Saturday, February 21, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I'd like to comment for just a moment on one of the most talked about films of the past year. Carly and I saw this film a while back, at the recommendation of my younger Jedi-movie-watching brother, Payton. The hype was mild and growing at the time, and thus we went in with some expectations that not only would the film be different, but overwhelmingly special.

You know, Slumdog Millionaire was neat, and clever, and haunting, and was unique in a way that I'm not sure I'd encountered before. You know, sometimes when I see movies that have absolutely ZERO redemptive qualities--they're just a fun escape, senseless action or comedy or mayhem that I surrender to for 90-120 minutes. However, the buzz surrounding this flick was that it would contain many redeeming elements in it.

Danny Boyle (producer/director) has crafted a very fresh, hip film that raises the awareness of poverty and injustice in a different culture and part of the world. The images range from haunting to humorous, but at the end of the day I was just a tad thrown off. You see, Slumdog Millionaire is kind of like a brief glimpse into a world we can't understand, where are heart is moved for just a moment, and then we're back in our wealthy comfort after 2 hours. (this many times happens on a Mission Trip, where we're changed for a short time, but not the long haul)

For me personally, Gran Torino addresses issues that hit closer to home...not that we don't have poverty, injustice, and the deepest levels of America that we see in India. But moreover the underlying currents of hatred, racism, opportunity, and sacrifice. Eastwood's character reflects a generation, an attitude, a reality that exists not only in Detroit but all over this country. I was surprised and moved by the authenticity of Gran Torino's themes, and they are still with me today...much the same way the overwhelming message of disconnect from Crash is as well.

I have a special place in my heart for films which introduce and inspire me to understand other cultures (see The Mission, Apocaltypo), but for movies that aspire to communicate a redeeming message to their audience, I prefer one that's gonna stick weeks after I've seen it. Unfair as it may seem, this is where Slumdog fell short. But I sincerely hope you enjoyed yourself at the movies...

Tomorrow/Later today: my Oscar Picks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Best Movies 0f 2008

Well at long last, here is my list of my favorite flicks from the past year. By no means will anyone who reads this list agree with it 100%, and certainly this will not match up with any experts or critics choices. However, there will be an explanation paragraph at the bottom, followed by my most-anticipated movies of 2009. Enjoy and happy watching!

Bartee's Best of 2008
1. The Dark Knight
2. Wall-E
3. Iron-man

4. Kung-Fu Panda

5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

6. Sweeny Todd

7. Horton Hears a Who

8. Mamma Mia!

9. Cloverfield

10.Be Kind Rewind

What can I say? The Batman team of Nolan, Ledger, and Eckhart made Dark Knight superb. Ironman lived up to the hype, and actually exceeded my expectations. Of course I have a soft spot for a clever, well-done, humor-with-a-message animated flick...and that's represented by 3 of those on my list. Button was so very different from anything I'd seen before. Sweeny's music completely trumped the strange gore reservations I had, and the music of Abba makes Mamma Mia a blast on every level. And, Cloverfield is really the film that was trippy, edgy, confusing, and suspenseful wrapped in one. My #10 choice is just a sleeper for me.

Honorable Mention: Frost/Nixon (only because I haven't seen it!)


Taken and Gran Torino

(these 2 films would be near the top of my '08 list, but because of when they came out and when I saw them, there's really not a place for them to exist...they are MUST-SEE flicks)

Looking Forward To
1. Robin Hood
2. G.I. Joe

3. Sherlock Holmes

4. Star Trek

5. X-men Wolverine

6. Transformers 2

7. Angels and Demons

8. Land of the Lost

9. Watchmen

10.Public Enemies

Coming Soon: My thoughts on Slumdog Millionaire, more Office love, and "Daily Words which stand out."