127 Hours reviews

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Postby Reza » Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:58 am

Damien wrote:Oh, Good Lord, what a bore this thing is. Danny Boyle seemed to know instinctively that a guy getting his hand stuck under a rock isn't the most cinematic of subjects, so he loaded the film with pointless visual pyrotechnics (like camera shots from the inside bottom of a water bottle) and trippy flashback, imaginings and dream sequences. It's like a "New Hollywood" film of the early 70s done with 2010 state of the art technology. I haven't seen so many split screens since the heyday of Brian De Palma.

And although this is a movie about a man isolated and on his own, because the camera is always right up against him, the audience is in that crevice with him and he doesn't seem solitary. Ironically, it's only when he escapes and Boyle employ a high overhead shot that an aloneness and sense of helpnessness come through.

No wonder the film tanked at the box office, Other than the early sequence with the two women he meets, its utterly tedious.
3/10

I so agree with you on this film.

Just a stunt to forcibly spread out a nothing story into feature film length. I, too, was interested until the grotto scene. Once he gets trapped it quickly became so tedious and uninteresting. I had the luxury of watching the film on DVD at home so I fast forwarded to the amputation and conclusion. Even that amount of time sitting through the film seemed such a chore.

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Postby Damien » Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:32 pm

Oh, Good Lord, what a bore this thing is. Danny Boyle seemed to know instinctively that a guy getting his hand stuck under a rock isn't the most cinematic of subjects, so he loaded the film with pointless visual pyrotechnics (like camera shots from the inside bottom of a water bottle) and trippy flashback, imaginings and dream sequences. It's like a "New Hollywood" film of the early 70s done with 2010 state of the art technology. I haven't seen so many split screens since the heyday of Brian De Palma.

And although this is a movie about a man isolated and on his own, because the camera is always right up against him, the audience is in that crevice with him and he doesn't seem solitary. Ironically, it's only when he escapes and Boyle employ a high overhead shot that an aloneness and sense of helpnessness come through.

No wonder the film tanked at the box office, Other than the early sequence with the two women he meets, its utterly tedious.
3/10




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Postby Okri » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:41 pm

I presume sound/sound effects is in the bag too. Probably my favourite of the presumed best picture nominees (unless Winter's Bone or Another Year gets nominated). The main scene was definitely brutal in a "please don't faint" way, but I loved the beginning. And even the wrap-up was entertaining in it's heedless narcissism.

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Postby The Original BJ » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:45 pm

I liked 127 Hours, mostly due to the fact that Danny Boyle takes a story that is inherently un-cinematic and makes it memorable through an exciting filmmaking approach. This wouldn't necessarily be the only way to tackle this material -- in addition to the more generic Hollywood presentation Mister Tee suggests, I could have imagined a Gus Van Sant-style approach that might have dwelled on the silence, isolation, and tedium that would have accompanied Ralston throughout his predicament. But what Boyle goes for -- approximating the sensation of a racing mind, and then, losing one's mind -- seems just as valid a take on the material.

This is not to say that the film is particularly deep, and even at 90 minutes, it does feel long-ish; I certainly don't think the thin script deserves serious awards consideration. But within its own fairly minor narrative range, the film works, presenting something both visually appealing and emotionally resonant.

A lot of the film's success is also due to Franco, who's so charming and appealing in those early scenes, and then so agonizingly courageous once pinned to the boulder, that you can't help but keep your eyes glued to the screen. He's been working up to an Oscar nomination for some time now -- starting with that James Dean break-out, continuing with a number of interesting films for major directors -- and I'm glad he's finally landed a strong enough role that he really shines in to get him (most likely) to the Kodak.

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Postby Mister Tee » Fri Nov 12, 2010 6:08 pm

There are serious built-in limitations to 127 Hours. It's closer to an anecdote than full-fledged story, and, on top of that, an anecdote whose punch-line must be (and certainly has been) used as the selling point of the film. (It's also a punch-line many of us will only watch to a limited extent-- my eyes were squinted about 80% shut throughout that key sequence) The action is so limited, the narrative surprises so few, that god needs to dwell even more than usual in the details. You could almost view this as a movie made on a dare: Okay, Danny Boyle -- see if you can make a full-length movie about, essentially, one character stuck in a confined space for five days. You will be allowed to cast a wonderful actor, for whatever help that will give you. Biut, essentially, you're Houdini locked in that box underwater. If you can swim to safety, more power to you.

