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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 19, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 47
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Harrowing 127 Hours an emotional rollercoaster
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

127 Hours
Opening November 19


In 2003, Utah mountain climber Aron Ralston (James Franco) decided to disappear for a couple of days to play around in some of the state's majestic (if desolate) canyons. He did not tell anyone where he was going. He did not anticipate having any difficulties. He didn't think there would be any sort of trouble. He was wrong on all counts.

For most people, what happened next is no surprise. The news reports documenting Ralston's harrowing experience were omnipresent, and you couldn't turn the channel without some reporter somewhere recounting the tale. It was one of those moments where truth became stranger than fiction, a testament to the triumph of the human spirit to survive.

Director Danny Boyle follows up his Oscar-winning smash Slumdog Millionaire by making a movie out of Ralston's ordeal. 127 Hours is told from his perspective, his point of view, and every minute of its narrative is coming out of a place of visceral intimacy which makes all that transpires as kinetic, as emotional, and as real as anything I've seen. It is a harrowing, ultimately euphoric piece of filmmaking that stirs the spirit and elevates the soul.

Boyle and co-writer Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) have done a magnificent job of adapting Ralston's nonlinear, surrealistic memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place. They put the audience right inside his head, right there within the canyon with him, and every one of his feelings are passed to the audience with superlative precision and expert skill. There hasn't been anything even close to similar this year (maybe Enter the Void, but they're so different stylistically that I'm not sure), and as such it ranks right up there with Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, and Millions as one of this director's greatest achievements.

None of this would have happened without Franco. I can't think of an actor who has thrown himself more into a performance in 2010. What he accomplishes is a true tour de force, going from highs to lows to everywhere in-between. Because he is Ralston, we in turn become Ralston, and without his unrefined and fearless magnificence I doubt there'd be much to talk about.

The film also triumphs from a technical standpoint. The cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle (Antichrist) and Enrique Chediak (Charlie St. Cloud) is as good as it gets, and the duo is given a big assist from editor Jon Harris (Kick-Ass). This movie lives and it breathes - you can feel every kick and every ache thanks to their achievements, as they all work in such galvanizing symmetry that the cumulative effect is awe-inspiring.

During the movie, I squirmed. I was made uncomfortable. I didn't always like sitting in my theater seat as much as I wanted to. But that's hopefully par for the course, and if I didn't feel all of that (and more), then that would mean Boyle and company were not doing their jobs. I felt myself deteriorating at much the same rate that Ralston was, making his ability to overcome his travails all the more exhilarating. This is the type of film where that lump in my throat was very much needed, and the moment he finally found his voice in order to plead for help was the very same one where I wanted to raise my own in cheers.

I'm not going to say anything more. 127 Hours is a movie that should - maybe even must - be seen. Like I said, I knew Ralston's story going in, and yet I couldn't believe all that I was being made to feel, encouraged to see, and required to experience for myself. Boyle has crafted a rollercoaster of human emotion that's intimate and refined, and audiences who are ready to experience one of life's most trying tests will undergo nothing short of magic.


Harry Potter an epic cliffhanger
by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

Harry Potter and

the Deathly Hallows:

Part One

Opening November 19


The beginning of the end has started; the film version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been released - at least part one. The seventh installment of the blockbuster-hit films has taken the last novel of the series and broken it into two films; part two is not due out until July 15, 2011. It's understandable, as the last book is a 759-page tome and after seven years, there's a lot to finish off in this grand finale.

What leads up to this point is simple: Lord Voldemort is the most evil wizard to ever live. His nemesis is the orphaned Harry Potter. Harry and Lord Voldemort have faced off a number of times, but Harry has always been protected. Lord Voldemort plans on killing Harry - for as the prophecy says, 'Neither can live while the other survives.' The good guys are The Order of the Phoenix, and the bad guys are The Deatheaters - there, everyone is caught up to speed.

For anyone who hasn't read the books (I'm sure there are a few of you out there), the movie's storyline is still pretty easy to follow, even if you haven't seen the previous films. Harry is turning 17 and his magical protection is over. The Deatheaters are trying to hunt him down. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the run, while at the same time trying to continue their secret mission to seek out and destroy the last of the horcruxes - the only way to kill Lord Voldemort.

