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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Nominations: 2011

This years oscar nominations were announced earlier on today. Not many surprises are in store for those expecting any left field choices. It's nice seeing "Toy Story 3" getting recognised among its live action peers, along with some respect thrown "Inception"s way, even if its chances of actually winning much are pretty low. Another thing that stands out, is how strong the competition is this year. Most of these films are all very worthy choices and the academy actually show signs of range this year in their selections, which is a nice change. However one shock is Ryan Goslings snub for "Blue Valentine". For such a stunning turn to go ignored is odd, considering Michelle Williams was deservedly nominated for the same film. "The King's Speech" is leading with the most nominations at 12, but hot on it's heels is "True Grit" and "The Social Network". Here's the nominees in full with my predictions for the winner in italics:

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Best Director
David O. Russell - The Fighter
Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
David Fincher – The Social Network
Joel And Ethan Coen – True Grit
Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan

Best Actress
Natalie Portman - Black Swan
Annette Benning - The Kids Are All Right
Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone
Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine
Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole

Best Actor
Javier Bardem - Biutiful
Jeff Bridges - True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network
Colin Firth - The King's Speech
James Franco - 127 Hours

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams – The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo – The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit
Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale – The Fighter
John Hawkes – Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner – The Town
Geoffrey Rush – The King's Speech
Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right

Best Original Screenplay
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
Another Year

Best Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Best Animated Film
Toy Story 3
The Illusionist
How To Train Your Dragon

Best Foreign Film
Dog Tooth
In A Better World
Outside the Law

Best Score
How to Train Your Dragon – John Powell
Inception – Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech – Alexandre Desplat
127 Hours – A.R. Rahman
The Social Network – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Best Song
Coming Home from Country Strong – Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
I See the Light from Tangled – Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
If I Rise from 127 Hours – Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
We Belong Together from Toy Story 3 – Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Best Cinematography
Black Swan – Matthew Libatique
Inception – Wally Pfister
The King's Speech – Danny Cohen
The Social Network – Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit – Roger Deakins

Monday, January 24, 2011

Black Swan

Awards season is always the best time of the year to go to the cinema. It may be odd when you consider it, but releasing most of the years great films over two or three months, is incredibly encouraging. Each week you can be sure to find a very worthy film in your cinema. There are however, a few downsides to this. By distributers holding onto their strongest film for a very specific release date, it casts a very obvious dearth on the rest of the year. The year is top ended, with the majority of great films getting released from December to February. Not to say there will be no more great films this year, it would just be more welcoming for more of these worthy efforts getting released in the Summer time, when Blockbuster fatigue is setting in. And of course, just as it can get quite tiring after a while reseeing all the explosions and shallow characterisation the Summer has to offer, it can also get samey reliving all the more classic and serious minded films the Awards Season has in store. I find it all the more strange then, that "Black Swan" is one of those films being considered for awards. Not to say it is undeserving of its awards success, far from it, but it just seems most of these films are more often than not 'safe'. Not to take away from any of them, as this is never necessarily a bad thing, it just seems blatantly obvious as to what films are going to be favoured by the Academy and get nominated and win awards. "Black Swan" is completely and unashamedly polarizing. Just as many people going into it will detest it as those to proclaim it to be a breathless work of art. Moreso than that, when was the last time you saw a film win awards that featured extreme violence, jump scares, and a full on no holds barred lesbian scene? This is not any film however. This is a film by Darren Aronofsky, and any glance over his body of work shows perfectly what we have in store here. "The Wrestler" may have brought him more mainstream success, but it has not for one second changed his sensibilities. His films split a fine line through the audience. They are more often than not, searingly brutal, uncomfortable to watch, quite upsetting and visually majestic. You may not have enjoyed the ride he has brought you on, but at the very least, you will not be able to shake it off for days. This is a tradition he upholds in glorious style, with "Black Swan".

Ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) lives a sheltered and very protective existence under her Mothers (Barbara Hershey) wing. When she is finally picked to appear as the lead in the new production of 'Swan Lake', it seems all her years of practice have finally paid off. However, Thomas (Vincent Cassel) her sexually manipulative director, says Nina is too technically perfect in her dancing skills. While this is perfect for the White Swan side of the character, she does not know how to lose herself in the moment to fully engage as the Black Swan. This is embodied in Lily (Mila Kunis), a new younger upstart, who fits the Black Swan role perfectly. She is everything Nina secretly wishes she could be; confidant, sexually ambitious and dances gracefully and carefree. Pressure comes from everywhere: her so called 'friends', her Mother, her director who may or may not be abusing her and Beth (Winona Ryder), the aging dancer Nina recently replaced. The immense pressure coming from all angles causes Nina's psyche to crack. Of course this could all be intentional. Is Nina's quest from shy, unassuming 'nice' girl to vampish and psychotic seducer what she needs, in order to fully inhabit the Black Swan character, and win the adulation she craves? The film, at the very least is intense. Led by Portman's stunning turn, the film begins quite melodramatically and grows ever more nightmarish and terrifying as more and more of Ninas psyche comes undone. Everywhere she looks is an oppressive force looking to corrupt the innocent star. However as it turns out, Nina's greatest enemy may in fact be herself. In every scene mirrors dominate the frame, with a mysterious doppelganger skirting around the edges. It's no coincidence that Thomas' repeated orders for Ninas technique is to 'lose yourself'. Paranoia and vivid, walking hallucinations dominate proceedings and all the while Nina struggles to keep it all together. The film is very effective in showing Ninas floundering mental state, and all the more disconcerting for it. You may not want to experience something so vividly dissected, but you will not be able to tear your eyes from the screen come its gloriously deranged climax.

Of course, this is Aronofsky through and through. The film shares parallels with his previous feature "The Wrestler", something the director himself acknowledges. As he himself puts it, 'Wrestling some consider the lowest art—if they would even call it art—and ballet some people consider the highest art. But what was amazing to me was how similar the performers in both of these worlds are. They both make incredible use of their bodies to express themselves'. Aronofsky again takes pleasure in detailing the routine behind the scenes injuries of these show people. Their bodies take as much a beating as their heads and hearts do. Aronofsky shoots in a similar style to that film, yet as "Black Swan" goes on, it throws subtlety out the window in favour of shocking violence and terrifying ghosts, haunting our heroines mind. Interesting also to note, that Aronofsky gave its so called 'low art form' of the wrestling world, a far more subtle and heartbreaking emotional experience; while for ballet, the 'higher art form', he goes to great extremes in making everything visually heightened and wildly excessive. This is part of his genius. His is surely one of the best visions in Hollywood right now. His films are not ever nice or pleasant, but they always make the audience feel. In fact "Black Swan" also shares some parallels with his sophomoric effort "Requiem For A Dream". Both films feature underlying themes of how fragile the mind can be, and both race towards a nightmarish and disturbingly surreal conclusion. In fact it is probably for the best Aronofsky has not yet crafted an out and out horror film as of yet; the results might simply be too much to take. Anybody who has witnessed "Requiem For A Dream" can tell you just how terrifying it portrays drug abuse; likewise here, there are some scenes that will have you looking out from behind your popcorn. And yet the overall film, never descends into horror cliche. As unsettling and creepy as it threatens and indeed does get, it is grounded in our heroines performance, and her reality. Losing ones mind is something most people fear. Aronofsky knows how to take basic and very real human fears and turn them into nightmares on screen.

Portman gives an incredible performance. She puts absolutely everything into her performance and not just into the dancing, so stunningly photographed by Aronofsky regular Matthew Libatique. The dichotomy of her character is also enforced by the real life Portman; we all know she has what it takes to be nervous and fragile Nina, but what about that rarely tapped, darker side? It doesn't matter because Portman nails both. Aronofsky always gets incredible performances out of his actors. After the career best turns he coaxed from Ellen Burstyn in "Requiem" and Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler" would be be unreasonable to add Portman to that list? No, here she shines brighter than ever before, and taken out of her normal comfort zone so much as she is here, shows what a courageous actor she is. This film calls for some outrageous scenes and situations to be in, and without Portmans convincing veneer, the audience would be lost in the jumbled mess of this persons mind. Cassel aides as a very sly and slimy director. His actions and power to manipulate others minds and bodies is ugly to watch, but nontheless entrancing. Kunis also gives a fantastic performance as the woman who may or may not be out to steal Ninas role for herself, while Barbara Hershey terrifies as the passive-aggressive Mother. It is through Nina she lives now; all her dreams and failures are on Ninas back and with her constant nagging and treating her daughter like a little girl, it is obvious that even without the ballet underlying the drama, Nina would still be teetering on the edge of sanity.

