Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours – the amazingly cinematic account of real-life climber Aron Ralston’s ordeal, trapped in a crevice in a Utah canyon – has its gala premiere at the Philadelphia Film Festival on Sunday night, and then opens locally on Nov. 12. Its star, in case you haven’t heard, is one James Franco -- the famously busy thespian who seems to be enrolled in about five or six colleges, is pursuing various masters and doctorates, paints, played Allen Ginsberg in Howl and just finished the Planet of the Apes prequel, Rise of the Apes.
And, oh, he has a collection of short stories, Palo Alto, just out from Scribner. We showed the book to Boyle when he was in town recently, and the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire laughed.
“It’s funny,” says the ebullient Brit. “A guy I know at Faber & Faber in Britain, a big publishing house, he rang me up -- this is after we shot the movie, I’m almost finished the editing, and he says, ‘Hey, we’re publishing James’ book.’ And I said, ‘Oh, are you?’ And he said, “Yeah, I just wanted to get a quote from you about his stories.’ And I said `I didn’t even know he was writing short stories!’
“I mean, James is extraordinary. But what’s weird about him -- and he was like this when I first met him -- he gives this impression of being stoned, like half-asleep, so relaxed that you start to think Am I here? Can he see me? And yet, clearly — and this book is just more evidence of the fact — his problem, if he has one, is hyper-activity. His brain is in overdrive."