I’ve had the privilege of hearing director Danny Boyle speak in person at a Q&A three times. The first was last year here in Philadelphia after an advance screening of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. The second was last month in Toronto for his latest film ‘127 Hours’. And since he’s so inspiring I just went back for seconds on the latter film tonight, as he was back here in Philadelphia once again. If you ever get the opportunity to hear him speak live, I highly recommend it. He is so enthusiastic about his work, you can’t help but appreciate it. And, his work is usually pretty damn good anyway.
And arguably, no one has had a more diverse directorial career than Boyle, at least in the last decade. Boyle first got some notoriety in 1994 with the dark comedy ‘Shallow Grave’ costarring Ewan McGregor. He followed that up with a bigger hit, the cult favorite ‘Trainspotting’, followed by the less successful but still great ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, both with McGregor as well. In the 2000’s he began to branch out with the adventure film ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio , the zombie horror hit ’28 Days Later’, a family film called ‘Millions’, and a little seen art house science fiction flick called ‘Sunshine’. All great films.
Then, in late 2008, after premiering at Telluride and Toronto, buzz began to spread about a small movie with an unrecognizable Indian cast called ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Via word of mouth that small movie snowballed into the must-see film of the year and the Oscar winner for Best Picture.
His latest is ‘127 Hours’, which I briefly reviewed in my Toronto Film Festival blog. (I ranked it 5th best out of the 38 films I saw there.) I’m not sure exactly what genre it falls in, but we’ll call it the ‘James Franco Literally Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ genre. Well, I’ve seen it twice now and it’s riveting, even when you know exactly what’s going to happen. I must warn you, it’s NOT for the weak stomach, but in his own words he provides the audience with so much pleasure before the ordeal they, and Franco’s character endure, that we the audience can handle the inevitable climax of the film.
Honestly, every single one of Boyle’s films is good. And I can’t think of any other director I can say that about. He has a great eye for undiscovered talent and a great ear for the right soundtrack. He’s one of a few directors that I will go see his latest film regardless of who’s in it or what it’s about (especially if he’s there for a Q&A afterward.) I don’t expect an A+ every time but I know it’ll be different and worth seeing.
So in honor of his visit to Philly, I will be reviewing most of his films over the next few days. Stay tuned…
127 Hours: A
Danny Boyle’s Filmography: A-