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Monday, February 2, 2009

Revisiting India and Clint Eastwood

As I mentioned this weekend for anyone who follows my updates, I went to see "Slumdog Millionaire" when everyone else was watching the Super Bowl and the pre-shows to the Super Bowl. We were recording it, so I could come back and watch the best parts of the show for me, the half time and the commercials. More about that later. 

"Slumdog Millionaire" brought me back to when my husband and I spent an amazing month together in New Delhi, India in the early 1970's. We didn't go to Mombai, then called Bombay, but we did get to Old Delhi and we drove along the roads in Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. What can I say about the movie? It's like a roller coaster ride starting with a hard look at the lives of children living in crushing poverty and rushing you through their lives as they struggle to leave that poverty behind. But most of all it is a love story and the two young stars light up the screen. 

I'm sure you remember the show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" with Regis Philbin that is currently being revived. I was actually in the audience of that show with my daughter and we had a lot of fun. There are so many rules they make you follow, and the studio is so much smaller than it looks at home. Well, this young boy about 18 from Mombai gets on the show and wins the big prize. What happens to him and does he connect with his love? I won't tell you that. But what I will tell you is that the camera captures the essence of the Indian experience. The colors and the sounds can be filmed, but you had to be there to remember the aromas. They are indescribable, but this movie brought them back to me. Imagine the first whiff of an Indian restaurant and add humidity and heat so intense your hair either curls or straightens the minute you hit the air. 

I guarantee you will be laughing and crying at the antics of the characters in this film. Danny Boyle is an incredible director and he brings modern India to life as well with his depiction of the haves and have-nots living side by side. Traffic was never easy when we were there. Indian drivers use their horn to signal, but the amount of cars has tripled at least and imagine what that is like. Every kind of transportation is seen here and so many chase scenes they're uncountable.  Danny Boyle, the producer and director, has combined the sensibility of a Bollywood extravaganza  with a good old fashioned love story. But the heart of this movie is Frieda Pinto, whose luminous smile lights up the screen just like Audrey Hepburn's did and for me that is really a compliment, since Audrey is my favorite actress. My advice is to go see this unusual and dynamic movie. I think you'll love it, even if you didn't go to India. :) If I find some old pictures I'll post them here of when I was much, much younger.:)

You'd think one movie would be enough. So what did we do today? My husband and I went back to the movies and saw "Gran Torino". I was putting off seeing this one, because I knew it was going to be gritty and depressing, but to my surprise it wasn't at all. My husband wanted to see it, because he is a big, big fan of Clint Eastwood. We've followed him from spaghetti westerns through the Dirty Harry's and have seen practically all of his movies. This one requires that history to fully appreciate it. When Clint Eastwood comes on the screen he is a snarling tight lipped old man you'd rather skirt than talk with at all. It's the Dirty Harry look he's perfected. Again, if you've never seen anything of his you can still enjoy this movie, but a lot of his expressions made me laugh and smile a little. They were so Clint Eastwood and no one else could have done this movie. Imagine an Archie Bunker type person who lives next to Asian neighbors whose lives collide with his one night. What happens to him as the families interact is the heart of the movie. 

The movie is also a coming of age for the young neighbor who tests Eastwood's patience. It was that part that I liked the most, because I'm a YA writer and love to see kids grow up in a story. The actors playing the male and female neighbors are excellent. I hope to see both of them in another movie. Except for Eastwood there are a few other male actors who you might recognize as character actors. Yet the story rests on the skills of Eastwood who carves out the character of Walt and though it is Eastwood on the screen, it is Walt that we see. Clint Eastwood's skill as both a director and an actor can be seen in the nuances of each character and how he shows us a working class neighborhood and the circumstances that occur when change explodes into the lives of the people living there. It is also an indictment of the racism and discrimination that lay beneath the surface of our society and extend to all races in an invisible barrier. Go and see it for yourself, but if I had to choose which movie to see, I'd see "Slumdog Millionaire" first. It's a feel good movie.:)

