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Entries in James Franco (40)

Sunday
Mar102013

Review: "Oz: the Great and Powerful"

This review was originally published @ Towleroad in my weekly column

You're basically asking for a trouble with that title, you know? OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict how this will turn out. If the movie is neither great nor powerful, tomatoes will be thrown. It feels weird to abbreviate the new picture as simply Oz, since it's a derivation rather than an original, so we'll call it Great and Powerful moving forward despite the misdirection. The filmmakers would approve since the movie begins with a clear and charming admission that James Franco's "Oscar Diggs" is no wizard at all but a travelling con-artist. So I come not to throw tomatoes (too easy), at least not at first, but to marvel at how red they are as they fly through the air.

The trailer brags that the movie comes from the producers of Tim Burton's Eyesore in Wonderland, a gargantuan box office success but one of the worst films of the new century, so there was cause to worry. Could any film be as simultaneously garish and muddy to look at? The happy answer is no. 3D technology has come a long way and director Sam Raimi (most famous for the Spider-Man and Evil Dead trilogies) has far more taste and control of his color palette than Burton has had recently. 

more...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan212013

Sundance Kills Your Darlings In Interior Leather Bars

"Sex. Sex. Sex." That's a far more accurate and truer statement than the clichéd "Sex Sells" isn't it? Sex often emphatically doesn't sell. Sometimes it severely limits your market penetration... excuse me, saturation. So "Sex Sells" is an overstatement with lots of conditional clauses. But "Sex. Sex. Sex." that's just true, unequivocally! I'm not saying this because of this Kill Your Darlings trio's photo op I've just posted...

Daniel, Dane, and their Director John

 

...even though yes, director John Krokidas is totally 100% sexable based on this photographic evidence. (Tangent: Dane DeHaan turns 27 next month. Is he going to look like he's 30 when he's 60?).

I began this post with "Sex. Sex. Sex." because that's all I keep reading about from Sundance. Yesterday we covered the Cougar Island sexcapades of Two Mothers but apparently Sundance just keeps presenting the world with future MPAA challenges. Quoth Carpetbagger:

“I’ve seen five movies today, and it has been nonstop,” said a senior executive at a major Hollywood studio on Saturday night. “I’m no prude, but it’s a little much.”

NSFW James Franco, Amanda Seyfried, and Gay blah blah blah after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr292012

Hot Docs: Paolo's Opening Reactions

Paolo here. All world class cities have a lot going on in arts and cultures and this is especially true of Toronto for film lovers. So here I am apologizing that I missed the Kathleen Turner Mini-Film Festival because it happened during Hot Docs, the largest documentary film festival in North America. Taking us northern movie lovers from our post-Oscar hibernation, this festival also begins our new movie year.

I first started going to the festival in 2010, a year full of political films, although not as preachy as the word implies. 2011 had creatively-filmed spotlights on the bittersweet lives of its subjects. But this year's docs are more difficult to enjoy, if that's even an option. Let me explain. An example is The Invisible War, which had its international premiere last Friday.

It's...

the latest groundbreaking investigative documentary by award-winning director Kirby Dick, is about one of America’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape -

 

No! Although it has 'prestige doc' potential.

Then there's Outing, also having its international premiere last Friday, its synopsis reading

Since turning 15, a shy, sensitive youth has struggled with a growing awareness of his own unimaginable desire: his sexual attraction to children.

"Jeff"Oh come on now, really? (UPDATE: the screenings for this movie have sold out, leaving its availability status for those who dare join the rush lines). These movies are just the tip of a creepy ass iceberg. There's a selection called Sexy Baby for Christ's sakes, adding another title to the trend of Docs That Make Me Uncomfortable. Then again why am I avoiding these movies but have no qualms on signing up for 'Nightvision,' a package of midnight screenings, that include passes for the Jeffrey Dahmer doc called...Jeff (I blame Jeremy Renner).

[Slushy thoughts, less depressing stuff and James fucking Franco after the jump.]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct252011

James Franco Cracks Me Up

Just when you think you've seen it all when it comes to James Franco's uncanny ability to keep himself embedded in the popular conversation, even when he doesn't have a movie out (an increasing rarity given the speed at which he throws himself at cameras or behind them), the old dog comes up with a new trick.

In the profile inside he says

I don't want to be confined."

We didn't realize he meant it quite so literally... the other alternate Flaunt cover [NSFW] after the jump.

 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep042011

Venice, Day 5: Shame, Alps, Wilde Salome & Sal

[Editor's Note: Manolis, TFE's Greek correspondent at the Venice Film Festival chimes in briefly on a very busy screening day. Notes on four films, the last of them a probable prize winner. -Nathaniel]

Alps
The Greek entry of the festival divided the critics assembled here, just as Dogtooth did two years ago. The Italian critics that are featured at the Daily Variety issue of the festival here have given it from 1 to 5 stars. So it’s difficult to say what it’s chances are with the jury. In Dogtooth the protagonist was trying to escape from a fake world, but in Alps the protagonist is trying to enter one; she feels she must belong to another reality, not her actual one. Aggeliki Papoulia gives an excellent performance and Yorgos Lanthimos’ fans will not be disappointed. But that said, he won’t win any new fans with Alps.

Wilde Salome
This isn't quite a film or a documentary but something inbetween as Al Pacino chronicles his attempts to make a film out of Oscar Wilde’s Salome shortly after the play was staged in Los Angeles. In Wilde Salome we watch the plays’ rehearsals and see Pacino’s attempts to solve the various production problems that are created by his insistence to film the play simultanously with the live performances. We also watch him researching Oscar Wilde and we get information on the famous playwright through interviews featuring Tony Kushner, Gore Vidal, Tom Stoppard and… Bono. Jessica Chastain is magnetic as Salome and the film will surely be interesting to theater fans. Unfortunately, though Pacino may have had a vision, but he doesn't quite know how to share it through storytelling.