I think alot of people are going to say he pulls it off, and I may be to a degree among them, though with reservations -- reservations that go to my entire experience with Boyle's career output. I was absolutely wowed by my first exposure to him (Trainspotting). Over time, though, I became somewhat annoyed with his persistent flash. What had seemed utterly right for Trainspotting felt alot more intrusive with Millions. It brought to mind one critic's comment about Neil Simon, that he seemed to think everything could be constructed of the same material (one-liners), from coffee tables to cathedrals. Boyle's problem, for me, came to be that he seemed to locate every story in the same (or at least a similar) visual universe.

I don't think he does quite that here, though he certainly does at moments -- the frazzled beginning, the inhaling oxygen hyperbole. Mostly, though, here he seems far more interested in locating Ralston in his vast environment, conveying both its appeal (the overwhelming sense of freedom and discovery) and its menace (the isolation that almost kills him). And, beyond that, he offers visual variety, and imaginatively edited sequences, so that the movie buzzes along despite a fairly thin script and lack of narrative surprise. Put it this way: a more straightforward Hollywood telling of this story would have probably settled on the obvious redemptive theme (glib loner learns to rach out and need people) and wrung it for all its sentimental worth, with plenty of explicit flashbacks to his prior life. Boyle touches only tangentially on those elements, chiefly sticking to the nuts and bolts of Ralston's attempts to survive both physically and mentally. This makes for a leaner, far less corny film, though not necessarily a more complex one.

I think Boyle will get a directing nomination, partly because of his newfound rep from Slumdog, but also because of having dealt with this physical challenge of the confined space (Hitchcock got two such nods, for Lifeboat and Rear Window, and so did Teshigahara fo Woman in the Dunes). But the real star of the show, and a certain nominee, is James Franco, who carries the film with ease. Sabin is certainly correct to highlight his faux morning show intervew -- an absolute tour-de-force, and his Oscar clip if anyone's sentient -- but he's prettty much wonderful throughout at making an audience care about a character with too few real-world connections to generate standard interest. I was hot-and-cold on the movie in general -- engaged in some scenes, impatient for th finish during others -- but Franco was the real deal from start to finish.

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Postby Sabin » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:42 pm

I already reviewed it on the Review Thread. I think this film is going to get quite a few nominations and a lot of it will be good will stemming from James Franco's outstanding performance, which is undercut by Danny Boyle at all times.

Nominations for:
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actor - James Franco
Best Original Song
Best Film Editing
...and, though I hope not, probably a wholly undeserving nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
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Postby Reza » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:43 am

127 Hours
* * * * (out of four)

Stars: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Clemence Poesy
Director: Danny Boyle
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Rating: R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles
By Claudia Puig, USA TODAY
Only a truly visionary filmmaker could take a story largely set in a cramped canyon and give it a sense of openness and hope.

In 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) deftly sidesteps claustrophobia with his stunningly kinetic photography and rapid-fire editing. He also has cast the perfect actor for his virtuosic imagery.

TRAILER: Watch a preview of '127 Hours'

James Franco is thoroughly captivating as Aron Ralston, a rock climber who in 2003 suffered a freak accident near Moab, Utah. With this Oscar-worthy performance, Franco taps into a dramatic range only hinted at in his previous roles.

While hiking solo, Ralston falls into a ravine and is wedged there, his arm pinned by a boulder. He's trapped in this remote cavern for five days, out of human view or shouting distance, with limited water and supplies. He must devise a way to free himself or die.

Working with Slumdog screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and composer A.R. Rahman, Boyle comes up with creative ways to broaden the contained nature of the story. He ingeniously employs a video camera that Ralston had with him to provide an additional point of view of this harrowing saga. He intercuts Ralston's static entrapment with plenty of movement in the form of flashbacks, vivid dreams and even a hallucinatory talk show.

If not for those moments, we might simply regard Ralston as a cocky thrillseeker who courts danger to escape human connection. But because Boyle gives us a window into Ralston's mind and Franco imbues him with humanity, we are moved by his courage. He looks forward to mere minutes of daily sunshine, keeps his sense of humor intact and has a life-altering revelation about entrapment and engagement.

It might seem an odd choice after his Oscar-winning Slumdog, but Boyle has a strikingly eclectic body of work. The surreal dream sequences amid the painful ordeal are reminiscent of Boyle's 1996 film, Trainspotting.

