November 16, 2010

"127 Hours"

From my movie review in Taki's Magazine:
The exuberant 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle’s first movie since winning the Best Picture Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, is surprisingly comparable to The Social Network.
While 127 Hours is shorter, slighter, and more upbeat, both films are deftly made reconstructions of famous 2003 events within young elite subcultures: Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg founding Facebook and alpinist Aron Ralston walking away from a solo canyoneering accident by amputating his own arm.
Both movies overcome their inherently static situations through showbiz razzmatazz. Aaron Sorkin enlivens a story of typing and giving depositions with snappy dialogue. Boyle employs flashbacks, hallucinations, alternative endings, and his zap-pow digital cinematography to juice up the tale of a man, his hand wedged to a canyon wall by a fallen boulder, contemplating his options: somehow survive in a crack in the Utah desert on a liter of water until somebody stumbles upon him; rig a pulley to lift the 800-pound rock; chip the boulder away; perform radical surgery on himself with a dull knife; or die. 

Read the rest there.

By the  way, here's the story of Leonid Rogozov (1934-2000), a Soviet surgeon wintering at a scientific station in Antarctica in 1961, who successfully performed a two-hour long appendectomy on himself using a mirror.

44 comments:

Fred said...

Excellent review, as usual, and insightful comments about the differences between the men who were the inspirations for each movie and how the respective movies portrayed them.

Spot on observation about Zuckerberg's leadership ability. There's no way investors would let a man his age stay CEO at this point in the company's development if he weren't an effective leader. Contrast Facebook with Google where middle aged exec Eric Schmidt was brought in to run the company as CEO.

I don't think Danny Boyle's age explains why he didn't get the real Ralston though. I think it's more his self-professed dislike of the outdoors. Maybe a better team to make this movie would have been Sean Penn as director with Jon Krakauer writing the screenplay (as in Into The Wild).

Anonymous said...

You should one day get around to reviewing the subject of the anthrax mailings, Steve. And don't be afraid to check out sources such as Alex Jones, what you are to race-realism he is to secret-state-realism.

http://antiwar.com/radio/2010/11/11/meryl-nass-2/

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, "Into the Wild" turned out better than expected. "127 Hours" is better than expected, too, partly because it doesn't try very hard to be profound.

As a movie about being stuck, though, I'd give the nod to Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" from a few years ago about the editor of a Parisian fashion mag who is so badly paralyzed he can only blink one eye, then blinks out a bestselling book.

Steve Sailer said...

Anthrax: Cochran and I came around to figuring it was the Mad Scientist Did It.

Anonymous said...

Great review. I think I'll skip the movie and buy his autobio instead.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, under the circumstances I probably would have died of starvation/dehydration. (Though I'm also not drawn to any pursuit likely to put me in such circumstances.)

- JP98

Serge and Brin said...

Spot on observation about Zuckerberg's leadership ability. There's no way investors would let a man his age stay CEO at this point in the company's development if he weren't an effective leader. Contrast Facebook with Google where middle aged exec Eric Schmidt was brought in to run the company as CEO.

A common misperception. That is not the way it plays out with venture money in Silicon Valley and Wall Street. It's about negotiating power, minimizing risk and CYA more than ability as to who grows a startup beyond the initial entrepreneurs.

People are the biggest uncontrollable variable in estimating the success of a startup, so VC always try to minimize this risk by putting in people they personally know, worked with well before and/or have a track record of success. Even if the startup blows up in spectacular fashion, the VC has the excuse of going with "IBM" instead of some off brand.

If entrepreneurs don't want to be given the boot with the first big round of funding, they have to have leverage and be as shrewd as the VCs. The best leverage is to have a hot startup everyone wants in on so you can dictate terms and not be immediately booted or given the ceremonial corner office and title like Chief Imagineer.

The Google guys hired Schmitt as a front-end GUI to deal with necessary mundane distractions. This was a clever sop to the relatively empty suit world of business and finance. The boys maintained firm control as long as they wanted.

Wade Nichols said...

A couple items about Aron Ralston:

1.) It always annoys me how he's made out to be a "hero" for cutting off his arm. The first rule of mountain climbing, backpacking, hiking, etc. is to tell someone where you're going, what your itinerary is, what time you expect to be back. If Ralston did this simple task, he'd have both his arms today.