The film is stunningly filmed. It has images and scenes that stick in the memory long after the final lights have died down. Aronofsky goes for grandiose in every performance and scene. As events spiral towards a breathtaking and original climax, no matter how much you want to, you will not be able to tear your eyes from the screen. The dance sequences are majestically filmed and the underlying grace and beauty of ballet, is contrasted brutally with Aronofsky's hard edged presentation of it. It is quite possible, you won't see anything like this for a while. For his next gig, Aronofsky is helming the new 'Wolverine' film. Charged with the saving of a franchise as big as that shows the faith in his talent. Looking at his films when he started no one could have predicted they would be awards favourites, mainstream successes, or even blockbuster extravaganzas. How such a searingly inventive, extreme and original director achieved this must show that maybe it is in fact the world that is losing its mind, and not Darren Aronofsky.

Verdict: 85%
Divisive, terrifying, putrid, ugly, depressing, exuberant, theatrical, original, thrilling, shocking, exciting and remarkable. Vintage Aronofsky then.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blue Valentine

A script 12 years in the writing. A constantly starting and halting production. An original release date of 2008. A lead actor almost dropping out of filming. For any other film, such reportings might be cause for concern. After all, if a film has this much going against it, then surely it can't be worth it unless it is something special. And if there is a word to describe "Blue Valentine" it is, at the very least special. A fragile and often uncomfortable look into the fickleness of love and relationships. It is a film, that if all its encompassing factors had not been so specifically in place, it is quite possible we would not be left with the mini masterpiece we have here. Having directed one little seen feature over a decade ago, director Derek Cianfrance set his resources into getting this picture made. Quite obviously a labour of love for everybody involved, it was honed and crafted over the years, adding vital slices of real life experience into its script. If the film is one thing, it is honest. It is a frank look at the breakdown of a relationship when sometimes for nothing or everything, love one day, just leaves us. After searching endlessly for his leads, he found Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, so perfect for their roles. After Heath Ledgers untimely death, Cianfrance, out of respect for Williams and their daughter, halted production. A lesser director might have recast the part, but Cianfrance knew just how vital Williams was to her role. A change of location in the script, some delays in its release and a run in with the MPAA and it is quite lucky that the film is even here at all, much less the work of beauty that it is.

Working as a far more tragic and bleak version of "(500) Days of Summer", the film charts the breakdown of a marriage over the course of one weekend, while cutting back to the original sparks of love first igniting between the pair many years earlier. This could be seen as stylish and gimmicky for the sake of it, yet through this, the director highlights some important contrasts in character outlook and perspective. The overall question of 'where does love go?' is not an easy one, but by bringing us back to those early, happier days, we can gauge the various reasons and choices that have led our two protagonists to this point. Not that it is quite as simple as that, Cianfrance never points the finger at either members, rather acutely observing the destruction unfold. Life sometimes gets in the way it seems. As 'Dean', Gosling gives an exuberant performance. A man simply committed to his wife and daughter, and not much else, through his perpetual childishness we see reasons for Cindys gradual despising and original blossoming love for him. As 'Cindy', Williams, delivers an astonishingly subtle performance. Her coming to terms with what is happening juxtaposed with Goslings 'die hard romantic-fight til the death' is profound. Their studying of the characters for years in the productions many starting and stoppings, must have led to a deep understanding on the actors behalf. The fact that before filming began, both Gosling and Williams lived together as a family, adds to the unbearable realness of it all.

