Danny Boyle


1995
Shallow Grave 90
[ review ]


1996
Trainspotting 93
[ 1996 review ]
[ 2016 review on Extra Beurre ]


1997
A Life Less Ordinary 51
[ review ]


2000
The Beach 85
[ review ]


2001
vacuuming completely nude in paradise 79
[ After giving big Hollywood flicks a go, Danny Boyle went back to the UK to make a couple of low-budget movies for the BBC, both written by Jim Cartwright and shot on DV. “Strumpet” has yet to be released on this side of the Atlantic, but “vacuuming, etc.” is now available on DVD. A goofy twist on “Glengarry Glenn Ross”, it follows door-to-door salesmen at work. Pete (Michael Begley) is a failed mixmaster who stumbles into the job, while Tommy Rag (Timothy Spall) is a seasoned pro, at least in his mind. What he certainly is is the most obnoxious man alive! Spall is absolutely hilarious in the part, chewing scenery like there’s no tomorrow. Tommy Rag is a loud-mouthed, inconsiderate, arrogant fool, chain-smoking, hard-drinking, crazy-driving (“I like a bit of road rage, gets you going in the morning, better than caffeine.”) and terrorizing people into buying his vacuum cleaners, harassing coworkers (“You know what it’s like working at a place where everybody hates you? Invigorating.”)… This might have been made for TV, but it’s as dynamic as anything Boyle’s ever directed, with plenty of madcap camerawork, techno music and especially Spall, the greatest special effect a filmmaker could have! ]


2003
28 Days Later 83
[ review ]


2005
millions 64
[ review ]


2007
Sunshine 75
[ review ]


2008
Slumdog Millionaire 93
[ On paper, the premise of Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay (and the Vikas Swarup book that inspired it), which has an uneducated young man who grew up in the streets of Mumbai reach against all odds the final question on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, seems like a rather silly gimmick. But when you see the movie, you realize that the damn thing works, silly or not, and that it ultimately is indeed just that, a gimmick. You see, throughout Jamal’s time in the hot seat, after each question, we’re shown in a flashback how he got to know the answer to it.

So basically, the quiz show is just a framing device for the amazing life story of this kid who, despite all the grief, misery and abuse he’s had to go through over the years, has not only remained high-spirited but managed to learn from all these hardships. We see Jamal make his way amongst other little beggars, thieves and hustlers, including his brother Salim, with whom he has a rocky relationship, Salim being a fighter while Jamal is more of a lover… Which means that it’s ultimately all about a girl, the elusive Latika, whom Jamal will long for throughout his whole life, not unlike Forrest for his Jenny…

Blending action, comedy, drama, romance and even a musical number or two (stay for the end credits sequence!), “Slumdog Millionaire” is as rich, colourful and entertaining as the best of Bollywood, with an added grittiness and visual energy that reminds more of something like “City of God”. Behind the camera, Danny Boyle does his career-best work – we’ve known that he was mighty gifted all along, ever since he first made his mark with great flicks like “Shallow Grave” and “Trainspotting”, but like Wes Anderson last year with “The Darjeeling Limited”, it seems like shooting in India has galvanized his filmmaking more than ever before. Add solid acting all around and an awesome score by A. R. Rahman (with a few priceless assists from M.I.A.) and you’ve definitely got one of the most memorable pictures of 2008. ]


2010
127 Hours 80
[ Right from the opening credits, with their split-screen shots full of frantic imagery accompanied by Free Blood’s super dynamic song Never Hear Surf Music Again, you know that even though this is in many ways a small-scale, intimate story about one guy stuck “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” (to quote the title of his autobiography), there won’t be anything dull about it (except maybe the blade of the guy’s knife… *shudders*). Hyperkinetic visuals, taut editing and awesome music (including an original score by A. R. Rahman) abound throughout, as Aron Ralston drives, bikes, walks, climbs, squeezes and ultimately drops his way into a canyon in the middle of nowhere, where he’ll spend, yes, 127 hours (roughly 5 days).

As played by James Franco, Aron kinda reminded me of Emile Hirsch’ character from “Into the Wild”, another real-life, modern-day adventurer who went too far with his lonely man-against-nature journey… There’s also a bit of the harrowing mountain climbing documentary “Touching the Void” to it and, stylistically, it’s not unlike some of the one-guy-with-a-camera movies of Robert Morin, even though it’s very much a Danny Boyle picture more than anything. I loved the way he always keeps the camera moving, finding all the different possible angles and points of view in the narrow crevasse where nearly all the action takes place, from the widest establishing shot to the most extreme close-up, briefly cutting to flashbacks, daydreams and hallucinations but never straying too far from Aron’s painfully precarious situation…

Of course, “127 Hours” wouldn’t work if the charismatic James Franco didn’t do such an impressive job at holding our attention, making us feel all the extent of his character’s fear and desperation in the face of potential death, but also his extraordinary will to survive… Which leads to the as visceral as it gets moment you’ve probably heard about already, which involves the aforementionned dull knife and the part of Aron’s arm that’s trapped under a boulder. I gotta say, even though I knew it was coming, actually seeing that scene was even more hardcore horrifying than I imagined! Still, as difficult to watch as Boyle’s film can be at times, it’s ultimately more uplifting than anything, never more so than during the final sequence set to Sigur Ros’ triumphant Festival. ]

2013
Trance 63
[ The thing about a great filmmaker is that they can basically direct the hell out of even a silly B-movie screenplay and make it involving and fun. Here, we get a bunch of rather preposterous twists and turns involving art thieves and hypnosis and whatnot, but Danny Boyle finds all kinds of ridiculous/awesome ways to convey that visually, enough to make this a fun watch even though it’s mostly nonsense. It helps that it stars James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel, plus that it features a bit of gore and full frontal nudity! ]

2015
Steve Jobs 91
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

2017
T2 Trainspotting 62
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]