2.) He strikes me as a major flake, someone who was actually looking for trouble. I read a story on him once where he went out hiking a mountain in a snowstorm, something like that, and he was "fascinated" by it! He had a "This is SOOOO COOL!" moment. Rather than being a hero, he's a big fool. Most of the senior, experienced mountain guides that I've encountered would never think of doing the stupid things that he's done. There's a reason that guys like Ed Viesturs are alive, because they don't take stupid risks, and they learn from their mistakes.

Half Sigma said...

If he was playing Dungeons and Dragons instead of doing stupid SWPL stuff like "canyoneering," he'd still have an arm.

Florida resident said...

Dear Mr. Sailer !
Your article
"How Obama Could Earn Re-Election" was excellent, as always.

On the cinematographic note,
"Carthago delenda est":
"Precious".

Respectfully yours, Florida resident.

Anonymous said...

The real problem that I expected when I saw that this book was to be made into a movie seems to have come true.

Ralston is an idiot.

He got off lucky. He should have died. He had been trying for years to kill himself.

He was alone because no one else would go with him. The word was out on him - keep away, dangerous whacko!

The last incident before he went solo was when he led three others into an avalanche. By a miracle all four got out but none of the others would go out with him again.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Off-topic:

Steve, will you comment on the ascent of Jay-Z to a position that combines business mogul, "street cred" and "Magic Negro" status?

I think he's benefiting from some of the same goodwill that Obama did.

He's sort of the all-purpose go-to figure to reassure America that something good can come out of ghetto projects.



Jay-Z and Warren Buffett in Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/1011/rich-list-10-omaha-warren-buffett-jay-z-steve-forbes-summit-interview.html

Jay-Z with Cornel West at the NY Public Library discussing his book
http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/11/the_four_best_stories_jay-z_to.html

travis said...

Both films are variations on the Western bildungsroman. Zuckerberg must prove himself in California (the importance of Eduardo not going California is repeated several times) while Ralston proves himself in Utah. Like Tommy Lee Jones says in No Country for Old Men, "You can't help but compare yourself against the old timers." Both men have a bit of the cowboy in them -- they're daring, looking for adventure, and willing to strike out on their own -- and this is what separates them from the status conscious, test-cramming drones that make up "young elite subcultures."

(Take a stab at naming David Fincher's favorite movie?)

Anonymous said...

I was a big admirer of "Into the Wild" for its clear-eyed but ultimately sympathetic portrait of a certain kind of young male risk-taking and self-discovery. But when I ran into the young star of the movie Emile Hirsch (yay, small Los Angeles social circles) and talked to him about it, he revealed that during their research into McCandless and his wanderings, they actually discovered a lot of unsavory things-- the old man played by Hal Holbrook was later arrested for exposing himself to young boys, and the friendly reprobate played by Vince Vaughn also had a really seedy side as well. "We started to wonder if the real story was that he was just going around the country fucking these guys," said Hirsch. Ultimately they shot the chaste, manly Jon Krakauer version, but the revelation cast a retroactive pall over the book and movie.

Anonymous said...

O/T: We talk a lot here about the difference between aboriginal hispanics and "Castilian/Hapsburgian" hispanics.

Well check it out - the new hispanic quota CMoH just went to a cracker.

Hilarious.

Looks like the Bamster's advance team got the wool pulled over their eyes.

Kylie said...

"It always annoys me how he's made out to be a 'hero' for cutting off his arm. The first rule of mountain climbing, backpacking, hiking, etc. is to tell someone where you're going, what your itinerary is, what time you expect to be back. If Ralston did this simple task, he'd have both his arms today."

Exactly. When the story first broke, I felt bad that he'd got separated from his buddies and had to amputate his arm before his rescuers found him. Then I discovered he'd gone out alone without telling anyone his plans.

There's nothing heroic about being a high-risk junkie/mountaineer. It's not much different from being an alcoholic that can down a fifth in a few hours and live to tell about it.

Here's my idea of a risk-taking hero:
Red Adair.

Anonymous said...

My experience of climbers in my immediate family is that there are two types: The nerd-tough ones who disdain thrill sports; and the Nietschean supermen. The latter are insufferable, but then what do they care?

