Friday, May 8, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I don't like movies. It is such an artificial, domineering genre that renders the spectator completely powerless. Watching films in a movie theater is the worst experience ever. You are sitting there, in the darkness, with the enormous screen blaring at you. You can't stop it, pause it, rewind it. You can't get up and walk around, talk to people, call on the phone, go online, or even use the bathroom as much as you might want to. All you are allowed to do, is to sit there and absorb the message.
This is why I only get to watch movies after they appear on pay-per-view. Slumdog Millionaire generated a lot of buzz this year, to the point where people were mentioning it (with admiration) at several of my job interviews. I'm really glad that I didn't see it before campus visits, though.
I finally found time to watch this film and all I can say is: God, what an awful waste of time. I can't even say that it's bad. A bad movie gives you something to talk about. You can discuss with your friends just how much it sucked and why. You can analyze the particularly bad parts. Slumdog Millionaire, however, does not even allow for this harmless kind of fun. It is boring, repetitive, the characters are as dead as the story. And please don't tell me it's Bollywood. I know Bollywood films and I really like them.
It is self-evident, of course, that the current recession is the biggest reason behind this film's popularity. People enjoy watching this kind of desperate poverty because it makes them feel better about their own economic situation. Also, the whole "it's fate/destiny/kismet" rubbish always becomes popular during economically tough times. When people feel powerless, they turn fatalistic.
Are there any good movies currently out?


Anonymous said...

Slumdog Millionaire won many Oscars for the same reason Salaam Bombay did not in 1988. Slumdog is in English and its filmmaker (Danny Boyle) is Brittish, Salaam is in Hindu and its filmmaker (Mira Nair) is Indian. And a woman. Slumdog is so English indeed that that M.I.A.'s Paper Planes song they used as a soundtrack is based on a jingle by the English band The Clash.

The voyeurism/pornography of violence/exoticism also comes to mind to explain the success of the movie. And I am pretty sure there is someone out there who has sent a paper on Slumdog and City of God.

That being said, the train station at the end of the movie is a pretty nice building.

Your argument about the movie and the current economic situation is convincing. I have not thought of that. But I do not understand how you can start your post with such a trenchant statement as "I don't like movies" and yet asking for movie suggestions at the end(?).

Clarissa said...

Maybe I don't like them 'cause I'm not watching any good ones, you know? I'm always ready to recognize my limitations. :-)

Clarissa said...

"City of God" is exactly what I was thinking about while I watched it! In that movie, I hated how they prettified the favelas. The real favelas DO NOT look like that.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. I think that this movie was really bad.

I thoroughly disliked it not only because of how bland, predictable and... lame it was. Not even because of the nauseating portrayal of the "bad guys" being REALLY bad and the "good guys" being REALLY good. In all reality, Hollywood churns out dozens of predictable and sappy quasi-romantic movies with a similar idea: the good wins (and, in this case, is rewarded with loads of money) and the evil is punished (in this case, killed). Talentless acting, standard lines and the predictable ending are all a common theme. No, what made me really hate this movie was the reaction of fellow movie goers. Unlike you, I saw it at a movie theater and it was really mind-blowing to hear all the "oh-no's" and all the "ahhh's" the audience would let out in unison.

In my opinion, top movie awards should be given out for masterpieces. A masterpiece should evoke conflicting feelings, instill opposing thoughts and leave at least some minimal room for post-movie analysis. A masterpiece cannot and should not evoke the exact same feelings and emotions at the exact same time from completely different groups of people.

This movie is identical to many others; yet, the simple fact that we were shown poverty and suffering kids would prevent most movie watchers from admitting that they didn't like it or that it was simply forgettable. Oh no, that would just make one appear so cold-hearted.

I still don't understand why Slumdog Millionaire won so many awards. To paraphrase Joe Biden, a masterpiece this was not.

Clarissa said...

It's great to get such wonderful, insightful comments! Thank you, guys!!

Anonymous said...

I also heard these ohs! and ahs! and yeeks! in theatres...

But you know, nobody cares about that movie anymore. Already.

Maybe there will be (more?) Bollywood cardio-dancing classes offered in local gyms for women?

Anonymous said...

Clarissa, you never go to the movies and I never watch series on TV. A friend of mine convinced me to watch The Wire, arguing that for once I will like a TV series. My friend knows me so well that after watching two or three episodes I was engulfed. I watch the five seasons in two weeks. Unlike Slumdog, The Wire is neo-naturalism at its best. You should watch it. It is not a movie but I recommend it anyways.

Clarissa said...

Of course, my review is very belated but go to Amazon and read the readers' review. The crazy fanatics stomp on everybody who dares to criticize it.

Clarissa said...

Oooh, I LOVE television. Never heard of The Wire but will watch it now that you recommend it. Thanks!!! I've been looking for a new TV show to watch.