Because this is a well-documented story ­ Ralston made headlines and wrote a book ­ it is no spoiler to cite a much-discussed scene in which Ralston is forced to amputate his forearm to extricate himself. But to focus on the graphic nature of that climactic scene is to reduce this enthralling tale to a gimmick. As visceral as a horror movie, the scene is more gut-wrenching than stomach-turning. Ralston tries everything to budge the immovable rock before being forced to do the unthinkable.

Though it may be hard to avoid flinching, we are compelled to witness Ralston's only means of survival after enduring his entrapment with him. It feels like an insult to Franco's brilliant turn and to Ralston's real-life nightmare to glance away.

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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:01 pm

Shawn Levy's guy weighs in:

127 Hours B+
By Patrick Z. McGavin

Toronto Film Fest (Special Presentations)--Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” has a jet-propelled, live-wired energy. This tone is obvious from the beginning, when the director carves the frame into a triptych to reveal an almost frenzied feel for activity and emotion. The images of the vast Utah canyon landscapes have an iridescent intensity, and the digital images giving off a palpable sense of heat.

This is Boyle's first film since “Slumdog Millionaire” swept the Oscar Awards two years ago, and as an eclectic and talented British director, he again reveals his versatility and ability to try something new and different. Primarily, the wonder is that the virtuoso of images and sounds has found a fascinating way to breathe some energy to a fairly standard film format, the true-life adventure tale that goes horribly awry.

Co-scripting with his “Slumdog” collaborator Simon Beaufoy, Boyle’s new work is the story of Aron Ralston, a young Colorado adventurer and freethinker whose 2003 weekend excursion in the beautiful and imposing mountain canyons of Moah, Utah is disrupted by a frightening accident.

Boyle is greatly aided by his charismatic and gifted star James Franco (who this season alone can be seen in two vastly different films, “Eat Pray Love” and “Howl,” as the poet Allen Ginsberg), whose alternately concentrated, intense, harrowing and even explosively funny performance anchors the work emotionally.

The movie has certainly thematic echoes of Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild,” both telling stories of privileged though also deeply selfish young men drawn into extreme stories of solitude and danger. Structurally, they both fracture time and space, interiorizing the thoughts and memories of the protagonists to examine the ramifications of their actions. Stylistically, the films could not be more different. Penn’s is measured and ruminative. Boyle’s is manic, immersive and devilishly alive. (It has one of the most spectacular and delayed uses of the title credits ever seen.)

Boyle also has two other key collaborators from his previous work, the composer A.R. Rahman and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. (His work is buttressed by the contributions of a second cinematographer, Enrique Chediak.) The digital photography allows for a razor-sharp clarity to the landscapes and dazzling physical architecture of the ridges and rock formations.

Franco’s Ralston is a classic movie character, a bit of a ruffian, good-looking, loose and free, but also smart and intuitive (he’s an engineer). A hiker, backpacker and mountain climber, he drives his car to the edge and takes off deeper and deeper, on his mountain bike, into the interior of the Blue Mountains. He’s an inveterate thrill seeker, but also a purist. He likes to carve out his own unmarked paths, like a breathtaking early scene when he confronts two young women (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) and convinces them to follow him as they wedge their bodies into a tight climbing path that yields an exhilarating moment where the three free fall through the impossibly tight spaces before plunging into a water pocket.

Ralston’s free spirited, even recklessness, and need for exultation and challenging human possibility takes a harrowing turn when he is trapped following a climbing accident. On his own, he falls into a narrow crevasse and his right arm pinned by a boulder. Suddenly, his tale of adventure and wonder turns into a harrowing story of survival and self-sacrifice.

As his physical resources, food and water dwindle, his chances of being found nonexistent, Ralston must summon the will and resourcefulness to find his own solution. If the opening third is one of unlimited possibility and the extraordinary splendor and sensual pleasures of the open spaces, the balance of the movie turns intensely claustrophobic.

Like other stories of confinement, the movie is as much a story of memory and freedom. As he struggles to find a way to free his body, he must fight off his own mind’s disassociation and anxiety. As the title explicit evokes, the movie is about duration and time. Like Steve McQueen’s “Hunger,” the movie is really about the breakdown of the body as he imagines himself drifting into death.