Cianfrance shot with little or no rehearsal and insisted on capturing most of the scenes on the first take. The acting is as raw and gritty as the script calls for. Cianfrances camera puts the audience in the middle of it. To say the film is uncomfortable is an understatement. At any given time it feels the viewer is eavesdropping on a couples demise. If the film was initially slapped with an NC-17 on its American release, it is not down to the frank nature of the sex scenes, but rather the feelings of realness it injects. The filmmakers have pondered that perhaps it was too real and that is what led to their downfall. Had the film received the rating it was initially stamped with, it would have been the death knell for it. It would not have received nearly the same audience it deserves and if anything, the only thing the film is truly explicit in, is emotion. While harvesting some all too real truths about both members of the opposite sex, the film also provides some illuminations on the first awakenings of love. Gosling playing ukulele while Williams tap dances is just one hauntingly beautiful soon to be classic scene in a film full of them. The film is tough and painful but only as it should be. As a result, it would not be described as a fun or entertaining evenings watch. But caught in the right mood however, with no distractions, then the film will soon take over. It might be easy to play the blame game with both characters, but like reality, it is not as simple as that. Everybody and nobody is to blame. Life is life. In all its mysterious glory, who can predict why things happen the way they do? Of course, by that rationale, who could have predicted how searingly beautiful "Blue Valentine" would ever go on to be, or that it would even exist at all.

Verdict: 88%
A stunningly observed dissection of love and relationships. It may not be fun and easy, but it is important and forces you to ask substantial questions about your life. The actors transform into a space where that on screen is reality, and we have walked in on something painful, real, true and most importantly, beautiful.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The King's Speech

What a fantastic tribute to film making that "The King's Speech" is. Against all odds, this relatively intimate, independant, character drama, has gone onto great success in theatres all over Europe and USA. That a film like this has registered with audiences as it has is very surprising indeed. Look at the factors: An historical drama, set on the cusp of World War II. No major movie megastars at its disposal. An independant, character based, period film. A film that takes its main plot points in the simplicity of two middle aged men becoming friends. Not to mention, that in its own way, the film could be seen as slight and predictable. When was the last time you saw a film like that connecting with audiences on the scale that this film has? And yet, "The King's Speech" is an absolute joy and pleasure to behold from start to finish. Because you see, some of the things the film had going against it, are the things that make it seem so fresh and personable. The wonder of simple storytelling is all it ever takes to transport the viewer into something special. That combined with some of the most fantastic acting you may see all year, brings me to the fact, that even under the stiff competition of other strong films being released this awards season, "The King's Speech" more than holds it own, and may in fact may be the most special of them all.

When a film begins there can sometimes be a sense from the off, that this is going to be something special. It is rare, but when it happens, there is a sure sense of satisfaction and pleasure. This can be down to a choice of music in the soundtrack, a camera flourish or even a simple line of dialogue. In "The King's Speech" it is the opening introductory shot of Prince Albert, waiting nervously in the wings to go on air. His impending fear and anxiousness is palpable. With a simple, yet subtle expression, our protagonist has immediately won us over. This is a story we want to see and hear. Prince Albert (Colin Firth), lovingly referred to by family and friends as 'Bertie', has a crushing and debilitating speech impediment. In his requirements to give regular public speeches his stammer is excruciating, with each pause lasting for what seems an eternity. His wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), fearing her husband has given up hope of ever being relieved of his speech obstruction, turns to common speech therapist and failed actor, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Through a variety of unorthodox and quite funny techniques, Logue slowly but surely begins to improve Berties stammer, along with slowly becoming friends with the Prince. It is only after Berties older brother, Kind Edward (a sly Guy Pearce) abdicates the throne in late 1936, that the shy Prince realises he will have to step up to the biggest challenge of his life. At the outbreak of war, can the new found King, so unsure of his words and self, successfully rally the nation behind him and provide the encouragement and support it so greatly needs?

