Archive for July, 2011

127 Hours – Between a rock and a hard place

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

127hours-posterIn 2003, American mountain climber Aaron Ralston was hiking Blue John Canyon in Utah when he fell, and a dislodged boulder pinned his right arm to a rock wall.  The feat of human endurance that followed quite seriously deserved the movie treatment, if only to highlight the incredible resilience, determination and willpower that one man can possess.

Aaron Ralston spent an astonishing amount of time stuck in a standing position, unable to free himself, slowly sipping his bottle of water at around 150ml a day, and eventually choosing to consume his own urine in order to prolong his survival.  The majority that have heard of the story of Aaron Ralston and 127 Hours also knew that in order to escape his seemingly inescapable situation, the adventurer fashioned a tournequet, snapped his arm and then cut it off below the elbow using a poor quality multi-tool.  This may sound grisly, but the fact the he managed to survive this ordeal, and then hiked several miles afterwards, losing around a quarter of his blood, should actually serve as an inspiration to us all.

In the wrong hands, the big screen version could simply be a cack-handed build-up to the inevitable grotesque scene that everyone is waiting to see.

So it’s a good job the world has Danny Boyle.

It’s impossible to overstate this director’s abilities as a filmmaker; he is different class, and his innovative style and genius craftmanship, both as an original storyteller and a technical maestro, are rightly being held in the highest regard, and his reputation is growing exponentially with each movie he makes; his résumé which lists Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire, to name but a few, is undeniably impressive.

Enough Boyle worship, 127 Hours is quite literally a faultless film; it stays close to the truth of its immense source material, the pacing is perfect, the scope of the scenery emphasises the man’s sapping solitude and the performance of James Franco (Pineapple Express, Spiderman) as Aaron is as good a piece of acting as you will see this year.

Franco’s irrespressibly upbeat performance in the first fifteen minutes truly characterises a man focused on freedom and exploration; a real adventurer so determined to do things by himself that he doesn’t so much as leave a note to say where he is going.  We don’t know Aaron, but Franco makes us believe we do, and it’s hard to think anyone could have done a better job of bringing Aaron Ralston to the screen and making us care so sincerely about his fate.

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Case 39 – Should stay closed!

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

case-39-imageThe start of case 39 sees you introduced to Emily Jenkins, a child support worker being given her 39th case.  At first, It seems as normal as any other she deals with on a day to day basis but it soon becomes apparent that this one will change her life in more ways than one.

She visits the family to see the little girl,  Lilith, who has been falling asleep in class and has had grades drop for A’s to D’s in 3 months.  There is enough evidence to suggest that Lilith is being neglected, but as there are no visible marks, Emily’s boss tells her to leave the case alone.

Against her boss’s wishes, Emily decides to visit Lilith as she is leaving school and tells her to call any time she feels scared.  Later that night Emily receives a chilling call from Lilith saying that she fears her parents are going to kill her.  Emily along with Policeman and friend Mike (Ian Mcshane – the one and only Lovejoy) rush over to the house and rescue Lilith just as she is about to be killed in a horrible manner by her parents.

Lilith is about to be put in care when she begs Emily to look after her.  At first Emily is reluctant but soon agrees and is given temporary custody of Lilith, but could that decision be the worst error of judgement that Emily could have made? (more…)

Conviction – Guilty Or Not Guilty

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

conviction-imageOver the last few years there have been a lot of films that have been based on real life events, some of which are just brilliant – The Blind side, The Social Network, The Kings Speech, and public enemies are just a few that come to mind.

Stand out, true-life films usually involve a victim of injustice and people fighting to save them from a life that they don’t deserve, usually behind bars.  The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington is a great example of this,  A man arrested and jailed for a murder he didn’t commit.

Conviction gives you all of this and more.

Hillary swank stars as Betty Anne waters, a single mother from Massachusetts who does everything she can to become a lawyer after her brother is charged with murder. The murder charge looks ropey, but 60 years without parole is what Kenny ( Sam Rockwell) is sentenced to after testimonies from an ex (Juliette Lewis, who goes all out in a stunning performance) and the mother of his child convince the jury that Kenny is Guilty.

The next 16 years see Swank’s character put her life on hold, resulting in her divorce, and even her children wanting to move in with their father just so that she can pass all of her exams to help free her brother.

With the help of Arba Rice, a fellow mature student in her class, brilliantly played by Minnie Driver they start to get closer to the truth.  They find out that cases are being thrown out as DNA tests are proving that people were being wrongly convicted. They search high and low for the evidence that convicted Kenny, but according to the police station and court, the evidence was destroyed after 10 years. (more…)