Slumdog Millionaire

User avatar
Penelope
Site Admin
Posts: 5663
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:47 am
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

Postby Penelope » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:47 pm

Look, Sabin, I fully recognize that Slumdog Millionaire is not a "great" film--that script is severely not very good, and, yeah, it doesn't have a strong thematic center. 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?
"...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

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Postby Damien » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:35 pm

Penelope wrote:Oh, please. The Dark Knight's only--I repeat, ONLY--"ambition" was to make wads of cash. That's it.

I don't much like Dark Knight (don't especially dislike it either) but clearly Christopher Nolan is not just some hired hack. He certainly has artistic aspirations -- I don't think he's successful, as I haven't liked any of his pictures but I am convinced he is trying to make Art, not just money.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

Sabin
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 7501
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Postby Sabin » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:21 pm

As per Okri:

We have a lot of good movies that are just made to make money. Sometimes you just get the right people involved and you wind up with something really entertaining and there's nothing wrong with that. Accidentally great entertainment happens for lack of pretension not all the time but in my experience more often than a film designed to win Oscars and make money because they can prove painfully earnest. That is the main modifier of the Oscar-bait. That's twice as much disingenuousness than simply money.

As per Penelope:

"You should never piss on hope."

I know this is going to sound condescending but trust me when I say I don't mean it this way: that's exactly the phrasing choices in which this film's thesis is voiced. Or more accurately, the film's theme is "Hope!" Not a thesis. Not a theme. A statement. "You should hope." "One should hope." "Hope is good." "Hope on Pope." In Slumdog Millionaire, "Hope" and "Destiny" are just words. They don't mean anything. Hope for who? Jamal? These kids are strangers. Hope for you, the viewer? By presenting a disingenuous music video about ethnic suffering? Danny Boyle uses film language to phat trick his way out of a situation where the more direct approach is more appropriate. I mean, ye gods! How is this film any different from Rocky? Or with the sheer amount of montage and tricks, how is it any different from Rocky IV?
"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

Okri
Tenured
Posts: 2623
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:28 pm
Location: Edmonton, AB

Postby Okri » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:04 pm

... How is a wad of cash and Oscars worse than a wad of cash, out of curiousity. Not that I agree with either of your premises, but still, I'm curious.

User avatar
Penelope
Site Admin
Posts: 5663
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:47 am
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

Postby Penelope » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:02 pm

You should never piss on hope.
"...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

Sabin
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 7501
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Postby Sabin » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:00 pm

Slumdog's was worse: a wad of cash and Oscars. Whatever existed in the film that was genuine was leaked out years ago. Only The Dark Knight's tone is nihilistic. Slumdog Millionaire is the emptiest film of the year.
"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

User avatar
Penelope
Site Admin
Posts: 5663
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:47 am
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

Postby Penelope » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:32 pm

Oh, please. The Dark Knight's only--I repeat, ONLY--"ambition" was to make wads of cash. That's it.
"...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

Sabin
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 7501
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Postby Sabin » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:23 pm

The film is simply a very old fashioned story of three lifelong friends that has been told countless times. It is also very well done and I recommend it highly.

But it's not! I have been getting into an argument about this Slumdog Millionaire bullshit every day since it's come out. Italiano is correct. I would argue that Slumdog Millionaire is both the most energetic and coldly calculated movie of the year. Of course it's entertaining! How could it not be? The problem is what it is entertaining you with.

I want to answer barry's question with the film's central thesis: it. is. written. It has to happen. It is destiny. He can't go wrong. He can't lose. It is almost as though Slumdog Millionaire is an exercise in excellence. He WILL rise...in montage. He WILL succeed...regardless of what he knows or doesn't. He WILL get the girl...whomever she is. Even Rocky made a bigger effort to get to know its characters.

I keep arguing that it is a themeless movie and I keep getting it thrown back in my face that the theme of destiny is prevalent, but is it? What if instead of "destiny" and "it being written", Jamal won because of his persisting faith in Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior? It's easy enough to do. Just sub out one small group of words for another. It would delve just as much into where this persisting credo stems from and provide just as little insight. Slumdog Millionaire is a movie about faith, and it's basically the same faithlessness that I abhor in other forms.

I feel about Slumdog Millionaire the same way I feel about a handjob: it's certainly fun at the end but you can only enjoy getting there so much.

