Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut is this year’s movie to beat in terms of bloated, overarching ambition and joyless, suffocating self-seriousness. If you don’t like it, you just don’t understand! —Jürgen Fauth on the ten “most disappointing movies of 2008”

The list season is upon us, and Jürgen Fauth has made one, though he probably won’t be checking it twice. And for the most part I agree: one viewing’s enough for these babies, why torture yourself with more? In fact I’d probably second his nomination of Synecdoche, New York as the year’s biggest letdown. What, did Philip Seymour Hoffman dream the whole thing? And even if he did, what difference does it make?

But about Slumdog Millionaire—number five on Fauth’s list—I’m not so sure. I mean, yes I see the problems, and yes it’s a “disappointment”—at least as a Danny Boyle movie, who as far as I’m concerned is one of the most resourceful seat-of-the-pants directors working commercially today. Which proves to be the case here too, what makes the movie as watchable as it is. But “shamelessly calculated … completely falls apart by the light of day”? Sure, I’ll go along with that, just one stereotypical plot development after another. And yet, to invoke the classical Galilean defense, it moves: slick slick slick, a rainbow rush of Cook’s tour anthropology that’s a helluva lot more inviting than, e.g., The Bourne Ultimatum as pure travelogue porn. So yes it’s a pleasure and count me guilty. Now give me back my Sunshine.