Now a little about the Super Bowl, 3 D commercials, and Bruce!!!  When we got home we knew that the score was 23-20 in favor of the Cardinals. So we decided to watch the half time and then skim through the game to see the last minutes of the 4th quarter. Watching Bruce Springsteen at half time was as good as seeing him in concert. We saw him at the Meadowlands this summer and he is so fantastic in concert. We had seats directly across from the stage. I'd say it was a football field's length. But with the jumbo screens and Bruce himself we felt like we were much closer. Springsteen gives his all at every concert and the feeling of the crowd is so joyful and contagious that I don't know anyone who doesn't love one of his concerts. Plus he stays on stage for over 3 hours and sometimes for 4. So Bruce onstage for only 12 minutes? Not possible. But he did it and the crowd went wild. His antics were pure Springsteen and loved the getting on his knees and sliding down the stage. Seeing Clarence again was also great! But getting to sing 4 songs in that little bit of time was genius. I'm always wanting to hear "Born in the USA" and I was so excited to hear that one finally. 

But as great as Bruce was when we saw the big runback before half time which gave the Steelers a score and then when Holmes caught that touchdown pass in the end zone on his toes? I'm not a football fan, because I sometimes find it grindingly boring. But this game was anything but boring. And the best was the fumble at the end giving the Steelers the ball and the win. I can safely say that before I watched the Super Bowl I didn't care about the score or who won. But I did kind of want the Steelers, since Mr.Rooney had supported Obama and that was okay for me. In fact, Rooney even thanked President Obama in his acceptance speech for the Lombardi trophy. Congratulations to the Steelers!!! They definitely deserved this win!!!

We had missed the 3D commercial for "Monsters II" and "Chuck in 3D" so we saw them too. We found a set of glasses at the supermarket so we were prepared. It reminded me of when I was a kid sitting in a movie theater with my first 3D glasses. You know they have hardly changed them.:) Looking around at people wearing 3D glasses makes you wonder if you are in some bizarre future universe. But it was worth it. The commercial for the movie was delightful! I loved the first "Monsters" and this one looks even better. The commercial for "Chuck in 3D" made me think about watching it. The only problem is the glasses have to be on and they need to be a little bit more comfortable to watch for more than a few minutes. We're keeping our glasses in case they run more 3D commercials. I never thought I'd see it on TV as a show. It's not coming until March though.:)

Do you agree with me? Leave me a comment. I love to hear from my readers. Until the next time....



  1. Sludog Milionaire was a stunning film! It was intoxicatedly good:)

  2. Agreed. I was really overwhelmed with the beauty and didn't you love the ending? I had seen a few Indian films and they put the music into scenes all the time like that. They were in Hindi with no subtitles, so I never understood them.:)

  3. So sorry you didn’t win the contest on my blog this week at Not Entirely British.

    Thanks for taking part. Hope you will enter again soon. This week’s prize CD is well worth winning.

  4. Thanks for letting me know Anne. It can't hurt to try.:)

  5. I LOVED Slumdog Millionaire -- in fact, it may have been my favorite movie of the year. I've been reading a lot of novels by Indian authors of late and I thought the movie definitely rivaled some of them (which movies rarely seem capable of doing) in terms of capturing the essence of India. Plus, I loved the happy ending. To be honest, I don't think there are enough of those in Hollywood anymore. Slumdog just proves how a great movie can be both serious and uplifting without a horribly depressing end (a la many Clint Eastwood movies).

  6. Hi Barbara, I'm over from Marie Isabelle for a visit. I've heard so much about "Slumdog Millionaire"
    I know I'm going enjoy it. We get movies a tad late here in Puerto Rico. It's here now so thanks for the inspirational detail. I'll try to go soon. Great blog!

  7. Yes, they did capture the essence. Which authors are you reading? Indians have very different ideas about things even the ones who have migrated here.

  8. Hi Cynthia and welcome to my blog. Thank you for enjoying it and I hope you will continue to enjoy it. I love Marie's pictures of her postcards.


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