Commentary on Movies and TV by Brian Holcomb

Friday, December 12, 2008

Slumming?


SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is without doubt the best movie I've seen so far this year. It's the kind of movie that the motion picture camera was invented to make-using Dickens' "Oliver Twist" and '30s Warner Bros. gangster melodramas as a vehicle to make a cinematic fever dream of the colors and moods of an India of the imagination. No one can do justice to the suspenseful, tear jerking, emotional experience of the movie by merely describing the plot-How a young man from the slums is one question away from winning millions of dollars on the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". Since it's believed he's cheating somehow, he's interrogated and tells the story of how his life experiences living on the streets have given him the knowledge to win the game. We see how his older brother is lured into a life of crime like Bogart in the old films-seduced by money, respect, and power while the "slumdog" of the title is driven by his love for an orphan girl they grew up with, forced into prostitution. He goes on the show in the hopes that she will see him on TV and they can be reunited...

But like all truly great films, it's not about the plot at all-it's about the way people look at each other, the feelings in their hearts as expressed by images and music...scored by one of Bollywood's greatest composers A.R. Rahman.

What I love about Danny Boyle as a filmmaker is that he shoots his latest film as though it were his first film. He's still excited about the possibilities of visual storytelling and is still experimenting. This is his best film to date.