Friday, 23 January 2009

Exotic India and Harvey Milk















White Tiger by Aravind Adiga shares some of the themes of Danny Boyle's Oscar-nominated Slumdog Millionaire; it gets beyond the surface exoticism (as pictured above) and spirituality of India to show the culturally-embedded corruption that infests the country's beating heart. Adiga's hero likens it to a Rooster-Coop, a place into which you are trapped for life by the ties of religion, village and family.

What marks Slumdog Millionaire as special for a big-ticket movie is the main characters are all of Indian-descent, there is real-life Hindi language in there and things aren't made too easy for western audiences (despite what the Guardian called the complaints of Amitabh Bachan ( see his blog here where he says he didn't complain).

This is quite a change. I remember seeing Gandhi and Cry Freedom, films where the lives of Gandhi and Steve Biko need Candice Bergen and Kevin Kline to make sense of the less-Angloid people's lives.

How we've moved on. Or have we. Near the top of my list of films to see at the cinema (that-I-won't-see-until-they-come-out-on-DVD ) is Milk, starring Sean Penn as the gay San Francisco councillor, Harvey Milk. There are no gay actors in Hollywood, so it's obviously unfair to suggest that gay actors should play gay characters. But as Philip Hensher says in today's Independent.


"Clearly, there are people out there who can only see the world through the apertures licensed by the film industry. In the case of the lives of homosexuals and lesbians, those apertures are unusually tiny – I've never seen anything in the cinema remotely resembling my life, or the lives of people I spend most of my time with, which seems, on the face of it, distinctly peculiar. Films like Milk enlarge the Hollywood repertoire. We shouldn't kid ourselves, however, that the movie industry is starting to think of us as human, or anything."

Read the whole article here.

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