Sunday, November 14, 2010

127 Hours



images:: James Franco {top}, beyondhollywood; Franco, Kate Mara, & Amber Tamblyn {bottom}, imdb

I was hearing good things about Danny Boyle's "127 Hours", but I purposefully avoided reading up on Aron Ralston. I was wondering how this was going to play out, since depicting 127 hours of a trapped guy could get claustrophobic for all involved. Was Aron going to unravel? Was there going to be some man vs. nature struggles? Hallucinations? Deliverance types? Were the young women he met going to be instrumental in a rescue?


image:: still from aronralston.blogspot.com

I'm pretty jaded and I can see gore and horror these days without too much effect. 127 Hours doesn't sugarcoat what happened and not only creates dramatic tension surrounding it, it draws it out with sheer intensity. Someone behind me in Toronto made it through the worst of it and then had to leave his seat. I think audiences have come to expect depictions of pain to be relatively quick. Shock, awe, and horror encapsulated within a few seconds, e.g., The Final Destination, but that's not the point here and not the genre. 127 Hours taps into deep introspection by creating a dire situation where the life goes from frenetic to painstakingly s l o w. The title sequence depicts not only the pace of modern, urban life, but its routine and structure. Aron's vacation in Utah's Canyonlands {Bluejohn Canyon} starts out with his "extreme" Mountain Dew lifestyle, only to slam to an abrupt halt. The experience helps him to see things, things in his life—warts and all, and rather than being a struggle with external elements, it's his coming to terms with himself. I never thought much of James Franco as an actor {best known for his work in the Spiderman franchise & an alum of Apatow's Freaks & Geeks}, but after this and Milk {2008}, I'm thinking that meatier roles may be heading his way.

I felt that Boyle and his cinematographers, Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle, did a great job of depicting the natural setting without overdoing it with the grandeur and vastness of the Canyonlands.

The effect of this movie isn't a ponderous one. It hits you with intensity making you think about his ordeal, but also placing yourself in his shoes—perhaps with your own existential baggage.


Twitterversion:: [blog] Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" creates sheer intensity amidst an existential journey. @Prof_K


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