James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Posts Tagged ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Bollywood films, like phone center jobs, likely to stay in India

Posted by James McPherson on February 23, 2009

Today CNN asks in a headline, “Is Bollywood coming to Hollywood?” It is a natural question, after the success of “Slumdog Millionaire” in the Academy Awards last night, but my answer, in a word is “no.” In more than a word, “perhaps, but not for long.”

In fact, “Slumdog” is like the main character within it: a one-time phenomenon who happens to be in the right place at the right time. Two years from now people will have a tough time remembering that it was ever named “Best Picture.” And besides, though it boasted Indian actors and locales, it wasn’t a true Bollywood-style film. The only dance number existed just to keep us around for the closing credits.

It is perhaps inevitable that we’ll see a spate of movies intending to capitalize on the success of “Slumdog.” But the novelty will be gone, and most of those films won’t be as well made (even if they have more logical endings). A few years ago some predicted that “Moulin Rouge!” and “Chicago” would “bring back the musical.”

I liked both films, and also enjoyed “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Grease,” but in fact  in fact I liked all four as much in spite of the fact that they were musicals as because they were musicals. I think most other people feel the same way, which is why if you want to see something like “Chicago” today, you do as I did last month–go see it on Broadway .

“Bollywood is not for everybody,” said one Indian film expert quoted by CNN. “People who love to see Adam Sandler movies are not going to line up to see Bollywood films.” That’s a good point, though of course there are a lot of us who are not generally inclined to see either one. 

After I saw the definitely non-musical “The Wedding Singer,” I told my wife, “Life is too short for me to ever sit through another Adam Sandler movie.” I hear he’s done some good work since then, but so have a lot of other, more talented people whose films I haven’t yet seen. Some of those films have even won Academy Awards, a fate unlikely for either Bollywood or Adam Sandler.

Posted in History, Media literacy, Music | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

That’s Hollywood: A game show contestant, a homosexual politician, and a Nazi pedophile

Posted by James McPherson on February 22, 2009

I doubt that many people were surprised by tonight’s Academy Award winners, in which “Slumdog Millionairecleaned up. Sean Penn won best actor for playing a gay politician in “Milk”–a character that some conservatives might have disliked as much as they dislike Penn himself–and Kate Winslet won for her portrayal of a former Nazi prison guard who has an affair with a teenager.

I saw “Slumdog” and thought it was a good film, though the ending bugged both my wife and me (and I’m not referring to the dancing). I won’t spoil the finish, but for those of you who have seen it: Considering the importance of a cell phone (and earlier, of the main character’s job in a phone center), and with how widely recognized the main character is before he goes on TV for the final time, and thinking about where the bad guys nabbed the heroine when she tried to escape, does the ending really make sense?

I haven’t yet seen “Milk” or “The Reader.” Every time I see Meryl Streep in a film I think the Academy should just mail her another Oscar, but Winslet is also a very good actor. I was pleased to see “WALL-E,” my favorite film of the few nominees I had seen, win for best animated feature. I thought Heath Ledger and “The Dark Knight” both were overrated, but I expected him to win as best supporting actor.

Posted in Media literacy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »