Thursday, April 30, 2009

Slumdog; NOT Really the Best Dog.

A couple days ago I took in “Slumdog Millionaire” at the mall quadlplex just down the street and around the corner. Based on all the hype, I was expecting a real tour de force; instead I saw an ordinary film about as engrossing as an episode of just about any of a slew of American TV shows.

Long before “Slumdog” did so well at the academy awards, TV pundits were really talking it up; so much so that I made several mental notes that I was going to have to check it out some day. Then, after it made such a splash at the Oscars I put it down as a “must see.”

Don’t misunderstand; it was okay, but not THAT okay. It really makes me wonder about the people of “the academy” that vote for these movies. They couldn’t possibly have voted for “Slumdog” based on its superiority over other movies made in ’08, because there are plenty better. I have to say I’m really puzzled; then again, I’m still in shock that so many people voted for Barry Obama. Just goes to show there’s no accounting for taste OR intelligence. Okay, now that I’ve just insulted more than half of the US population…

“Slumdog” is a cartoon movie without the illustrations. The characters are caricatures and the storyline is easily predictable from start to end. I sat next to Divine and was able to pretty much tell her what was going to happen a few minutes before it did. I like doing that, making her marvel at my “genius.” I’m kidding, although she really does think I’m a genius! Kidding aside, it doesn’t take a whole lot of smarts to figure out this movie from one scene to the next.

Something disconcerting about “Slumdog” is that it is a huge slam on India. I used to think I wanted to visit that country, but not after seeing THAT movie. Almost every person in it, except perhaps for Halim, the young hero of the movie, was loathsome or a variation thereof.

This cinematic less-than-a-gem came up with just about every vice you can think of and jammed it into two hours of viewing. Here’s the short list: child prostitution, begging homeless children, the purposeful blinding of kids for profit, abject stinking poverty, mean-spirited wealthy people, slavery, sickening torture, corruption, murder, immolation, religious bigotry; and as I said, THAT is the short list, because there’s a whole lot more than that.

I believe “Slumdog” was not even an “Indian picture” per se; the director and producer are non-Indians, probably British; although I don’t know for sure. I just have a hard time understanding why anyone in charge in the Indian government film administration, if such a thing exists, would support the making of such an anti-Indian film. Do they really want the rest of the world to believe that things are as bad as what I saw in “Slumdog?” Then again, India IS a free nation, evidently without controls over what films are made or not, and what their messages should or shouldn’t be.

Watching the movie reminded me of the stories my last wife used to bring home from the small electronics plant she worked at in New Jersey. There was a large contingent of Indian workers and for some reason they would speak of their disdain for just about all things American to her; I guess thinking that as a fellow Asian, she would concur.

Well, they didn’t know Amalia very well, because she loves America; she loves it more than most Americans born there. She literally weeps with pride every time she hears “the Star Spangled Banner” or when “I’m Proud to be an American” is played. She would get a few minutes earful of them talking down some cultural aspect of the States, wouldn’t be able to take it anymore, and would then proceed to tear into them with a “Hey! If you don’t like it here, go back there, especially if you think it’s so good back there!”

I loved it. Only a naturalized Filipina American could away with saying something like that in our defense without being labeled as a bigot or worse.


opass said...

Glad you're back on the blogosphere, Phil. You were out of action quite a while.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yup, I do have my ups n downs, ya know?

S said...

I also watched this Indian film with anticipation for I was an avid viewer of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire TV quiz show back in the early 2000s. I wouldn't say it's the best movie I've seen in years but I somehow enjoyed it. Yes, the story was predictable especially the ending. But the thing that caught my interest was how the movie presented its main character in answering the Million-dollar questions. The funny and romantic scenes added some excitement. Sadly, this movie kinda reminded me of slum-dwellers in the Philippines.

Ed said...

Back from my business trip and catching up on blogs when I thought of this post. We just watched this movie this weekend and I definitely agree that it wasn't Oscar worthy. It was okay but it certainly won't make my favorite list.