16 December 2008
  slumdog millionaire

slumdog millionaire was bound to take over the crown from little miss sunshine and juno as this year's most overrated film, but something went wrong. it's actually good. really good. unbelievably good.

i went to see this movie not knowing much about it, but fully expecting to be, at best, nonplussed. after all, essentially every single person who has seen it has liked it. i've really yet to read a single negative word written about it. any movie that is this well liked HAS to be a piece of garbage right? who wants to watch something that doesn't arouse at least a little bit of dissent? give me lars von trier and todd solondz any day. you can keep steven spielberg.

but i have to say, to my complete surprise, practically as soon as the movie began, i already knew i was going to like it. the editing, the cinematography, the music just jump off the screen, and by the time i saw the title i was hooked.

slumdog is without a doubt one of the best movies i have seen in years and probably the best love story that has been made since titanic. i hesitate to offer even so much a brief sketch of the movie's plot, since it seems to me part of my enjoyment came in not knowing what to expect or what i was watching. and also this is definitely a hard film to describe in a paragraph. it is about a lot of things. religion, u.s.-american tourism and development in the majority world, women's opportunities, organized crime and, most importantly, friendship. slumdog is hard to classify even in terms of genre. some moments are comedic, some dramatic some suspenseful. if it reminds me of any other movie, it might be requiem for a dream with just a bit of trainspotting thrown in. but even these comparisons are unworthy, since it is much more droll than the former, and more hopeful than the latter.

one of the true stars of this film for me is the editing. it is definitely one of the most cleverly strung together narrative sequences i can remember seeing. i think boyle (and his Indian "codirector") deserve a great deal of credit for their vision here, but this film would certainly never have come into its potential without the masterful way in which it was edited together. It is so fun waiting for the next scene, guessing what's going to happen next, being surprised at the ways these disparate scenes eventually all come together so perfectly.

another star is the score. a little bit of bollywood, a little bit of hip hop, a little bit of folk music all blend together here to form a really intriguing soundtrack that is SUCH a welcome respite from the awful music for juno that i had to listen to all through the awards season last year. it would be a shame if a song from slumdog ("o saya?") weren't oscar nominated.

one of the biggest treats for me in this movie was actually the end credits. i thought it was so clever how boyle seemed to be developing this entire movie out of a basic bollywood foundation, but transforming it into something amazingly, radically different. and then, in the end, he brings it all full circle with this playful bollywood finale, splicing the dancing cast members with brightly colored art. i really enjoyed that part.

if i have anything bad to say about slumdog, it's that i wish i hadn't watched it so early in the awards season. i can't imagine that anything else i have yet to see will be able to match this one. i won't disallow the possibility, but if anything better than this comes along, it would make 2008 one of the best movie years ever.
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