127 Hours – Review

127 Hours at the BFI Southbank – Thursday 6th January 2011

Plus Q&A with Director Danny Boyle, Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and Producer Christian Colson

With January shaping up to be an excellent month for film, with ‘The Kings Speech’ and the stunning ‘Black Swan’ released over the coming weeks I’ll keep my review of 127 Hours brief as no doubt by now, most people with an interest would have read one of the much more eloquently written reviews currently available

In short, it’s good but it isn’t quite as good as the hype suggests

In April 2006 Aron Ralston set off alone to hike in Canyonland National Park, Utah and following an accident finds himself trapped inside a canyon, with his right hand crushed beneath a near one ton boulder.

The film recounts the days that follow as Ralston fights for survival against the elements, rapidly dwindling supplies and his own faltering sanity

While trapped Ralston records short messages to his family and friends in, for the most part, an unnervingly matter-of-fact fashion and these give a small insight into his life, love and family in what is a very solitary film. Indeed, once trapped we only leave the canyon briefly in dreams or halucinations

Eventually, after being teased and hinted at, ‘that scene’ comes around and a suprisingly large proportion of the audience cover thier eyes or look to the ceiling (so my lovely wife tells me – I was too busy watching the film to notice) and all I can say is – wusses! Once you get past the loud cracks of breaking bones, the actual amputation is quite brief (the actual amputation took around 40 minutes) and not as gory as I had expected, considering the various stories that circulated following early previews of fainting and people being carried out

James Franco gives his customary excellent performance and Danny Boyles’ trademarks visual flair and Slumdog’s A R Rhaman’s score, which ebbs and flows along with the emotion of the film, carry the film brilliantly

A minor gripe would be the product placement of various soft drinks in the mid section of the film, with a montage of fizzy drinks adverts and a clever, highspeed chase through the desert to focus on a full, glistening, delicious bottle of Gatorade, abondonded in the back or Ralstons car. Although all makes sense within the context of the scenes to which they are attached, they do feel a littel jarring and in your face.

My biggest difficulty was an inability to connect with Ralston who, in the short period of the film that we have to get to know him before the accident, comes across as somewhat cocky and narcisistic (leaving behind his mmmmm so tasty and delicious Gatorade behind in his car but remembering both a video camera and a digital camera). Even in his recordings to his family, he doesn’t come across as particularly warm and it isn’t until much later when he talks about his sister (an oddly underused Lizzy Caplin) that any real flash of affection comes out

The Q&A that followed was very interesting, with Danny Boyle being a superbly engaging speaker, full of interesting anecdotes and with such an obvious passion and interest in all parts of the film making process make him a joy to listen to; covering subjects such as his first meeting with James Franco, the music of the film (which band wanted $1 million to use thier song?), stand ins and of course ‘what happened to the hand’?

The Q&A is now available via the BFI website:

http://www.bfi.org.uk/live/video/574

Film: 7/10 – Enjoyable but not as good as the hype

Q&A: 8/10 – Boyle could read the phone book and make it interesting

hmmmm i’m suddently quite thirsty – anyone know where I can get some Gatorade?

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Tasuke!

It’s my first Japanese lesson of 2011 tonight and to say i’m bricking it would be an understatement!

It’s amazing how much you can forget in the two short weeks break over the Christmas period – my homework is a complete mess and I can barely tell me ‘are’ from my ‘kore’ and don’t get me started on particles – wa, ha, ni, go, no – it’s all, well, Japanese to me!

