“I felt kind of trapped in that material. I felt, This is not my boat. I’m just a passenger, but I’m going down and there’s no way out.”
– James Franco on hosting the 2011 Oscars
“Here’s my guess: Critics will be out to kill [‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’] and blame me for it just because they are out to kill me. Last year people were pretty nice. This is the year when people are going to have fun going after me. I don’t feel the same way about ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ as I do about ‘127 Hours’ or ‘Milk.’ It was a different kind of acting.”
– James Franco on the media in Playboy, July 2011
This week, I went to a promotional screening for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” I decided to show up an hour and a half early because I knew the line would be ridiculously long. However, I didn’t anticipate that the theater would already be full by the time I got there!
Reeling, desperate, dying to see the movie, I resorted to a card I had yet to play. I went up to the rep and said, “You may not believe me but I’m a member of the press.” I wasn’t lying. And no, I’m not a member of the press just because I write a blog.
I guess it’s time for me to make a big announcement, one that I should have made several months ago. My work now appears on The Christian Science Monitor‘s webpage. That’s right, selected posts from “Marshall and the Movies” now appear on a section of the Monitor‘s site called the “Culture Café,” which pools a handful of bloggers for their opinions on the culture at large. Since May, 8 posts from my blog have appeared on their webpage, ranging from reviews of new releases to Classics Corner posts and even, most recently, a “F.I.L.M.”
Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself by clicking on the link below! I’ll do a better job from now on including links to the posts they syndicate on “Weekend Update,” but know that you can always read it here first!
In case you missed it…
Not much went on at “Marshall and the Movies” this week. Running frantically behind, I resorted to publishing a lot of reviews I’d been holding back for a long time, “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” and “Burlesque.” I did, however, strategically publish my review of “Howl” as James Franco had a big movie opening this week.
Yesterday, I reviewed “The Change-Up.” What a disaster that was. In case you don’t want to read the whole review, let me sum it up for you in one fragment: AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
The F.I.L.M. of the Week was Charles Ferguson’s “No End in Sight,” a documentary about the American occupation of Iraq. It’s still a fascinating watch even though the end is in sight … hindsight, as a matter of fact.
And because I didn’t get a chance to point it out in last week’s post, the July edition of “Classics Corner” took a look at Mel Brooks’ timeless comedy “Blazing Saddles.” Thank goodness people like it enough to put clips on YouTube so I can embed them here.
And here’s what I read this week. You should read it too, unless you are illiterate. Then find someone to read it for you.
- James at “Central Florida Film Critic” examines the perhaps misplaced righteousness of critics who tear down the “Twilight” series. Don’t think it inspires me to check them out, but it sure would make me review them differently if I was bound, gagged, and forced to watch them.
- Steven Flores over at “Surrender to the Void” gets me excited to watch “Psycho” soon in my “Hitchcocked” series with his review examining just about every aspect of the film.
- PD1248 of the new blog “Celluloid Dreams” – keep an eye on this one – makes me want to watch “About Schmidt” again with his career retrospective of Jack Nicholson teamed with a review of one of Alexander Payne’s finest.
- Kai of “Man I Love Films” counts down the 5 best movies with primates – props on remembering Jack from “Pirates.” I had forgotten how much I loved Geoffrey Rush in that movie spouting off, “Not you, we named the monkey Jack.”
- Alex of “And So It Begins” reviews “The Devil’s Double,” which I saw earlier this week. His take is somewhat more extreme than mine, but I agree with very many of his points. In case you want a preview of what my review will somewhat sound like.
Other cool things I read this week from non-blogger types:
- If you have the time, listen to NPR‘s awesome interview with Andy Serkis, the man behind Caesar in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”
- Kris Tapley at In Contention, my favorite awards season blog, makes the case that Serkis deserves a Special Achievement Oscar (since the Academy clearly isn’t progressive enough yet to nominate a motion capture performance in a competitive acting category.)
James Franco and the Rise of the New Celebrity
You’re always hearing something about James Franco. Whether it’s him pursuing yet another degree, opening yet another movie, publishing a book, announcing a directorial venture, or appearing on a soap opera, the man seems to keep reinventing his own celebrity as he goes. But at the same time, we can’t help but ask, “Who is James Franco?” A Renaissance Man or a jack-of-all-trades spreading himself too thin? An entertainer or an artist? And I think that’s the question he wants us to be mulling over constantly.
The one thing that is certain about James Franco, however, is that he is brutally and blatantly honest. The man will say what’s on his mind and act his feelings; he won’t take pull any punches or hide behind any veneers. Case in point: the Oscars this year. You may or may not have read the quote at the top of the post, but he hated the material and was very vocal about it. In that same interview with Playboy, he said that he told the producer of the telecast that “I just don’t think this stuff’s going to be good.”
So how did he react? With boredom and a complete lack of enthusiasm while Anne Hathaway tried to exude enough enthusiasm for both hosts. But for those of us who know James Franco beyond the obvious filmography, this isn’t really a surprise or something we haven’t seen before. Have you seen 2008’s “Camille,” a little indie he starred in alongside Sienna Miller? If you haven’t, don’t because it’s awful.
Here’s the thing about “Camille” – Franco knows it’s terrible and acts accordingly: bored and brutalized, much like how those of us stupid enough to watch the movie feel. Or if you saw “Eat Pray Love,” you’ll see a similar display. The guy caught in the thankless A-hole ex-boyfriend role isn’t an exciting place to be, and Franco doesn’t act thrilled at all. But honestly, should he be? If you see “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” you’ll see a similar side of Franco: bored and acting like he’s above the material the whole time.
My question to you, the reader, is this: is James Franco justified in showing his feelings toward the movie on screen? Is he allowed to say “Yes, this is a paycheck movie, but that still doesn’t mean I have to like it” through an inferred glance? Or does he need to swallow his pride and just act? Because in the end, do we pay to see James Franco or the person that James Franco is acting as? Do we need to be able to separate the actor from the character? Or can we accept a post-modern blurring of the two?
Now allow me to shift gears while you mull over the tremendous amount of questions posed in the last paragraph. Back in March, when the Charlie Sheen phenomenon was raging out of control, the brilliant author Bret Easton Ellis (“American Psycho”) wrote a fascinating editorial for Newsweek cleverly titled “Charlie Sheen IS Winning.” In it, he broke down how Sheen epitomizes the modern (or post-Empire, as he calls it) celebrity. While acknowledging that there may be some mental or substance issues present with Sheen, he lays out a convincing case for Sheen as the smartest celebrity in Hollywood because he understands what the public wants. Try arguing with this:
“To Empire gatekeepers, Sheen seems dangerous and in need of help because he’s destroying (and confirming) illusions about the nature of celebrity … What Sheen has exemplified and has clarified is the moment in the culture when not caring what the public thinks about you or your personal life is what matters most—and what makes the public love you even more (if not exactly CBS or the creator of the show that has made you so wealthy)…
… Do we really want manners? Civility? Empire courtesy? Hell, no. We want reality, no matter how crazy. And this is what drives the Empire to distraction: Sheen doesn’t care what you think of him anymore, and he scoffs at the idea of PR.”
So, is James Franco the bellwether of a new kind of celebrity entering the mainstream consciousness without having a drug-fueled implosion? Or is he something else entirely? Weigh in!