Monday, July 4, 2011

127 Hours

Danny Boyle, 2010 (8.8*)
This is a true story of hiker-climber-biker-canyoneer Aron Ralston's solo trek into the Blue John Canyon section of Canyonlands in southeastern Utah, some of the most remote canyon terrain in the U.S., not made a national park until 1964, when re-discovered in modern times by Secretary of State Stu Udall during a helicopter flight.

Ralston is excellently played by Oscar-nominee James Franco, who captures the youthful exhuberance of a child at heart, mixed with an older man's previous wilderness experience - he was actually a volunteer wilderness rescue expert and part-time canyon guide and knows this area well.

I've been in this exact part of the country (and Joshua Tree outside L.A.), and we did a lot of what we called bouldering, or climbing rocks without any equipment, but we never took the chances that Ralston did. About half an hour into the film, Ralston meets some lost ladies (one of whom is one of film goddess Kate Mara, Transsiberian) and shows them both their intended trail, and a hidden underground pool by dropping about 30 feet through a crevice from above (which is shot with some excellent cinematography).

After saying goodbye to his new friends, Ralston is climbing alone when he dislodges a loose boulder at the top of a crevice, which causes him to fall into it and the boulder lands just the right way to pin his right hand and arm to the side of the narrow crevice.

He's now trapped in the bottom, about fifty feet below sky, but he does have his video camera, and his daypack with water and a little food. Of course, the title of the films implies how many hours he remains trapped, you should know that much. But since he has a video recorder, we would know his story whether he survived or not. He certainly thinks he's doomed, and records final goodbyes for his mom and friends.

I went into this with some trepidation about the film's pace and creativity, but the on location terrain in southeast Utah that I've been in myself (Arches Nat Park and Canyonlands are two of my favorite in the U.S.) was the hook for me. I've been there many times, at various ages - it's a desert paradise on earth, one all climbers and hikers should visit, and re-visit.

Boyle has a way to make any film engrossing - I enjoyed Shallow Grave, Millions, Trainspotting, and Slumdog Millionaire, the latter a best picture winner and all definitely worth seeing. I thought Shallow Grave was a perfect parody of Hitchcock suspense thrillers, with three robbers trying to both hide the unspent loot and live together, two guys and a girl, a formula that you know spells disaster.


Shahzaad A,  July 27, 2011 at 11:37 PM  

I always try to avoid things that almost everybody else can't stop talking about. Hence my aversion towards DaVinci Code or Slumdog Millionaire. The thing is, though, that anybody who's watched any of the films predating Millionaire knows that Boyle makes some really good movies - ones that draw the audience in and that keep them rooted till the last second. Which is the only reason I watched 127...& loved it! Wasn't too enthu when I realized most of it was shot with just the 1 actor & in just 1 location. Thing is, I wasn't a big fan of Franco's either. A lot has changed since then :-)
So, when I heard Franco was in the new 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' movie (I've always been a big POTA fan), I wasn't as reluctant to watch it as I once might have been. And with Andy Serkis in the CGI lead, I was hooked. Videos look good so I'm already drooling. You going to go for it?

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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