In Contention


TELLURIDE: Boyle returns with ‘127 Hours’ in tow

Posted by Kristopher Tapley · 12:16 am · September 5th, 2010

Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” made for a fascinating companion piece tonight with Peter Weir’s “The Way Back,” which I caught (and loved) this afternoon.  Both films, at their heart, are obviously about surviving at all costs, but they come from drastically different filmmakers with drastically different sensibilities when it comes to visual storytelling.

Where Weir chooses the majesty of epic scope and films his true story with a lingering sort of patience, Boyle sets about filming his true story with the energy and vibrant spirit we’ve come to expect of his work.  Both films, however, find their groove in the naturalistic, mundane moments that inhabit tales as harrowing as these.

I understand Boyle’s film was very well-received this afternoon when it debuted.  My audience in the evening was slightly more muted but clearly loved the film.  It helps when you have Aron Ralston in the crowd, of course.  His is an unbelievable tale and one with a rather beautiful message about the necessity of community and society to carry us through the day-to-day.

Indeed, Boyle chooses to open the film with fleeting images of a society moving like a living creature — traffic, crowds, etc. — by way of depicting the rush Ralston abandons in search of his own.  When the images return by film’s end, we understand them as the whole Ralston chose to engage while caught, quite literally, between a rock and a hard place in Canyonlands National Park.

As Ralston, James Franco is nothing short of brilliant and he makes it look easy.  Again, it’s the naturalism that goes far here, as the actor seems fully in Ralston’s skin from frame one.  He’ll likely find his way through the circuit to a Best Actor Oscar nomination, but while others seem to think the film is a shoo-in for other honors as well, I’m a bit hesitant.

I wonder if the Academy will respond to a chamber piece such as this, and one that inevitably dips into the gruesome.  I found some of Boyle’s visual ideas to be running out of gas by the end of the film, and I imagine others might feel burdened by a sense of repetition, too.  But I’ll wait and see how the reactions go first.  I’m frankly still trying to put a finger on my own thoughts.  I certainly think the sound work, film editing and cinematography (though the digital was a bit sterile at times) is worthy of consideration.

Tomorrow brings the U.S. debut of Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” I’ll also try to catch up with some Cannes titles and, eventually, will write up an interview with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Tom Hooper that was one of the best times I’ve had in such a setting.




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→ 29 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Reviews

29 responses so far

  • 1 9-05-2010 at 12:21 am

    AmericanRequiem said...

    im more then jelous of you right now, hope you enjoy black swan. when is your next oscar update just out of curiosity?

  • 2 9-05-2010 at 12:22 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Monday. Gonna try to make time tomorrow evening to work on it.

  • 3 9-05-2010 at 12:26 am

    Nelson said...

    Well Kristopher I am very glad to see your updates. In fact, today we had the same schedule. I saw Poetry in the morning, then The Way Back, then 127 Hours. I was even lucky enough to get a photo with Danny Boyle! I will be at Black Swan and The King’s Speech tomorrow, I’ll be getting in line at least 2 hours early for both shows. If you see a teenage kid named Nelson, it’s probably me. Enjoy the remainder of the festival!

  • 4 9-05-2010 at 12:32 am

    moviefan1 said...

    Good for Franco

  • 5 9-05-2010 at 12:35 am

    AmericanRequiem said...

    kris are there anymore films at the fest your waiting to see other then black swan?

  • 6 9-05-2010 at 12:44 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Req: Cannes catch-up on Biutiful and Another Year. Want to see The Illusionist and Precious Life, too.

  • 7 9-05-2010 at 1:00 am

    Fitz said...

    I was anticipating some kind of visual flourish with 127 Hours. Utah lends itself naturally to beautiful cinematography and with Anthony Dod Mantle lensing that should be an Oscar nod wrapped neatly.

    Hope you like Black Swan as much as Guy.

  • 8 9-05-2010 at 4:13 am

    Michael W. said...

    It would be wonderful to finally see James Franco nominated for an Oscar. He should already have one nom (for Milk).

  • 9 9-05-2010 at 5:34 am

    Michael said...

    Dude, you and Guy are so lucky! Both of you have been doing an incredible job both on here and on your twitter accounts with the festival coverage. I can’t thank you enough for providing us this coverage and always finding a way in your reviews to bring it back to what we all want to know: what are the chances for each film’s oscar nominations. I don’t know how you are able to watch all of those movies in one day but I am impressed and extremely jealous but also happy for you both. I can’t wait to read your interview with Firth, Rush, and Hooper – I can only imagine how awesome (and funny) that is going to be.

    In regards to 127 Hours – I have just never been sold on this idea for a film, especially being directed by Boyle who is so kinetic and to me this calls for a much more static and observant hand. I really love Boyle’s films (especially Sunshine, 28 Days Later, and Trainspotting) but felt he milked the audience a little to heavily with Slumdog Millionare, and that has me concerned that he might do that again in all of his films from now on (especially given the success of Slumdog…) I guess I’m just wary about going into a film like this and being shown what to feel and not letting the images and story settle in and resonate within so that I can get out of it my own interpretation. At the very least though, your review does make me intrigued to check out James Franco’s performance. I would be extremely happy if this underrated actor would finally get an Oscar nomination that he truly deserves.

