Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Slumdog Millionaire (2008) ****

R, 120 min.
Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Simon Beaufoy, Vikas Swarup (novel “Q & A”)
Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Madhur Mittal, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Rubina Ali Tanay, Hemant Chheda, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, Ankur Vikal, Himanshu Tyagi

I haven’t seen Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” since about a week before it won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2009. It’s one of those Best Picture winners that’s kind of easy to forget about for some reason. Sometimes that’s just what happens to the Best Picture winners. Sometimes the losers are more memorable. Sometimes ones that weren’t even nominated were more memorable.

That’s not to say that I don’t still feel it deserved the Best Picture Oscar that year. Taking the picture only on its own merits, it’s a strong choice. It is filled with everything that makes us all fall in love with the movies. It has romance, action, and intrigue. It’s fun and brutal. It shows us our dreams and our nightmares. It shows us an exotic land. It orients us with a life unfamiliar. It has good characters, and even gives us a song and dance over the end credits.

Boyle’s direction and Simon Beaufoy’s script are terse and energetic. They keep the pace moving at an action movie’s level, but its subject is a life drama. Boyle immerses his screen in Indian culture, showing the audience aspects of Mumbai known only to its citizens. There is a crime element, which populates many of Boyle’s movies, that is understood as a way of life for the children of Mumbai, but is not a defining element of their character.

“Slumdog” is still a beautiful cinematic experience. I don’t agree that it was a “safe” choice for the Academy to choose for its Best Picture winner that year, as some have accused. It is a jarring movie with many elements that don’t inherently work with Academy audiences. They work here because of the skill and artistry with which they are presented. That is why it is an Oscar winner.

Read my original review here.

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