Old Reviews 2009

Cusack is brilliant. The girls who play his daughters are incredibly talented actresses who add real, raw and emotional depth to an already charged movie. With one single knock on the door Stanley Phillips life is forever changed. A widower and father, Stanley must find the courage to continue on with life or sink into a depression that threatens not only his life but the of his two kids. So Stanley embarks on a trip. A trip that will ultimately bring healing to his own soul and bring a ray of light and hope to his daughters who struggle with the reality that their mom, Grace, is gone. Powerful, powerful movie.

slumdog-millionaire-poster-full-1

Words really fail to describe this movie. One must experience it. But here is my take on the movie anyhow. The acting is superb. This is one of the best acted films i have seen in a long, long time. The actors just seemed so natural and at ease in front of the camera.

Second, the soundtrack for the movie is awesome. Who would have thought that Indian music infused with hip-hop would be so addictive? Of course, MIA’s Paper Planes song (lyrically it isn’t the greatest) is well-placed within the movie.

The movie follows the story of a young Indian boy who happens to land a spot on the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” And this young ‘slumdog’ is doing so well that the host of the show is convinced that he is cheating. But the movie through long and short series of flashbacks shows how each question that is asked is answered by this, now, young man. Is it luck? Is it chance? Is it destiny? Is it written?

The movie follows an emotionally rendering and plot twisting path for a little over two hours that leaves you constantly at the edge of your seat wondering how in the world this kid knows “that answer”. It is a story of two brothers who take two very different paths in life and put into question whether blood is thicker than water. Involved also, is a young girl who through these brothers life makes various appearances and around which one of the brothers life mission revolves.

Does the guy get the girl? Is the guy cheating on the show? What happens to the brothers? The answers are revealed and some are heartbreaking.

Also at the center of this movie is how real people live in India who are born into certain castes. What happens to their lives and how people view them and treat them. It is a great movie with a social conscious.

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Poor Jerry Shaw. His brother just died, his relationship with his dad is strained, he works as a copy boy at Copy Cabana, and he is broke.

And then things get bad.

Really bad.

And for the movie watcher it becomes a one and half hour thrill ride. The plot, though much maligned for being too unbelievable, does strike important questions for today in terms of communications, ethics, and technology.

One thing struck me about this movie. I am not a huge fan of shoot’em up films, or films with body counts. Yet this movie had a zero body count (excluding one victim that wasn’t actually killed by “someone” else. And while it had plenty of action and car chases (and crashes) it didn’t really seem to highlight the violent aspects of the movie (maybe b/c the violent aspects really weren’t violent in the concept we tend to think about them).

The dialogue is a little lacking but the acting is superb. Shia LaBeouf once again proves that he is a capable young actor who, in my opinion, will follow in the steps of actors like Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Guys who take their craft seriously, and who want to move audiences with their performances – not just make money.

Jerry is running for his life but being directed where to run, when to run, and how fast to run by an “unknown” an “outsider” who not only is pulling Jerry into their plot, but a number of other people as well. But what is the plot? And why is it being carried out? The answer to those questions we are let in on, but it still doesn’t relieve us of the tension of whether it will be fulfilled or not.

And after reflecting on the movie and why this plot is put into motion it is a critical commentary on our leaders, leadership and decision making.

Great movie. Go rent it!! I was lucky enough to view it on the day it came out on DVD. I wasn’t disappointed.

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