James Franco

Ashley-Benson-Rachel-Korine-Selena-Gomez-And-Vanessa-Hudgens2

Every year that goes by without a Special Achievement Academy Award given out at the Oscars is another year where it feels like cinema isn’t moving forward. Of course, cinema is moving forward. The last such award was received way back in 1996 by John Lasseter for making the first feature-length computer-animated film (Toy Story), yet things have changed and progressed in those 18 years in a multitude of ways, just maybe nothing so noticeably groundbreaking as that. Animation has instead improved gradually. So have computer-generated visual effects, and the truly important advances of the latter do tend to get recognized with the Scientific & Technical Academy Awards. Plus, unlike the early years of the Special Achievement Award, there’s actually a permanent visual effects category again. In fact, most of the areas that the award has honored in the past now have their own category. But the special Oscar doesn’t have to be just for visual effects, sound effects and sound editing, as it mostly has been. The purpose of the award is, according to the Academy, “for an outstanding contribution to a particular movie when there is no annual award category that applies to the contribution.” That can be any number of elements that go into moviemaking, from stunts to casting to catering. And the “outstanding contribution” doesn’t need to be anything game-changing. The three “unsung heroes” spotlighted this week by Variety — Lone Survivor stunt coordinator Kevin Scott, Inside Llewyn Davis animal trainer Dawn Barkan and Her video […]

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Pompeii Movie

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Tommy Wiseau

While it may not sound like something worth bragging about, here it is: I was an early adopter of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. While the legendarily bad film is now, well, legendary in plenty of cinematic circles, for a long time, it was simply a strange footnote in local Los Angeles lore. Before Wiseau’s film started selling out midnight screenings at what was then the Laemmle Sunset 5 (and is now a swanky Sundance Cinemas), the multi-hyphenate promoted his ill-fated feature on a single billboard on Fountain Ave. in Hollywood. It was that billboard that a pair of my film school friends (not rejects, sadly) saw on a consistent basis, that billboard that intrigued them, and that billboard that inspired them to purchase the film on DVD sometime around 2003. The Room became an instant classic in our circle (turns out, you don’t need an entire theater of fans to make a so-bad-it’s-good screening work you just need Malibu rum and wise cracks), and when we found out that the film was playing on the big screen nearby, we simply had to go. Back then, The Room only pulled in enough of an audience to lock one theater a month, but Wiseau would show up at every screening to deliver an introduction and something vaguely approaching a Q&A (when one of my friends asked him where he was from, he snapped, “what do you mean? Where do you think? Maaahrrrs?” and another time he admirably told a blond pal he […]

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Maladies

“You don’t need any help thinking abstractly, James.” Multi-hyphenate James Franco and his apparent quest to do everything has long bled over into the sense that the actor-turned-whatever is doing actual performance art in his own life – particularly when it comes to stuff like his soap opera stint on General Hospital and his weirdly compelling turn in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. Franco may be ostensibly interested in reaching out beyond the norm, but he paradoxically seems to do that sort of thing while also still being so very James Franco. Franco’s latest project (and, when it comes to Franco, this stuff is always a “project” with a capital P) is a film called Maladies, an almost suffocatingly arty affair in which Franco appears to be playing a version of himself. In the film, Franco stars as a failed actor named James who abandons Hollywood for small town life, the kind that ultimately seems to be even stranger than any sort of existence he carved out for himself in good old La-La Land. James’ attempts to establish a new way of living are thwarted by a few things – namely, his latent mental illness. Is James Franco playing James Franco?

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childofgod_01

If the news that crazy-ass James Franco was going to be adapting one of Cormac McCarthy’s most crazy-ass novels into a movie didn’t pique your interest as soon as it was announced, chances are the teaser trailer for Child of God was enough to grab even your elusive attention. It was basically just a minute of Scott Haze making crazy faces as the story’s murderous subject, the cave-dwelling necrophile Lester Ballard, but it was enough to prove that, even if the movie was a complete disaster, it was likely going to be a perversely enthralling disaster—kind of like how you wouldn’t be able to look away if you came upon a burning bus full of puppies or something. Now that there’s a full trailer out for the film though, it looks like Franco might have resisted the urge to go full-on abstract and impenetrable in his handling of this story about isolation from the order of man’s world. As a matter of fact, this trailer makes Child of God look like it could be a pretty standard thriller about a serial murderer, though one that’s likely elevated due to a clearly electric lead performance from Raze as well as the calming presence of a character acting veteran like Tim Blake Nelson. Click through to give it a watch, but be warned that the footage contains more blood and murder than most full-length films, and this is just a two minute ad. Don’t get squeamish, now.

