Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quick Takes: 127 Hours, The A-Team, Conviction

Danny Boyle was a perfect choice as director of 127 Hours (2010), a beautiful drama that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit. On the outside, the plot is thin -- Aron Ralston hikes, gets stuck, sacrifices a limb, goes home -- but the movie is really about his emotional journey as he struggles to survive the ordeal that will change his life forever. Boyle's hyperkinetic style suits the mood perfectly here, mixing fractured dynamic editing with gorgeous cinematography, infused with A.R. Rahman's electric scoring. He also drew a revelatory performance from James Franco. A life-affirming drama, one of the year's best. 5/5

If a studio wants to remake an old TV show or movie, it must be done with respect to the original and have a pulse of its own. If not, then what's the point? The A-Team (2010) was a complete failure in both regards. It's a noisy bore featuring four leads that had zero chemistry. The show thrived on the chemistry between their charismatic stars and it would not have been a long-running success without them. I was amused by the outlandishness of a few scenes (the falling tank, for one), but most of the film was tedium ad infinitum. 1.5/5

Conviction (2010) is a made-for-TV movie that was given A-level theatrical treatment. Tony Goldwyn, a respectable, effective director (I'm a big fan of The Last Kiss and A Walk on the Moon) helms this remarkable true story about a woman who puts her life aside, passes the bar exam, and becomes a lawyer in order to get her wrongfully convicted brother out of jail. Some of the plot elements were a little fishy, but the human aspect of the story is where the heart is. Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell are well-matched as brother and sister, while Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver, Juliet Lewis and Peter Gallagher round out the strong supporting cast. Worth a look. 4/5

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