Severn said...

"I’m not a wilderness person at all,” he explains. “I was riveted by it because I thought it was a victory for the city over the wilderness."



Wilderness 1, Boyle 0.

Dave said...

"O/T: We talk a lot here about the difference between aboriginal hispanics and "Castilian/Hapsburgian" hispanics.

Well check it out - the new hispanic quota CMoH just went to a cracker.

Hilarious.

Looks like the Bamster's advance team got the wool pulled over their eyes."


Right, because no one ever heard of "aboriginal" Hispanics being brave (this, less than a week after Antonio Margarito, in typical Mexican fashion, refused to quit despite getting a lopsided beating by the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world). Take a minute to read the Medal of Honor citation for Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez. I challenge you to find anyone more worth of the medal than him.

europeasant said...

Yes, there some hippie types in the mountains. Have you ever driven thru
Nederland Colorado? One of the strangest hippie types that I have met was on the Longs Peak Trail http://www.14ers.com/routemain.php?route=long1&peak=Longs+Peak . Longs peak is the tallest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl.
Here we were on the upper Boulder Field http://www.14ers.com/photos/longspeak/RLong_104.jpg and said hippie (20 something old ) says to me “ dude are you following me”? Maybe I was, as I did not know the route thru the boulder field and it looked to me like he knew where he was going. I said “maybe”. It was 6 o’clock in the morning and I had been on the go since 3:15 AM. I was a little tired and a little old (I am 60 plus 6 months). This peak was my 10th 14er, so I am not exactly a beginner. I had trained all summer on my stepper plus hiking 15 minute miles 4 to 5 times a week as part of my strategy to finally climb Longs Peak after first setting my eyes on the summit back in 1972 as a naive 22 year old. Anyway I met up with him again near the Keyhole for a rest stop. He pulls out a skleef and asks if I want a toke. I said no thank you as I thought that this was utter insanity to be stoned climbing a class 3 peak. Well to make a long story short; after I reached the top and rested, here comes the hippie type upon reaching the top ready for his rest. Conclusion: don’t underestimate the hippie types, they are one tough rugged type of individual.

Anonymous said...

Wade, you and the army of people in hate with Chris McCandless don't get it. There IS no point to mountain climbing or heading off into the wilds of alaska aside for because it's there. This isn't a task for some ulterior purpose like knocking out the enemy's communication tower, the only reason we do things like this is because we live by our own rules and do what we feel like doing. Are we gonna die sonner than faggoty asses who belong to some sort of "outdooring" culture who "travel" to fulfill some social expectation and gain street cred? Quite possibly.

Those people have an ulterior motive for how they live so they don't go boating down rapids they know nothing about or hitchhiking through Mexico. They also tell their mommy and daddy where they're going and when they're going to be back home. After all, traveling for them is just all in a day's work.


I haven't read anything about Ralston passt the articles that came out about him a few years back so I can't speak too definitively about him, I'm pretty sure I have at least a basic understanding of McCandles though and the world wide web of haters out there crying out that he's no hero miss the goddamn point, he wasn't trying to be a hero or a survivalist. He was just interested in living while he was aive.

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, one thing I noticed with the Pat Tillman documentary last summer was that he was kind of a northern California hippie-jock. His lawyer dad moved bought a house in the mountains above Silicon Valley in the early 1970s and the three Tillman brothers had an idyllic outdoor upbringing.

Steve Sailer said...

The Tough Hippie category is an interesting one. My organic farmer cousin is one. I remember hiking out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon when we were 12. He just vanished up the trail, reaching the top hours before my dad and me.

There used to be movies backprojecting the 1960s into the history of the West, such as "Jeremiah Johnson," which argued, in effect, that the mountain men of the early 19th century were tough hippies. They were probably onto something.

Fred said...

Wouldn't Jeff Bridges's character in The Men Who Stare at Goats be an example of a Tough Hippie?

Anonymous said...

Um, what does Sal Giunta, who is of Italian descent, have to do with Hispanics, "aborginal" or not?

Anonymous said...

Um, what does Sal Giunta, who is an Italian American, have to do with Hispanics, "aborginal" or not?

