Director Showcase – Danny Boyle
In the latest instalment of our Director Showcase Tom takes a look at the diverse films of Danny Boyle.
One of England’s most reliable directors, Danny Boyle is held in such high esteem that he has been commissioned to direct the opening gala at the London Olympics 2012, and has recently dabbled in the world of theatre. I just hope he doesn’t spend too much time away from the camera as he has given us some incredible films over the past two decades.
I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it but I once saw someone describing Danny Boyle as a ‘genre-straddling monster’. He’s applied his skills as a Director to horrors, thrillers, sci-fis and romance to name but a few, switching between genres with ease whilst retaining a distinctive style that is consistent throughout his filmography, and whoever said the above phrase hit the nail firmly on the head as Boyle is a very gifted film-maker.
Based on Irvine Welsh’s gripping but demanding novel (tell me you didn’t struggle when reading Begbie’s sections) Trainspotting is one of the finest crime films of the nineties, it struck a chord with an entire generation and has deservedly garnered a cult following. Nothing has ever disturbed me as much in a non-horror film than the first time I witnessed the baby crawling on the ceiling; Trainspotting is a harrowing watch but is drenched with dark humour that demands repeated viewings. The blistering soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment to the shenanigans of the drug-addled characters that we encounter and since Trainspotting, Boyle has had an excellent ear when choosing the music to accompany his films.
28 Days Later
One of the definitive horror films of the last decade, 28 Days Later may have infuriated purists for its depiction of its infected hosts that retain the ability to chase their victims which gave the middle finger to all the shuffling zombie films that came before it. Although not technically zombies, the hosts of the infection encountered by survivors of the plague are genuinely terrifying and the shots of a post-apocalpytic Britain are eerily creepy. One of Danny Boyle’s best and an absolute game changer for the horror community. Who would have thought that Ryan Gosling was offered the role of Jim but had to turn it down due to a scheduling conflict, this could have been a completely different beast with everyone’s favourite man crush at the helm. Having said that Cillian Murphy was exceptional as the main protagonist and there are little, if any, improvements that could be made to 28 days later.
Sunshine is not widely regarded as one of Danny Boyle’s best but as a huge sci-fi and horror fan I cannot recommend it enough. Sent to reignite their dying sun by unleashing a huge payload into its core, a team of astronauts face untold dangers as their ship moves ever closer to its destination. The set designs are reminiscent of Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001 and the haunting soundtrack adds a depth of emotion to the film that never fails to leave me both unsettled and moved by the plight facing the crew of the Icarus. Some of the science behind the story is questionable but I can forgive Danny for taking the occasional liberty if it allows him to create films of this calibre.
Although it is not a personal favourite of mine, Slumdog created a huge resurgence in the popularity of Indian culture when it hit cinemas back in 2009 and went on to take home a staggering eight Oscars at the Academy Awards ceremony. Dev Patel is perfectly suited to the role of Jamal, who is believed to have cheated his way to winning twenty million rupees and his reasons for knowing the answers are explained in flashbacks whilst he is interrogated. Boyle did a commendable job of adapting the source material as the film was a vast improvement on the novel and I can see why audiences were swept away by the upbeat ending despite the darker tones of scenes near the beginning of the film. Deserving of eight oscars? Probably not, but Slumdog is a captivating watch nonetheless.
Shallow Grave – Boyle’s feature film debut is an exceptional crime thriller that marked him as a director to watch out for. When three friends discover their new flatmate is dead and has left behind a suitcase of money their loyalties are tested to the limit in this grippingly dark story.
The Beach – Although Boyle usually does an excellent job of adapating novels, he didn’t quite hit the mark with The Beach. It still remains a fascinating film though, and he captured moments of sheer beauty in the deadly tropical paradise that Leonardo Dicaprio adopts as his home.
127 Hours – Another adaptation, this time based on a true story, Boyle’s unflinching film leaves no stone unturned apart from a large rock that becomes the downfall of a thrill-seeking outdoors enthusiast. It doesn’t quite equal the epic scale of Into the Wild but is still an excellent film about the dangers of exploring isolated areas unaccompanied.
Millions – Small in scale and budget but large in entertainment value, Millions is almost the antithesis of Shallow Grave, with a young child discovering a lifechanging amount of English currency just days before we are switching to the Euro. A fantastic drama laced with comedy that deserves more attention.
Films to Avoid:
A Life Less Ordinary – Don’t get me wrong, A Life Less Ordinary is an okay film but if I were to introduce someone who had never seen a Danny Boyle film to his work, this would be the last one I would show. Worth a look for anyone who has enjoyed the majority of Boyle’s films but others may be advised to steer clear.
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
Which is your favourite Danny Boyle film? Do you agree with our choices? Let us know your thoughts below.