James Franco

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

A planet where apes evolved from men? Well, not exactly, if you follow the film versions of the Planet of the Apes series. Based somewhat on the fourth film in the series Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), Rise of the Planet of the Apes tells the story of how tinkering with genetic make-up of a species might just lead to humanity’s demise. Rise of the Planet of the Apes re-rebooted the more-than 40-year-old franchise and sets the stage for the much buzzed about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (we liked it a lot). It also gave an opportunity to show the nuance and artistry involved in performance capture, courtesy of Weta Digital and Andy Serkis For its initial Blu-ray and DVD release, director Rupert Wyatt sat down with his film and talked about the production in his stand-alone commentary. Along with some gushing over James Franco and an answer to the greatest meme of 2011 (“Why cookie rocket?”), Wyatt examines the technical side of the film as well as the performances for both human and non-human characters.

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Columbia Pictures

What better way is there to usher in a nuclear holocaust than with Seth Rogen talking about poop? Because Rogen and James Franco have apparently decided that making a movie about a fictional apocalypse was kid stuff. With their newest film, The Interview, they’re basically goading America’s enemies into starting World War Three. A bad idea? Yeah, probably. Will it be funny? Yeah, probably. So hold your loved ones close and prepare for a fart, a chuckle and then the abrupt fiery destruction of all mankind. Franco plays Dave Skylark, an extremely popular and extremely shallow talk show host, with Rogen as his steadfast producer. They discover that Kim Jong-un is, for whatever reason, a fan of their show, and manage to secure an interview with the big man around Pyongyang. But right before they can head out for a little Dennis Rodman-style diplomacy, they get a few visitors from the CIA. Who say, in so many words, “Hey dudes, love the interview idea. Oh, while you’re there, could you be a sport and murder Kim for us? Thanks!” Take a look at the fallout with the first trailer of The Interview below.

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The Disaster Artist

We’ve already determined that the cinematic marriage of James Franco and The Disaster Artist, actor Greg Sestero‘s account of whatever the hell happened during the making of Tommy Wiseau‘s infamously bad (and infamously beloved) The Room is a match made in weirdo heaven and, quite frankly, we didn’t expect that any other bit of news about the film would delight us more than that Franco teaming. Unless, of course, there was another Franco teaming involved. Yup, The Disaster Artist isn’t going to start just one Franco — it will now star two. 3News reports (via The Film Stage) that James Franco’s own baby brother (and current comedic rising star) Dave Franco will also star in the film, playing the Greg Sestero (and reportedly the true lead of the feature) to James’ Tommy Wiseau. Could this possibly get even more weirdly perfect?

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James Franco in Interior Leather Bar

If there’s anyone who doesn’t need more exposure, it’s James Franco. But don’t tell that to Lisa Vangellow, an unknown director who The Wrap reports has been shooting a documentary on the prolific actor since last June. And to give it a little more professional cred, it’s being cut by Franco’s own editor for his upcoming movie Bukowski, Curtiss Clayton (also of Drugstore Cowboy, Buffalo ’66 and much more). According to an official synopsis for the Franco documentary, which is simply titled Franco: A Documentary, Vangellow was an MFA student of his at UCLA, and she is approaching the subject of her film from that perspective. “The documentary will examine the incredible stamina and work ethic that James Franco possesses and how he incorporates this into his various areas of artistic interest,” states the Orchid Child Productions website. “What inspires and motivates him to take on so much and how is it balanced between his family life and celebrity juxtaposed to how he is perceived by the public will also be examined.” Vangellow is said to have received access to Franco’s family and friends, including Seth Rogen. It could be revealing, but it could also be pretty standard and rather complimentary fare — even if it’s not always flattering, because anything unflattering would probably still be a conscious effort on Franco’s part, to make him seem more “real.” That’s why I thought it would be fun to look at how Franco could be influenced by other films in order to be something a little more interesting than this […]

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James Franco in Good People

James Franco has been having a rough go of it lately. After a few months that included flirting with a 17-year-old girl over Instagram, releasing some naked selfies on the internet and playing a soccer coach who has an affair with one of his students, now it seems that Franco’s latest role has him getting in a whole new type of trouble. Can’t a man catch a break? As the first trailer for Henrik Ruben Genz‘s Good People so generously explains, Franco and his wife, Kate Hudson, aren’t having such a nice time. While they’re deeply in love, money don’t pay the bills. Their move to London to renovate a family home sees them falling further and further into debt, as someone forgot to tell them that it’s actually at least number two on the hella expensive cities of the world list. Their cruise through bummertown (population: two) continues when the tenant blasting insanely loud music downstairs turns out to be dead (then who was blasting the music? Who was blasting the music???), and dead enough to be stinking up the place. Like dead, dead. It’s almost a silver lining when they dislodge a duffel bag full of hundreds of thousands of pounds from his ceiling, but they’ve also forgotten another important fact about homeownership in big cities and the logistics of mysteriously dead dudes: never steal a bag of money from a dead man, because the person he probably stole it from is going to come after you next. So naturally, who do you think is the […]

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Spring Breakers sequel

Spranng breaaak. Spranng breaaak foreeeeva. The vacation isn’t over – and neither are the criminal activities, the mischief, the interpretative dances to Britney Spears, the shorts assortments or the just plain bad decisions. Screen Daily reports that the sort-of-hinted-at and possibly-anticipated sequel to Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is a go, but that doesn’t mean we can expect the gang to get back together for it. In fact, it’s safe to assume that Spring Breakers: The Second Coming is going to like a lot like, well, its own coming, and that’s a damn shame.

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Palo Alto film

Hey, guess what? High school sucked. And even if your high school experience wasn’t as rotten and wicked as the ones experienced by the characters that populate Gia Coppola‘s Palo Alto, it seems highly likely that you’ll still find plenty to both relish and revolt from in the filmmaker’s debut feature. This isn’t everyone‘s high school experience, but it’s certainly someone’s. Coppola adapted some of the short story work of James Franco, who also co-stars in the film, for her first feature, and if nothing else, it sure makes Franco’s written work appear instantly compelling. It’s fairly obvious that the film has been cobbled together from assorted stories, as there is a lackadaisical nature to the connections between characters and plots that doesn’t seem exactly lazy, but is undoubtedly the product of some disconneted source material. At its heart, Palo Alto is about the almost-not-quite relationship between April (Emma Roberts, who is just excellent) and Teddy (Jack Kilmer), a pair of high school students who are prone to getting into spats of trouble, or at least hanging around people who don’t have their best interests at heart. There’s a lot of ill-advised hanging around in Palo Alto. 

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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

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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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