Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Film Reviews: Slumdog Millionaire And The Wrestler

They're movie reviews. Obviously, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

.:Film Review: Slumdog Millionaire:.

Slumdog Millionaire
For you, I would swim in a sea of human excrement...

If there's one thing I can say about this year's Oscar's, it's the fact that it was a really good roundup overall. From amazing breakout performances to very nuanced and resonating films, we had quite a lineup that was worthy of being acknowledged.

In a year replete with great movies, "Slumdog Millionaire" won the Oscars this year, and with good reason, to be certain. This film was brought to us by Viva International Pictures and is officially showing in Philippine Theaters on April 11.

Other than "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", I didn't know what to expect from this film, but in the end, I was certainly blown away.

Essentially, the story follows, in a pseudo-non-linear fashion, the life of Jamal, a young tea-server in a call center, who ended up getting on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". As a slumdog with no education, people questioned how he could've possibly known the answers to the toughest questions, and the narrative shows how each question he answered pretty much had some relevance to his life, enabling him to know the answers.

Jamal grew up as a street urchin, along with his brother, Salim, and their friend, Latika, they lived off the streets and did all they can to survive in the poor slums of India. There were many funny moments, dramatic moments, sweet moments, and everything else in between, and they all blended with each other harmoniously, in a masterpiece that you would best be advised to catch if you haven't yet.

With each question, a life experience is shared, and as Jamal grows up, his present-day counterpart finds himself ridiculed by a smarmy, ruthless gameshow host who believes he should be the star of the show. Will he become a millionaire? Will he be able to find Salim and Latika ever again?

This heartwarming story is realistic and at times grim, but there's an inner joy in the movie that no amount of violence was able to extinguish. I was filled with a lot of hope for Jamal with each step of the way, even though I did find the final question a bit anticlimactic since I knew the answer already.

Nonetheless, it was a fun movie that fires on all cylinders. Do catch it. You won't regret it.

Fun Evaluation: A+
Critical Evaluation: A+

.:Film Review: The Wrestler:.

The Wrestler
The Ram Jam is quite a slam!

Mickey Rourke may have been screwed out of a "best actor" nod for this film. I love Sean Penn and I think he's awesome, but Mickey Rourke's nuanced performance of one Randy "The Ram" Robinson was sheer perfection.

As a guy who loves professional wrestling, this very harsh look at the realities of what it means to be a pro wrestler has been quite an eye-opener to me, to say the least. Seeing people we regard as legends become broken-down shells of their former selves, selling themselves out in any way they can, tends to show that the glitz and the glamor people achieve in the WWE is not always the status quo for these professional wrestlers.

Randy, for the most part, is a good guy, and is well-loved and respected by the wrestling industry, albeit respect and love don't always necessarily translate into a lot of money. With little savings and living off his wrestling job and a bit of work in a grocery on the side, Randy is living the only life he knows how to live. The years haven't been kind to him, and in one fateful match, he almost loses his life.

Now, he realizes that he's not immortal. He tries to repair ties with his estranged daughter, tries to get into a relationship with the stripper he often confides to in the local strip bar, all the while pondering what to do with his life now that the doctors forbid him to ever wrestle again.

And all through this, the allure of one last match... just one last match... never quite leaves him.

Perhaps, in a way, quite like the stripper in the film, Randy's life parallels hers, as well. As a stripper who is rather old already, she is well past her prime but needs to keep selling herself in the only way she knows how in order to fulfill her responsibilities. Does she love her job? No, not really. You can tell by her character that she would choose something else if the pay were the same.

That's the main thing that's different about Randy, though. He loves wrestling. The way he wears his battle scars proudly, the way he waxes poetic at the sound of a crowd cheering him on... all of this only goes to show how in love he is with the rush of entertaining a crowd.

This film is a great tribute to all those wrestlers who know this story all too well. This is a tale that hits close to the heart of people who are familiar with the workings of the professional wrestling industry.

Of course, the fact that Iran took offense to the portrayal of "Iranians" in the film leaves a lot to be desired, but well, whatever. It does sound a tad familiar to me, though. ;)

Fun Evaluation: A+
Critical Evalutation: A+

No comments: