127 Hours (2010)

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A really long music video about a guy, a rock, and a canteen full of urine. Oh, and that whole bit of torture porn where we're asked to watch a guy saw his arm off while we stare at the floor, attempting not to vomit. James Franco's quite wonderful as our hard-luck hero, Aron Ralston, but the real star here is whoever designed the sound effect of Ralston's breaking bones. The alarming bullet-shot sound I found to be the most effective part of this film (certainly not the gimmicky split screens or the (godhelpus) rehashed score from Slumdog Millionaire). Somewhere between the inexplicable opening shots of large crowds & the where are they now sofa-sitting epilogue, there were some fine moments, but I'm going to credit Franco with that, not the loud, erratic, Technicolor direction. But I'll always have Trainspotting; I'll keep holding on to that.


Good Lord, he cuts his arm off at the end of the movie. No matter how many times people tell you that, or how many articles you read that give the ending away, you're not prepared for when he cuts his arm off at the end of the movie. Yikes. Oh, he also drinks pee.

James Franco, playing Aron Ralston, pulls a Tom Hanks in Survivor and pretty much carries the movie on his own... and he's amazing. It's a new kind of role for Franco, in that he plays a good guy who doesn't appear to be precociously stoned. And in his recent appearance on "Minute to Win It" (if you haven't seen this, Hulu it stat for LOL's a plenty), the real Aron Ralston validates the authenticity of the film, saying that's pretty much how it was. Good.

Danny Boyle, this is an inspiring story on its own. The whole story's there, it's, for all practical purposes, complete. So when you intentionally play up the sentimentality to really push the whole "feel inspired" thing, it's irreverent. It's corny. It's so entirely unnecessary to show me what a family is, and how important family is when you're stuck between a rock and a hard place (zing). At its base, this isn't a story about family at all, but about endurance, and the power of sheer will. It's a story about power. Your movie works best when it re-enacts the events that happened, not when it comments on them. Stop trying to inspire me. Just... let me be inspired. I'm sorry I used your first and last name when I addressed you earlier, but this is urgent. Danny Boyle, stop trying to inspire me.


More original and artistic than Danny Boyle's previous Oscar win, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours is the true story of x-treme sportsman Aron Ralston's brush with death when he got trapped in a canyon for 127 hours (that's 5.25 days for those readers struggling with the math). As most of the story is placed around one man stuck in the same position, this film could have become majorly tedious. Instead, we get a surprising delve into the human psyche. James Franco is excellent in the role and finally proved to me that he can act. You can really see the progressive deterioration of the character.

The film, however, begins weakly and ends cornily. The weakness of the beginning is largely due to some cheesy dialogue and not-great acting provided by two girls that James Franco's character stumbles upon and then voluntarily tour guides. The end weakness is due to a summing up of later events coupled with a montage of armless Aron continuing sporting events. The meat of the story when Aron is stuck, however, shows great artistic handling and fine attention to detail. Complete with beautiful camera angles, shots of the vast canyon panorama, and brilliant editing, this is one of the best films of the year.