The cast is filled by some stunning turns. As Logue, Rush is marvelous; it is no coincidence that all his characters name is missing, is the 'dia'. Through ways that confound, and sometimes anger the future King, the Aussies elecution lessons provide searing insights into Berties past and help him find the confidence inside he will need to succeed. Director Hooper takes liberties with such scenes; it was never known just exactly how Logue treated Bertie, but the humorous and very entertaining means he goes about it will delight and move, in equal measure. Bonham Carter provides vibrant support as Berties wife. Her love is a constant inspiration to him and gives him the strength he needs to go on. As the reluctant King, Firth is spellbinding. Going against the natural flow and rhythm of an actor, he delivers lines with warm vulnerability; he is aware of his impediment, but will not let it rule over him. We can see the constant chagrin it is to him, not only through his stilted sentences, but also through his eyes. Those closest to him know Bertie has it inside him to succeed as a very worthy King, but if only Bertie knew that himself. As a result, it paints the Royal Family in the best light seen for quite a while. For the first time I can remember, they are relatable. Through Berties stammer, it grounds the family in a manner that all can feel a certain bond to. We all want Bertie so succeed. While Michael Gambon and Guy Pearce all lend reliable support, the film belongs to Firth and Rush. It is their growing friendship which forms the backbone of the picture. These scenes are wonderful; at times funny, sad, insightful, subtle yet bombastic, Director Hooper does a wonderful job with the material. He shoots large throne rooms of the sovereignty with a cold eye and lets the central friendship be the warmth. Through simple framing he helps provide significant insight into his characters mindsets.

The film is an incredibly warm one. While being very entertaining and crowd pleasing, it never forgets to do justice to its characters or story. Some films might have cast a more sombre eye over King Edwards abdication, something that turned the Royal Familes reputation upside down, but therein lies the simple beauty of this film. Hooper shows us something we may not have initially known about, or that on first look may not have seemed like compelling viewing. Here he passes with flying colours. With previous efforts such as "The Damned United" he demonstrated flickers of talent, yet here he demonstrates his true filmmaking capability. That many have sought out to see this picture and its recent box office success (Rush himself never thought it would go onto become the success it is), shows that audiences are hungry for simple and very classy storytelling. It may initially seem like Academy hungry fare, with little or no true spark. However, the script is considerably witty and the incredible true story is stunningly executed. With a blinding cast and some of the most funny/touching male bonding scenes you may see all year, "The King's Speech" deserves to be front and center when the envelope is opened on February 27th. A wonderful film.

Verdict: 89%
Aided by a stunning cast, Tom Hooper delivers a rich, rewarding and very entertaining drama. Going against what is expected of the genre, he crafts a crowd pleasing and very affecting tale, one that anyone can get behind and root for. The cast all exhibit high standards and it is unlikely that you will have a more endearing film experience this year. And 2011 has only just begun.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Trailer - "The Troll Hunter"

The mockumentary genre seems to be quite oversaturated at the moment. Every low budget horror being released seems to use it to help gloss over any budgetary cracks in the look of the film. When it is done right however, there is no denying that it can certainly be an effective way of presenting your film. Let's hope that "The Troll Hunter" delivers on its trailer as seen here. From the looks of it, it could be a very neat little Norwegian fantasy-comedy. Its release late last year in its native country yielded some mixed reviews, so for now, I will intriguingly keep an eye out. As of yet, it does not have a release date.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

First Look - Spider-Man (Reboot)

The first official image of Andrew Garfield in the as of yet, untitled Spider-Man Reboot has been released. While there have been some on set photos seen the past few days, this is the first image of Garfield in his actual iconic costume. Director Marc Webb has put together a pretty solid cast for his reboot and the suit in all fairness does look pretty great. Will it all be enough to put aside the fact that the series may still be far too fresh to even deserve a reboot in the first place?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

