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127 Hours (2010)

You know, I’ve been thinking. Everything is… just comes together. It’s me. I chose this. I chose all this. This rock… this rock has been waiting for me my entire life. It’s entire life, ever since it was a bit of meteorite a million, billion years ago. In space. It’s been waiting, to come here. Right, right here. I’ve been moving towards it my entire life. The minute I was born, every breath that I’ve taken, every action has been leading me to this crack on the out surface.

Aron Ralston

After I was puzzled by the massive success of Danny Boyle’s last directorial effort, Slumbog Shit-in-there, I wanted to see if he could redeem himself with the 219th Film of All-Time on IMDb, 127 Hours. It recently received six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. I was happy that the movie expanded this weekend that I could finally watch it. It is a fantastic film.

Best Actor nominee James Franco plays Aron Ralston who penned the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” after his ordeal. The setting takes place  in April 2003 where Aron is hiking in Moab, Utah where he slips trying to climb Blue John Canyon where he gets his right forearm crush beneath a boulder. As the title suggests, Aron is stuck in the canyon for almost a week with little food and water.

Aron tries in vain to remove the rock from sheer brute strength. Survival mode kicks in where Aron tries to chip away at the rock with a cheap pocketknife that eventually dulls it. As the hours drag on, Aron has to deal with the brutal elements of extreme hot and cold, malnutrition, dehydration and having the sense of claustrophobia. Feeling a sense of his impending doom, Aron uses his video recorder to document his harrowing journey to break free.

Slowly, his mind beings to drift away to his parents played by Treat Williams and Kate Burton, not being in his sister, Sonja’s wedding (Lizzy Caplan), recalling his fling with Rana (Clémence Poésy) and having a chance meeting with lost hikers, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn). Soon, Aron has to make a choice between killing a part of himself or killing his whole self.

I have never been so physically moved with a movie that would make me weak in the knees. That’s what this film has made me feel afterwards. It’s no surprise that there is an arm-cutting sense in this movie. I thought that it would more gruesome than it actually was. It was a brief bit of horror on-screen. The film actually made me want to throw up. That has never happened with a gory horror movie. That has to say something about Danny Boyle’s way of directing. His fernetic pace actually work here where Aron is slipping into a claustrophobic madness.

Judgment:  My faith is restored for Danny Boyle. Case closed.

Rating:  *****

Millions (2004)


God doesn’t rob banks, all right? God does not rob banks.

— Damian Cunningham

Reverting back to his old ways, Danny Boyle tackled “the boy gets the money” genre in a family friendly film, Millions. This was a recommendation from a member from my Oscar Watchers group when I pose the question of what film of Danny Boyle’s should I see. This movie was too far-fetched for my liking.

Damian Cunningham (Alex Etel) is a precocious seven-year-old that moves to a new town with his older brother, Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) and his father, Ronnie (James Nesbitt).

He has the tendency to be fascinated by the patron saints. His imagination runs wild when he is visited by this saints.

Damian builds a fort in the backyard near some train tracks. One day when he is in his fort, a large bag rolls and crushes Damian’s fort. He opens up the bag to find hundreds of thousands worth of English pound notes that will be of no value when the Euro currency begins.

Anthony and Damian devise a plan to spend the money before the money is no good.

Danny Boyle usual tricks are in place here with the double speed and all that. It did not gel with the supposed whimsical nature of the story. I was bored to tears. This movie gave me a headache that I had to stop it. I did not care about the story. It was ridiculous. It was supposed to be an Aesop’s fable, but not. I just didn’t care about the movie at all.

Judgment: If you want to induce a headache, watch this movie.

Rating: **

28 Days Later… (2002)


He was full of plans. Have you got any plans, Jim? Do you want us to find a cure and save the world or just fall in love and fuck? Plans are pointless. Staying alive’s as good as it gets.

— Selena

It has been years since laying eyes on 28 Days Later… Seeing it again last night, I realized I love it even more than the first time that I saw it.

Danny Boyle has an eye of turning the typical zombie movie genre on its head. He created something rather unique that elevated the genre as a whole to another level.

Jim (Cillian Murphy), a man wakes from a short coma finds himself the last man in London. The streets are empty, littered with trash, overturned cars and piles of dead bodies.

Jim wanders around the cityscape until he goes to a church where there are more dead bodies and the “infected” are. The infected are people that contracted a rage virus that broke out when a bunch of activists tried to free infected laboratory chimpanzees and the virus gets out. This could be an allegory to the AIDS epidemic.

He encountered more of the infected as Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley) help out Jim by disposing of them with gas bombs, guns, baseball bats and machetes.

I enjoyed the endless amounts of blood and gore. It was humorous. It was tense and suspenseful like good horror movie should be. Boyle’s signature moves worked well here with the double speed shots, and the quick cuts.

This is a road trip movie that speaks to the survival of the human race. What happens when the world as you know it is gone forever? How can you survive? By any mean necessary.

Judgment: If you want to see a solid zombie flick that pushes the limits of the genre, check this movie out.

Rating: ****1/2

Sunshine (2007)


So if you wake up one morning and it’s a particularly beautiful day, you’ll know we made it. Okay, I’m signing out.

— Capa

Deviating from his usual formula of “boy gets girl, boy gets money, boy is all right in the end” style of movie, Danny Boyle dipped his foot into the sci-fi genre by making Sunshine. Not to be confused with the Ralph Fiennes vehicle, Sunshine from 1999.

Never heard of this movie until a couple of film critics were suggesting this movie to watch. Watching it was an interesting experience that I wish had a better ending.