Fortunately, luckily, some of the his personal possessions, a digital camera and movie camera, allow for a wholly different form of memory and replay. He fights off the hallucinations and the dreams by moving deeper into his own consciousness.

He rummages his own memory in order to stay sane and lucid and a flood of different associations and memories flow, like the first time his father took him to the mountains, some funny and playful exchanges with his sister. His stress and deepening desperation intensify his own sexual sensations, and summons his regret at his foolishness, naiveté and selfishness at the way he treated his girlfriend (Clémence Poésy).

These passages not only open the dramatic possibilities, but they deepen the characterization. Thanks to Boyle, the movie has a strange kind of buoyancy. It is lithe and thrilling, with some surprisingly deft and funny stretches, like the way a cartoon theme song fills his head and jump starts his increasingly fevered imagination.

Franco’s internalizes the character’s range of emotional experiences, but it is to his credit and the movie he never wallows in self-pity. He retains his warrior ethic, realizing he is responsible for the situation he has found himself in. As such, it remains up to him to find a way out.

If anything the movie is almost too much. Boyle is smart enough to calibrate what is going on, but even so, at times, the movie is too self-punishing and every once in a while, the stylization moves a little too uncomfortably from the immersive and fully engaged to the manic and pummeling. Like most of Boyle’s work, it leaves a mark. The giddy and the horrifying coexist.

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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:20 pm

Ah, but Love and Other Drugs was test screened in Orange County back in March. Granted the posted reviews on IMDb. could be from someone close to the production for all we know, but they do seem encouraging. For example:

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway lead a great cast of regulars (including Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt) in 'Love and Other Drugs,' the story of a promiscuous and ambitious pharmaceutical salesman (Gyllenhaal) getting his start in the Ohio market with his (and his mentor's) sights set on the big game in Chicago. His life is turned sideways when he meets the beautiful Maggie (Anne Hathaway), an artist with stage-one Parkinson's and a growing skepticism for love. Throw in a raunchily pathetic younger brother (Josh Gad), a hilarious sales partner (Oliver Platt), and a violent former Marine (Gabriel Macht) as the #1 competition, and 'Love and Other Drugs' quickly becomes one of the funniest films in years.

The film, which is like 'Up in the Air' with more humour or '(500) Days of Summer' with less quirk, is fantastically acted by the leads and supporting ensemble of familiar faces. The writing is phenomenal with some of the freshest dialogue and wittiest banter I've seen since Howard Hawks's 'His Girl Friday.' The story is also very topical, especially in the days of the fight for healthcare reform. Director Edward Zwick (Glory, Blood Diamond) puts forth one of the best films of his career alongside a list of solid past work, creating some of the most heart-wrenchingly sad and gut-wrenchingly funny cinematic moments in a while. The film is also full of some of the hottest and funniest sex scenes I've seen in a long time, so the movie's humour isn't all guys will want in this romantic-comedy. Overall, 'Love and Other Drugs' is a great variation to the 2010 romantic comedies thus far, giving something worthwhile outside of the typical 'The Bounty Hounter'-type rom-coms.

Final Verdict: 9/10.

or this less celebral one:

Saw a preview tonight. Really, really good. Plenty of nudity from the leads....always thought of Anne as too skinny, but yowza! Quite the tear-jerker, yet finds time to be charming and funny. Anne Hathaway was totally off my radar but I was totally in love from the 1st wild sex scene. Lots of Jake whoring around too. The brother was a poor man's Jonah Hill, but he was quite entertaining in the end. Some pretty gross moments, especially one involving a sex video but it really made me laugh. Judy Greer of Arrested Development was cool in a small role as a naughty nurse. Story of a sales rep for Viagra who falls for a beautiful artist with (no spoiler here). Well paced, well acted and well written.

Or this:

The chemistry is off the charts between Jake and Anne which is obvious but the other characters do a fantastic job standing out as well. I have seen a lot of films and enjoy good films of all genres but this might be the best Romantic Dramedy I have ever seen.

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:04 pm

Fpr the record, Sonic, I wasn't referencing your isolated-words post, which I thought was quite funny and perceptive. It was more Magilla's sorting out the relative position of Firth vs. Franco, when 95% of serious critics have yet to weigh in on either, and his further evocation of Hathaway as best actress front runner for a film no one's officially seen. It strikes me of uncharacteristic of Magilla, a generally astute observer, to be so definitive at such an embryonic stage -- it's something I'm more likely to see from Poland or Awards Daily. (And Poland, while often wrong, is never in doubt --as in 2005, when, after Toronto, he declared Munich, Joaquin Phoenix and Diane Keaton -- for The Family Stone, if you can believe it -- the clear front runners)

Yeah, sometimes these instincts are right -- like Helen Mirren -- but it's worth recalling many in that same year thought Dreamgirls and Peter O'Toole were equally headed for glory.

