‘A Visual Salad of Glowing Rotten Fruit, Constantly Tossed’

The New Yorker’s David Denby handicaps this year’s Oscar nominations, and he’s not impressed. Agreeing with both Matthew Leathers and us, Denby declares that “2008 was not a great year for movies.” “The total of thirteen nominations for Benjamin Button has to be some sort of scandal,” he writes. “Citizen Kane received nine nominations, The Godfather: Part II eleven, and this movie, so smooth and mellow that it seems to have been dipped in bourbon aging since the Civil War, is nowhere close to those two.” Denby’s hardest knock on Benjamin Button? “The movie is given over to an infinitely patient and scrupulous working out of its own bizarre premise, and you come away from its sombre thoroughness with the impression that something profound has been said without having any idea what it could be.” 

Alas, he saves his real animosity for Slumdog Millionaire. “The central plot mechanism of Slumdog Millionaire … feels both cheesy and rigid.” Well, besides that what did you think? “I object to the way that the director, Danny Boyle, orchestrates Jamal’s life. Everything is seen in a flash … and nothing is prepared, explained, or understood.” Um, okay. Anything else? “Boyle has created what looks like a jumpy, hyper-edited commercial for poverty — he uses the squalor and violence touristically, as an aspect of the fabulous.” Yikes. Well, thanks for com– “What I will remember of Slumdog Millionaire is a disorderly exploitation of disorder, a kind of visual salad of glowing rotten fruit, constantly tossed.” Um. Uhhhh…

On a bright note, Steven Millhauser wrote a strange little story in the same issue.


Though David Denby isn’t named, Newsweek offers Danny Boyle a chance to answer his critics who charge him with “slum voyeurism.”


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