DVD Tuesday: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ & ‘Marley and Me’

by W. Andrew Powell

Slumdog Millionaire

Dev Patel and Irfan Khan in Slumdog Millionaire

One of last year’s most acclaimed films comes to home video this week: none other than director Danny Boyle‘s outstanding, Academy-Award winning, Slumdog Millionaire. Also available this week, Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star in Marley & Me, plus the French thriller, Tell No One.

Slumdog Millionaire
After such an illustrious run in theatres, and at the Academy Awards, Slumdog Millionaire makes its triumphant debut on DVD, which is amusing since studio executives almost dumped it onto home video directly to begin with.

Acclaimed director Danny Boyle, who won the Best Director Oscar for the film, works his magic with a mostly unknown cast, set in the slums of India where a young boy (Dev Patel) fights to survive, while protecting his brother (Madhur Mittal), and the girl he loves, Latika (Freida Pinto).

Told as a recollection of his difficult life, Slumdog Millionaire stars Patel as Jamal, a teenager who has made it onto the Indian version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? However, the host of the show, played by Irfan Khan, cries foul when Jamal is able to make it to the final question, and sends him off with the police because he can hardly believe a “slumdog” could know the answers to all of the show’s questions.

Starting with recollections of his childhood, the story weaves its way forward, showing just how Jamal knew so much.

With Boyle’s clever, intimate style of filmmaking, and with a team of impressive filmmakers and actors, Slumdog Millionaire is an incredible work of movie magic. The cinematography is stunning, the editing breaths life into the story, and the script is moving, while also funny, and deft at exploring the characters’ lives.

It would have been easy to sweep this film under the table, especially since it steps outside of the usual areas where North American audiences feel comfortable. Add in sub-titles, and a British director, and it is kind of miraculous that the film was ever released commercially. But, this is exactly the kind of film we don’t see often enough, with true grit and passion, and a visionary director presenting one of his best films to date.

Considering the wonderful cinematography, I would also highly recommend checking out Slumdog Millionaire on Blu-ray if you have the opportunity.

Marley & Me
Maybe it never won any awards, but in this funny drama, Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star as a couple trying to raise a family, along with their sweet, but devilish dog, Marley.

Dealing with their jobs, writing for two newspapers in Florida, and watching their family grow up, the story is really all about how their lives evolve, and how Marley fits into the space in the middle.

Wilson and Aniston are a fantastic couple, bringing real heart and more than a few smiles to every chapter in the family’s life. The truth is though, it’s hard to outshine the dogs in this movie, who play Marley throughout his years.

It’s a sweet, sad, and soppy drama, made especially for pet lovers and just about anyone who has ever had a dog. But bring the tissues though, although the ads will try to convince you otherwise, it’s not all about the giggles in this story based on John Grogan’s famously emotional book.

Looking at features on the DVD, most of them are pretty light, but there are a couple of standouts. The first being Finding Marley, which looks at how the dogs, 22 to be exact, were trained for Marley’s stages of life. Although it’s really just pet videos, I also got a kick out of the winning home movies, featuring some really odd behaviour from a number of hilarious dogs.

Tell No One
Lastly, in the French thriller Tell No One, Francois Cluzet plays a doctor who is still recovering from the murder of his wife eight years ago. He doesn’t know what to do though when an anonymous email shows a live video of his wife.

Most of the reviews for this lesser-known film recommend the movie very highly, with Rick Groen of the Globe and Mail calling it “A whodunit so nicely crafted that you’re tempted to forgive the Byzantine plot,” adding at the end of his review, “the big picture is lacking, but the movie gods should still be appeased – from first frame to last, the delight is in the details.”

Coming soon to DVD:
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Tale of Despereaux

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