Monday, October 11, 2010

Director Danny Boyle

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-


  1. Nice post. Written like a good history teacher who understands that context is as important as details.

  2. Is it blasphemy to comment about books on a movie blog? Well The Beach is one of my favorite books by my favorite author, Alex Garland. I only really saw the movie one time when I had the flu in college, so I think I was a bit delirious. I'll have to check it out again. And the screenplay for 28 Days Later was also written by Alex Garland. Boyle likes to keep with things that work, McGregor, Garland - I hope it works out and we can see more James Franco in the future.

  3. Danny Boyle's journey to Oscar night began in a working-class family in Lancashire in 1956. After a career in the theatre - working for such esteemed companies as Joint Stock and the Royal Court - Boyle went to the BBC in Belfast and produced dramas such as Alan Clarke's "Elephant," and "Mr. Wroes Virgins." "Shallow Grave" announced the arrival of a dynamic new talent to British cinema - a reputation that was confirmed with the blistering "Trainspotting" - the zeitgeist film of the 90s. The succeeding films - "A Life Less Ordinary," "The Beach," "28 Days Later," "Sunshine" and "Slumdog Millionaire" - established him as the leading director of his generation - one for whom the collaboration between director, producer and writer was of the essence. The Danny Boyle who emerges from these interviews is frank, funny, charming and wholeheartedly inspiring.
    Amy Raphael