December 29, 2010

Movie Review: 127 Hours

Yes, this is the movie about the guy who cuts off his own arm. Yes, that part is shown, and it's definitely graphic. But it's also a tiny segment - easily avoided with a quick turtle duck into your scarf - in an otherwise interesting and beautiful movie.

How can a movie with only one actor that's onscreen for more than 10 minutes be interesting? The credit goes largely to James Franco who has real, how do you say?, "presence." As Aron Ralston, a 20-something daredevil who takes a bad step and winds up pinned by a boulder in an isolated ravine - Franco isn't the space cadet you might expect. He's grounded, funny sometimes, but also somber, reflective and relatable.

(This review isn't the place for it, but someday I'd like to do a serious case study on James Franco - the go-to guy for a stoner role, who has gone from total Spiderman cheeseball to someone who makes daring projects like this one, his Allen Ginsberg project, or 'Milk' and succeeds.)

As impressive as Franco is, I'd say the real credit here goes to director Danny Boyle, who's always made a very specific kind of movie. In a word: Manic. Okay, yes: 'Slumdog Millionaire' was such an overdone, contrived piece of crap that it made 'Crash''s unexpected Best Picture victory over 'Brokeback Mountain' look positively earned. But the colorful, loud, quick thing worked in 'Trainspotting' and in '28 Days Later,' and it's working again here. Steel yourself for a bit of gore, and get yourself to see this one.

8 Twix bars!