F.I.L.M. of the Week (November 5, 2010)

5 11 2010

With Danny Boyle set to have the world eating out of his hand again with “127 Hours” opening in limited release today, I thought it would be wise to check out his full catalogue to see how this stylistically virtuoso director flew under my radar for so long.  I didn’t make it all the way through, so my judgement isn’t final.  However, I did conclude that the vibrant energy he brought to “Slumdog Millionaire” is nothing new; he has been perfecting it over the course of a decade.

In case the tacit implication wasn’t clear in that last paragraph, I still think that “Slumdog Millionaire” is Danny Boyle at his peak. Easily his most realized and lucid directorial work, it is clear that Boyle is a director worthy of Hollywood’s most coveted trophy.  However, I found that among his other films, “Sunshine” stuck out as another masterwork.  Set in 2057 when the universe is about to implode, the intelligent science-fiction movie is easily Boyle’s most underrated.

There’s a sense of claustrophobia not unlike that present in Ridley Scott’s “Alien” as the crew of the Icarus head towards potentially imminent demise on a mission to reignite the dying Sun.  The seven ethnically diverse crew members (because this is an international mission, after all) face immense psychological distress as the fate of the universe rides on their shoulders.  All seem ready for sacrifice – or are they?  As the ship moves closer towards the Sun, the astronauts begin to act more out of self-interest and less out of humanity’s interest.

The movie is more of a psychological journey than a visual one, although Boyle does a nice job of seamlessly integrating some very dazzling effects into the movie.  This journey is effective because of the movie’s authentic feel, accomplished through scientific consultation and the method acting procedures Boyle put his cast through.  “Sunshine” may not sound entirely original, and to a certain extent, it isn’t.  But imagined through Boyle’s eyes, it’s a blazing cinematic trek to the edge of space filled with excitement and suspense.