The three main characters - Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) - all do good jobs in their roles; even Emma Watson! These three kids have grown up on the screen before us and have all reached a fine-tuning for this film. Daniel Radcliffe continues to show us that he is well on his way to becoming a great actor. Over the past years, he's obviously not only held his own against such powerhouses as Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Gary Oldman, and Ralph Fiennes, but he's obviously observed them and learned from them. We empathize with Harry more so than in the past, and Radcliffe expresses this with just a brooding look or torn expression. Rupert Grint has grown out of his awkward stages of adolescence and into the form of a focused young actor. He allows Ron to struggle with personal haunts and deal with them in the realistic manner of a 17-year-old boy. Emma Watson is not only a surprise, but also enjoyable to watch. In the past, her acting has been one of the things slowing down the previous films, but this commonplace opinion must have reached her at last, and she obviously took note. She's learned to emote with expressions when appropriate more so than out of lack of what to do. Hermione's struggles finally become clear to a viewing audience, and Emma's acting adds to the progress of the film instead of slowing the pace.

The film carefully lays out the groundwork and pacing for what is needed to complete this epic tale. It's a little slower-paced than the others in the series - let's get real, half of the book is the three of them running and hiding. It's by no means boring or slow, and it's definitely one of the better-produced film versions. There are plenty of special effects to make the film exciting and visually appealing. For devoted fans of the books, they will find changes to the storyline and edits have been made. But what was cut really isn't needed to further the story, it just gives a more rounded history to detail. All of the major points are covered - Bill and Fleur's wedding, the visit to Godric's Hollow, the Malfoy's estate - especially since series author JK Rowling is listed as a producer. The Dursley's departure flashes by - which is a shame, because it was a redeeming scene in the book.

Running at 2 hours and 24 minutes, the film can only cover so much - even if it's only the first installment. The break/cliffhanger for the second film is done at a reasonable part in the storyline, even if some of the book's events are rearranged to cause that cliff-hanging effect. There is more than enough of the story left over to make sure that part two will be exciting. The countdown has begun: only six months, three weeks, and five days to go.




Robyn descends on Seattle with sold-out show, free in-store
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Robyn
November 21
Neumos


A sign that electronic music has steadily pulled ahead in popularity, Sunday night's Robyn concert is entirely sold-out - in fact, all tickets were claimed since late September. The Stockholm native bowed to American audiences in 1997 with her mega pop single 'Show Me Love,' but she encountered challenges in producing a follow-up hit and eventually focused her attention and efforts in the European market. Somewhere along the way, Robyn changed musical styles to a more dance-oriented sound - and was even featured on a Basement Jaxx track - and began releasing her material independently. Fast-forward to 2008, her self-titled work containing the international smash 'With Every Heartbeat' finally shot her to stardom behind strong reviews and a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album.

You have to admire Robyn - when the going got tough, she got tougher. Melding bits of light trance and house, pop, and hip-hop, the short-cropped blonde created a sound all her own and the fans came knocking on her door - including Madonna, who asked her to open select dates on the Sticky and Sweet Tour. This year, she spoiled her faithful with two separate releases, Body Talk Pt. 1 and Body Talk Pt. 2, not to mention a tour that finally delivers her to the U.S., where Robyn admirers have been waiting impatiently to see her - she canceled a previous tour due to scheduling conflicts.

Those who unfortunately are without tickets for her Neumos concert are invited to a snippet of her performance, as Robyn will play a brief set of songs during an in-store appearance at Easy Street Records (20 Mercer St.) on Sunday, November 21 at 7 p.m. followed by an autograph session. You must purchase either of the Body Talk CDs in the store on Sunday to get a free wristband that will allow you to get it signed. At the actual show, expect 'Konichiwa Bitches,' 'Cobrastyle,' 'Dancing On My Own,' possibly 'Show Me Love,' and perhaps a speedier version of 'With Every Heartbeat' on the set list.


The man of Steel - Discussing nudity, controversy, and the musical Hair
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Burlesque director Antin makes a name for himself
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An inside look at A Christmas Story
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New documentary details Glenn Burke's struggle as a Gay athlete
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Muddy Scarlet Letter confusing and irrelevant
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Fun Chicago worth a trip
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Seattle Shakespeare's Hamlet one to cherish
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A Dyke About Town: Average White Band nice and funky
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VIDEO - Cher nearly face down in cement
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Correction
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Harrowing 127 Hours an emotional rollercoaster
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Harry Potter an epic cliffhanger
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Robyn descends on Seattle with sold-out show, free in-store
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Natalia Kills: From Robyn fan to her opening act
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Northwest News
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Letters
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