Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reel Insight: Episode 22 James Franco

We have our second guest, winner of October Quoteable Quotes, winner of the Lammy for 2010 best podcast for The Matineecast, as well as the author of "The Dark of the Matinee", and a good friend.  Known in Blogland as The Mad Hatter, we have a lot of fun talking James Franco, podcasts,The Walking Dead, "Glee".  Check it out.  Send feedback (since Hatter can't comment on himself, we need more) to reelinsight [at]

The Valley of Elah - This came out at the same time as a few other war movies, which made people think (at least me) that it was about the war in Iraq.  Also, with a title from an obscure Biblical reference, I didn't have any real desire to see the flick.  However, since it was listed as a movie in which James Franco appeared, and I happened to purchase it when my local video store went under, I was excited.  It turns out to be a terrific detective, murder mystery, and the main characters are only peripherally connected to the military.  Tommy Lee Jones is the father of a soldier who has gone missing.  He decides to go investigate himself, since as a former MP he knows the capabilities of the military.  The local police, Charlize Theron among them, can't help him.  Eventually, they do partner up and battle the military codes of silence and internal cover-ups to find the truth.  While there are stereotypes of the military and cliches as well, mostly it's a refreshingly well done flick that does show the horrors of war, but again, not as the main idea like The Hurt Locker.  4 of 5 lambs/stars

HOWL - A recent movie, telling the story of an obscenity trial from 1957 about importing copies of Allen Ginsberg's poetry, specifically a poem called "Howl".  It follows bits of the trial and the testimony of literary experts trying to argue the merits of the poem.  Interspersed are pieces of James Franco as Ginsberg being interviewed about the trial and telling his life story.  The third frame is Franco reading his poetry in black and white at a coffee shop (or somewhere) and then the poem being animated.  The visuals aren't particularly appealing, but the poetry they chose and how they weave Ginsberg's story together does make for an interesting biopic.  It does makes you want to know more about Ginsberg and his poetry. 3.5 of 5 stars/lambs

Camille - Wow, I don't even know where to start with this wackadoo, romantic comedy meets The Sixth Sense movie.  The description on Netflix doesn't do it justice - trying to be coy about the fact that just as you're wishing Sienna Miller's character Camille would just shut up and die, she actually does, well she doesn't shut up.  Franco is her parolee husband who hates her when they marry but really likes her after she's dead.  The whole movie is a set up for "ba-dum-bump" type jokes or cliches, but strangely, it's so bad, it turns into a lot of fun.  Franco seems to be constantly waiting for the movie cliche to appear, and it never does. 1 of 5 stars for actual achievement, 5 of 5 stars for so bad it's good.

James Dean - I knew Franco had won the Golden Globe for his portrayal of James Dean so I figured I had to see it.  I didn't realize until I was watching it that it was a made for TV movie, so I'll call SHENANIGANS on myself.  But I watched it anyway.  I've see Rebel Without a Cause and didn't really get why after only 3 movies James Dean was an icon.  This movie goes a long way toward explaining it.  And explains why he might not have maintained his icon status had he lived, but definitely would have gotten a few more Oscars.  Franco is crazy and grins a lot instead of acting.  His own acting skills have improved a ton in the 10 years since this was made.  Not a great flick, but he deserved his Golden Globe.


Rachel said...

Sadly I cut the Glee chat out of the final product because it ran rather long and it was standing between me and and an episode that was just under an hour. I did put your request in at the very end after the closing music;) Let's see how many will notice it.

Jess said...

I love the last seconds. Best sign off ever. Might have to keep that around. Thanks Hatter.

Sebastian Gutierrez said...

Just letting you know, as you are a regular commenter on my site, I changed the URL, and the old one does not redirect. I don't know how to make it so it does, and I fear it's too late. So, here's the URL. If you could find it in yourself to pass it along to others, that would be great. I really, really, REALLY, don't want to lose all the readers I've gotten over the past year. Thanks.