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Recommendation: Milk, Slumdog Millionaire

January 15, 2009

As a self-proclaimed cinemaphile, I love previews. My fiance and I make a point to get to the theater early enough to catch the previews.      

Over the last year, we saw that there were many movies coming out over the Christmas break that we were greatly anticipating. Unfortunately, when it got to be Christmas 2008, we looked on in dismay as the long-awaited film titles never graced our local theater’s marque.

Among those that never came to this corner of the world were Rachel Getting Married [watch the preview] Happy-Go-Lucky [watch the preview], Milk [watch the preview], and Slumdog Millionaire [watch the preview].  We were sorely disappointed.

Fortunately, despite not quite making it to us, the shows did come to the larger city an hour north of us. It was there that we managed to see Hot Fuzz in 2007, which also never made it here. So, since we still had a little Christmas money burning a hole in our pockets, we decided that we’d take half a day, drive that hour up to the larger city, and catch Milk and Slumdog Millionaire, both of which have been highly critically acclaimed.

Both movies were brilliant. It was worth every minute of the two hours it took to get there and back. I highly recommend both of them, if you can get to a theatre that’s playing them. Even if you have to drive a couple of hours to do it. ^_^

Title:Milk
Summary: The story of California’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, a San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by San Francisco Supervisor Dan White.[imdb.com]

Genre:biography, drama, political

Audience:Everyone.  Really.  See “Why I liked it” for more. 

Occasion:This movie packs an emotional punch, so be ready for that.  (It will probably also spark discussions about homosexuality and acceptance, which, to my mind, is never a bad thing.)

Watch every minute?Yes.  If only because, as my fiance said, “It’s really f*cking amazing.”

Big Screen vs. Small Screen:Either, really.  Apparently “Open Everywhere” doesn’t really mean everywhere, so some people won’t get to see it on the big screen (my preference, as you know).  It’s definitely worth seeing on the big screen, even if you have to travel to do it.

Why I liked it: Milk is a brilliant movie for a variety of reasons, not least because it tells an emotionally, important story. Where Brokeback Mountain pried opened the (closet) door for movies about gay men, Milk marched proudly through that now-open door , rainbow flag waving.   Unlike Brokeback Mountain, however, none of the characters in Milk were ashamed of their homosexuality, at least not once they’d arrived in San Francisco, to an open, accepting community.  

So why should everyone should see this movie?  Becuase it portrays gay people in a positive light, and because it opens people’s eyes to the struggle of homosexual men and women that is continuing even now.  As Harvey Milk said of their struggle to vote down the proposal to get homosexual men and women fired, “If everyone knew that they knew one of us, we’d beat this thing two-to-one.”  At a time when California just voted for a proposal that banned gay marriage (again), this movie, and the struggle it portrays, is just as relevant now as it was in the 70s. 

Watching this movie made me realize exactly what it took for the words “sexual orienation” to be added to the list of things against which employers would not discriminate.  It just seems so common place now.  Hopefully, in twenty or thirty years we’ll be looking back on the first decade of the twenty-first century and saying, “Wow, did we really ever believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman?”

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”:This is a movie I will want to share with friends and family, so when it becomes available, I will own it.  I don’t know how often I’ll rewatch it, though.  

If you liked…:Brokeback Mountain, Ali, and other excellent biography movies that I can’t think of at this time.

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Title: Slumdog Millionaire

Summary: The story of an impoverished young man, Jamal Malik, who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.  He gets further on the gameshow than most college-educated people, and, as he lacks anything resembling a formal education, is accused of cheating.  Only as the story unfolds does the audience understand how he knows all the answers.

Genre:foreign, drama, bollywood, romance, uplifting

Audience: Open-minded individuals looking to learn something about another country; anyone looking for a powerful, unique, uplifting movie.

Occasion: In the mood for a serious, interesting, uplifting movie.  A little to heavy for most parties, but if you’re getting together with a few people for the express purpose of watching a good movie (say on a Friday night in the dorms), this one might be perfect.

Watch every minute? Oh, definitely.  A great deal of the plot depends on small details in every scene, many of them unspoken.  Parts of the movie are also in Hindi.  

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: If you can catch it on the big screen, it’s very much worth it.  Most people, I suspect, will see it on the small screen, which is only bad in that it’s easier to be distracted at home.

Why I liked it: When Ben first told me that we were going to the big city nearby to see Milk and Slumdog Millionaire, I wasn’t even sure what Slumdog Millionaire was about.  I vaguely remembered seeing a preview for it.  Long ago and far away.  Ben told me essentially what I put in the “Summary.”  I was intrigued, but dubious.  He seemed really gungho about it, so I figured I’d give it a shot.  

I couldn’t have been happier with the movie choice he made.  In an attempt to convince my cousin that she really did want to see this movie, I headed over to the Rotten Tomatoes website, where the film recieved a 94% approval rating on the “Tomatometer” and the consesus read, “Visually dazzling and emotionally resonant, Slumdog Millionaire is a film that’s both entertaining and powerful.”

I’m not sure I could say it better than that.  The movie is stunningly beautiful, as one might expect of a movie about India, but the story, which religiously follows the perspective of the main character, Jamal, captures your attention, until you cannot but care about the fate of this young man and the people in his life.  

It had me in tears, by the end, but they were the good tears, the joyous tears of a truly remarkable story.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: I will own this movie becuase it’s worth seeing more than once, and I already want to share it with everyone I know.

If you liked…:Bend it Like Beckham, Pursuit of Happyness, The Kite Runner, and City of God [according to imdb.com].

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kelly permalink
    January 26, 2009 5:52 am

    I used your rec here to convince my parents to see slumdog millionaire!! They loved it. Neither of them had even heard of it. Glad its finally in more theatres.

    (you should rec some things from the last two years, hint subtle subtle hint)

  2. movierecommendations permalink
    January 26, 2009 12:45 pm

    I’m glad you were able to use my recommendation for good. *grins*

    I will recommend more things from the last few years, I just have to remember what came out. Sorry for the delay. I’ll have another recommendation up soon, I hope.

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