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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #557 (Vol. 11, No. 48). This edition is for the week of November 22--28, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"127 Hours"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"127 Hours"  by Mike Smith
"Tangled" by Mike Smith
Show Review: Renninger's Antique Extravaganza 2010  by ED Tucker
November's Album of the Month: Smashing Pumpkins Teargarden By Kaliedyscope V.2  by Terence Nuzum
Yukio Mishima  by Jason Fetters
Movie Notes .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Fox Searchlight     
Starring: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 34 mins

According to the Dictionary of Slang, the phrase “chew your arm off” means the following: “A term used to describe an unpleasant situation when one wakes up in bed with someone they don't wish to be with, specifically with their arm stuck under the unwanted, so they have to figuratively "chew their arm off" to escape this predicament.” Funny stuff, huh? But what if you literally had to cut off your arm to survive. Could you do it?

It’s Friday night in Moab, Utah. While all of his friends are heading out to party, Aron Ralston (Franco) gathers some gear, some snacks and, ignoring his mother’s incoming phone call, heads out to the mountains. There he sleeps in his car, hoping to get an early start on the bike trail in the morning. With his pack full he chains his bicycle to the nearest tree (apparently there are a lot of bike thieves lurking in the mountains of Utah) and sets out on foot to start a new adventure, one that doesn’t end as happily as most.

Based on the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” – a genius title if you ask me – “127 Hours” tells the true story of the sacrifices Ralston had to make when, in a freak occurrence, his arm was pinned against a canyon wall for days until he decided to cut it off in order to survive. As told through the eyes of director Boyle, who won the Best Director Academy Award for his last film, “Slumdog Millionaire,” Ralston is both someone to admire and pity. Not for his situation, which is of his own making, but of the fact that he has done his best to separate himself from the rest of the world....even his family. Before his mishap he comes across two attractive girls (Tamblyn and Mara) who are also hiking. He allows them to tag along with him but soon heads off on his own again.

It is very hard to make a film where just one main character fills the screen. Countless versions of Robinson Crusoe have proved me right. The closest film I can compare “127 Hours” to is “Cast Away,” which starred Tom Hanks. What made that film extraordinary was the fact that Hanks was such a powerful actor that you bought into the story of him alone against the elements. Franco proves to be just as strong here, whether daydreaming about cold drinks and long ignored family members or narrating a daily video diary chronicling his efforts to escape his predicament. His normally handsome features hidden by a scruffy beard (he actually looks like Ethan Hawke in the close ups), Franco gives a performance that hopefully will not be ignored come awards season. “Don’t lose it,” he tells himself, trying to keep focused on the situation. But when you can only count on 15 minutes of sunlight each day to warm your body, you don’t always take your own advice. Working with most of his “Slumdog” crew, Boyle manages to create the same feeling of claustrophobia that Ralston certainly had to contend with. The photography, by “Slumdog” Oscar-winner Anthony Dod Mantle and “28 Weeks Later” DP Enrique Chediak, captures not only the beauty of the majestic mountainside, but its stark brutality as well.

Those familiar with the story know that Ralston ended up cutting his arm off in an effort to escape. The amputation scene here is quite graphic and not for the weak of stomach. A young man a few rows in front of me at the screening I attended passed out during the scene and had to be attended to by others in his row. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

On a scale of zero to four I give “127 Hours”  

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. This week's movie review of "127 Hours" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.