the film is going to be about fate predictably bringing the parts of the story together in utterly predictable ways. That's why it appeals to so many people. Fate is always supposed to ultimately reward each individual with something positive even when it delivers bad things...at least that seems to be the common belief in those who cite fate or destiny as reason for something to happen. But all fate does is bring about a pre-determined ending, whether good or bad, but there's an optimism that is displayed in those who are most enamored with the idea of fate. Thus, why something like this appeals to so many people. But I'm still doubtful that it's going to result in an Oscar victory.
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Postby ITALIANO » Mon Dec 22, 2008 1:42 pm

Damien wrote:Reminds of what a friend said about that awful movie "Arthur" back in 1981: "It's 'Holiday' for the Reagan era -- he gets the girl AND the money."

Exactly. Only this one is more tuned on the Obama era, and this is why so many usually cynical, leftist critics are such easy victims of its charm.

It's not a terrible movie. Just predictable, and one has to see through it.

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Postby Penelope » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:52 pm

Sabin wrote:
Explain to me how, exactly, The Dark Knight has a "complex, ambitious" narrative. Villains go on spree, Batman tries to save Gotham, and inevitably must make a moral choice at some point, while primary villain is left alive at end to wreak further havoc later on. It's every Batman movie ever made! C'mon! Fatastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Iron Man, even Catwoman had more complexity!

Please explain to me how Catwoman has more complexity, using 33 words (your elucidation of TDK was that long).

Oh, that's just me being hurt.

I'll bail on the line of question if you do.

Yeah. Sorry, Sabin.
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Postby Sabin » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:49 pm

Explain to me how, exactly, The Dark Knight has a "complex, ambitious" narrative. Villains go on spree, Batman tries to save Gotham, and inevitably must make a moral choice at some point, while primary villain is left alive at end to wreak further havoc later on. It's every Batman movie ever made! C'mon! Fatastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Iron Man, even Catwoman had more complexity!

Please explain to me how Catwoman has more complexity, using 33 words (your elucidation of TDK was that long).

Oh, that's just me being hurt.

I'll bail on the line of question if you do.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Penelope » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:24 pm

Okri wrote:
Explain to me how, exactly, The Dark Knight has a "complex, ambitious" narrative. Villains go on spree, Batman tries to save Gotham, and inevitably must make a moral choice at some point, while primary villain is left alive at end to wreak further havoc later on. It's every Batman movie ever made! C'mon! Fatastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Iron Man, even Catwoman had more complexity!


Please explain to me how Catwoman has more complexity, using 33 words (your elucidation of TDK was that long).

Oh, that's just me being hurt.
"...it is the weak who are cruel, and...gentleness is only to be expected from the strong." - Leo Reston



"Cruelty might be very human, and it might be cultural, but it's not acceptable." - Jodie Foster

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Postby Penelope » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:23 pm

Damien wrote:
Penelope wrote:But, really, how in the world can ANY intelligent, thoughtful, educated-in-cinema person reasonably watch The Dark Knight and not realize that it's absolute putrid shit?

Pen, I think you should just let it go. Clearly a lot of not-stupid people see a lot to admire, even love, in Dark Knight. It's not your tea cup (nor is it mine), but to call it "putrid shit" just makes you sound silly. You act as if it were a Sidney Lumet picture. :D

Oh, it's worse: it's a Christopher Nolan flick!

Well, I suppose we can just be grateful it's not a Paul Greengrass movie.
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Postby Okri » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:15 pm

Explain to me how, exactly, The Dark Knight has a "complex, ambitious" narrative. Villains go on spree, Batman tries to save Gotham, and inevitably must make a moral choice at some point, while primary villain is left alive at end to wreak further havoc later on. It's every Batman movie ever made! C'mon! Fatastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Iron Man, even Catwoman had more complexity!


Please explain to me how Catwoman has more complexity, using 33 words (your elucidation of TDK was that long).




Edited By Okri on 1229915777

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Postby Damien » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:03 pm

Penelope wrote:But, really, how in the world can ANY intelligent, thoughtful, educated-in-cinema person reasonably watch The Dark Knight and not realize that it's absolute putrid shit?

Pen, I think you should just let it go. Clearly a lot of not-stupid people see a lot to admire, even love, in Dark Knight. It's not your tea cup (nor is it mine), but to call it "putrid shit" just makes you sound silly. You act as if it were a Sidney Lumet picture. :D
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Postby Penelope » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:52 pm

Sorry, I have to bite back.

Explain to me how, exactly, The Dark Knight has a "complex, ambitious" narrative. Villains go on spree, Batman tries to save Gotham, and inevitably must make a moral choice at some point, while primary villain is left alive at end to wreak further havoc later on. It's every Batman movie ever made! C'mon! Fatastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Iron Man, even Catwoman had more complexity!

Not a single one of the Batman flicks has ever impressed me. I keep going back, hoping against hope that something good will emerge, but I've come to the conclusion that the whole conceit is completely barren. No wonder our dumbed-down culture loves it.
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Postby Zahveed » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:49 pm

Penelope wrote:But, really, how in the world can ANY intelligent, thoughtful, educated-in-cinema person reasonably watch The Dark Knight and not realize that it's absolute putrid shit?

You cut deep Pen, you cut deep.
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Postby Sabin » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:40 pm

I'll bite.

When I discuss my problems with Slumdog Millionaire, I am opening the board up to a contrarian conversation about a hype that I find problematic. I acknowledge it's not a bad film but one I don't particularly like. In all fairness, I rank it hovering around the low end of **1/2 so it's not an issue of hating it but finding the acclaim problematic. Now, I don't know if it is your intention to bring out a conversation from saying on the onset the equivalent of "Anybody who likes this is a moron" or the like.

It's not worth it to go further into The Dark Knight because your reaction to watching it basically leaves one to believe that you had no business watching it in the first place, that it's not your thing. That's why I'm saying as far away from Mamma Mia! as humanly possible. It's not for me. I can say that the play is the single worst thing I've seen on stage in my lifetime but ultimately it's not for me and I have as little business watching it as you do Nolan's film. I will say though simply that The Dark Knight for whatever its flaws has a more ambitious, complex narrative than Slumdog Millionaire. I brought this film up misguidedly to demonstrate a personal credo of mine that if a movie is ambitious enough in narrative, I can forgive its lapses, like the ones in The Dark Knight. If it is simple and fails like Slumdog Millionaire does to muster the most base elements of story/structure, then I can't. It's not a bad movie, it's just one I don't think is terribly special.
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Postby Okri » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:54 pm

sigh.

I don't think Slumdog Millionaire is that great thematically, but I don't think Raiders of the Lost Ark is that great thematically. I think Boyle's flick is an absolutely fantastic piece of escapism. Yeah, it has serious tangents, but I think at it's heart, it's an escapist fable. I bought absolutely everything in it, from the romance between Latika and Jamal to the camaraderie of Salim and Jamal. I loved it as a tribute to reckless childhood enthusiasm. I'd watch it again in a heartbeat.

I'm not touching The Dark Knight argument because I think it brings out the worst in us.


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