HUMANITY's FAVORITE PLOT FORMULA - Mistreated child beats the odds.

Charles DICKENS had it right. Show your hero as a young child, show him POOR, mistreated living in a world of horror. The author should robustly depict the evils of that day and place. Oddly, audicnes will watch this avidly and empathize heartily with the hero from that point on.

Proof. What's all the fuss about 'Slumdog Millionaire'? The film has closeups of cruelty to children, deliberate blinding of beggars, starvation. The flick's script is MANIPULATIVE --a pure DICKENSIAN formula. Author shows a child,  shows  him POOR... The viewer starts to care a LOT .. Babies squeeze all the feeling out of us... even in cold people. We will watch that flick avidly from that point  on. You ill adore the character at that point, and when he ends up winning against all odds, you will experience  that film as a joy an endorphin producer, a seratonin stimulant.

REVIEW OF SLUM DOG MILLIONAIRE

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Danny Boyle's critical darling 'Slumdog Millionaire' has made a killing at
the box office and is now being lavished with
awards. Tom Huddleston can't quite understand why

Danny Boyle’s new film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ has taken the movie world by
storm. Adapted from the popular novel
‘Q&A’ by Vikas Swarup, it tells the story of a poor Mumbai street urchin
who grows up to be a telemarketing assistant,
and finally a contestant on India’s version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
The film has already won Best
Drama at the Golden Globes, and looks set to
sweep the BAFTAS, and very possibly the Oscars.

There’s no sense arguing that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is an out-and-out bad
film, it isn’t. There’s a lot to enjoy: Anthony
Dod Mantle’s vivid cinematography, some bracingly kinetic action sequences
and, for the first hour at least, an exuberant
and dynamic sense of adventure. The flashback sequences are, for the most
part, well constructed, and nicely acted by a
gaggle of precocious pre-teen non-actors. Simply as a window into another
world, one most of us rarely get to see, ‘
Slumdog Millionaire’ justifies it’s existence.

But best film of the year? Feelgood film of the year? This is a story which
features every kind of degradation: poverty, child
prostitution, murder, theft, blackmail, religious intolerance, vicious
exploitation. A nine-year-old boy has his eyes burned out
with acid, and yet audiences are still apparently strolling from cinemas
whistling AR Rahman’s dire (yet inexplicably
BAFTA-nominated) bhangrabeat soundtrack. There’s something disturbing about
a film which depicts such abject horrors
and still manages to end on such an upbeat note: it’s like if Schindler’s
List ended with a song ‘n’ dance number. By
allowing audiences to leave the cinema happy, doesn’t the film also allow
them to conveniently forget all the earlier horror?

But the political aspect of ‘Slumdog’ could be debated endlessly, as could
any film that hijacks a serious subject for
entertainment purposes: ‘Blood Diamond’, ‘Milk’, pretty much any wartime
adventure. The arguments for either side are
clear: on the one hand, the filmmakers are exploiting real life suffering
for financial gain, on the other they’re drawing
attention to an otherwise ignored issue. ‘Slumdog’ throws this argument
into sharp relief because the gulf between the
horrors it depicts and the third-act outcome is so yawning, but it doesn’t,
in the end, bring any kind of closure to a
discussion that will doubtless rage as long as movies are being made.

And besides, ‘Slumdog’ has far more serious problems to contend with than a
little cultural exploitation. Danny Boyle has a
longstanding habit of making films which set themselves up competently –
often battering audiences into submission with a
combination of snappy camera moves, smash editing and loud, infectious
music – before collapsing into nonsensical
contrivance in the last act: think ‘Shallow Grave’, ‘The Beach’, ’28 Days
Later’ and especially the tragic waste of a
good concept that was ‘Sunshine’. ‘Slumdog’ follows this template
slavishly.

The first hour of the film contains some genuinely memorable moments: a
headlong chase through the slum streets, a shocking
moment of mass racial violence and that excruciating, haunting blinding
scene. But it’s all gone to hell by act three, as the
script’s focus narrows and the three protagonists age from naïve, scrappy
slum kids to increasingly unlikely and unlikeable
teenagers. The love triangle that develops between them, with tedious
inevitability, serves to completely stifle the film’s
forward momentum, as it stops being an exploration of India’s poverty
problem and becomes a trite, histrionic and
predictable melodrama of coincidence played out between the three awkward,
uninvolving heroes and a troupe of identikit
snarling gangsters.

The common defence for the film’s wildly unconvincing finale, and
particularly that shockingly crass climactic dance number,
is that Boyle is appropriating and subverting the motifs of Bollywood
cinema for his own ends. But this technique simply
doesn’t work, so it feels like we’ve wandered from a fairly intelligent,
well-made and compelling hardship drama into a
cack-handed West End musical with as much narrative integrity and character
insight as an episode of ‘Hollyoaks’.

I’ve refrained, thus far, from discussing the film’s framing narrative, but
it can’t be ignored any longer. The idea of
constructing a film around a quiz, and showing how the characters arrived
at their knowledge of particular questions, is an
intriguing one. But it’s as though Boyle can’t wait to shake off the
restrictions imposed by this device and let loose – the
narrative logic behind each new answer becomes increasingly strained and
coincidental. We’re also asked to believe that a
TV executive, albeit a particularly surly third world TV executive with a
creepy beard, would tie a quiz contestant up and
apply electrodes to his chest. We were expecting Jamal to face a few tough
questions, but nobody was expecting the Spanish
Inquisition.

The other problem with these sequences is right there up front: Dev Patel.
Now, I’m not going to start gouging chunks out of
a young, relatively inexperienced actor in his first big role, but Patel
simply lacks onscreen charisma, particularly when
compared to the sparky, naturalistic and compelling performances of his
younger counterparts Ayush Mahesh Khedekar and
Tanay Chheda. Just as we’re never told exactly how Jamal comes to learn
English – and speak it with barely a trace of an
accent – it’s also left to us to figure out where his personality
disappeared to. The awards buzz surrounding Patel’s
performance seems completely out of proportion, and even slightly
patronising.

But we expect the big awards voters to get it wrong – they do so every year
without fail, with the most deserving films
receiving scant reward. What’s surprising is that audiences and critics
seemed to have been sucked in by ‘Slumdog’ too
– it’s arguably the best reviewed film of the past six months, and has been
doing extraordinary business both here and in the
US. It seems (and probably is) churlish to begrudge a homegrown hit a
chance at success, but ‘Slumdog’ simply doesn’t
deserve it, not when there’s so much out there more deserving of an
audience’s time and hard-earned dollars.