Roughly fifty years into the future, the Earth is in the middle of another Ice Age when the sun begins to die. A team of astronauts went out on a mission to revive the dying gas giant. The missions fails.

Seven years later, eight crew members of the Icarus II tries to finish what the crew of the Icarus failed to do. The captain Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada) made it his ultimate goal to re-ignite the sun and all costs.

One of the ships crew members, Trey (Benedict Wong) makes a disastrous mistake that sabotages the ultimate mission. They discover that the Icarus I is still floating near the sun. They want to rendezvous with it to get the necessary supplies to complete the mission.

Boyle’s infamous Dutch angles are present here. No idea why. There are a lot of sequences of some of the characters  in an observation deck staring directly at the sun. Why?

I enjoyed the first hour of the movie, when I finally understood what the hell was going on with the plot. It was very good, but the train jumped off the rails big time. The last thirty minutes of this flick transformed from a tense, sci-fi drama into Jason X all of a sudden. WTF! I cannot divulge what happens, but the movie completely lost me.

Judgment: If you want to see a person flesh torn off, this movie is for you.

Rating: ***1/2

Trainspotting (1996)


We would have injected vitamin C if only they had made it illegal!

— Mark “Rent-boy” Renton

Trainspotting was the film that broke, director Danny Boyle into the mainstream conscienceness back in 1996. I caught bits and pieces of this movie over the years. Last night, I saw the film in its entirety.

This film is on the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb coming in at #170. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for John Hodge.

Based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting is about the narrator, Mark “Rent-boy” Renton (Ewan McGregor). Along with his social misfits friends that are waist deep into the waters of full blown heroin abuse and the ramifications that come from that.

Renton wants to have a better life than the one that he has now. His “friends”, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and Tommy (Kevin McKidd) take this journey with him as well. The friends are stuck in their little corner of Edinburgh.

Renton develops a relationship with Dianne, played by Kelly Macdonald in her feature film debut. That leads him into making life altering decisions that affects his relationship with his friends, his family and himself as a person.

This is a solid effort by Boyle about the reality and consequences of drug use. Either you destroy the drug or the drug destroys you. Simple as that.

Judgment: If you want to see the gritty realism of Scottish youth, check this film out.

Rating: ****

The Director’s Chair Meme

Being a part of LAMB, the people wanted to place the spotlight on a director every month. In the first month of doing this, Danny Boyle was chosen. I chosen to write a review of one of his films. I have already reviewed one of his movies already, “Slumdog Millionaire.”

I wanted to pose this question to my readers. Which film should I see for this Danny Boyle lovefest? The film with the most votes by July 6th will be reviewed on here and link to LAMB.

(Poll Closed)

Thank you.

UPDATE #1: Based on the number of votes, Trainspotting won. Alex from Korova Theater Presents is reviewing that movie. There was a three way tie between Sunshine, Millions and 28 Days Later. I don’t have Millions in my possession, but I will soon.

In the next couple of days, I will hopefully review all four movies.

Today – Trainspotting

Tomorrow – Sunshine

Days After That – 28 Days Later and Millions (?).

Thank you everyone for voting.

UPDATE #2: Now that the festival has started. One person already reviewed Sunshine and 28 Days Later. I will try to get Millions by the tail end of the festival.

I will still review Sunshine and 28 Days Later.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Everybody has been salivating over Slumdog Millionaire, which was based on Vikas Swarup’s novel, “Q & A.” This is the latest film from Danny Boyle along with his co-director Loveleen Tandan. This movie has 86 on the Metatcritic and it has been nominated for 4 Golden Globes awards. People are saying that this is the best film of the year. I would strongly disagree with that.

I want to list the good things about this film. The direction of this movie was great. The visuals of the slums in India, the jailhouse and the studio were awesome. To me, I think that the flashback of younger Jamal, Latika and Salim were great. The Hindi parts were genius. I was fine with the subtitles. It was very effective to the narrative. The way that the Muslim people were treated in the slums was heartbreaking. There were some cringe-worthy moments in this film, but not tough to watch.

I loved Anil Kapoor as the game show host, Prem Kumar.

However, I need to say that I have problems with the film. There are an abundant amount of Dutch angles in this film. Is that necessary? The reason why Jamal goes on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” is so stupid. Just so he wants to know that Latika is watching. Are you kidding me?

When Jamal is suspected of cheating every question he knows the answer to, even the ones that he has no idea, he gets right. For example, he was asked how does he know who is on the $100 bill and he flashes back to his blind friend telling him the answer was Benjamin Franklin. Yet, he doesn’t know who is on the currency of the $1000 rupee bill. I call bullshit.

Some of the dialogue was hard to understand with the police officers (Irrfan Khan and Saruabh Shukla). There was one part in the film when a couple of officers pass by the camera. One of them says, “Stop filming. Stop filming.” Shouldn’t the editor, Chris Dickins or Danny Boyle catch that? Lastly, when older Jamal (Dev Patel) confronts his estranged brother, Salim (Madhur Mittal) and punches him, when he yells you can hear Dev’s British accent come out in full force. That took me out of the film.

Some people compare this film to City of God. Personally, they are not in the same league. Yes, they have to deal with kids that have to live through insurmountable odds, and have to turn to violence in order to survive, but that’s where the similarities end.

I think that this movie’s biggest disservice is that it was based on a book. If you based a “romance” from a book, then the romance would feel forced and disingenuous.

It was a good movie. Absolutely, but I’m not going to shower total praise on this film.

My rating: *** stars.

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