Friday, January 9, 2009

DJG / Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire * * * * 1/2
Directed by: Danny Boyle / 2008

Filmmaker Danny Boyle might be best known for his heroin addicting "Trainspotting" and global zombie fest "28 Days Later”, but it’s his string of recent films that I think are grooming him up for Steven Spielberg-like stardom. It wasn’t until recently that the ever evolving Boyle’s work struck me so with this idea as I re-watched “Millions” and “Sunshine” and just got back from his latest crowd pleaser, “Slumdog Millionaire”. 2005’s “Millions” captures the childlike magic of “E.T.”, but trades in an extra-terrestrial for a bag of money. 2007's “Sunshine” is a special effects space suspense that rivals most of Spielberg’s futuristic adventures.

It honestly doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does, and intoxicatingly so if you just let it in. I'm not sure where it would fit on a Spielberg meter, but it simply fits in the equation for movie magic. “Slumdog Millionaire” is about a young man who grew up an orphan in the slums of India. He’s a contestant on India’s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and is under suspect from the show’s host and producers as to how he’s able to answer every question. With each question, flashbacks to an on-the-edge childhood in the harsh slums reveal his solutions, along with a life-longing love for the girl of his dreams. The results are certainly movie magic, but they’ll have most anyone with a heart glued to their seat in suspense and hope. Some people in the showing I was at were outloud a-buzz, verbally coaxing and helping the characters to fulfill their wood-be destinies by the end. One woman I noticed hit a boiling over point and left the theater to calm down. The film isn't perfect and it will have some eye rolling naysayers when it comes to romanticized love and will power, but this film is a bitter-sweet symphony. It’s joyous. It wears heart with pride. It is what it is and I was extremely taken by it. If hope and soul is too much to ask for, then you shouldn't be watching. It's sad when people start giving up, even at the movies.

Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” combines an entire career of well-rounded, hip, skillful and illustrious moviemaking, creating one of my new favorites. Simply put, this guy makes great movies that are worth multiple viewings. I don’t think he has a bad film in him, but his best involve children and money. With a cast and setting primarily in India, one would think this film would get shuffled under this time of year with movie-goers, but it speaks volumes and is a must-see for anyone who loves the art of storytelling magic at the movies. Even if you find a loss in relation to it, there is something unique in the experience of walking in someone else's shoes and turf. Hopefully some will learn a thing or two about what other people in the world suffer through daily, maybe even in your own back yard. There is something special seeded within this movie and you’ll take it home to plant with you, again if you just let it in. The only problem I see right now is that it’s just not in enough theaters and Boyle isn’t quite yet a Spielbergian household name. But, he’s well on his way. And if “Slumdog Millionaire” is in a theater near you, you better be well on your way.


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