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Lovelace

As much as we all might mock James Franco for his seemingly never-ending work flow of wackiness – movies, television, dunder-headed adaptations of classic novels, soap operas, books, art installations, screaming about shit, and so on and so forth – the multi-hyphenate certainly seems to be interested in mixing things up in a big way. He also appears to have a hefty interest in classic Hollywood and offbeat stories from that era (this is, after all, a guy who directed a biopic on Sal Mineo), so why not give him a meaty role in an era-appropriate film that he can excel it, if only because he’s done it before? Variety reports that director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) is now on board to direct Warner Bros.’ long-gestating biopic about Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder, raconteur, and major man about town. While Dobkin seems like a bit of a strange fit – he also directed The Change-Up – the director has recently taken a turn into the dramatic with the upcoming The Judge, and the film will be bolstered by a screenplay by Peter Morgan, who has penned such historically-set films as Rush and Frost/Nixon. A mix of high and low? Comedy and drama? How could Franco not be at the top their list?

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James Franco

It’s been no secret that A24, the distributor behind Harmony Korine’s bonkers blast of pure adrenaline (and, like, a lot of drugs), Spring Breakers, has been stumping for some awards acknowledgement for co-star James Franco for quite some time now (he’s wisely been touted for a Best Supporting Actor role). What started as a bit of a laugh and a lark has now blossomed into what appears to be an actual campaign, albeit one that stays true to the grilled-up idiocy of Franco’s Alien, a low-tier gangster who demands that we “consider his shit.” The distributor has now released a For Your Consideration video (fine, a Consider This Shit video) touting some of the major praise heaped on Franco in the role alongside some of his greatest hits in the film. It’s a relatively straightforward FYC vid, much like the type we’ve seen for other, more traditional work from this year’s finest actors, but because it’s so serious and, yes, straightforward and traditional, it’s also something else entirely – it’s totally brilliant. After one minute of this video, you’ll be sold on nominating Franco for any and all awards for his work as Alien or, at the very least, you’ll be sold on the idea that this is work worth considering for the most prestigious awards in Hollywood, despite how low-brow this all looks (at least on the surface). Give it a look and get ready to consider some shit:

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review homefront

Jason Statham made his big screen debut in 1998′s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and just four years later he got his first starring role as The Transporter. He’s been punching and kicking ever since, averaging between two to four films per year over the last decade, with 2013 coming in at the high end with lead roles in both Parker and Redemption and an end-credits cameo in a major action franchise. There are of course exceptions, but we can probably all agree that Statham’s more of a quantity over quality kind of guy. His newest action romp, Homefront, offers some bang for your buck, but it probably won’t be changing that assessment. Phil Broker (Statham) is working undercover as a member of a motorcycle gang that dabbles in the manufacture and distribution of meth. The big bust goes sideways, and when the gang leader’s son gets swiss-cheesed in front of his eyes, he swears vengeance against Broker before being carted off to jail. Two years later Broker and his young daughter, Maddy (Izabela Vidovic), are settling down to a new life in a small Louisiana town. The sins of the past soon come calling though when a local meth dealer (James Franco) discovers Broker’s past and invites some old friends to town for payback.

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Kill Your Darlings

Perhaps the most misleading aspect of the new crop of Beat movies that have surfaced during the past few years is that they obscure the fact that there was once an older crop of Beat movies. If your only exposure is Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl, Walter Salles’ On the Road, John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings, and Michael Polish’s Big Sur, you might assume that the Beats participated in an artistic movement reserved exclusively for the written word. Yet Allen Ginsberg was front-and-center of experimental film projects like 1959’s Pull My Daisy (narrated by Kerouac) and 1966’s Chappaqua, while William S. Burroughs spent most of his career after the 1970s in independent films (alongside producing spoken word albums). Even Jack Kerouac, the most novelistic of the best-known Beats, showed his media literacy by recording improvisatory experiments in audio technology before he published “On the Road.” The literary Beats not only inspired later independent filmmakers, musicians, and artists, but they participated in multimedia productions themselves, seeking to realize a revolutionary new aesthetic across a variety of platforms of expression, often concurrently with their most famous published work. There is nothing inherently wrong with focusing only on these authors’ best-known works in adapting them to screen, but the resulting films do reinforce a rather common image of the Beats as forever-young literary outsiders, when they were in fact heavily involved in the social and artistic movements their work cultivated and helped inspire throughout their lives. But this raises a question: Do […]