To the specifics here: Eric is quite right that the timeless blandness of The King's Speech subject matter will boost it with older voters, and physical handicaps are always an Academy plus. But I have to question how deeply voters feel they "owe" Firth anything. Prior to last year, he wasn't in the top 100 of overdue honorees, and, though I know many here loved his performance, I'm not sure his losing last year moved him anywhere past top 30. (Remember, his film wasn't even popular enough to get a much-touted nod for Julianne Moore) And the very blandness Eric cites in King's Speech, while it might help at AMPAS and BFCA, could work against it at the main critics' awards -- Franco, and Gosling in Blue Valentine, might have deeper support there.

As for Hathaway: 1) I can't ignore Bening/Moore, Portman, Mulligan as potential competitors; and 2) though Hathaway apparently has MS in Love and Other Drugs -- awards bingo! -- the film is described as a romantic comedy. Ed Zwick + Romantic Comedy sounds like a lethal combination to me.

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Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:08 am

Mister Tee wrote:
Big Magilla wrote: I was right last year, however, when you all scoffed when I predicted Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock months before either performance was given much of a chance.

I'll give full credit for Sandra Bullock, but I don't recall a soul scoffing at Jeff Bridges. I know the moment I heard he had a serious entry I viewed him as very viable, and only hoped it didn't turn out to be a typical false alarm.

In general, though, I'm with flipp -- unless an early performance seems for-the-ages, or is the work of a clearly overdue veteran like Helen Mirren, I never view anyone as more than a contender till the year-end awards. I don't quite understand this latter-day propensity for establishing favorites before we've seen the full field.

It's a vibe. When all those buzz-words from the first review of the "The King's Speech" jumped out at me, I couldn't avoid it. It's a perfect recipe not only for a win, but for a landslide precursor showing that at least one (if not two or three) actor or actress has nearly every year. Maybe it takes away the fun of predicting, but so does the precursor season. At least this way, I can get a jump on them.
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Postby Eric » Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:30 am

One thing that does sort of work in Colin Firth's favor is that it looks like a boring performance in an artless film about an inconsequential aspect of an important person. The perfect template for a make-up award that people will be castigating for generations to come.

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Postby Okri » Mon Sep 06, 2010 6:44 am

Because it's a fun shorthand way of thinking about oscar contenders. And if it helps to dwindle my own personal interest in the whole process, more power to it indeed.

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Postby Big Magilla » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:28 pm

It's not a latter day propensity. It dates at least as far back as 1945 and the "leaked" notices to the press that Joan Crawford would win for Mildred Pierce.

The last time I made a Best Picture prediction sight unseen was with Titanic in January, 1997, almost a full year before it was released.

I probably wouldn't be predicting acting wins this early except that I've had to give the subject a great deal of thought due to OG's Cinema Sight requirements to come up with predictions months ago - May or June I think.

I perused the lists of coming films and made my selections based on the uniqueness of story ideas and the talent involved. A lot of it is pissing in the wind but I felt very comfortable with Colin Firth, James Franco, Anne Hathaway and Natalie Portman. I think recent nominees Firth and Hathaway have the edge.

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Postby flipp525 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:20 pm

Reza wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:I don't quite understand this latter-day propensity for establishing favorites before we've seen the full field.

I agree but it's usually based on a feeling. Could be, as you mentioned, a case like Helen Mirren's (or Jeff Bridges last year) where the actor has had a long and distinguished career but never been rewarded. It can also be a particular role coupled with an actor who recently fell through the cracks and lost the Oscar race. Firth falls into the latter category.....a decent enough and fairly popular actor playing a British monarch (with an affliction to boot) and who gave a superb performance last year in A Single Man but lost the award.

No one's at a loss for an explanation as to why Colin Firth might be seen as a front-runner this year (can't we just say "sure bet" at this stage?); it's the very naming of a front-runner this early in the season that seems indicative of a greater (and annoying) trend in Oscar prognostication to Name!Winners!Right!Now.




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