Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Slumdog Millionaire Movie Review

December 8, 2008 3 comments

In four words: DO NOT MISS IT.

As someone that revels in the joys of biting sarcasm and the cynicism of all around me, I for once find myself stripped of my ability to strike a less than effusive tone. Slumdog Millionaire – which I initially avoided like I would a ridiculous Bollywood romp, then got curious about after good word and mouth and great reviews – hit me in the solar plexus and left me laughing, tearing up, getting angry, getting sad, cringing, laughing and tearing up again. It was a color-filled rollercoaster as any movie set in Bombay ought to be, and I loved every minute of it.

A lot of people have referred to Danny Boyle‘s improbable yet delicious rags-to-riches tale of a young orphan Dickensian. While that is certainly a compliment, it robs the movie of its very Indian, very Bombay-esque essence. The sights, the sounds, the colors, the pitch-perfect crass slum Hindi, the wretched settings in which slum dwellers eke out an existence, the inhumanity and the glorious humanity of it all is INDIAN above all else. The movie is an Indian movie at heart – how ironic, then, that it took an international crew to create such memorable fare while Bollywood continues to wallow in the dimwitted mind-numbing shit and piss they churn out with robotic frequency, each movie doing a more miserable job of aping the gringos than the last.

Not to give anything away but the story centers around a young lad named Jamal Malik who grew up in the sprawling slums of Bombay with his slightly older and far edgier brother Salim. The Muslim brothers know nothing but squalor and poverty and violence and learn to live their lives on the precipice of death. They beg, cheat, steal and con European tourists to get by. They cuss, punch, kill and maim to protect each other and the dignity of those around them. One brother ends up in a lowly white collar gig, a marginal loser on the fringe of a society where success is nowadays symbolized by a headset and a feeble attempt at a foreign accent (a gross exaggeration, no doubt, but valid for this movie). The other brother, armed with a Colt and a willingness to bend the rules turns player. No prizes for guessing who turns millionaire in the end.

Most of the characters are well written and the movie consciously avoids Bollywood stereotypes of dancing around trees and other nonsense. The fact that they reserve a Bollywood-like dance for the very end of the movie before the credits is a welcome change and a fitting rebuke of traditional Bollywood; it shows that one can make a great movie with a great soundtrack that is hugely entertaining without resorting to the path of least resistance.

Parts of the love story between the main character (Dev) and his lifelong squeeze are a stretch at best and hackneyed at worst. But this is a minor peccadillo and takes almost nothing away from the soaring splendor that is Slumdog Millionaire.

So to recap: DO NOT MISS IT.

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A Dirty Job: Book Review

April 20, 2008 Leave a comment

Picked this bad boy up – where else – at the Palo Alto Borders a few months ago and finally got around to knocking it off the pile.

“A Dirty Job” is a very ghoulish, fairly entertaining, at times laugh-out-loud book by local SF author Christopher Moore. It starts off, disturbingly enough, with an inveterate weak-kneed fella whose wife passes away in the emergency room while giving birth to a baby girl. Charlie Asher – the guy – then goes on to discover that he is a “Death Merchant” and is in charge of retrieving the souls of the dying/recently dead.

In other words, buy this book for your children.

No, but really, what makes the book for me is the fact that it is set in SF and written by a local. Lots of descriptions of SF neighborhoods and town arcana that you wouldn’t know about. There are weak patches in the book and the ending isn’t so hot, but overall it rips along very well.

Categories: life, reviews Tags: ,

It’s official: Virgin America rules

April 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Call me skeptical: I really didn’t think that an airline that proudly advertises the fact that its plane cabins are bathed in purple light would amount to much. Add to that the fact that they used to advertise with thick poster card paper in WIRED and piss me off to no end.

But I gotta admit: it was a bad call to remain a Virgin virgin (that’s lame but too easy. Please reserve judgment).

The flight was excellent, the crew is friendly to a fault, the plane is all new (duh!), the entertainment programming is wonderful. Plus I really didn’t mind the purple light at all in the end anyways. Sorta made me feel like I was back in the 70s. Or in the future. I’m not caffeinated enough just yet to decide.

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Wag of the finger to Yelp: Reviews aren’t exposed via RSS

April 13, 2008 Leave a comment

[So I copied Steven Colbert in the title; sue me]

Okay, I’ve started to use Yelp pretty regularly to navigate my move up to the city. I’ve always been impressed by the strength of the community in San Francisco and just how many diverse points of view make their way into reviews of almost every spot out there. The Yelp Talk feature is most excellent – both times I’ve left questions, I’ve gotten north of 10 responses. Within an hour! Now that’s an engaged, passionate community.

Here is what’s bullshit: my reviews (or anyone else’s, for that matter) aren’t available via RSS. Why? Why can’t I, if I choose to, follow a friend’s reviews on Google Reader? Why can’t I send a feed of my own reviews to friends or link that feed to my main line blog feed?

In one word: pageviews? And that’s why Nick Carr says that “It’s worth remembering that the business model of Web 2.0 social networks is the sharecropping model“. For a site whose very existence relies upon users contributing content, shouldn’t it try to let that content free in some limited form?

Did I miss something here?

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Fast Food Nation: Movie Review

October 12, 2007 2 comments

Alternative Title: Why I Quit Eating Fast Food.

I just got through this on HBO. If you arent someone who handles meat on a regular basis (I went to a barbeque two weeks ago where the host was arm deep in a pig’s shoulder; he is going to be fine after watching this film), be prepared to get your stomach churning in the last ten minutes.

The last ten minutes of this movie – spent in the heart of a meat processing plant and chronicling the ugly process from the slaughter of cows all the way to the handling of the carcass – will make you want to throw up.

The first 90 minutes of the movie are entertaining watching but slow going. All in all, you are probably better off reading the book. Eric Schlosser is a fine writer and “Reefer Madness” – his follow-on work is excellent.

Skip this one unless you intend to turn vegetarian.

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