I don't feel like delving into The Dark Knight terribly because you just have little use for it as I do Mamma Mia!, but it is so much more ambitious than this pithy music video that it's not even funny. For all its myriad flaws, The Dark Knight is an insanely ambitious narrative whereas this is napkin screenwriting.
"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

Okri
Tenured
Posts: 2623
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:28 pm
Location: Edmonton, AB

Postby Okri » Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:56 pm

I loved it. I thought it was just exhilarating.

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Postby Damien » Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:10 pm

ITALIANO wrote:SPOILER



I dont know about the book, but of course everything in this movie is so coldly planned that the two lovers at the end wouldn't really care about the money and would just be happy to be finally together. But of course, since this movie wants to be successful in America too, they also get the money.

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."
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

User avatar
kaytodd
Assistant
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2003 10:16 pm
Location: New Orleans

Postby kaytodd » Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:28 pm

The way I remember it (I don't have access to the book right now), the people who run the show try to cheat Jamal (he was Thomas in the book but I don't want to confuse anyone). The final prize money is one billion rupees. The producers of the show, one of whom is the host, have the billion rupees to pay him but that will wipe them out and the show will be over. They announce that the final question concerns a very obscure detail about a relative of the king who ordered the building of the Taj Mahal. In another of the many moments of serendipity in this fable, the producers are unaware that he had worked as an unauthorized tour guide at the Taj Mahal so he knew the answer. The audience goes nuts and they go to a commercial break.

The host and producers get together and the host asks Jamal to meet him in the bathroom. While in there, the host tells him that was not the real last question and they were going to come up with another one that they believe he will miss. They will not let him collect the money. Jamal then pulls a gun on the host (Jamal is not at all the sweet innocent boy in the film. His hard life has given him a lot of the hard qualities Salim has in the film.). We find out Jamal does not just want to win the money. He also wants to kill the host. One of the many episodes in Jamal's life that is not mentioned in the film was his working as a servant for a famous but aging Indian film actress several years earlier. She was very kind to Jamal. She had a younger lover who would physically abuse her and steal money every time he came to her house. The torment eventually led to her suicide.

When Jamal happened to catch the show on TV late in the book, he recognized the host as the actress' abusive lover. The host talks Jamal out of killing him by promising to give him the correct answer to the next question. When the question is asked, Jamal uses his last lifeline (called Lifeboats in the book), 50/50 (I don't think phone a friend was one of the Lifeboats). The two that were left were the answer the host gave him and another one. Jamal says he does not know the answer but will flip his lucky coin to pick his answer (this lucky coin makes a lot of appearances in the book). The lucky coin tells him not to pick the answer the host gave him and he ended up winning the money (and bankrupting the show).

So, in a sense, he did guess.

An example of how the book is totally different from the film is the story of Jamal and Latika (called Nita in the book). She does not meet Jamal or appear in the book until late in the story. He had served as a Taj Mahal guide for a group of wealthy young German men. They take a liking to Jamal and ask him to come along for a night on the town (Jamal in the book is a very streetwise kid with a knack for finding wealthy people who will do things for him). They go to a high class brothel and offer to buy a hooker for Jamal. Nita is the hooker and this is Jamal's first sexual experience. Nita is Jamal's age and he falls in love with her. He comes to the brothel as often as he can, always asking for Nita. She treats him as just another customer at first but she eventually falls in love with him. He then starts cooking up plans to buy her freedom from her pimp (who happens to be her brother). This is his other motivation for going on the show. When he gets his money, he and Nita/Latika are married.

That might have been an interesting way for the film to go, but the life long triangle of Jamal, Salim and Latika is interesting also. I thoroughly enjoyed the story in the book, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the story in the film.




Edited By kaytodd on 1229899067
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. Oliver Wendell Holmes

ITALIANO
Emeritus
Posts: 4031
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 1:58 pm
Location: MILAN
Contact:

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Dec 21, 2008 2:49 pm

barrybrooks8 wrote:One of my biggest complaints about the movie is the final question, and Jamal's guessing of the answer. It would have been more touching (in a more phony way) if Latika knew the answer and gave it to him. I have way more complaints about the movie, but this is a glaringly big one. So, in the book, does he just guess on the last question?

SPOILER



I dont know about the book, but of course everything in this movie is so coldly planned that the two lovers at the end wouldn't really care about the money and would just be happy to be finally together. But of course, since this movie wants to be successful in America too, they also get the money.