Oh well chin up, or as the Japanese might say – Gambatte! (or they might not – I might have got that wrong as well)

Sayonara

Retrospective – Film 2010

So, I had plans for a real fresh start this year but the post-Christmas, post-New Year, about-to-return-to-work blues have set in hard, so before going forward, I’m going to take a quick look back at 2010 starting with Film

So here’s my top 3 films, my ‘honourable mentions’ and my celluloid stinker of the year

#3 – It’s Kind of a Funny Story

A teen angst ‘..Cuckoo’s Nest’ channelling the spirit of John Hughes. A smart and funny comedy drama following Craig (United States of Tara’s Keir Gilchrist) a stressed and troubled teen who accidentally gets himself admitted to an adult psychiatric care unit and although it’s a typical ‘teen learns about himself through others’ story it just really drew me in through an interesting set of characters, a good script and excellent performances by the whole cast, but Zach Galifianakis gives a real stand out performance, reminding us that he has so much more talent that the comedy oddball seen in The Hangover and Due Date   

#2 – Catfish

“Don’t let anyone let you what it is” reads the strapline of the poster and is 100% correct. To discuss the content of this film in any way would ruin it – even watching the trailer or looking at the newest version of the film poster (I chose to use the original poster design for this reason) would be doing this film a disservice as both give you a completely different idea of the film to what you will actually get

I watched this film with no prior knowledge of its content and found one of the most engaging films of the year, which prompted more discussion than any other

Please, just watch it and make up your own mind!

#1 – Fish Story

When Japanese punk band Gekirin (Wrath) release their final song ‘Fish Story’ in 1975 could anyone have dreamed that this song may one day save the world from being destroyed by a comet?

Set across 4 decades, featuring punk, terrorists, a kung fu chef, demented priests, a planet killing comet and the catchiest non-english language theme song in history Fish Story asks the question “Can Punk save the World?”

Funny, typically quirky, Japanese film destined (I hope) to become a cult classic

 

Honourable Mentions

Winters Bone – a dark tale of a damaged family, set in the harsh and unforgiving Ozark Mountains, held together by the oldest daughter (a breakthrough performance from Jennifer Lawrence) searching for her missing father who has put their family home up against his bail before disappearing. Depressingly brilliant

Cold Fish – Shion Sono’s gory tale of how a charismatic tropical fish shop owner destroys the life and family of a timid rival. Based on a true story (although transplanted from Dog lovers to Fish lovers) it’s an engrossing dark film and it’s unflinchingly brutal last half hour may not be for everyone

Love Exposure – got time for a 4 hours modern Japanese epic? then this is the film for you! More WTF! movie making from Shion Sono

 

Celluliod Stinker

It would be impossible not to mention ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1’ – A snore inducingly dull Carry on Camping for wizards, but the worst film of the year for me was……

Brighton Rock

An awful ‘re-imagining’ of the Richard Attenborough classic with almost no redeming features other than the excellent work done in transforming Eastbourne into a mods and rockers era Brighton

Considering the the cast includes such big names as Helen Mirren and John Hurt (both criminally underused to the point of John Hurt’s character being virtually redundant) it really is shocking bad in almost every sense

At the screening I attended the couple sat next to me were so bored they spent the rest of the film exporing each others underwear (classy!)  

Anyway, enough of my dry views and opinions – agree? disagree? let me know what your best and worst of 2010 were!

So….here I go

I’ve wanted to put my own blog together for a very long time but have never really had the confidence  – after all, who would be interested in my inane ramblings?

…but I’m going to do it anyway! so this is what to expect….

My intention, like most I’m sure, is to write about the things that I am most interested in, that being Gaming and Film/TV as well as my obsession with Japan (and in some cases where these three interests come together)

Gaming wise, I’ve been playing since the mid 80s, starting on the Spectrum 48k and I’m still going strong 20 odd years, several generations, and many, many busted joysticks and joypads later

I have always loved films since seeing Star Wars on the big screen as a 6-year-old and that passion never dwindled and now I work within the film industry and have opened my cinematic horizons wider than ever

My main passion, though, is Japan. Last year after many years I finally i fulfilled a dream to visit Japan and it confirmed my love of the country as a full on obsession. I am currently in the early stages of  learning the Japanese language, and although I’m finding it very hard (as the odd blog title shows – but I am only about 12 lessons in) I’m loving every minute of it – even the homework! I hope to return next year and in the meantime I am immersing myself in as much of the culture as I can

so thats it for post number 1..