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Aron Ralston has a problem [127 hours]

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After Slumdog Millionaire, I had zero faith in Danny Boyle.

Even though he had directed Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, I just could not shake the awful feeling that his career was on a downturn towards sloppy, sentimental works–and I’m also pretty sure I’m the only person who didn’t like it.

With 127 Hours, though, everything I liked about him previously is in full effect. He does really well when directing stories of various types of amplified peril, be it a heroine addiction, a zombie invasion, or, now, a man trapped quite literally trapped between a rock and a hard place.

He infuses the story with a certain, MTV-edged, energy in such a way that it never feels like watching Cribs even though many of the techniques are ostensibly the same.

Instead, it heightens everything about the film in the way that it’s intended to. Maybe just due to the nature of the work it doesn’t feel hokey–because when you’re doing flashy jump cuts about a Bentley it doesn’t quite have the same effect as flashy jump cuts around a dude stuck in a canyon.

Wasn’t it Kinda Boring Knowing that…

This film acknowledges that, yea, you probably already know how this ends–and, if you didn’t, spoiler-alerts don’t really exist for a movie based on a news event that happened only seven years ago–and that you might get bored if that scene you’d heard so much about doesn’t happen soon.

So instead of making it a completely isolated story, with just James Franco and his thoughts, Boyle decides to show the memories that Ralston has, the ones that he’s ¬†letting flash before his eyes as the life slowly drains out of him. This keeps things fresh and interesting and helps us to care more about this person once the inevitable happens.

Freaks and Geeks and Legitimate Talent

This has to be one of the highlights of James Franco’s career thus far.

Even in his comedic roles, he’s always seemed to bring a little bit more than he needs to. The characters he create¬†have more depth than they need to. Even in Pineapple Express, you couldn’t help but sympathize with the drug dealer who cares for his grandma.

Here, though, everything he knows is in full effect. There are scenes where he is so deep into the character’s agonizing pain that he is hardly recognizable. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and he knows just how to convey this character. There’s a confidence on display here that is very refreshing to see.

This movie surprised the hell out of me with how well done it was. It’s a testament to the pacing to say that this movie felt a lot shorter than its 2-hour running time in spite of it being in a cave 97% of the time. This is a movie that stays with you long after the credits roll.

Spoiler-heavy (?) Corollary

I was stuffed into a crowded theater and everyone was squirming with anticipation and curiosity for the moment when he loses his arm.

It was really interesting to hear the thoughts of these people every time something would make the event seem close to occurring. Every time the angle showed his arm while he had a knife in his hand, the people surrounding me squirmed and readied themselves. The girl next to me admitted that she couldn’t take any of the experience and had her eyes closed for most of the film.

And, yes, the scene is incredibly graphic. I seldom have to turn away from the screen, but this film definitely forced me to. When graphic violence and character development are mixed, it’s a lot harder for me to watch someone suffer through the worst pain of their life.

Trailers that excite the shit out of me vol. 1

This is a semi-regular column devoted to showing off the trailers of movies that look promising. The posting of this feature will solely depend on my subjective opinion and my definition of “exciting.”

I probably should have started this feature before the summer began because, then, I could have shown trailers for the Incredible Hulk (let down), Step Brothers (let down), the Dark Knight (let down), or Wall-E (best movie this summer).

My Winnipeg

So I guess this one isn’t the newest film or one that hasn’t even come out yet. But it’s also one that’s being self-distributed by Guy Maddin because it played in LA for a week at the Nuart and it’s playing until Thursday in Berkeley and San Francisco and then it’s disappearing for two weeks and returning in some podunk town in Delaware called Wilmington (actually the largest town in the state even though it has a population about half that of the suburb I grew up in) for a four day run.

So I’m showing you this trailer so that you get excited as fuck about this film in the hopes it comes within six of hours of my residence so I can see it finally–I missed it in L.A. because I had to work all goddam week. I was pissed. And you will be too if you miss it.

Also, if you find a full schedule of release cities and dates for this film, send me a comment or an email. Thank you!

pineapple express

Coming out in August is the next big comedy from the Apatow clan. This movie excites me because I have a hard-on for Seth Rogen and his smoked-too-much gruffy laugh.

In theaters, you’ve probably seen the clean trailer for this movie before most any big summer film (Iron Man, Step Brothers, but not the Dark Knight), but the Red Band Trailer is much more satisfying. I think it’s the fact that Pineapple Express can be stated as being weed. And because they don’t use the radio edit of M.I.A.’s song “Paper Planes” so she said “weed” instead of “seeds,” giving it much more poignancy to its being in the trailer.

Hamlet 2

Next up is Hamlet 2 which comes out in Late August… Now, before I re-watched the trailer while trying to remind myself about trailers, I thought that Eric Idle was the flamboyant Drama Teacher. But after watching the trailer again, and hearing Mr. Moviefone say “Steve Coogan” and not “Eric Idle” I realized that Idle is much older than that.

That’s no deterrent though since anyone who can pull a trick like that is still gonna get my ticket. This movie looks to be fucking ridiculous in all the right ways.

Watchmen

So I don’t know why this movie excites me. Maybe it started with the irony of having this trailer premiere before the Dark Knight while having its action dubbed over with a B-side (for this song) written for Batman & Robin.

But frankly I’m a bit sick of superhero films. Ever since the decade began with the X-Men movie, then two years later with the enormous grosses of the first Spiderman film, we’ve been inundated with adaptations from comic books and graphic novels. Most, though not all, are based around superheroes. And this is another one based on the “most celebrated graphic novel of all time.” (My waxing on about this has got my juices flowing, expect an article concerning this topic later)

Burn After Reading

Next up is what appears to be a return to typical form for the Coen Bros.

After they made No Country for Old Men, they’ve decided to return to their roots of heists and sales and deals all gone awry. I’ve seen every movie in their oeuvre save Intolerable Cruelty–which I probably will never see; I’m a completist not a masochist–and all of their movies revolve around a fish out of water surrounded by things going horribly wrong.

The fish out of water this time are Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand (in her first Coen film since The Man Who Wasn’t There) who–well, you’ll see in the trailer.

Again, this is a red band trailer for Restricted Audiences. I like these trailers because they give a better idea of the tone of the film–especially for R-Rated films like this one and the aforementioned Pineapple Express.

For this film, a lot of the red-band comes from the dialog, which is important to a Coen Bros. film since they kick ass at writing such things.

Miracle at St. Anna

Spike Lee has made a fucking WAR MOVIE.

Terminator Salvation

The fourth title in this series that will start off the final trilogy about Skynet and about John Connor saving the world.

I enjoyed the first two, and only watched the third because the villainess was a total babe. They didn’t let the audience enjoy her naked time jump enough though. Just sayin’.

Alright. That should do it for this installment. When I find more movies to get excited about, or movies I forgot to include, or the Terminator Salvation trailer in full is released, you’ll see this article again.