I’m used to being disappointed by bandwagon films that is films that everyone jumps on including the Academy of Arts and Sciences which bestow Oscars heaping lavish praise until becomes reflexive like salivating canines instead of really critiquing a film for what it’s worth….A perfect example of this was THE TITANIC a bloated, overextended mess and one of the dullest films I’ve ever seen….I wanted to clap at the end when Leonardo DiCaprio sank under the water ….Another best picture winner I didn’t get was THE ENGLISH PATIENT the delightful tale of a Nazi sympathizer and an unfaithful wife….This film was completely devoid of morality and logic and also incredibly dull.
Which brings me to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE….After watching the massive hype leading up to the Oscar night sweep of multiple categories and listening to my co-workers and friends rave about it, I expected a good film….Maybe I was a bit wary because I’m always suspicious of hype.
What I didn’t expect was an implausible fairy tale full of irrational behavior, impossible situations, nonsensical actions, weird coincidences….I’ve never liked the writing of Charles Dickens for the reasons I just mentioned and SLUMDOG is very Dickensian in outlook, characters, and structure….I just thought much of the film was nonsense.
Many of the characters behave in ways that don’t make sense-would children not matter how desperate behave ways that are so adult in terms of responsibility?….The film, while visually interesting, omits important scenes (the story’s just not told very well)….How did Jamal become a tea wallah?....What happened the night he got separated from Latika and Salim?....Why did the police release Jamal?....How did he get on WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?....The fact that the main actors especially Freda Pinto share much of their screen time with child actors playing their roles is also disconcerting…..Freda Pinto only appears in the film for about 20 minutes (if you add up her scenes) and they are towards the end of the film.
Regarding India and the effect of this film, well my father is an Indian but I’ve never been to India….However, this film struck me very much as the viewpoint of a foreigner looking at India perhaps similar to CITY OF JOY by Roland Joffe (which is a better film) not like a film made by someone who is Indian….For good Indian cinema reflective of India I would recommend the APU trilogy by the late, great Satyijat Ray.
The bottom line?....I just don’t think SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is a very good film….In fact it kind of sucks.
A few random thoughts on other unrelated subjects….
1.) My father now has a Wikipedia page…. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dronamraju_Krishna_Rao
2.) I also saw TEETH….while it is gory and a bit disgusting, what I liked about it was its skewering of the whole abstinence movement and the idiocy of promise rings and the attack on sex education in public school in America by Christian fundamentalist….A clever well-written film to be sure but, don’t be confused, this is a nasty horror movie (A teenage girl reaching puberty discovers teeth in a very bad place in her body that coincides with her sexual awakening) and because of the cringe inducing emasculation scenes that follow I don’t think I’ll be seeing it again….Still, it’s better than SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE!!!!!!!!!
3.) Also been listening to the music of The Cranes lately especially their first release WINGS OF JOY…..I was inspired by talk of a new Cranes album perhaps coming out soon….My Bloody Valentine is the only band I can think of that clears a room faster than The Cranes….The idea of what sounds like a babbling retarded six year old girl in an indecipherable language backed by weird lopsided string arrangements, guitar bursts of noise, staccato pianos, and primitive drumming may not appeal to most but I’ve always found deep emotion and melancholic power in the arrangements as well as the tone Alison Shaw’s voice.