It's not just a name, it's an institution. Actually, it's just a newsletter.

Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" - A Movie Both Fun(ny) and Smart

In my post about Haruki Murakami's Dance Dance Dance I spoke of how I love stories that move somewhere, literally. Go on a journey, take a train, a swim, a flight. It's what I most enjoy in story. The idea of being stuck, in this case, in a canyon for ninety minutes or 127 hours sounds like torture. I'm the kind of guy that needs to get up from the dinner table once in a while, stretch my legs, step out the front door. I was a smoker for a reason.

That in mind, I wasn't rushing to 127 Hours, wouldn't have gone in fact were it not for the great reviews.

They're well deserved for two reasons. Namely: Danny Boyle and James Franco.

How do you turn a true story that most already know the climax and ending to and churn out something entertaining?

Danny Boyle's directorial feature film debut was the excellent and underappreciated Shallow Grave (1994; starring a very young and manic-wonderful Ewan McGregor). Appreciation on a much bigger scale came just two years later with Trainspotting. I'll also pause to mention 2002's 28 Days Later which has one of the coolest openings of any horror movie ever. But the big-time, the big bucks, the phone calls from celebrities begging to be in his next film came after 2008's Slumdog Millionaire, a fifteen million dollar movie that made ten times that in the US alone. (We'll gracefully mention the less that critically loved The Beach and  A Life Less Ordinary as a parenthetical side note - hey, even Spielberg has the occasional Hook-type piece of crap.)

Boyle is a lensman so good at blending music with visuals, with taking the sense-based and the kinetic and having that ebullient energy come across to his viewers that, shee-it, the guy could make solving math problems exciting.

James Franco. He's been all over the magazines lately. Then again IMDB has him listed in seven movies in 2010. Seven! For perspective, Tom Cruise was in one (and no I didn't see it). But back to Franco. Here's a guy who at thirty-two has already played James Dean, has been a profoundly riveting side character in a massively successful series of summer blockbusters (the Spiderman movies) and has played Sean Penn's lover in the excellent Milk. This guy gets around.

Top this off with the fact that he's got a book of short stories out (pisses me off, in the ugly, jealous way - can't you just keep your superstar A-list movie making career and give the publishing contracts to your Canadian fans), he's been working on about three separate Masters degrees (I'm not exaggerating) and is thinking about a PhD. No wonder they keep writing about the guy. 

But whatever his writing or academic talents, here is a fellow who can act, a guy who can go from jokey-silly-goofball to intense and dramatic in a single subtle shift of facial expression. There is a fierce intelligence there. Not of the chess and library kind exactly. Though the guy clearly reads! But it's something else. It's that best kind of intelligence an actor can have. A kind of ability to experience it all and show that experience in your face, in your body, out your nostrils! He is energy. He is interesting. He is, best of all, for us movie lovers, truly complex and thus ceaselessly riveting to watch.

Just hope he doesn't go too far, too fast.

Boyle and Franco together is good, really good. Worth an in-theatre view. True. See you.