Danny Boyle's new movie, "127 Hours," opens in theaters across the country on Wednesday, including here in Milwaukee.
And having screened it at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, I can tell you that its star, James Franco, is almost certain to get a best actor Oscar nomination.
But I'm not quite sure that the story of real-life mountaineer Aron Ralston, who gets trapped by a rock slide during a jaunt in the Utah wilderness, will get the audience it deserves, thanks to a crucial decision by director Boyle, whose last movie, "Slumdog Millionaire," earned him a best director Oscar.
The suspense of this film isn't ruined by knowing the ending, the real-life Ralston lived to tell the tale of his ordeal by cutting off his trapped arm.
As for Boyle's crucial decision, the director decided to show us every gory detail of that dramatic act of survival.
There were reports of people fainting during the screening in Toronto. I didn't see any, but I didn't watch every second of that key scene, myself. I saw enough to know what I missed. And I could hear everything in a scene where sound is crucial.
The graphic rendering of that self-amputation just wasn't necessary, in my opinion.
Boyle did a fine job in keeping us in a confined space for much of the film, squirming along as Ralston's options became limited, living his memories, nightmares and fantasies.
The film is never claustrophobic, though it places us squarely in Ralston's confined space, a real example of Boyle's directorial skill.
There were other ways to handle that scene. Word of mouth can kill a movie at the box office, and the squeamish who go the first few nights can easily scare off a number of potential ticket sales.
I hope I'm wrong, because Franco's performance is worth the price of admission. His Aron Ralston is a funny, somewhat self-absorbed kid, who doesn't tell his parents where he's going as he heads off to play in the wilderness. He doesn't even take the time to take the proper knife -- a mistake that becomes painfully apparent in the crucial scene.
Some of the promos present the movie as being lighter than it actually is. That's obviously a way to get people in the door.
Here's a trailer that's longer than the TV spots, and it's more on point:
On TV: MSNBC's Joe Scarborough is the latest of the cable channel's host to go on unpaid suspension for donating to political campaigns. He's due back on the morning show Wednesday. He has apologized.
- Fox is moving "American Idol" to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday nights this season. The season starts Jan. 19. Unless the post-Simon Cowell "Idol" bombs, Thursday's are going to be a huge DVR night.
- Syfy will air the remaining "Caprica" episodes in a five-hour marathon starting at 5 p.m. Jan. 4.
- Expect more holiday greed and excess on Oprah Winfrey's show at 4 p.m. today on Channel 12 as she doles out more of her "favorite things" in the second part of her final holiday binge.
- Rich Sommer, Harry Crane on "Mad Men," started a storm when he tweeted last week that he was "operating under the assumption that there won’t be" a fifth season of the show. Then he clarified in his blog that "nothing official has been stated... although it is a safe bet — very safe bet — that the show will return." He ended that post by writing, "That is all. Retreating to my hole now. Goodbye."
No, Alec doesn't need the money: "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin has popped up doing commercials for a Syracuse area grocery store. As The Consumerist reports, he's publicly spoken about his mother's love for Wegmans grocery stores.
Here's one of Baldwin's spots:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.