Monday, January 19, 2009

Thoughts on the film: Slumdog Millionaire. Or, why I am in love with Danny Boyle


I always liked Danny Boyle, but with Slumdog Millionaire I need to make it official. He is in my mind one of the best directors out there right now. I mean just look at his record. Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later, Millions, Sunshine, and now Slumdog. When your weakest film is The Beach and you've got that many winners, you've done something right.

For one thing, look at his range. Heroine addicts, zombies, kids and coming of age, a mystery on a spaceship, a romance revolving around a victory in Indian Who Wants to be a Millionaire. All completely different stories, and all brilliantly told.

I think the key here is that he chooses projects with small stories inside big stories. The kid in Slumdog becomes the hope of a nation, but it was always just about the girl. Zombies take over London and the end of humanity may be near, but one guy just wants to get to safety and maybe bang this chick he's hanging out with. The crew of a spaceship needs to get to the sun to save the planet, but first each one needs to conquer his or her fear of death. Small stories, big consequences.

Danny Boyle also wastes no time. One early scene in Slumdog shows a bunch of kids running through the ghetto to escape some bad men. As they run we see where they live in little glimpses. The kids do things to show personality - throwing rocks at the men who chase them and at one point stopping to mock the man right behind them. So we see the world, learn who they are as people, and at one point briefly encounter a character we see again much later and in a much more important setting. So in that one little run through the neighborhood the entire world is established, but in an entertaining way.

The story itself is about love and righteousness and greed and self sacrifice and honesty. It all falls together in what is simply a beautiful film. And what a creative way to tell a story. I think I want to read the book now.

At this point I think I'll just go see any movie Danny Boyle makes even if it's a movie about tranny mob hitmen who want to become Playboy models. He could make that work.

8 comments:

  1. Maria6:50 PM

    Danny Boyle is MINE!

    I did not like Sunshine at all, in fact I was thinking about rewriting it myself - it seemed to go off the rails about half way through. I saw it in the movie theater and some people were laughing and groaning aloud. I haven't seen the Beach. Slumdog Millionaire totally makes up for sunshine imo.

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  2. With the exception of the very last sequence I thought Sunshine was fantastic. But people have different opinions.

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  3. I love Boyle. But in my opinion his worst film by a wide margin is A Life Less Ordinary. I'd watch The Beach over that crap any day.

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  4. I know I saw that movie but I don't remember much about it. That bad, huh?

    I like the song by Carbon Leaf.

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  5. I just rewatched The Beach and I liked it. I can see why it didn't do well but it's an interesting story and and Leonardo Dicaprio can do no wrong. There's a bit in it when it gets a little "Lord of the Flies" but overall I think it's pretty interesting. Not anywhere near Slumdog or 28 Days Later (which actually made me like a horror movie) but a decent film for a rainy day.

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  6. Gary M11:38 PM

    A life less ordinary was a bad movie and followed with the beach probably cost him some cred in Hollywood. That might have been the saviour of Danny Boyle ironically as since then he has stuck to fairly low budget British films and look what we got? 28 Days, Millions, Sunshine and Slumdog, four of the best movies of the decade.

    I think Danny Boyle should do all he can to ignore the calls from Hollywood he is no doubt getting now and stick to what he does best.

    There seems to be a good chance that a sequel to Trainspotting is on the cards, though he was talking about Porno which I know is the sequel to the novel but not sure it will make for a good movie. I would hope they could write a script from scratch for the follow-up, or even ask me to do it!

    I hope he wins the Oscar.

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  7. Hamboogul12:46 PM

    There are two things I'd have changed about Slumdog Millionaire. THat being said, I loved the movie.

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  8. Emily. If you ever attend a Q&A with Danny Boyle, consider asking him about the SHOT showing the girl Latika, saying, "My name is Latika". Of course, the audio is Latika saying this line, as an adult.
    _____________

    Whose idea was that? That moment grabs the heart, unexpectedly.

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