Who's In It: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Clemence Poesy, Kate Burton, Lizzy Caplan, Treat Williams
The Basics: Once you reach the point in your life where you've turned into one of those rock-climbing, Phish-loving, extreme bros who loves to be alone with scorpions and snakes in desert canyons and you have several varieties of rope and tons of those metal thingies to secure rope into stone and you think it sounds awesome to dive a hundred feet into pitch black nothingness because some other rock-climbing guy you bought weed from told you about this sweet, difficult-to-reach, fresh-water lagoon at the bottom of this one hidden cave, then you might also become the kind of guy who spontaneously jeeps off to one of those desert canyons without telling anyone where you went. And then you have to cut off your own arm when you get stuck out there. Not awesome.
What's The Deal: Eat it, Saw movies, you think you have the "live or die, make your choice" genre all to yourself? You don't; director Danny Boyle just beat you at your own game. It helps that it's a true story, based on Aron Ralston's book Between a Rock and a Hard Place. But Boyle takes the literalist stuff of that title and turns it into the kind of movie-going experience that keeps you grounded in Ralston's horrible reality while simultaneously bouncing off into fantasy, yearning hallucinations, tangential free-association connections made visual (that will sort of remind you of the New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" video) and a kind of ecstatic emotional state most people only associate with '90s rave drugs. It's haunting and moving and--if you're squeamish--only involves major arm-cut-offing for like 60 seconds of screen time. So go.
It's James Franco's Year, You Just Live In It: After delivering one of those great impersonation-style performances as Allen Ginsberg in the underseen Howl, he turns around and holds all your attention as a man who cannot move from one spot for over an hour of film time. The only thing that could top that is if he went and played a soap opera villain on General Hospital. Oh wait, he did that, too. While attending Columbia.
Most Chilling Scene: It happens early so don't be late. But the shot of Franco's hand sweeping a cupboard that's just out of his eyesight, watching his fingers just miss locating his Swiss Army knife and then watching them quickly retreat because he's so stoked and excited to go go go and standing still for three seconds longer and check-listing all necessary safety equipment probably feels like forever, will send a few preliminary shivers down your spine.
Best Weird End Credit And Best Promotional Tie-In Swag Taken Home From The Press Screening: Well first, there's someone named Xmas Lutu making his big screen debut in this movie. He plays a helicopter pilot. He probably really is a helicopter pilot. But if he's actually an actor and plans to proceed with this career path then he just leapfrogged right to the #2 spot of coolest cinema names. Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul is the all time #1, just for the record. Meanwhile, someone in marketing thought that 127 Hours-themed Post-Its were a good idea to hand out to journalists. And that someone deserves a raise for making sure that they all have the sentence "Always leave a note" printed on them.