Happy New Year!
Image from DDOI.
I hope everyone had a restful winter break. Mine was delightfully unproductive, although still surprisingly hectic. As per usual during the holiday season, I eschewed my online persona in favour of some real face-to-face interaction. As much as I love the Internet in all of its distracting glory, I find a strange pleasure in being completely disconnected from everything (and everyone). This particular holiday, I had some outside help from my three-year-old Toshiba, which also decided it was going to take a break. Apparnetly, Santa didn’t get my letter for a new MacBook.
Anyways, in between spurts of gluttonous over-eating (not to mention over-sleeping), I managed to see a panoply of movies. [Yes, my first post of 2009 is going to discuss movies released in 2008.]
It’s quite difficult to dislike a movie like Slumdog Millionaire (even for someone as cynical as myself). It’s a well-paced thriller, with incredible cinemetography and an engaging (if unrealistic) plot. That being said, I thought both adult leads were guilty of a bit of over-acting. Did anyone else get tired of Dev Patel’s one facial expression? His character apparnetly spends the entire movie frozen in a perpetual state of anxiety. [Ironically enough, Patel is actually incredibly gregarious in his press interviews- but you’d never know it from his less-than-exuberant portrayal of adult Jamal. ]
Anyways, the most endearing performances come from the children in the first half of the movie, all of whom are real “slumdogs” (the term used to describe those who have grown up in the slums of India). Funny, but also poignant and sad, the movie is a keen reminder of just how lucky we are- a point that’s easily forgotten amid these times of economic turmoil.
The movie also has a great soundtrack! Here’s a clip:
Completely switching gears, I want to talk briefly about Milk. The movie portrays the unlikely rise to power of Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay politician. It’s hard to believe that just thirty years ago, it was practically illegal to be gay. As far as society has come since that time, it’s also a bit scary to think that things haven’t actually changed all that much. In fact, there are some eerie parallels between the Brigg’s initiative (Prop 6) and Prop 8, which sadly passed in November.
Another thing that struck me is the timelessness of “hope” as a political maxim. A one point in the movie, Milk is told that you “gotta give them hope,” which eventually becomes his signature lines. Here’s an excerpt of one of his most famous speeches (some of it might seem familiar from another more recent campaign):