Review: 127 Hours

So, the Oscar nominations were announced yesterday and it was almost entirely devoid of surprises,the people you think will win will probably win and go on to make a thousand mediocre films,being the faithfully Hollywood caricatures they are,Natalie Portman and Colin Firth will probably win the same way Catherine Zeta-Jones and Reese Witherspoon did,and where are they now?What are they doing?What has that Oscar done for their careers?

The real story lies in the underdog,and I’m positive just being nominated will do amazing things for Jesse Eisenberg. I didn’t like Black Swan as much as I expected to,but I’m surprised that it took this long for Darren Aronofsky to be acknowledged by the academy,I think anyone aspiring to be a filmmaker or anyone who claims to love or know film,should be exposed to the darker,more adventurous parts of the industry,films you only ever watch once and they are profoundly disturbing,an emotional dynamite,difficult to talk about but undoubtedly fantastic works of art,Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream lies in this category,populated by very few films,and to finally win an Oscar would liberate him from having to make anymore of these big-budget,lame and supposedly groundbreaking projects,the same way Danny Boyle was by Slumdog Millionare.

Boyle helmed a few classics himself,amazing that these films belong to one man’s portfolio but don’t come near to replicating each other,28 Days Later & Trainspotting stand amongst the best in their respective genres.And Slumdog Millionare,the biggest award-winner that year,was loud,horribly acted and was lauded by the masses,it won the long-deserving director 8 Oscars and how does he follow up from here? By doing 127 Hours,that’s how.

A quiet,very small-scale film with few very key ingredients,all amplified with Boyle’s grand ambition.We know there is just one character,and he is pinned down to a rock for the entire running time.That is literally it. But the film still sells,this is the power an Oscar win commands.

Now,to the film,I should say it started out interesting,took a few dips then finally settled on being flat. With the minimalist plot,Boyle’s innovated through the music,which soars and tries to pull the audience with it,it is shot at many different angles and explores multiple perspectives,including a hazy flashback and near-death-inspired hallucination,I really tried to sustain my excitement and interest but it was just not enough.

The obvious flaw I have to point out is James Franco.I personally admire his choices,having ventured into many odd roles unexpected from a good-looking A-list actor,but he has and always be a terrible actor to me.He can’t emote even the barest emotions,slithers his words with that forged,although charming,smile,and to spend an entire film watching him struggle to act was torture.There was simply no depth or range to his emotional performance,his character went from ecstasy to hopelessness to despair,finally having to saw off his own arm with a blunt knife,but the whole time James Franco is unrelentingly boring,has a weak presence,and to finally see him nominated in the Best Actor category is a huge slap to Jesse Eisenberg,who was in no small way transforming,shocking and he worked the fuck out of Mark Zuckerberg to be nominated. James Franco,in comparison,did absolutely nothing.At all.

127 Hours is the small,although tightly structured film I didn’t expect Boyle to make following his success,and this is what reaffirms me,this is the experiment,a petty statement,an in-between project before he once again returns in full-form,preferably without James Franco or James Franco type.I finally have to add that his first choice to play Franco’s role was Cillian Murphy,and I can only imagine what kind of film that would’ve resulted in,definitely one that was more Requiem than boring Black Swan.

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