“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?