  • 10 9-05-2010 at 5:58 am

    JJ said...

    Agreed. Thank you so much, Kris (and Anne and Guy, as well) for such thorough coverage thus far.

  • 11 9-05-2010 at 6:04 am

    franco said...

    how was the background music? any chance of getting nominated?

  • 12 9-05-2010 at 6:18 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Glad to know that at least Franco was fantastic. I could also see this being a lone director nomination in a year of 5 perhaps, but we’ll see what happens.

    Are you still trying to compose your thoughts on the film before finalizing a rating, Kris?

  • 13 9-05-2010 at 6:27 am

    Lena said...

    I love James Franco so I’m delighted to read your review of his performance. Honestly, this kind of film isn’t what I would normally see but your review, along with the added draws of Danny Boyle and Franco, make me excited to check it out when it’s released.

  • 14 9-05-2010 at 7:15 am

    ninja said...

    I love Franco and I`m curious how he stacks up against Ryan Reynolds in a thematically similar (aka one-man show) Buried. Early buzz is that Reynolds is fantastic too and I`m a fan of both actors.

  • 15 9-05-2010 at 8:31 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Thank you for your comment, Michael. Much appreciated.

    James: Yeah, still turning it over. Might try to catch it once more, actually.

  • 16 9-05-2010 at 9:15 am

    Room 237 said...

    The city framing sounds a bit like Walkabout. And the city description sounds a bit like Koyaanisqatsi.

  • 17 9-05-2010 at 10:34 am

    Kevin K. said...

    Speaking of somewhat unexpected screenings, word on the street is that Tree of Life might show up at Austin Film Festival in October, as some people who worked on it will be panelists this year, and the films was specifically listed as something they would be discussing. Malick does live in Austin, TX, so it’s not inconceivable that the film could show up.

  • 18 9-05-2010 at 10:39 am

    Hans said...

    Kris, are you going to have an opportunity to see Blue Valentine? Is that one of the Cannes titles your checking out?

  • 19 9-05-2010 at 11:12 am

    JR said...

    Kris, shallow question… How gruesome is it??? Is it possible to give a head’s up as to how Boyle treats Ralston’s solution without giving anything away? Much appreciated – call me a wuss but I can be a tad squeamish… Knowing the subject matter, I’ve been leery of this film.

    Thanks! And understand if you can’t respond…

  • 20 9-05-2010 at 11:27 am

    Tye-Grr said...

    Wow, great coverage so far, from everyone at incontention! You are all doing a great job, and it makes me less depressed about not getting to be there myself, lol. ’127 Hours’ is one I’ve been curious about, and I can’t wait to see if you love ‘Black Swan’ as much as Guy did. ‘Black Swan’ is my most anticipated film of the year, and I’ll be waiting to read your take on it. Keep up the great reporting!

  • 21 9-05-2010 at 3:58 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Hans: It’s not here.

    JR: It’s a full sequence and fairly detailed. The sound makes it all the more harrowing.

    Tye-Grr: Thanks so much.

  • 22 9-05-2010 at 5:03 pm

    JR said...

    Thanks, Kris!!! At the risk of sounding ridiculously pathetic, I’ll wait for the DVD. Have a hard time shaking the real-life stuff…

    Most of all, thanks for your passionate dedication!

  • 23 9-05-2010 at 5:19 pm

    tony rock said...

    Kris: quick question…does the film still have its share of “quiet” moments despite Boyle’s kinetic style?

  • 24 9-05-2010 at 5:23 pm

    Hero said...

    JR,
    Don’t feel bad. I think I might wait for the DVD as well.

  • 25 9-06-2010 at 5:07 am

    ninja said...

    I`m affraid I won`t be able to give Franco a boxoffice boost either because I`m slightly claustrophobic and can`t watch stuck-in-one-place stuff. Especially with a limb-cutting in it. Based on a TRUE story. I want to see this and Buried but I was so frightened during the stuck-in-the-narrow-tunnel scene in The Descent (the whole first part while they slither through narrow spaces left me in cold sweat), so this ain`t for me. But Franco and/or Reynolds nom for their effort would be great.

  • 26 9-06-2010 at 4:22 pm

    tony rock said...

    Ninja, isn’t that the point? To feel the characters’ pain? Man up.

  • 27 9-06-2010 at 10:54 pm

    Maxion said...

    I have absolutely no interest in the suffering porn that is ’127 Hours’. I didn’t think it was possible for Boyle to make a film that’s more exploitative than ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ but this is just sickening.

  • 28 9-06-2010 at 10:58 pm

    Maxion said...

    I have absolutely no interest in the suffering porn known as ’127 Hours’. I didn’t think it was possible for Boyle to come up with a movie that’s more exploitative than ‘Slamdog Millionaire’ but this is just sickening. And cheap.

    And tony how about you grow up?

  • 29 9-07-2010 at 6:40 am

    Pete said...

    Maxion, which movie studio do you work for? It seems that your posts scrape pretty close to “internet talking points” that we see from rival studios during Oscar season.