127 Hours

Danny Boyle certainly knows how to put his audiences through the wringer. The reason a lot of his 'happy' endings have the effect they do, is because he knows how to make his audience work for it. Would Rentons declaration to 'choose life' at the end of 'Trainspotting' have been as sweet had we not witnessed the drug dens, the psychotic friends, and hopeless spiraling descent into drug abuse that we did. Would '28 Days Later' have had the same relief in its coda, without going through the loss and breakdown of society and humanity, had we not felt like we had been through it all with our heroes? Would 'Slumdog Millionaire' have been the feelgood film that it was, had we not had to endure child slavery and torture, in a crime ridden India before our two romantic leads could finally be reunited? When Boyle offers a happy ending in his films, not that they're common mind, it is based on his knowledge that the higher the trauma, the higher the catharsis. Put simply, we want the protagonist to pull through in a Danny Boyle film. And now, with '127 Hours', it is no better evidenced. Quite simply, as much a testament to Danny Boyles incredible film making, as it is to the unbelievable true story it is based on; it is the first film of 2011 to be seen here and it's a belter.
In 2003, mountain climber and reckless adventurer Aron Ralston (James Franco) went out hiking in the Blue John Canyon in Utah without telling either friends or family where he was going. Tragedy struck when Ralston accidentally dislodged a boulder in a small canyon, trapping his arm against the rock wall. Left alone and isolated with minimal chance of rescue or survival, Ralston is left to muse on his life, and the choices that led to this point. Now it may initially seem strange for a director as visually gifted and kinetic as Boyle is, to lend his eye to a completely static and lifeless location for the duration of the film. But that is exactly why none other than he could pull off a film like this with such visceral force. The film simply brims over with life, color and energy. While other directors might have played up the very small time limit Ralston had to extricate himself from his nightmare for tense and ultimately more shallow entertainment purposes, Boyle seems more concerned with the existential musings behind it all. As a result, the ordeal cuts that bit more deeper in the viewer, no pun intended. Yes, the ways and means Ralston tries to free himself are incredibly tough and hard to watch, but that is only because Boyle knows the release and absolution must be akin to something the real Ralston went through in order to achieve the desired results. Not that that makes it any easier to endure.
As Ralston, Franco gives the very best performance of his career so far. Spending much of the film on his own, he holds every ounce of our attention. His gift lies in the sheer range he has. Coming from his comedy roots and matinee idol good looks, he has portrayed very different characters across his career. A glance across his CV shows that while there have been attempts at blockbusters and classic leading man status, Francos best roles have been actually more character driven parts. A very solid co-starring role in 'Milk' showed his determination at being considered as a more serious actor, to go along with his more broader comedy output. Here he is a revelation and for once plays to all his strengths. Ralston was reckless bordering on arrogant. His sure positioning of himself as infallible was always going to be his downfall. When the boulder finally gets lodged in its position on top of Ralstons arm, his initial reaction is one of disbelief. That it would be this boulder rather than something altogether more grander that would trap him is unthinkable to him. He will not be beaten by something as insignificant as this. But beaten he is. His cocksure audacity and unflinching confidence soon gives away to anger, and then helplessness. It is only when Ralston can take responsibility for his actions that have led him here that it makes way to acceptance. The dawning when it happens, is just as significant to Ralston as it is the audience. We can't do everything on our own. We need friends and family. We need other people in our life. Otherwise everyday is just surviving. Ralston doesn't want to just survive anymore, he wants to live. The results of this are incredibly emotional for the viewer. Filtered though Franco's fantastic performance, we put ourselves in his place - would we actually be able to do what Ralston did? Of course Ralston was resourceful. Not many regular people would ever find themselves in the predicament that he did. Not that it should ever take Ralstons ordeal to learn what he learned. Through his daydreams and delirious visions, we should always remember to never take anything in life for granted. If anything, the film should be a reminder of that in all of us.
Boyle films the tragic consequences with his typical flair. Events never once become dull or boring. The resolution, when it finally comes is as unbearable as it is unflinching. When it happens, there is almost a sense of relief that this man is finally taking his own survival into his hands, no matter how grotesque to watch it may be. Reports of people fainting at the crucial point on initial screenings are so far unfounded. Not that it would be hard to imagine; Boyle's location is realistically and astutely detailed, despite half of its filming in a studio. The build up is so well defined and depicted that the solution, when it happens is far harder to take than most grand guignol films could ever muster up. And when it's over we are left, not with horror, but with a sense of uplifting fervor. Gain, not loss is what registers. And that is testament to Boyles skill as a filmaker. 2011 has just begun and so far Boyle has delivered one of the sure to be year greats.

Verdict: 84%
Aron Ralstons five day ordeal is given the Danny Boyle treatment. His high benchmark of stunningly edited sequences and soundtracked to a glorious score is again masterfully maintained. As gut wrenching and hard to stomach as it is emotional, the final feeling left with the viewer is in fact, one of incredible elation. James Franco gives a triumphant performance and the film deserves all of its awards and adulation sure to be coming its way.