Gallagher Says – A Life Less Ordinary

In my search for films by one of my favourite directors, Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, and 127 Hours), I came across A Life Less Ordinary. It is the third film he ever directed and features Danny Boyle regular Ewan McGregor.

Ewan McGregor plays Robert Lewis, a man who is fired from his custodial job because he dreams of a better future and a robot can do his job for less. He ends up kidnapping his boss’s spoiled daughter. Cameron Diaz plays the daughter, Celine Naville. Robert’s innocent nature betrays him in this endeavour, but Celine is there to teach him how to be a professional kidnapper.

The film has a bookend plot with celestial beings being sent to aide in a romance. Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo play angels O’Reilly and Jackson, respectively. During the course of the film, they take on the role of bounty hunters sent by Celine’s father to rescue her, but they always have their own motives.

When I bought this film, I figured it’d be an okay Danny Boyle film. Something along the lines of The Beach that doesn’t quite live up to his better films. I was pleasantly surprised. While its not as good as Slumdog Millionaire or Trainspotting, it was a very enjoyable ride.

With the weird concept and it’s backwoods style, I couldn’t help thinking it was a better Coen film than Raising Arizona was. I couldn’t help laughing at the ridiculous concept of a kidnapper asking the kidnapee about how to properly pull it off. Ewan McGregor does a great job of grounding this into a relatable performance.

I found the cast in this was very hit or miss. McGregor was great, but Diaz was very inconsistent. She seemed intriguing and engaging is some scenes then felt very wooden and bland in others. Lindo’s role didn’t have much, but he was good in the moments he got. Hunter was fun and provided a very unhinged performance. The thing that bothered me was the high-pitched voice she used. Ian Holm and Stanley Tucci were enjoyable as Celine’s father and ex, respectively.

My Favourites from the film: The craziness of the film made for a fun ride, and Diaz’s scenes teaching McGregor how to kidnap were great. It was the first film I’d seen by Danny Boyle that didn’t have any extreme stylistic choices, so that made it easier to get behind the weird concept. The stop-motion end titles sequence was a pleasure to watch.

My Less enjoyed parts: Aside from the issues I had with the performances, the main problem was some of the angel scenes that were a bit too far out there or distracting. The accents threw me off, so I was never quite sure where it was all supposed to be taking place. It hits a bit of a slump before the third act.

My Recommendation: If you’re looking for an odd, small scale comedy, I’d say pick this up. Be ready for something weird and inconsistent. Don’t expect it to follow a contemporary story structure. I would definitely suggest it for fans of the CoenBothers or David O. Russell.


Gallagher Says – Slumdog Millionaire

This is one of my favourite films. I have loved it ever since I first saw it four years ago. I first got it after seeing Danny Boyle’s film Sunshine. I had watched that film because I liked to watch a lot of Science Fiction, and I was watching various movies with actor Cillian Murphy in them. I was further interested in watching Slumdog Millionaire because of its awards showing.

I generally find Best Picture winners to be pompous, overblown pleas for awards. I find the best picture nominees to actually seem more interesting than the winners. That aside, Slumdog Millionaire is a genuinely good movie, not apparently made for the academy award voters.

The story is told in three separate timelines. The first one is Jamal’s torture at the hands of the police. They have reason to suspect he has been cheating at a game show and are trying to force a confession. The other storyline follows Jamal’s progress through the game show as he is reminded of it by the officers. The third jumps through Jamal’s life, showing how he knows the answers to the questions.

The largest portion of the film is spent on Jamal’s life leading up to the point of the game show. We are shown his childhood with his brother and the loss of their mother. They meet up with an orphan girl and travel, having different adventures and struggles surviving in India.

Jamal’s goal is to survive and rejoin the girl, Latika. In this sense, the film is an epic love story. It spans years and shows how life is always getting in the way of their love. The other storylines aren’t a snooze either. The interrogation scenes are tense and revelations of character. The game show scenes are more fun, but they also show Jamal’s fight against the world as the host and crowd seem to mock him.

This film almost feels like it was made for me. It has so many elements that play into my tastes. It opens with scenes from just before the end. It is told with multiple storlines out of chonological order. It is a character piece centered around showing one person and their environment.

My favourites from the film: The aforementioned elements. I love the way the film is cut. Scenes of Jamal’s torture scenes are cut between torture and first entering the game show. The dialogue snaps back and forth between the characters, and they all have unique voices. The music in this film fits perfectly in ever scene.

My less enjoyed parts: I love everything, so I really don’t have anything to put here. I include some negatives in the next section. It is honestly in my top two favourties of all time.

My Recommendation: The only things bad I can say about it is that there is some repetitive imagery and Danny Boyle often uses a jagged frame rate in scenes of intensity. The jagged frames are also blown out and have some kind of lower quality filter on them. So unless you want to watch something absolutely beautiful to look at, then I’d say this movie is awesome for anyone.