Anonymous said...

example of non-condemnation of very non PC comments on africans in haaretz

Several people called out from the audience, "We hate them, they are stealing everything they can, they behave like animals and they are chasing our girls."

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/south-tel-aviv-residents-call-for-expelling-foreigners-from-neighborhood-1.325092

Anonymous said...

Example of a modern day 'tough hippie' for those who don't believe the category exists...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86Krv3gE-c4&feature=player_embedded

JermiahJohnbalaya said...

Tough Hippies: I know dudes who race and win this. Horrible politics, but tough as nails stoners.

Anonymous said...

Right, because no one ever heard of "aboriginal" Hispanics being brave...

In your defense, I am going to assume that you live in a cave, and that you missed the wall-to-wall media coverage of the event today.

It was the first CMoH ceremony for a living recipient in about 40 years, and I guaran-dadgum-tee you that if the guy's name hadn't been "Salvatore Giunta" - that if, instead, he had been named "Wile E. McWhiteBread" - then we would never even have heard of the dude.

This was ALL about the politics, and the opportunity for the Bamster to go on national TV to burnish his barrio-homey street-cred, and the entire ridiculous charade blew up in his face - they had assumed that they were getting a graham cracker, but they got a soda cracker instead.

Anonymous said...

OT

Shiite. Our DNA may be 1-5% Neanderthal but it's 40% virus.

http://discovermagazine.com/2010/jun/03-the-insanity-virus/article_view?b_start:int=2&-C=

Anonymous said...

This was ALL about the politics, and the opportunity for the Bamster to go on national TV to burnish his barrio-homey street-cred, and the entire ridiculous charade blew up in his face - they had assumed that they were getting a graham cracker, but they got a soda cracker instead.

I am with the other anon in saying this guy is of Italian heritage. I don't get your take on this that this is Obama trying to get cred with the hispanic community because the soldier is not hispanic.

The guy got the medal because he deserved it. And yes, it is a big deal that a living person gets the MOH.

Also, this did not blow up in the bamster's face because the MOH is not just given out. It usually takes years to approve. With Sal Giunta, his actions happened three years ago. So the thought that the administration thought they were getting a hispanic and were surprised that they got a white Italian is not believable. They have been reviewing this case for three years.

Ray Sawhill said...

Re "tough hippies" ...

I suspect there may be lots of them out there. Years ago I went on a guided-backpacking-for-beginners trip in Wyoming and, via the guides, got a glimpse of a culture I'd never known about before: eco-hippie/stoners who make lives as wilderness tour guides. I got the impression that there may be thousands of them, drifting (during their 20s) from tour-guide job to tour-guide job, then maybe settling down in one place and working in administration (while still taking loads of breaks for solo treks, often daredevil ones, at least by my city-pussy standards) for some trekking organization if/when they want kids or a quieter life. They all seem to know each other and/or have heard of each other, and they seem to bump into each other often as they pass in the night. 99% of them may not qualify as awesome wanna-be Nietzschean superdudes, but they're mighty good in the wilderness, which is enough to make me think of them as pretty darned tough.

Wade Nichols said...

Wade, you and the army of people in hate with Chris McCandless don't get it.

I said nothing about McCandless, my comments were about Aron Ralston. Maybe you have a reading comprehension problem? Remind me not to give you the topographic map.....

the only reason we do things like this is because we live by our own rules and do what we feel like doing.

Really? Ego and bragging rights don't enter into the equation? Why do so many rock and mountain climbers have sponsorship deals with Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, Feathered Friends, etc.?

The cemetery is filled with people who died too young because they "live by their own rules and do what they feel like doing".

he wasn't trying to be a hero or a survivalist. He was just interested in living while he was [sic] aive.

Going into the wilds of Alaska with insufficient food, and about zero knowledge of how to hunt or forage is not my idea of being interested in living.

Anonymous said...

The guy is named Salvatore Giunta. How could anyone mistake him for anything but an Italian?

Marc B said...

