Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend at the movies

We watched two sequentially. You probably know both of them, but if not (or if you want to argue about them):

This is an all-singing, all-dancing, star-filled musical extravaganza about a boy who is being slaved and starved to death in a workhouse full of poor orphans, who escapes and becomes one of a gang of boy-thieves living in an abandoned roofless hulk over an open sewer in a high-GINI coefficient London until he learns something the most evil, greasy, nasty bully ever [*] wants to keep him quiet about. Luckily, because he's actually a toff, not a poor boy at all, born in the workhouse by what you might call an accident of birth, it all ends happily ever after. Except, that is, for the rest of the boys in the workhouse, the boy-thieves, Fagin, a million poor Londoners and the bully's prostitute.  Between this and Les Miserables, I grokked that the next smash hit musical would likely be about Pol Pot. 

However, that's not what Netflix delivered.

Om Shanti Om! 
This is an incredible visual-overkill, all-singing, all-dancing, star-packed-to-the-gunwales musical hyperextravaganza about an Indian film producer who has a wife he doesn't want, so he sets fire to her, along with the entire town-sized set of his planned epic-to-end-all-epics Om Shanti Om. Her from-afar admirer perishes in the flames trying to save her. As well as about 500 dancing cameo appearances from every Bollywood star ever and ALL THE CREW, it stars Shahrukh Khan's incredible torso, shedloads of flawlessly beautiful, feminine women and more costume changes than the human mind can imagine. (During one dance number that supposedly takes place in 'real time' rather than 'movie time' we counted five shirt changes in 40 seconds.) Luckily, because various hand-picked supernatural things are true, the reincarnation of Shanti's admirer manages to get revenge for her death. It's strongly reminiscent of the Phantom of the Opera, except featuring more colorfully-dyed cotton garments than the entire Indian yearly national output. Nobody lives happily ever after because they are all dead, but at least the original admirer's mother gets to see her son reincarnated and is more than happy enough for everybody.

[*] Oliver Reed, natch. 

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