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Archive for January 14th, 2011

Danny Boyle – Film by Film

With 127 Hours currently on general release in the UK I thought I would take a look back at the previous movies of one of the UK’s best directors Danny Boyle. The first thing of note is that he has never made a bad movie, almost as notable is the variety demonstrated in his choice of projects. The mixture of genres on display should not be mistaken for a lack of direction, his movies do all have certain themes running through them and all demonstrate his flair as a filmmaker. His characters often make life changing decisions that sometimes have a moral right vs. wrong theme. These characters are not typical movie stereotypes, they are complex and flawed just like real people. A director who always seems to get the most out of his casts, most of his movies feature fantastic performances from actors whether they are moviestars or unknowns.

 

Shallow Grave (1994)

Three friends have a decision to make when they find the dead body of their new flatmate along with a pile of cash. There actions and the consequences of them make for a superior crime thriller as well as a very dark comedy. In some ways it is Danny Boyle’s best movie and according to a recent radio interview it is his fathers favourite of Boyle’s movies. The movie also provided an early starring role for Ewan McGregor and certainly played a part in his future career.

 

Trainspotting (1996)

Based on the Irvine Welsh novel of the same name telling the story of a group of Scottish heroine addicts.  A stunning and totally flawless movie that could not be improved upon from its perfect casting (including Ewan McGregor again) to its amazing soundtrack.

 

A Life Less Ordinary (1997)

Ewan McGregor stars in his third (and final to date) collaboration with Boyle as a disgruntled employee who kidnaps his formed bosses daughter. Aided by two unlikely angels the pair fall in love. A slightly disjointed movie is my least favourite of the directors movies, but following Trainspotting was an impossible task.

 

The Beach (2000)

Adapted from Alex Garland’s novel of the same name that Nick Hornby described as “A Lord of the Flies for Generation X”. A misunderstood and underappreciated movie notable as the first collaboration between Boyle and novelist turned screenwriter Alex Garland. As with most Danny Boyle movies the acting is first rate and the movie is seamlessly constructed and above all highly entertaining.

 

28 Days Later (2002)

A group of animal rights activists release a chimp from a research lab, 28 days later a genetically engineered plague has engulfed the country. There has been a huge amount of debate as to if the “infected” people in the movie are zombies or not, putting this issue to one side and looking at the bigger picture, this is one of the best horror movies or recent years. Telling the story from the point of view of an ordinary person is nothing new but as with everything Danny Boyle does it is handled supremely well here.

 

Millions (2004)

seven year-old Anthony and his nine year old brother find a duffel bag containing a quarter of a million pounds, their situation is further complicated as the currency will cease to be legal tender in a few days. Never a director to do the predicable thing, moving from horror to family friendly comedy/drama. Probably Boyles least well know movies but one not to be missed.

 

Sunshine (2007)

Set in the near future the sun is about to die bringing an end to life on earth. A space ship has to transport a nuclear bomb into the sun to re-ignite it, when it fails another crew is sent to finish the job making them humanities last hope for survival. Moving from Danny Boyle’s least know to one of his least appreciated movies. A great thriller with a perfect blend of tension and action and an existential undertone. If you haven’t seen it you should, if you didn’t like it give it another go, it may just grow on you.

 

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Jamal a Mumbai teenager is arrested on suspicion of cheating on the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” We are then treated to his life story told in flashback and explaining how he knows the answers. But the movie and Jamel have one last secret, the reason he is on the show in the first place. A triumph of filmmaking with a great story, brilliant acting, and a perfectly conceived structure but most importantly a lot of heart. A deserved Oscar winner.

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