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IFC Center tribute to James Franco will last longer than 127 hours

IFC Center tribute to James Franco will last longer than 127 hours

127 HOURS (Danny Boyle, 2010)
IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Thursday, March 6, 3:00, and Wednesday, March 12, 7:15
Series runs March 5-13

The prospect of sitting through a ninety-five-minute movie that primarily takes place in close quarters as a young hiker tries to break free of a rock that has pinned him near the bottom of an isolated crevice in Utah’s Blue John Canyon for five days is not exactly promising, whether you suffer from claustrophobia or can take only so much James Franco in one sitting. In addition, you’re likely to know pretty much everything that happens, since the story of Aron Ralston’s true-life fight for survival was all over the news back in 2003 and became a bestselling autobiography, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. But in the hands of Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, the visual mastermind behind such films as Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, the underrated Sunshine, and Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours keeps the suspense in high gear, anchored by Franco’s raw, emotional, Oscar-nominated performance as adventurer Ralston. Over the course of more than five days, Ralston records video diary entries for his parents, carefully preserves his tiny water supply, gets excited when he can stick his foot out to catch a brief ray of sunlight, and uses a dull knife to try to cut through his arm. Every morning a raven flies overhead, as if waiting for him to die so he can scavenge his body. But Ralston immerses himself in fantasies and memories, attempting to keep his mind operating to come up with a way to get free. Watching the film is both agonizing and exhilarating; don’t be surprised if you feel guilty gulping your large soda and munching on your supersized popcorn while Ralston preciously measures his liquid intake by the milliliter. 127 Hours is another cinematic triumph by one of today’s most innovative directors, starring twenty-first-century-man Franco, who writes poetry and short stories, appears in avant-garde videos, curates art exhibitions, adapts classic novels into offbeat films, directs dance theater, is studying for his PhD at Yale and teaching at other colleges, is a novelist, and will soon be on Broadway playing George in Of Mice and Men — and he’s still only in his midthirties. The IFC Center is paying tribute to the unstoppable Franco — he is so ubiquitous that a few months ago, we were discussing his version of As I Lay Dying while we were on our way to see an off Broadway show, and when we sat down, it turned out that we were sitting right behind Mr. Franco. FrancoFest runs March 5-12 with screenings of 127 Hours, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl (in which Franco plays Allen Ginsberg), Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, William Friedkin’s Cruising, Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, and such Franco-directed flicks as Sal, My Own Private River, Good Time Max, The Broken Tower, As I Lay Dying, The Ape, Francophenia (Or: Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is) (made with Ian Olds), and his latest, Interior. Leather Bar, which he directed with Travis Mathews. Franco will be at the IFC Center for various screenings March 5-8 to talk about his work — and his ubiquity.

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