Monday, March 2, 2009

Movies: Slumdog Millionaire

I'll be the first to admit that I usually shy away from foreign films. As a general rule I don't seek out any film made by independent studios, languages that are not English, actors who I don't recognize or whose names I can't pronounce. Nor do I run to see films with a lot of suffering, punishment and lessons on unselfish love. My main brand of movie is the more commercial kind with explosions, Jason Statham, death races and the occasional revenge scenario. I also thrive on the "pre-fab" equivalent, the romantic comedy, which the studios pop out every couple of months because they're guaranteed money makers.

After the opening paragraph you're probaly thinking I'm really shallow. You're wrong. I just don't like to learn my lessons through movies. When I sit down to watch a movie I don't want to see a story about misery and despair, I have enough of that in my own backyard. I want to see a story about something I don't have, or something intelligent and witty. I want to laugh, not cry. That being said, I'm not completely close minded and am actually quite eclectic. I love many movies and consider even the ones I don't like an experience. (By the way, No Country for Old Men and New World were very bad experiences - keep away).

All this talk to get to what I really wanted to say - are you ready? Slumdog Millionaire is a very, very good movie. This is a movie with all the elements that would normally put me off, but somehow the story manages to take you on a journey that is not depressing - it's hopeful. I left the movie theatre feeling light and happy. This is a movie that takes componenets of a tragic life and miraculously turns it around into a tale of love, friendship, strength and more than anything hope.

Everything about the movie is good. I have no complaints. I believe I have to credit the producers, directors and screenwriters. They fell in love with the story and felt so strongly about the project that they braved all odds to get it done. They had no big studio backing them, no big funding, they basically had nothing. But their positive outlook on life, their energy and their spirit came through. This is what turned what would normally be a depressing tale of woe into a glorious, uplifting tale of sunshine and light.

This is what all movies in this genre should be like. I hope the Brazilian cinema industry takes a page from their book and stop making movies that make us all suicidal. No one wants to watch a movie that will leave them with a feeling of ick, we want hearts and flowers. And it doesn't have to be a commercial, shallow, pre-fab movie that will make us feel good, it can be a movie with lessons, poverty, trauma and difficulty, so long as it's done in the spirit of goodwill toward men.

My hat is off to everyone involved in the making of this masterpiece. To say that they deserved every Oscar they got would be an understatement. I hope you all run out and see it because it is an experience that is not to be missed. This is a feel-good, in the best possible way.

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