Sunday, November 23, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

Yesterday, I was reading the latest issue of Paste, which happens to be the magazine that decided to assume the subscription list for alt-country bi-monthly No Depression—a publication that I previously had subscribed to from 1997 to 2004—after that magazine folded earlier this year. It was their year-end Best of 2008 issue, so the first thing I did was check out their picks for the year's top music. There were probably at least 7 that their top 25 will have in common with my eventual list, but it was their movie picks that had the most influence on me yesterday.

In reality it was just one movie pick that I'm referring to here. In reviewing Firaaq, their #1 movie of 2008, the reviewer states that "for all the praise showered on Slumdog Millionaire this year, it wasn't even the best film shot in India". That distinction, of course, goes to Firaaq, but for some reason it was the mention of Slumdog that stayed with me.

Later that day, when I was discussing with my new girl what movie we might go to that night, I read her the description and we decided it sounded interesting. I hadn't even heard of the movie prior to yesterday, but when we arrived for the 9:40 showing at the Kendall Square Cinema, a medium-sized theater that shows mostly independent films, we noticed the sign on the door telling us that the 6:45 and 8:15 showtimes had been sold out.

When the film began, we instantly understood why it had become so popular. Riveting from start to finish, Slumdog tells the tale of Jamal Malik, an uneducated 18-year old orphan from the poorest class of Indian society, who advances to the final round of his country's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Under suspicion for cheating—how could a "slumdog" know the answers to all of the show's questions?—the film depicts how Jamal learned the answers to the questions through a series of flashbacks to his unfortunate life experiences.

Once was easily my favorite film of 2007, and Slumdog Millionaire will no doubt earn that honor for 2008, not that I have the same penchant for rating movies as I do music. It alternates between being cute, sad, funny, romantic, suspenseful, dramatic and action-packed, making a statement about personal moral choice in the face of economic adversity in the process. If you see only one independent film the rest of this year, this should be it. Although, if this truly is only the second best movie filmed in India this year, then I really need to see Firaaq.

1 comment:

  1. HA I am kicking myself for my screwy memory right now. Kate and I went and saw this last weekend. To convince her to see it (she had not heard of it at all) I said that Heather had LOVED it and called it her movie of the year. We called Heather afterwards and she said that she had seen it and that she really liked it, but she doesn't think she ever talked about liking it that much. So I just assumed that I had accidentally exaggerated something she had said.

    Looking over your blog right now I realized it was YOU that had loved this movie! I had read your blog a while back and must have buried this information deep in my wee little brain :)

    This movie had a great soundtrack too - Danny Boyle knows that music can make a movie great!