The archetype of the tough hippie matches a lot of the people I've climbed with over the last 25 years. The Stonemasters crew of California were the gold standard. John Bachar climbed thousands of feet of rock a day rope-less over very difficult vertical and sometimes overhanging terrain throughout Yosemite in the late 1970's and 80's. John Long, the ringleader, is someone few would pick a fight with either in his prime or now in his mid-50's. All those guys played hard and lived uncomfortably cheap to be able to do the amazing things they did on rock faces and mountains all over the world. They created the template for the rest of us uninterested in leading normal, productive lives right after graduation.

People forget that so many hippies of yore were rugged individualists, untrusting of an intrusive federal government and were not very PC. They were natural entrepreneurs because they couldn't take orders and homesteaders who refused to live in polluted, urban hellholes. The "conservative" preppy males I grew up with exhibited far more feminine and domesticated qualities than most of the self-sufficient hippies I've come across.

Ralston did what he had to do to survive after getting himself in a jam, but he is no hero. He happened to learn what we call "mountain sense" the hard way.

Anonymous said...

There's probably a 100 Italian guys in the Boston or Broklyn phone book named "Sal Giunta". Unless he's a mix its not hispanic.

Steven said...

"The first rule of mountain climbing, backpacking, hiking, etc. is to tell someone where you're going, what your itinerary is, what time you expect to be back. If Ralston did this simple task, he'd have both his arms today."

Probably not. Ralston's arm was dead long before he cut it off so it isn't clear he ever could have saved it. Giving someone a detailed itinerary would have got Ralston out of the canyon sooner but it would not have done anything to prevent a boulder from rolling onto his arm.

In the book, some of Ralston's activities strike me as reckless--for example him getting caught in an avalanche. But strolling down a fairly non-technical canyon by himself wasn't one of them.

"A recent study found that climbers suffer posttraumatic stress disorder after severe injuries only one-seventh as much as soldiers and firemen do."

I'd like to see this reference.

James Kabala said...

I don't know if he actually engages in mountain sports, but surely Kris Kristofferson is the archetypal "tough hippie."

I agree that Obama is not as smart as many liberals think (or used to think), but I don't think he is dumb enough to mistake "Sal Giunta" for a Hispanic.

Anonymous said...

Ken Kesey gets my vote for the original tough guy hippie. He was a star wrestler and football player in high school. Also the writer Edward Abbey comes to mind. As James Kabala mentioned, Kris Kristofferson, a member of Phi Betta Kappa and a Rhodes Scholar, definitely fits the mold. And, in Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges does a better Kris Kristofferson than Kristofferson could do. They all possess true grit.

Salvatore Romano said...

On the radio yesterday I kept hearing the phrase "Salvatore Giunta from Iowa".

I thought it was a good marketing ploy to select this guy out of the many no doubt deserving soliders.

* The rubes from flyover country will hear Iowa and feel good about themselves

* Hispanics ceaselessly propagandized to be more ethnocentric will hear "Salvatore" and feel good about themselves. If they even think about the curious last name they'd probably just dismiss it as some Indian variant.

* Italians, the only ones who will accurately recognize the name high percentages, will of course feel good about themselves.

He was chosen in no small part because he represents a good multicultural ethnic cipher.

Obama's team could only increase their PC score if Salvatore later turns out to be GLBT too, but just can't tell yet.

Anonymous said...

Someone named Romano should know that Salvatore is definitely Italian. The Spanish equivalent would be Salvador.

Salvatore Romano said...

Someone named Romano should know that Salvatore is definitely Italian. The Spanish equivalent would be Salvador.

Maybe in a perfect world. Even assuming +1 or 2SD IQ for the average listener, many are distracted with news as background noise.

I heard the radio report 2-3x driving and was distracted trying to place the guy's last name into some Indigian tribe of Mexico or Central America where I've lived.

The word "Iowa" jumped out but far below in third place for my attention was the guys first name. I just assumed the announcer said "Salvador" because the ratio of Hispanic:Italian names in the MSM (esp NPR) is pretty skewed these days.

Also, I know there are a lot of recent Hispanic immigrants now in Iowa ag industries like meat packing where wages have been gutted but virtually no Italian communities of any size.

Anonymous said...

Italians, the only ones who will accurately recognize the name high percentages, will of course feel good about themselves.

Italians, and the tens of millions of people who live in the Northeast Corridor, where we all become very familiar with everything Italian, whether we want to or not.