December 5, 2008, - 2:42 pm

Weekend Box Office: “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Nobel Son”

By Debbie Schlussel
One good movie and one sorta okay one, this weekend at the box office. I did not review “Punisher: Warzone” or “Cadillac Records.”


* “Slumdog Millionaire“:This is a great, interesting, beautifully shot movie (with a happy ending), but gets taken down a notch by its brief pan-Islamist propaganda. It is almost all in English.
Set in India, this is the story of Jamal, a young boy who rises from poverty to win India’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,”, then gets arrested, beaten and harassed by Indian police who think he cheated. He recounts his interesting life as he relays to police how he knew each of the answers. We not only learn how he managed to survive life as an orphan but about his lifelong, unrequited love for the beautiful Latika and how it brings him to this point.
I thoroughly enjoyed co-star Anil Kapoor’s brilliant turn as the smug, condescending “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” host, who tries to make Jamal lose.
As you can tell by the name, Jamal is Muslim, but not religious at all. Whereas Jamal has pulled himself up by his bootstraps and garnered a better life, his brother, a religious Muslim (we see him praying), is a gangster working for an Indian Muslim organized crime kingpin.
My objection to this movie is the scene, close to the beginning of the movie, that shows how Jamal’s mother is murdered in a Hindu mass murder of Muslims living in a poor village. It’s kind of ironic now, given what happened in India last week–in real life, we know who the real aggressors are in India: Muslims. And it’s not just the event of last week, as there have been many Islamic attacks on Hindus, Sikhs, and other non-Muslim Indians.
A few weeks ago, Director Danny Boyle was in Detroit for a reception with the Detroit Film Critics Society. I asked him why he showed only one side. He acknowledged that there was plenty of Islamic violence against non-Muslims in India, but said that it simply wasn’t a part of this script or story. Too bad, since those who are ignorant of what happens in India need to know that the violence of last week wasn’t the first time Muslims attacked innocent civilians.
The film was a little slow at the beginning, but once it gets going, it moves quickly and is very entertaining. There are a couple of disturbing scenes–when police try to torture Jamal into admitting he cheated on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” and when Jamal is kept as a young kid by men who deliberately maim children and make them beg. But other than that, the movie is a beautiful, if small, slice of life in India, with a great story.
Stick around for the credits, when the stars do a cute dance number in a salute to Bollywood.
THREE REAGANS (Would Have Gotten Four, if not for brief Islamic Propaganda)
* “Nobel Son“: This dark caper/comedy movie simultaneously makes fun of the pretentious and is way too pretentious itself. It had its good points, but overall left me cold.
I had mixed feelings about this movie. A flick that begins with completely disgusting, unnecessary, repeated scenes of thumbs being hacked off someone’s hand during the opening credits can’t get much worse. That part was graphic, disturbing, and not for the weak-stomached.
Starring pro-Palestinian, self-hating Jew, Alan Rickman, it’s about a scumbag, philandering chemistry professor who wins the Nobel Prize, so it’s ironic that this movie comes out on the eve of Nobel week. Rickman’s character is about as loathsome as other Nobel prize winners, such as Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter. His son–running late to the airport after a night with a beautiful woman he’s admired from afar–is kidnapped and the ransom is Rickman’s $2 million Nobel prize money.
But Rickman doesn’t even care. Only his FBI criminal psychiatrist mother (Mary Steen burgen) does. Who is the kidnapper and what is his motive? I can’t tell you because it’ll be a spoiler.
The movie was definitely different and interesting, which I liked. It wasn’t predictable and kept you guessing, and you didn’t know where it was going until toward the end, which is always a plus. But it tried to hard to be dark and different, which made it just annoying. It was very pretentious and artsy–even if it made fun of the pretentious and artsy, such as people who read horrid “poetry” at coffeehouses.
Some of the plot in this caper-filled movie is fun and interesting. Some of it over the top.
I did like that the Nobel Prize winner was such a creep and undeserving fraud, which is borne out so much in real life with the Nobel Committee’s choices. I like anything that continues to take the Nobel Prize down several notches.
Constant loud synthesizer house music playing over the movie bothered me to no end.
The movie was a little much, and at the same time, not enough at all.

5 Responses

It’s a good thing you use the Reagan system, instead of the Thumbs Up or Thumbs down … Ouch! Ewwwww!!!
BTW … love all your reviews … really looking forward to your thoughts on the following three movies (due out late this month):
1. ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ (I own the original DVD … still a fave).
2. Yes Man, the previews look good.
3. Bedtime Stories (Adam Sandler)
Enjoy the rest of this snowy Michigan weekend!
Jimmy Lewis
SCS, Michigan

Jimmy on December 6, 2008 at 10:40 am

Agree with you about Slumdog. Excellent movie only spoiled by almost gratuitous “Get them they’re muslims” line. It would have been MORE interesting if he had left it ambiguous why they were attacked. Thanks for the great reviews. Looking forward to Clint’s new movie.

Mike M on December 6, 2008 at 8:28 pm

I hadn’t thought that Alan Rickman is Jewish. I just looked him up in wickipedia and saw that he isn’t.

ymw on December 7, 2008 at 11:42 pm

On the Slumdog Millionaire Review–I recently became aware that there is a real problem in India with Hindus exacting violence on non-Hindus in certain parts. There is a persecution going on there that has killed many Christians and destroyed many orphanages and schools etc–it might even make the muslims jealous–it is violent.
I would never equate this with what has happened globally with muslims–these are violent right from the quran itself–and vicious beyond words as Mumbai has shown. However, it is not at all far-fetched that Hindus do go on the rampage in a murderous way in India–present tense. December 06, 2008–Hindu fanatics in wave of violence against Christians,25197,24308603-25837,00.html

BB on December 8, 2008 at 9:18 am

Debbie, communal violence happens in India. It’s a sad reality. There have been pogroms against Muslims, Christian, and even Maoists. On the flip side, there have been bombings and attacks orchestrated by Muslims (not including the Mumbai attacks because they were not Indian). This movie was not about explaining this phenomenon.
And you can’t at all deduce how religious Jamal or Salim is. His brother Salim engages in sex, drinking, and theft. While his brother Jamal does not. We see Salim trying to repent for his sins, but that’s the extent of it all. On the contrast, Jamal supposedly seems to live a relatively “pious” life (if you want to call it that). We don’t know how religious each is, but the point is that it doesn’t matter. Religion is not what the film is about.

Chip on June 9, 2009 at 12:01 am

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