Combine three months in Morocco with a very busy year back in Victoria, and it hasn’t been a banner year for movie watching. I’m going to try to make an immediate improvement, though, as the year’s fourth quarter is always the best for quality movies. As you probably know, studios tend to hold the Oscar contenders until the winter months. Academy members have a notoriously short memory.
Here in New York, we caught “Slumdog Millionaire”, the new film by Danny Boyle, at the Angelika Film Center yesterday. The last time I was in New York, twelve years ago, we were here in August. The Angelika was an air conditioned refuge from the blistering summer heat. Yesterday we escaped to the Angelika from a bitter December cold front.
In any case, it’s a terrific movie. It’s kind of a one-stop-shop for Western ideas about India–slums, child beggars, call centres, new money and Bollywood–but Boyle skillfully sews these threads together. He uses a clever format to tell most of the film’s story–a boy from the slum gets a chance at big money, gameshow glory and his long lost love–in flashbacks. Here’s the trailer:
I’ve really enjoyed Boyle’s work over the year. He’s been a pretty diverse filmmaker–from Trainspotting to The Beach to 28 Days Later. I’ve often felt that he struggles with the third acts and endings of his films (see, for example, Sunshine), but those issues weren’t evident in “Slumdog”. I’ve admired Boyle’s inventive cinematography as well, whether it’s that classic bit of Trainspotting where a drugged-out Ewan McGregor drowns in the floor, or when Leonardo Dicaprio’s world is transformed into a video game in The Beach.