Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: 127 Hours

127 Hours is a textbook example of a movie, or story rather, that you couldn't get away with if it weren't true. If it weren't based on a true story, SOMEONE (most likely someone mean-spirited) would claim something along the lines of “It's all too coincidental.” But you can't do that now, because then you'd be claiming that reality is too coincidental (regardless of the fact that it often is).

You're probably familiar enough with the setup from the trailers. Hiker and climber Aron Ralston (James Franco) is going out climbing without telling anyone where he's going. On his way down a canyon he slips and his arm is trapped. If or how he gets out would technically be a spoiler, so go see the movie to find out. Can't wait, look up the guy.

You probably wouldn't think there's a movie there, but director Danny Boyle and James Franco pull it off grandly. Much of the movie is about the circumstances that led Aron there and his fraying mental state. Those of you expecting a grand life story ala Slumdog Millionaire (which, despite being overhyped, is a good little film and you should really see it) are gonna be disappointed. The backstory is told in the broadest possible sense, telling us about the man's past, without delving into it in detail.

Oh and those of you expecting a handheld camera style in the movie are being fooled by the ad. It's used very sparingly, only one scene really uses it at length and it's really well done. Trust me. All the rest is general camera work, and it's all excellent.

What you've heard about James Franco in this movie is true, he OWNS it, in the (male) lead performance of the year and maybe the performance of his career, which will go a long way towards me forgiving him for his upcoming new Planet of the Apes movie. Much of the role requires some subtle physical acting and quiet emotional scenes, as well as some subtle 'losing his grip' acting. He will be nominated for an Oscar for this one and he should win, it's one of the best performances of the year. You can't really talk about anyone else's acting in this movie either, because he literally gets all the screen time, no one else gets more than a few minutes.

But half of the credit has to go to Danny Boyle. He directed wildly here, and he did it fearlessly. Wild tonal shifts, weird camera angles and just plain odd directorial choices that would threaten to damage the film are so well executed that they play into the film's strengths. An example is around the midpoint, Aron acts out an interview with himself, as both interviewee and DJ interviewer, accusing himself of the series of events that led him there. It SOUNDS comical on paper, but through a mix of subtle camera use and great acting from Franco, the entire scene is actually deeply affecting.

There's really not much more to say on this one. It's a two man show, between Franco and Boyle, and it's rather excellent. Right now, aside from Harry Potter there's not much in theaters that's equal to or better than this, so you should go see it while you can. So I guess this one is a bit shorter than usual. See you thursday for Rocky Horror.

Elessar is a 20 year old Alaskan born cinephile and to those who know the story: Yes that scene is intense.

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