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Homefront

This Thanksgiving holiday, you and your family (bickering, loving, overstuffed, or some combination of the three) will have plenty of choices for after-meal movie-going fun. Perhaps you’ll take the kids to see Disney’s latest animated feature, Frozen, which involves animated princesses and animated snowmen and – is that? – a yak (could be a moose? An elk? We’ll look into this one). Maybe your family is in need of some musical excitement and holiday cheer, which means that Black Nativity should ring all of your bells. Maybe you hate your family and want to fool them – there’s Oldboy for you! – or you all want some historical meat to chew on (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom). Heck, maybe you were even busy the week before, and now is the time to catch up on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire or Delivery Man. There are so many options – it’s a cornucopia of Thanksgiving movie choices (forgive me). Or, maybe… Well, maybe you’d like to take in a little action outing written by Sylvester Stallone that stars James Franco and Jason Statham as a dueling meth dealer and a former DEA agent, respectively? Oh, are you not familiar with Homefront? Let’s fix that.

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franco

James Franco‘s Sal follows actor Sal Mineo’s final hours with a fly-on-the-wall approach. In the film we see the bright young actor, played by Val Lauren, prepping a directorial feature he won’t make any compromises on. After seeing Sal, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Franco and Mineo in that regard. Franco has spent the last few years directing personal projects that are nothing if not uncompromising. Behind the camera, he’s taken on norm-defying adaptations like As I Lay Dying, the experimental recreation of lost scenes from Cruising and a documentary focused on his guest starring appearances on soap opera General Hospital.  Those projects, along with Sal, aren’t overtly commercial endeavors (as you may have noticed), but Franco’s directorial features have certainly found their audience. He works fast, and, as Franco tells us, that work ethic isn’t a matter of simply rushing through project after project. Despite being insanely busy, he sat down with me to discuss that work ethic and the prospect of making even more movies.

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caplan

Over the past decade or so Lizzy Caplan has built a pretty respectable career for herself being one of the go-to names you call if you need someone who’s both a pretty face and a sharp tongue for a big screen comedy. If you look over the girl’s filmography, she’s just constantly working. It’s looking like things could be getting even better for her as far as the acting game is concerned though, because not only is she currently starring in one of the fall’s hot new television dramas, Masters of Sex, which is creating quite a bit of critical buzz, but THR is reporting that she’s also just been recruited to be the female lead in the sure to be big next comedy from co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (This Is the End), The Interview. What is The Interview? An absolutely insane-sounding movie about a smarmy talk show host and his television producer sidekick who somehow get wrapped up in a plot to assassinate the prime minister of North Korea. That’s what.

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Sal

From the mind of our foremost Young Actor Turned Serious Artist James Franco comes the story of another young star who tried to shed his youthful image in Hollywood – Sal Mineo. Franco’s latest directorial venture, the Mineo biopic Sal, focuses on the time after his celebrated turn in Rebel Without a Cause that set him up for a long road of typecasting. Rebel would define Mineo’s (Val Lauren) career, and his struggles to be seen as more than a pretty face, as you can see in the trailer, made his life hellish. Historical spoiler: Mineo’s story ends (and this biopic, likely), with his tragic stabbing in the alley behind his apartment at the premature age of 37. While the source material is compelling, the trailer is just awful. It looks like Franco slapped some 1950s-period accurate clothing on Lauren and his cohorts and then filmed in sketchy areas of LA when other people just conveniently weren’t around. “Everybody clear out of this theater for a couple hours, please. I owe Mr. Franco a favor.” The sound is off, too. Is this Franco trying to make a statement again or something that I’m not “getting?” Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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tim blake

The first three weeks of October 2002 was a tense time for anyone living around the Nation’s Capital. Living in Maryland I vividly recall the amount of fear the Beltway Snipers created, leading to special precautions at schools and people avoiding crowded areas. The movie that tells the story of those two snipers, Blue Caprice, captures that uneasiness with slow-building, methodical filmmaking. There’s a few familiar faces in Alexander Moors‘ film, including Tim Blake Nelson, playing Ray, an “unwitting accomplice” to one of the snipers. While he’s most famous for playing one of the many lovable morons in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Nelson has been working successfully as a writer, director, and, for the past year and a half, a member of James Franco‘s camp. Nelson has now acted in two of Franco’s films, As I Lay Dying and Child of God, making for a collaboration that has put a pep in Mr. Nelson’s step. We discussed that artistic partnership with Nelson, as well as Blue Caprice, humanizing transformations, and why an actor always needs to have their antennae out:

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Homefront

USA Today has the first look at Homefront, the Sylvester Stallone-written action flick soon to be an in-flight movie in a cross country flight in your near future. So what happenes when you take Sylvester Stallone out of the action movie and into the writers’ room?

