When I watched Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino a few weeks ago, I was telling people that I seriously doubted that I'd see a better movie in 2009. I was assured that Slumdog Millionaire would replace it as my top pick. All I can say is, not even close.

There are many amazing scenes in Slum dog Millionaire. They are sometimes shocking, often hilarious, other times horrifying. They paint a vivid portrait of India that few of us Americans will ever know. Yet these powerful scenes are painfully diluted by the nauseating trend of the rapid cut editing that is so often used today. I think Danny Boyle must have fallen in love with it on 28 Days Later.

Truthfully, the endless cuts took me right out of the story and really ruined the movie for me. I got so bored that I began to pass the time by counting them. Most are about 2-3 second cuts and you're hard-pressed to find one that lasted a whole ten seconds. Gotta keep those weak modern audiences' attention spans occupied, right?

Slumdog Millionaire has more in common with the American dream of instantaneous celebrity than anything regarding to India, I think. It's even modeled after a reality-type game show. I felt that the realism of so many of the scenes were completely destroyed by the delirious Hollywood-inspired ending, where Our Hero not only Gets The Girl, but becomes a national celebrity. Move over, Paris Hilton.

And then. THEN! If the over-the-top, cliched end wasn't bad enough, during the end credits there is a huge dance number that takes place in a subway! I literally could not believe my eyes. I broke my own cardinal rule and spoke aloud in the theater and said, "YOU GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING ME.", and I stomped out of the auditorium in disgust.

For those that liked the admittedly amazing scenes of India, I highly recommend Paul Theroux's recent trio of novellas that are collected in a volume called The Elephanta Suite. These stories deal with Americans that have lost their way in a strange country and, at least for me, paint a more credible portrait of India.

And thinking of Theroux, I can't help but be reminded of Peter Bogdanovich's masterful adaptation of the author's Saint Jack. Now that is a movie about a country that is alien to most of us and its long shots that twist and turn put me, at least, far more into Singapore's filthy 1970's streets than Slumdog Millionaire did with India.

All in all I felt that Slumdog Millionaire was a huge missed opportunity. The critics disagree with me, sure, but it won't be the first or last time that happens.

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry