Saturday, 12 February 2011

127 Hours

2010, 15, Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Clémence Poésy

Danny Boyle’s latest focuses on the biographical story of Aron Ralston, a mountain climber who found himself in an unfortunate situation when a boulder trapped his arm in an isolated canyon in Utah for over 5 days. James Franco plays Ralston, a daunting job considering he is on screen for pretty much the entire film. To say he pulls it off is an understatement; he not only carries the whole film, he captures the pain, frustration and insanity Ralston experienced with what seems like ease, completely justifying his Oscar nomination. However, although Franco’s performance, combined with the shimmering cinematography creates a watchable 90 minutes out of what could grow tiresome in another craftsman’s hands, Danny Boyle’s direction does verge on the irritating. Acting as a symbol of Ralston’s psyche, the stylistic element of the camera relies too much on the emphasis of quirkiness. With the frenetic split screens and jump cuts, as 127 Hours commences it feels like an advert for an energy drink.

By the time the film reaches its inevitable destination - in case you don’t know, no spoilers here - against all the odds, an anti-climactic sense overbears. The overriding feeling though is a positive one: optimism. Ralston’s story (and the fact he is still alive to tell the tale) speaks for itself, and although Boyle’s picture is nowhere near his greatest, it ultimately succeeds in enlightening you on the bittersweet story with uplifting panache, but could benefit from a little more punch. 



Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Fountain

2007, 12, Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis

To retell the plot of The Fountain here would not spoil anything, but be insanely difficult. What is important to know is that this is clearly Darren Aronofsky on exploratory mind-bending form. For a film that spans over 1,000 years and flits back and forth in a manner as flippant as it wishes, The Fountain is clearly as ambitious as it is confusing. But this is the point. Once you can embrace this, the film becomes something – although frustrating – quite beautiful in its own way. It is exciting to observe something that can offer a scene fresh from a medieval feature, accompanied by an image laden with religious context and then a scene lifted from a character drama. The central performances from Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz (Aronosfky’s then-wife) assist in moulding this into engrossing stuff. Make no mistake, The Fountain is not for everyone - but it would have failed in its purpose if it was. You might think it a love/hate film – I did neither.