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Palo Alto

While yesterday our own Kate Erbland brought you news of puzzling James Franco projects of yore, today the renaissance man is gracing us with the trailer for Palo Alto, the trailer for the film based on his collection of short stories. Though written and directed by Gia Coppola (yes, related, granddaughter), Franco steps into the world he created for himself to play a soccer coach who seduces his teenage star, Emma Roberts. In other intertwined stories, we see teenagers dealing with drinking, drugs, heartbreak, and authority in the affluent suburbs of Palo Alto, California. It’s your typical coming of age fare, but through the pen and influence of Franco, is it going to be any different than your normal teen movies? Check out the trailer for yourself:

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The Ape

There’s no reason why James Franco’s second directorial outing shouldn’t be known to everyone – not because it’s good or because it’s bold or because it’s even particularly interesting, but because it’s bonkers crazy that the self-styled king of literary-minded film adaptations isn’t reminded every single day that his second feature was a shockingly inept Harvey rip-off starring a guy in an ape suit in a Hawaiian shirt. Yesterday saw the release of the trailer for Child of God, Franco’s latest adaptation of a literary work and one that adds Cormac McCarthy to his steadily-growing stable of better writers whose work Franco has adapted for the big screen – one that includes William Faulkner as its centerpiece. (Interestingly enough, Franco’s first book, “Palo Alto,” has now been adapted for the big screen by another director, Gia Coppola, and both Palo Alto and Child of God will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival next week.) Franco is also consumed with playing famous authors in ostensible biopics – from Hart Crane to Allen Ginsberg to Charles Bukowski – and his literary obsessions ensure that, even if Franco’s work in such projects isn’t actually good, it still sounds creative and intelligent and academically engaging. Then again, so much of what Franco does sounds creative and intelligent and academically engaging and still, most people make fun of him (including me!) because it all just seems like so much (seriously, where does he find the time?). But no matter how Franco has styled his […]

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childofgod

When James Franco announced that he wanted to write and direct an adaptation of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying,” most of us scoffed at the idea and said that it was a story that would never make for a good movie. Franco being Franco, he went ahead and did the job anyway, and now he’s got a completed As I Lay Dying film that debuted at Cannes and is scheduled for a limited theatrical release in the US at the end of September. Point for James Franco. Never one to take a break from giving himself challenges, Franco then moved on to adapting another challenging work from another titan of the literary game, Cormac McCarthy’s “Child of God.” If you’re familiar with The Road, which John Hillcoat adapted from another McCarthy work, or even No Country For Old Men, which was the Coen brothers’ take on one of his stories, then you know McCarthy is an author who can go pretty dark and get pretty bleak with his material. Well, if you want to understand the challenge that Franco undertook by making Child of God,  take all that darkness and bleakness in things like The Road and No Country, and then multiply it by about a hundred, because this is probably the most disturbing story featuring the most difficult to relate to character McCarthy has ever written. It’s hard to imagine anyone being able to make this one into a movie anyone would want to watch, but now Deadline has […]

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mcadams

Proving its title right, Every Thing Will Be Fine just successfully managed to cast the last of its important roles—seemingly at the last minute—one week after shooting on the film began. ETWBF is the latest film from well-respected auteur Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire), and it stars James Franco as an aspiring writer who, after accidentally killing a young boy by hitting him with his car, uses the tragic event to fuel his writing and subsequently becomes famous. The conflict of the film comes when, ten years after the accident, the dead boy’s brother (Robert Naylor) reaches out and tries to contact him. A period of repression and denial then commences. Charlotte Gainsbourg is set for one of the other big roles here, the role of the boys’ mother, but up until this point Wenders had yet to find an actress to play the part of the Franco character’s girlfriend. Reportedly Sarah Polley was up for it at one point, but that deal never quite came together. No big thing though, because THR is reporting that Mean Girls vet and drop dead gorgeous angel Rachel McAdams has just signed on to be their gal.

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springbreakers-commentary1

Harmony Korine caused a bit of a stir with Spring Breakers. Not only did it feature former Disney Channel stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens cutting loose in a wild sequence of debauchery in Florida, it also touched on various taboo subjects like racism, rape culture, and adolescent violence. Korine gives his sometimes pretentious insight into his film on the DVD and Blu-ray commentary, describing the origins of the film in hedonistic modern American imagery from frat parties and real spring break excursions. Much of the filmmaking techniques are pretty obvious from watching the film, but he also offers stories from the set, including Gomez’s nervousness about the ever-present paparazzi and how he brought elements from his own colorful childhood into the film. The movie wasn’t for everyone, but Korine’s commentary adds to the notoriety with information that ranges from the esoteric to the rustic.

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