Movie Lovers Hit the Jackpot with Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog MillionaireVery rarely do I blog about a film. Like most of us, I go to the movies once or twice a month. In recent years it has become customary to save the films of real merit for December for the Academy Awards sweepstakes that start early in the following year.

This year that pattern holds true once again as one by one, Oscar contenders—Milk, Frost/Nixon, Gran Torino, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and others— are opening in New York, Los Angeles, and then in the following weeks nationwide. So in this brief period I make up for all the dumb popcorn movies I take a pass on from May through August, and I once again become a regular filmgoer.

This weekend I had the opportunity to see Slumdog Millionaire. I expected it would be something special based on consistently rave reviews, but Danny Boyle’s film leaves special behind in its first thirty minutes, and after that moves into the rarefied air of memorable.

This past week it received the coveted best film of the year award by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures (NBRMP), making it a strong contender for the Oscars.

Boyle shot the film extensively at various places in Mumbai including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which was one of the locations of the tragic terror attacks in India that occurred during our Thanksgiving holiday.

Slumdog Millionaire, based on the book “Q and A” by Indian writer Vikas Swarup traces the journey of a poor young man from the slums of Mumbai, who ends up winning twenty million rupees in the game show “Kaun Banega Karorpati”, the Indian version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

I chose to blog about the film, a rarity for me given the fact that I write mostly about the topics of finances and personal health, because it is such an outstanding work. Honestly if you see one film in 2008 I hope it is this one. It’s not the film of the year it’s possibly the film of the decade. It effortlessly blends painful reality with noble fantasy. It is one of those rare works in the business of entertainment that makes genius seem simple.

Don’t be mislead, many of the scenes in this film that depict the cruel slum life of its lead characters and the casual cruelty of their society does not make for easy viewing. But the film as a whole is so well paced, so well presented, that it sweeps its viewers away with both its visual presentation and the power of its story.

Having myself written quiz questions for such games as Trivial Pursuit, I know full well the strange interplay between knowledge and coincidence.  Commonly people will struggle to answer something you would suspect that they know and by a twist of fate know a particular fact that you would think they never would.  Slumdog Millionaire, builds on that notion and spins it into an epic tale.

If films like this were rolling out every week we’d all be living next door to a multiplex. Unfortunately, as you know, that is not the case. But if you love a great film, there is good news, your Christmas present has arrived. It’s called Slumdog Millionaire, and it’s waiting for you to see what’s inside. This is one $10. movie ticket worth double the price. And as we all know, that’s rare indeed.

—Martin Brown

Money Editor –