February Continues

Monday, Presidents’ Day – saw “Slumdog Millionaire” with the siblings. I enjoyed it for being a movie with a little bit of everything – romance, violence, a touch of mysticism and/or fantasy, religious conflict, crime, loss, love, hope, tragedy, family saga, and even silly game show. It could have taken place anywhere, but was fascinating for being a bit Bollywood – but rather Dickensian (well, it was directed by Danny Boyle, the guy behind the craziness that was “Trainspotting”). The cast was talented. NY Times critic Manohla Dargis’ review of it made a lot of sense (although I think I felt more enthusiastic about it); she notes:

Yet while the story opens with Jamal on the verge of grabbing the big prize, Simon Beaufoy’s cleverly kinked screenplay, adapted from a novel by Vikas Swarup, embraces a fluid view of time and space, effortlessly shuttling between the young contestant’s past and his present, his childhood spaces and grown-up times. Here, narrative doesn’t begin and end: it flows and eddies — just like life.

By all rights the texture of Jamal’s life should have been brutally coarsened by tragedy and poverty by the time he makes a grab for the television jackpot. But because “Slumdog Millionaire” is self-consciously (perhaps commercially) framed as a contemporary fairy tale cum love story, or because Mr. Boyle leans toward the sanguine, this proves to be one of the most upbeat stories about living in hell imaginable.

Yeah, it’s that kind of movie – where hell (well, the environmentally disgusting slum as a hell) is kind of engrossing and watchable, and you just have to believe and hope that something good – maybe even love – can come true. Oh, and you get to have a Bollywood/bhangra type dance at the end to celebrate something. Slate’s Dana Stevens also pretty much sums up “Slumdog Millionaire” in that way – yeah, glamorizing poverty and crime ain’t that great, but it’s a good movie. Go see it.

I’m sort of behind on “Lost” but not really (since I watch most of the episodes and read recaps); the priceless line (delivery included) in the latest episode “316” – Frank Lapidus the pilot to Jack, upon realizing that their plane (which he’s flying) has most of the Oceanic 6 gang back together: “We’re not going to Guam, are we?”

No, Frank. Obviously you are not; have you learned nothing from being on the wacky Island? Plus, Frank’s clean-shaven, which makes his clear blue eyes even more obvious (and making him ten years younger). Those eyes – I have to say, those are actor Jeff Fahey‘s best features – what mesmerized me way back when he was the protagonist on the ABC series “The Marshal” back in the day (the show wasn’t all that great, but, like I said – Fahey’s eyes were amazing; him as Frank on “Lost” – amusing!).

I still haven’t quite gotten over what happened to poor Charlotte – dying on the Island that she longed for; and making it quite clear that the Island is death. John, Jack – how on earth are you guys going to figure this out? Daniel – who seems to have some idea of the answers – maybe. Ben – the manipulator. So many questions!

Oh, Conan – counting down to the final episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Do you have to leave New York? I can’t forget how he managed to keep us entertained while still supporting the writers during the writers’ strike (and then still be funny after the strike). TV critic Alan Sepinwall on how Conan became our tv friend (kind of like Dave Letterman – some of the wacky comedy may make us say, “What?” but we love ’em anyway ’cause it’s them).

Speaking of Late Night stuff, David Letterman’s been on a roll. I like how he’d goad the people who deserve to be goaded, whether it’s McCain – or, more recently – ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois – and this article makes the point that he’s more than just laughs (I can easily imagine Letterman doing a type of Charlie Rose thing, covering topics he actually wants to cover, rather than just go for laughs or letting the guests sell their movie/show/book).

I think it’s cool that Pres. Obama visited Canada, even if it was for only a few hours, particularly in light of my personal affection for Canada… So, of course, I got all obsessive about finding the coverage for it.

Some Canadian press coverage on the Obama trip to Ottawa. well, I’m kind of jealous of Pres. Obama; it sounded like he had more fun in Ottawa than I have had (and I haven’t been there in years). Despite business with the prime minister, he somehow had time to buy souvenirs for the kids and eat the fried food. Now I want to try a Beaver Tail (but I am a sucker for fried food, so oh well). In addition to the picking up the Beaver Tail, he apparently had quite a menu with Prime Minister Harper.

A link to the NY Times article on the coverage. A bunch of soundbites from the press conference with Prime Minister Harper and President Obama (which I was watching on CBC’s website) – some trade tensions; Obama’s “I love Canada; my brother-in-law’s Canadian”; some quibbles about environment, i.e., “clean energy dialogue.” I liked Harper’s line: “threats to the United States are threats to Canada.” Nice way to make American-Canadian relations stronger again.

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