Ed Gonzalez and all the other critics are wrong. This movie was made with Oscar on its mind. And it will win Oscars, believe me. The big ones.

barrybrooks8
Temp
Posts: 463
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:34 pm
Location: Milwaukee

Postby barrybrooks8 » Sun Dec 21, 2008 2:22 pm

I have a question for anyone who read Q&A and seen Slumdog Millionaire...



SPOILERS!!!!!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.


One of my biggest complaints about the movie is the final question, and Jamal's guessing of the answer. It would have been more touching (in a more phony way) if Latika knew the answer and gave it to him. I have way more complaints about the movie, but this is a glaringly big one. So, in the book, does he just guess on the last question?
"Jesus! Look at my hands! Now really, I am too young for liver spots. Maybe I can merge them together into a tan."

User avatar
kaytodd
Assistant
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2003 10:16 pm
Location: New Orleans

Postby kaytodd » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:33 am

Penelope wrote:Uncle.

You know what? Based on Danny Boyle's previous foray into "feel-good" territory--the excreable Millions--I was preparing myself for an absolutely dreadful film. And, truth be told, I agree with pretty much everything Sabin said about the script--I kept thinking, it's like they married Horatio Alger with Sidney Sheldon by way of Bollywood. Nothing, really, in this movie makes logical sense, and in that regard I would normally be flummoxed as to why the critics are going hog wild about the film.

But Slumdog Millionaire also reminded me of two previous Best Picture winners--The Sound of Music and Titanic--in that it is such a life-affirming film that it's "critic-proof" (except that Slumdog, I suspect, is getting phenomenally better reviews than either of those films did, though it shares the unabashed romanticism and the moustache-twirling villains of both those previous films). Even more than that, Slumdog isn't just life-affirming, it's a life-rejuvinating film (it's come along at a pivotal moment for me). Even recognizing the obvious (very obvious, I should think) flaws of the script, you walk out of the theater just beaming from ear to ear, ready to take on the world.

I think it will win Best Picture. It has so much going for it--that fabulous word-of-mouth, a respected director working at the top of his game, a likable cast (especially Dev Patel who, given his thin material, gives an utterly charming performance, and I could easily see him Oscar-nominated), the exotic setting, and most of all, unlike so many other of this year's Oscar contenders, whether blockbuster (The Dark Knight, WALL-E) or "art film" (Milk, Rachel Getting Married), it doesn't make the audience feel bad about itself. Slumdog Millionaire makes you feel not just good about life, but absolutely great, and given how difficult events have become recently, I just can't see how the movie won't become a massive success, or how the Academy can ignore such success.

I felt very much the same way about Slumdog. There are plot holes you can drive an H1 through and the many examples of serendipity are the annoying types that will cause apologists for the film to say "it is a fable." But, like Titanic and Sound Of Music, it is an outstanding piece of cinema that I thoroughly enjoyed. The Bollywood dance number over the closing credits did not bother me at all. It was fun, especially how they had all six actors who played Jamal and Latika dancing together. The whole thing just worked for me.

The film was very different from the book and I liked the changes. The book was like a complicated puzzle I enjoyed trying to solve during each chapter. The film retains some of that. Sometimes we find out the question first, then we have the flashback during which we find out how Jamal (Thomas in the book, a touching but complex story they were wise to ditch) came to know the answer. Other times we start out with the flashback, then we find out the question and we know why he will be able to answer it. And I thought all of the flashbacks were good stories.

Both the book and film show how hard life is for the underclass in India. But I can understand how someone could be taken aback about how the film does little to give a sense of how much these people are suffering. The book does not have that same flaw. But this is not that kind of film at all. It is a simplistic feel good story. This is also reflected by how they changed the relationships among Jamal, Salim and Latika. Latika's story arc is very different in the book and is an example of how they simplified and prettied up the story for the film. The book is a complicated story in which Jamal finds himself all over India and at all levels of Indian society, from the worst slums to the very wealthy. It is much more of a travelouge of India than even the film.

The film is simply a very old fashioned story of three lifelong friends that has been told countless times. It is also very well done and I recommend it highly.
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Reza
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8238
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:14 am
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Postby Reza » Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:23 am

Penelope wrote:Nolan creates a mess.

You've hit the nail right on the head. Only Heath Ledger did something interesting as The Joker.


Return to “2008”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests