Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Battle Of The Oscar Stars: Best Picture 2008

Sunday, in the wide open streets, I was basking in the light flakes falling from above, overlooking 6 inches of a snowy blanket that muted the surrounding area. Well, all was quiet on the Bellingham front until I broke into a hacking, ugly, cough attack - whimsical atmosphere ruined.

"Wicked cough be damned!" I thought as I stormed outside, inspired to get my sickly bum off the couch after watching a certain film from 2008. There is a reason ill individuals tend to hunker down - I was back inside within 10 minutes, but satisfied enough with my little venture exploring the unexpected wintery surroundings.

Earlier that day this Best Picture challenge sent me to a locale far from the snow flakes I was watching fall outside my window -  the packed, noisy streets of India. The beautiful focus on bright colors, cheering prone to excitable game show audiences, and boisterous Bollywood dancing sure livened up a quiet afternoon. 

Seeing Slumdog Millionaire in 2008 could have been the same type of experience for movie goer's  who checked out The Deer Hunter, The French Connection,or Midnight Cowboy in their respective original theatrical releases.

These are all movies from the Best Picture Hall Of Fame that expanded the creative lens for directors and cinematographers. They were stylistic in their own way, took on difficult themes, and challenged expectations for a movie experience.

While they have sometimes put their votes toward supporting unique films, the Academy has been known to honor "fuddy-duddy" historical romances more than modern tales.

Danny Boyle and, assistant director, Loveleen Tandor created a film that stands out in the way it perfectly merges the two.  There may be a romance as the backdrop of the story, but any movie cut with Boyle's quick eye and set in motion to M.I.A's "Paper Planes" is anything but typical.

Right away, the audience is introduced to Jamal (Dev Patel), a young man who is a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" It is nostalgic to reminisce about a time when this show was sweeping the entire world, changing the lives for those who actually won a huge chunk of change, or just bewitching others with the thought of becoming rich after "simply" answering some trivia.

Exactly like all those movie romantics we all know and love - Jack Dawson, Marty Pilletti, Tony the Shark, C.C. Baxter, Will Shakespeare - to Jamal, this isn't about the fame or money, it's about reconnecting with a young woman who he holds as the love of his life.

In an exciting use of creative story structure, the game show format is tied directly into Jamal's life. With each question there is a corresponding flashback from his life, starting from a young child in a Mumbai slum, through being forced to beg in the streets, and eventually watching as his brother becomes a trained killer. In living these experiences he gained the knowledge for, almost, all the correct answers.

It is of course coincidental,  and some of it is even far fetched - Just because his brother had a gun it doesn't necessarily follow that he would know who invented the revolver. Although, it is an admirable idea that simply living is enough of an education.

Jamal's entire life lead to his moment in the "hot seat", or as the opening shot of the movie noted, "It was written."

The high paced Slumdog Millionaire was quite the escape for a girl trying to fend off sickness, but anyone who is healthy would still revel in the triumph and determination tackled by each of the characters.It is really a tale about holding on to some sort of hope, no matter the circumstances. Something we all could remember now and then.

By watching it you just might collect an important personal experience, which could then eventually be an answer to a question on a game show. I really just want to remember every single instant that happens in my life more than ever.

Until next time.

Next Up: Another modern tale, yet this one is set in the world of war - we've made it to The Hurt Locker.

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