Saturday, April 2, 2011

127 Hours. A-

Danny Boyle just keeps getting stronger, finding more ways to incorporate his kinetic music video styles into stories that challenge not only us, but him as a director. He did it with Slumdog by making an adventure out of a story of a kid on a Q & A show, and he does it with even more success in, what Aron Ralston calls the greatest movie ever made, 127 Hours. Boyle craves the idea of putting the viewer through deliciously agonizing sequences only to see how good he can make him or her feel by the end. With 127 Hours he takes a man trapped for five days in a canyon with a rock pinned to his arm, stays there the whole time until the man cuts that limb off, and then fills us our hearts with joy and exuberance. Making a movie about Ralston's story confronts the director with an immediate challenge, but Boyle was up to the task. That most of the movie takes place in a narrow gap of rock and is immensely entertaining is a testament to that. When word came out that Ralston's story was being adapted for the big screen, my immediate thought was Into the Wild with a better director (Boyle over Sean Penn). But Ralston's story is actually quite different in terms of its philosophical elements. The great thing about Into the Wild was how Chris McCandless had an idealized view of the world and came to realize his faults through his adventure. In 127 Hours, Ralston, a much different character, more like you or me, really only reflects on basic mistakes he has made in his life as well as the obvious, how to escape. One could argue that 127 Hours is a weaker film than Into the Wild because it lacks the intellectual facet that made the latter so fascinating. But cinematically, 127 Hours is much better because Ralston really was just an average guy, which gave Boyle very little opportunity to carve into his personality and views on life. His task was greater, and he pulled it off. Finally seeing this, I've seen all of the Best Pic nominees from last year. Here I'll rank them from favorite to least favorite: The Fighter, True Grit, The Social Network, Inception tied with Toy Story 3, Winter's Bone, 127 Hours, Black Swan, The King's Speech, The Kids are All Right. People complain about 2010 being a weak year for movies, but for the most part those ten were pretty outstanding. In years past it would be hard to find as many really solid titles as these. The great thing about them is that nearly all had really good stories to tell.

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