Franco and his star Val Lauren in VeniceSal
James Franco presents and emotional biography of Sal Mineo, or rather a small detail. Sal takes place on the last day of the star's life. Franco relies heavily on close-ups in this very low budget attempt to capture Mineo's spirit, to sketch an emotional impression of he was.  
I did this film for artistic reasons. Making a film is not just for entertainment or to make money."
-James Franco at the press conference
Though the film is slow and overly long, it captures the atmosphere of the time well and it's easy to forgive it its flaws; it's obviously a labor of love. 
Shame
Today I also saw the winner of the festival. I don’t know whether it will win the Golden Lion, Director or Actor prizes, but there is no way Steve McQueen’s Shame will leave Mostra empty-handed.
Shame is the story of Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a man who has lost his moral compass and wanders New York looking for one night stands, while what he needs is intimacy. Fassbender gives an astonishing performance and manages to combine Brandon's fragile nature with his sexual confidence. The actor presents his journey of despair brilliantly. Carey Mulligan is also remarkable as his sister, a nightclub singer. Her vulnerable blues rendition of “New York, New York” is more than enough to put her in the Oscar race of Best Supporting Actress. The explicit nature of the film and the many nude scenes (including full frontal nudity from both stars) may hurt the film's reception with some audiences and possibly Oscar voters, but McQueen and especially Fassbender won't end the year without popping up at various critics awards. 
The response at today’s premiere was enthusiastic. That five minute standing ovation was an obvious vote of approval for McQueen and Fassbender's post-Hunger reunion.
Wednesday
Jul272011

Toronto & Venice Lineups: Full of Contenders & Sleepers

Robert here (of Distant Relatives) with some thoughts on the lineups for the Toronto and Venice International Film Festivals which were announced Wednesday morning. And Oh Canada (and Viva Italia!) are they impressive.

Let's begin with Venice since it's up first.

 

VENICE
First up, the many films that will be vying for awards and spots on prestigious top 10 lists at the end of the year. I mention them first because while there's much to anticipate about them all, there's not too much left to say. They've staked their claim and now we must wait for word to start rolling in. So we can see if Roman Polanski's late career semi-resurgence can continue with the impressive cast of Carnage, or whether Steven Soderberg's Contagion can live up to that buzzy trailer. Meanwhile David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method sets out to prove that just because he doesn't make movies with gynelogical tools that look like alien lifeforms anymore, he's still a master of psychosexual pathos. George Clooney's The Ides of March will try to be more than Primary Colors redux and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (from Let the Right One In's Tomas Alfredson) may finally get Gary Oldman some recognition in the form of little statues. And of course Madonna reinvents herself yet again, this time as feature film director with W.E.

Meanwhile I feel like the lineup has reminded me of how many films have fallen under the radar so far this year. Did you know Jonathan Demme has made a post-Katrina documentary entitled I'm Carolyn Parker? Underachiever James Franco has found time to direct a film about Sal Mineo called Sal. Todd Solondz is back at it with the romance Dark Horse, which I'm sure will be more fun for the whole family. Further representing the ladies are Marry Harron who jumps into the vampire fray with The Moth Diaries, Andrea Arnold who gives us a new version of Wuthering Heights, and Marjane Satrapi of Persepolis fame who, with co-director Vincent Paronnaud presents her sophomore effort Chicken With Plums.

If that weren't enough there's Shame, Steve McQueen's follow up to 2008's Hunger which pairs Michael Fassbender with Cary Mulligan. If you liked 2007's sweetly sad The Band's Visit, director Eran Kolirin presents The Exchange. And if you liked last years not-so-sweetly sad Dogtooth, Giorgios Lanthimos is back with Alps. Plus new films from Philippe Garrel, Abel Ferrera, William Friedkin and more. Exhausting. The full list is available for your perusal at The Guardian.

 

TORONTO
Now on to TIFF, the official unofficial start of award season. Along with some films from Venice that will be here too (The Ides of March, The Dangerous Method, W.E.), we'll get our first look at "Sad Clooney" in Alexander Payne's The Descendants, "Angry Woody" in Oren Moverman's Rampart, and "Mathy Brad" in Bennett Miller's Moneyball. Rodrigo Garcia's Albert Nobbs rings the bell on the Glenn Close/Meryl Streep steel cage Oscar match we're all looking forward to and/or feeling conflicted about. Meanwhile Francis Ford Coppola continues the "we hope this one will be his big comeback" era of his career with Twixt.

Of course, Toronto could be comeback central. Fernando Meirelles is premeiring 360 in an attempt to put Blindness out of sight. Lasse Hallstrom is back (actually I can't remember if he went anywhere or if we all stopped paying attention). Anyway if he has his way the title Salmon Fishing in the Yemen will be on all of our lips. Also did you know that Roland Emmerich has apparently grown tired of destroying the world and made a film about Shakespeare called Anonymous... seriously. And his subtler and more stylish French counterpart Luc Besson has maybe put thrillers on hold for The Lady.

The list seemingly never ends, but I must. So I'll finish off with two films you might be anticipating if you enjoyed 2004's My Summer of Love and 2007's Away From Her. Pawel Pawlikoski is back with The Woman in the Fifth and Sarah Polley returns to the director's chair for Take This Waltz. As usual there's still plenty more and The Guardian has that list too.

Once your head has stopped spinning with the promise of a busy end of the year sound off. Which of these are you looking most forward to? Which are you having trouble getting worked up for?

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