Slumdogs in a Gran Torino

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the past week I went to see two movies that despite their two relatively low budgets they have been massively popular for the past month.

Gran Torino Review
The first one is Gran Torino directed and starring Clint Eastwood. Unlike Clint Eastwood's previous entries this one actually has a sense of humor! Most of the film is filled with Clint Eastwood spouting racial slurs but instead of insulting or offending the audience it ends up being very funny. Not due to the actual remarks themselves, but instead due to the ridiculousness of those remarks. Walt Kowalski, Clint Eastwood's character, builds so much hate and racism it ends up making him a miserable old man but through interaction with the Asian neighbors he begins to relate to them and inadvertently protecting them. Despite the film being quite funny it is filled with heavy themes about racism in today's society and how people, regardless of color or ethnicity, go through the same problems we do. One also cannot forget the main star Clint Eastwood. Despite being 78 years old, Clint is still kicking ass! He is an imposing force in this movie, and manages to maintain that tough guy persona that he started as Dirty Harry. The final product is a movie that can makes you laugh and cry at the same time.
Gran Torino's Final Grade: B+

Slumdog Millionaire Review
Now for the next movie, a movie that took Hollywood by storm and no warning was given. It came from a relatively small budget, had virtually unknown actors, was almost released Direct-to-Video and the entire movie was filmed in the slums of India! Of course I am talking about the Golden Globe Best Drama Motion Picture of 2009 and SAG's Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture of 2009; Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle. First I must say I'm a huge fan of Danny Boyle's previous work especially 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Boyle has a flair for heavy gritty drama and stylish film making. I was extremely hyped to see this movie back in December, when virtually nobody has heard of it, then my hype increased 10-fold when it won Best Picture in Golden Globes and rose to the top 5 in the U.S. Box Office! I was determined to see this movie, tried a total of three times! First two times they were unfortunately sold out! Then fortunately, like people say third time is a charm, I finally got to see it. First I must start with the premise of the movie, it's about Jamal Malik, a teenager from the most poorest areas of India who participates in the new crazed TV game show Who Want's to be a Millionaire? and throughout the movie each question he encounters in the game show corresponds to a life experience. A unique premise ain't it? This is not a typical Hollywood/Bollywood movie that sanitizes everything, instead it shows the most gritty and poor areas of Mumbai, India. Danny Boyle and cinematographer, Anthony Mantle, make the gritty reality of the slums look beautiful on film. Making use of vibrant colors, fast editing, and great camerawork, the film ends up being great eye candy. The film concentrated on the harsh conditions of the slums while showing that there are some aspects in life that remain beautiful even the most of harsh conditions. Despite the movie being centered around winning a large amount of money, it shows that money really doesn't matter after all. Love is the way to surpass your bad life experiences and harsh environments and even through the worst of times one can learn valuable life lessons that will come in useful in the future. Another strong part of this film was the amazing cast. Despite consisting of mostly unknown actors and very young actors, the movie had amazing acting. At not one point I thought to myself "O they could have done this better". Props goes to Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto, who respectively played Jamal Malik and his love interest, Latika. The movie's music also stuck out. It was a mix of Hip-Hop, Techno, Indian Pop Music, and beautiful Indian Vocals. Boyle decided to get rid of the common orchestral score and put some modern and energetic music to capture the frenetic pace of the movie. Overall this movie is a tour de force, a exquisitely and wonderfully constructed piece of art, being able to touch you while making the audience aware of the horrible conditions these people live through everyday but at the end it makes you feel happy that love surpasses all. This movie will sure win the Oscar for Best Picture and greatly suggest you watch this movie and support this "little movie that could" become a mark in cinema history!
Slumdog Millionaire's Final Grade: A+