At best I was mixed on Slumdog Millionaire during the 2009/’10 Oscar season. I was 40% admiring and 60% annoyed, but I knew it wouldn’t do to make a fuss. So I had to sit there and take it for six damn months. In that sense it was a long Oscar season. Haven’t watched it since, will never watch it again.

Posted on 11.30.08: “How can anyone watch Slumdog and not be down with Jamal’s enormous dignity, strength of spirit and intelligence? And I understand (or think that I do) that Jamal’s life story is primarily a device that allows Boyle to dramatize the evolution of Mumbai chaos-culture over the past 15 or 20 years.

“But I just can’t believe that a kid who’s been subjected to such relentless cruelty and brutality his entire life — slapped, beaten, exploited, betrayed, booted, whipped, shat upon and made to suffer like a homeless dog day after day, year after year — would end up with this much patience and resolve and focus. Treat an actual dog like this and he’ll be incapable of showing anything but his teeth.


“Nor did I believe that the beautiful Freida Pinto‘s Latika wouldn’t be soiled and corrupted by her upbringing also, or that she’d stay emotionally loyal to and in love with Jamal through thick and thin. Things change, people grow up and move on, life is hard, get what you can, and nobody will save you but yourself. I know, I know…surrender to it, believe in love.

“But the cruelty in this film is relentless. Ugly behavior reigns during the first two acts. Except for the cop (Irfan Khan) who interrogates Jamal throughout the film, nearly every male character in Slumdog Millionaire is a cutthroat Fagin or Artful Dodger.

“And all through Slumdog I was muttering to myself how much I hate the Mumbai overload — the poverty, the crowding, the noise, the garbage landscapes, the public outhouses, the ugly high rises…the whole squalid cornucopia. I’ve never been especially interested in visiting urban India, but Slumdog settled things once and for all. If someone slips me a first-class Air India ticket from JFK to Mumbai, I’m trading it in for passage to Vietnam or China or Kampuchea or Katmandu.”