10 February 2009


Films seem to be a necessary adjunct to modern life. Some people are obsessional about films. If they're not at the cinema, they are adding to their DVD collections. The popular press hype up film stars and make movie awards ceremonies seem almost as important as political elections.

In my life, I have seen lots of great films - though months can pass between them. Great films I recall include "Schindler's List", "Once Upon a Time in America", "Toy Story", "Raging Bull", "Boesman and Lena", "Born of the Fourth of July" and a hundred others. Frequently, I read reviews of films and promise myself I will see them some time but then the weeks go by and I forget.

However, very recently I got round to seeing two films that were on my list - the much vaunted "Slumdog Millionaire" at Sheffield's "Odeon" and a DVD I had bought of "Brokeback Mountain". Of the two, the latter certainly gave me the most pleasure. It would have been good to see those big Wyoming landscapes on a big screen. I enjoyed the rhythm of this well-crafted film - the passing of time, the paucity of the dialogue and the emptiness of the spaces it contained. Heath Ledger was quite outstanding. At its heart were, of course, two gay cowboys but really this was a universal tale about emotional struggle and lost opportunity. It had depth and resonance.

"Slumdog" was a different kettle of fish. I enjoyed the fact that its background was Bombay - a place that rarely figures in popular English-speaking films. And it certainly had its "moments" - such as when the protagonist as a little boy chose to drop from his locked wooden cubicle into the cesspit in order to claim his film star-hero's autograph. This was as funny as it was disgusting.

But why was the "Millionaire" contestant being tortured by the police? I didn't get it. Okay so there was the suspicion that he had cheated but so what? This wouldn't attract vile treatment in a police station. Was I supposed to suspend my disbelief at this point? I found "Slumdog" too light, too silly. I didn't understand what it was trying to achieve. Perhaps my favourite part was during the credits when the entire cast dance on the central platform in Bombay Station . This was fun and energetic - a real slice of "Bollywood". I'm sorry but I don't view it as a genuine "best film" contender even if it was successful at the recent BAFTAS in London.

Must get round to seeing "The Reader" and "Benjamin Button"...


  1. I've read The Reader, but hope to see the film next week while I have winter break. The Bitter Half and I took the Beloved Offspring to see Benjamin Button and thought it was great. It is a long film, so plan ahead, but we thought it well worth the ticket price and the DVD when it comes out.
    The Bitter Half and I will go out Thurs. for an early Valentine's Day dinner and a movie to see The Wrestler. Husband is a big Mickey Rourke fan.
    My favorite of all time is an old Hollywood classic, The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant, Kate Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart. Must see.

  2. being stuck out here in the wilds of east yorks, the nearest cinema is at Kingswood in 'ull, don't seem to be able to make the effort to go to these large multi plex things, last time l did go was to see Wallace & Grommit in the were rabbit. tend to get fairly irate if l go to see a film based on a book, why do they always leave bits out?

  3. I've seen Brokeback Mountain on cable television, but we don't go out to the movies much so I haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire or Benjamin Buttonyet. But I did read F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story for the first time, and I must say it didn't make me think of Brad Pitt.

  4. MS GEORGE - Thanks. "The Philadelphia Story" - I'll look out for it.
    MUDDY BOOTS - Living in East Yorkshire must be like being a star in a feel good movie anyway!
    RHYMES W.P. - Thanks for dropping by. Go on man! Treat Mrs Plague to a meal and a picture show. You'll enjoy it too!

  5. One problem is that the Mrs. and I have completely different tastes in movies, so deciding where to go is a problem. Not to worry though, York, for Valentine's day I gave her a bouquet of red roses, a pretty card, and John Grisham's latest book in hardcover as Mrs. RWP is a fan of his writing (I am not, particularly) but not of movies made of his writing (I am, oddly enough, except for The Firm, which we both think was a travesty in every respect, so we do agree sometimes; how else would we have begotten three children?). I have no idea whether the previous sentence is punctuated correctly; furthermore, I do not care.


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