127 Hours Review

This was a film I had looked forward to for a long time. When the reports fist came through of a climber who had been trapped under a rock, and was reduced to cutting off his arm to survive, it seemed like a story of such suffering and triumph that a movie seemed inevitable.

James Franco takes on the role of Arlon Ralston, an extreme sports junkie who takes one wrong move, and ends up with his arm trapped under a boulder. He spends the next five days trying to escape, and in the end it seems that only a pair of pliers and a blunt knife is the only possible solution. Franco is utterly convincing, and considering the selfish nature of his character, we really don’t want to see him hurt.  His charm really comes through in what are essentially Vlogs of the situation, recorded the actually camera Ralston himself used, and we can feel only sympathy for his plight.

127 Hours doesn’t feel like we are being told the story from Aaron’s perspective , but rather some force looking over him. The film often swoops over to other locations, and uses very obtrusive sound to scream the situation into your brain. This is the first soundtrack since Trainspotting I might consider buying.  His hallucinations are outward rather that inner looking, and this really keeps the pace going. Considering this is a movie mostly set in ten feet of rock, anything can happen next. He takes what it such a simply concept, and turns it an exploration of any human being stuck in a jam, without ever losing sight of telling the story.  The broken relationship Ralston keeps thinking back to doesn’t really have an impact on the narrative, but is something we can all relate to.

Danny Boyle is turning into the master of the intro.  From the word go the camera is swooping off all over the world, from a football stadiums to a camera lens.  It feels much more like Boyle’s early work, and has a nineties-feeling, indie edge that only adds to the grittiness.  This is more Shallow Grave than Slumdog Millionaire.

I have waited for this movie for eight years, and it has kicked off 2011 to a great start.  Those of you that can’t bear the sight of blood may want to watch half of it through your fingers, but Danny Boyle has gone back to his roots to pull off a classic, and this should have been his first Oscar.

10/10

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Catfish Review

To confirm, I’m giving nothing away about this film’s plot. Just go see it- there will be plenty to discuss.

The most exciting part of this film is the sheer exuberance of the filmmakers. They have stumbled across an amazing story, and the freedom, kit, and technical know-how to pull it off.  This really pays off when it comes to the cinematography, and even the most impromptu filming is beautiful. There have been doubts about its authenticity, and it would seem that some scenes have been manipulated for extra drama .However, in my own experience situations like this can arise in documentary filmmaking, and though some scenes do seem a little forced, it’s worth remembering this is ninety minutes from thousands.

There are points where the filmmakers do slip into exploitation, but it is forgivable. It shows the dangers of the virtual world, not just social networking, but even emails and text messages. This is pure voyeurism, where a beautiful man is better than an ugly woman, and the latter is stalked from all angles. She may have deceived but ultimately it is her who is now a worldwide laughing stock.  This is just as much a story about them exploring as it is the consequences. The final result isn’t actually that amazing; it is much more the fact it actually happened. Catfish’s real awkwardness is that it can be hard to choose who to cheer for.

As with all good documentaries, it’s the little truths found in every scene that make it a classic. Three New York hipsters wondering round an empty farmhouse is both remarkable and chilling. Abigail’s disabled children are heart breaking. It is the film that has physically affected me most this year, and I can’t recommend it enough.

9/10

Cowboys And Indians: Two Days In Deadwood (10 Minute Version)

Here is the ten minute version of my documentary on historical reenactment, was a fantastic shoot!

 

Cowboys And Indians: Two Days In Deadwood

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYKKhVMA%5D

Here is a documentary on historical reenactment I did about eighteen months ago- Was a great shoot with fantastic people.