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4 out of 5

Slumdog Millionaire

200px-Slumdog_Millionaire_poster On the afternoon of December 31st, while the boys watched Bedtime Stories with their cousin and grandpa, Lisa and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire (2008,R) (ScreenIt! Review).  From the ScreenIt! Review:

As a young man prepares to answer the last question on India's version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" he must answer allegations of him cheating by proving that his life experiences, including growing up in the slums as an orphan, have provided him with the knowledge necessary to answer the questions.

I watched Born into Brothels last year, so I had a feel for what life is often like for kids in India's slums.  I enjoyed the film.  Several of the plot twists weren't hard to see coming (though Lisa turned out to be wrong about the prediction she made), and the love story was a bit over-wrought.  Despite all the tragedy, it was enjoyable to watch the Indian kids' lives, and I couldn't help thinking about my kids while doing it.  I'm kind of puzzled that it received an R seemed more like PG-13 to me.

I give it 4 out of 5.

Baghdad High

A few months back I watched the film Baghdad High on HBO.  From Wikipedia:

It documents the lives of four Iraqi schoolboys over the course of one year in the form of a video diary. The documentary was filmed by the boys themselves, who were given video cameras for the project.

One of the more remarkable aspects of the film to me was how familiar it seemed - how similar in essence Iraqi school boys are to American school boys - how two Iraqis can look at the same event (for example, the execution of Saddam Hussein's execution) and have completely different perspectives.

Mohammad: Do you think Saddam was really killed?

His grandmother: Yes he was killed.

Mohammad: Do you think his trial was fair?

His grandmother: Yes, but he didn't need a trial anyhow.

Mohammad: Why?

His grandmother: He inflicted so much suffering on the Iraqi people.  If we hadn't executed him we would have been the weakest people on earth.

Mohammad: Do you think the situation will improve?

His grandmother: I don't care if it makes life better or not.  The main thing is we did the right thing.  Every dictator deserves the same fate.

and then another one of the boys:

The situation is very bad.  We got pretty upset after Saddam's execution.  This is not the right time.  A country's leader to be executed this way?  The people in power are not better than he was.  Dad was especially sad for Iraq.  It means that Iraq is finished.  God help us!

I give it 4 out of 5.

Born into Brothels


I recently watched the documentary film Born Into Brothels (2004,R).  From Wikipedia:

Briski, a documentary photographer, went to Kolkata (Calcutta) to photograph prostitutes. While there, she befriended their children and offered to teach the children photography to reciprocate being allowed to photograph their mothers. The children were given cameras so they could learn photography and possibly improve their lives. Much of their work was used in the film, and the filmmakers recorded the classes as well as daily life in the red light district. The children's work was exhibited, and one boy was even sent to a photography conference in Amsterdam. Briski also recorded her efforts to place the children in boarding schools.

It was great seeing the joy that the cameras and learning brought to the kids lives and, of course, heartbreaking to witness the conditions in which they live.

I give it 4 out of 5.

King Kong


A few weeks back I watched King Kong (2005,PG-13) (ScreenIt! Review).  From ScreenIt!:

A 1930s film crew sets out to discover an uncharted island for their film, but must contend with the 25-foot tall ape that kidnaps their starlet and retreats into its prehistoric world.

I remember when this came out but didn't give it much thought at the time.  I didn't realize it was Peter Jackson's handiwork.  I really enjoyed's epic nature, the special effects, Naomi Watts, etc.

I give it 4 out of 5.

Cinderella Man


A few weeks back I watched Cinderella Man (2005,PG-13) (ScreenIt! Review).  From ScreenIt!:

To keep his family together during the Great Depression, a former aspiring boxer climbs his way back into the ring and gets a shot at the heavyweight championship in this inspiring tale based on a true story.

I wonder what it is about sport films that makes it so enjoyable and satisfying to root for the underdog and see him triumph.  This story of James J. Braddock's amazing comeback is one of those films, so I really enjoyed it.

I give it 4 out of 5.


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