Thursday, February 12, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Awhile back I mentioned that my initial response to Slumdog Millionaire was a begrudging thumbs up.

Nevertheless my better half wanted to see it after a Dev Patel interview on The Daily Show. I confess I enjoyed it a lot more on a second viewing. Now this is rare for me. I don't usually have a drastic change in appreciation on a second viewing (especially absent a critical intervention that I find persuasive) and when I do, it is almost always in the other direction (i.e. noticing holes that I didn't on first viewing).

Most of the things I liked on first viewing, I liked again. Some things that bothered me (the artificiality of the frame story, the inability to bring insight into the reasons for suffering and inequality) didn't faze me so much.

We live in a cynical age, and I find sentimentality hard to do well. If I have more time and inclination I might say more about the whole "It is written" thing.

Having said that, it's not my intent to champion the film, per se. I don't think anyone "should" like anything. The function of criticism at the present time is not the same as it was at the time of "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time." One thing I value in criticism at any time is transparency and honesty, because a personal response is only valuable to the extent you come to know the personal sensibility that has it. As a result, I think the best critics (or at least the ones I like) have a higher degree of self knowledge than average and an ability for introspection. Note, this isn't the same as formal critical ability, though I value that too. (i.e. The ability to poitn to specific things in the text that prompt the judgment in question, whether it be formal or personal.) So, I'm thinking, too, about what it is about this film and my respective viewing situations that have made me have different responses. No conclusions yet, but I wish I could have tape recorded the conversation I had with Cindy about it.

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