As Cami pointed out, we finally got around to seeing one of the five Best Picture nominees this weekend: Slumdog Millionaire.
I’ve been kind of wrestling with this movie a little bit. Like Cami, I thought the performances were winning and the child actors in particular were amazing. I thought it was well directed, tense at times and very engaging. But it didn’t quite make my heart soar like all everyone said it would.
It was difficult for me to get caught up in the movie’s tale of star-crossed lovers because the film does not pull any punches in it’s depiction of India’s poverty, squalor and corruption. Maybe this is the wrong thing to focus on, but it left me feeling guilty for accepting the story as entertainment. I left the theater thinking about what I could do to help.
I’m not completely naive. I have heard about orphaned children being maimed and put on the street to beg. But later I became conflicted and started to wonder if the movie was promoting some kind of stereotype. Isn’t India one of the largest growing business centers in the world? What about their advances in education?
Turns out I’m not alone. Time Magazine recently published an article that tackles the same question.
I know it’s not fair to ask one movie to provide a thorough examination of the social and economic strata of the entire sub-continent. Especially when it only wants to tell the story of two people. I mean, I doubt non-American audiences watch movies like Goodfellas and assume that the country is overrun by gangsters. I’m just saying it was a distraction, that’s all.
Slumdog Millionaire is a good movie. Experty assembled and told with an effective time-bending narrative. Will it make you shoot rainbows out of your eyes after you see it? Well, in my case it didn’t. In that respect, it didn’t live up to the hype. Ignore the critics and commercials and see it with reasonable expectations and you’ll have a good time.
EDIT: Here is a another article written by Slate’s Dennis Lim that confronts Slumdog Millonaire’s confounding moral compass. Lim says a few things more acutely than I could in my review.
“If Slumdog has struck a chord, and it certainly seems to have done so in the West, it is not because the film is some newfangled post-globalization hybrid but precisely because there is nothing new about it. It traffics in some of the oldest stereotypes of the exoticized Other: the streetwise urchin in the teeming Oriental city… And not least for American audiences, it offers the age-old fantasy of class and economic mobility, at a safe remove that for now may be the best way to indulge in it.
Slumdog has been so insistently hyped as an uplifting experience (“the feel-good film of the decade!” screams the British poster) that it is also, by now, a movie that pre-empts debate. It comes with a built-in, catchall defense—it’s a fairy tale, and any attempt to engage with it in terms of, say, its ethics or politics gets written off as political correctness.
A slippery and self-conscious concoction, Slumdog has it both ways. It makes a show of being anchored in a real-world social context, then asks to be read as a fantasy.”
Food for thought.
It’s probably not good form that I’m talking about Theater Hopper’s site traffic with you, but I thought this was a funny story that you might enjoy.
Last night when I got home from work, I settled down at the kitchen table and was checking the site’s traffic while Henry was eating dinner. Looking at my logs, traffic to the site was on par with an average Monday. Refreshing the logs a little later, I saw an insane jump in the number of hits. About half of Monday’s traffic gathered in the time span of about 15 minutes.
I was checking my referrals to see where the traffic was coming from, but using my real-time counter, could only see they were coming from StumbleUpon. I couldn’t see where on my site they were landing.
A Henry finished eating, I folded up my laptop content to wait for Google Analytics to pull the landing page information once it had time to log the traffic a few hours later (Google Analytics runs on a delay).
I gave Henry a bath, put him to bed and left to get a haircut (while Cami was still at home) before coming back to check on the traffic logs. I logged in to Google Analytics and saw that it had been populated with the new data. I checked on Traffic Sources, I went to Referring Sites, I identified StumbleUpon and I filtered the results by landing page.
You probably found this story underwhelming. Imagine how I feel!
In all seriousness, though – Rob and Elliott is an excellent comic and their guest strip from 2005 is actually one of my favorites. If people are checking it out, all the better. Because that means not only are they visiting the site and boosting my numbers, but they’re seeing that link back to Rob and Elliot and hopefully checking out more of Clay and Hampton’s stuff, too.
I’ll just be damned if I can figure out exactly how StumbleUpon works!