Tag Archives: James Franco

“Lovelace” (2013) – Review


Directors: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman

Writer: Andy Bellin

Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Chris Noth, and James Franco

Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) and her friend Patsy (Juno Temple) sun bathe in Linda’s backyard at her parents house. They flip onto their stomachs and Patsy removes her top strap and encourages Linda to do the same. She declines. Eventually Linda’s disapproving mother, Dorothy (Sharon Stone), arrives and playtime is over.

Later at night Linda and Patsy are at a bar and meet Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard). He owns a strip club, may be a pimp, and is immediately attracted to Linda. They date, he cons Linda’s parents into believing he is a good guy, they marry.

But times at the club become difficult and they need money. Soon they’re visiting New York on a “work” trip where Chuck shows Linda’s “talents” to some acquaintances in the porn industry. She’s hired as their star, Linda Boreman becomes Linda Lovelace, Deep Throat is made, and a “star” is born.

Lovelace is the telling of the same story from two points-of-view. The first pass is largely idealistic. Linda is caught-up in all the action and is a willing participant. She is naive but enjoying the situation. The second pass is seedier. Linda is forced by circumstances and Chuck to do what she does. Everyone she comes into contact with is there to take advantage of and/or abuse her.

Amanda Seyfried is unrecognizable in the role of Linda and completely disappears into it. Unfortunately, the role as written is not a strong character. She is a perpetual victim. A similar thing can be said for Sarsgaard as Chuck. He to is unrecognizable in the role, but in his case he is the perpetual predator.

The supporting cast is impressive in name value and for the most part deliver memorable performances. Stand-outs are Adam Brody as Harry Reems–Linda’s partner in Deep Throat–who is clearly having fun in the role, and Sharon Stone & Robert Patrick as Linda’s parents. Both deliver powerful performances. Patrick also has the most poignant & emotional scene in the film during his conversation with Seyfried over the phone in which he reveals he watched her in “that” film.

Lovelace glosses over the negative parts of Linda’s true life story and personality in order to present an account where she is the girl next door dragged to the dark side of life. In being so heavy-handed in their depiction, Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman–the directors–prevent us from ultimately connecting and caring for Linda.

Grade = C

Click on image to view trailer

Click on image to view trailer

“This Is the End” (2013) – Reveiw


Writers/Directors: Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen

Stars: Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride

Seth Rogen waits at the terminal at LAX for Jay Baruchel to deplane. After quick hello’s Jay reveals his unease with Los Angeles and the people Seth is hanging-out with. Later at Seth’s condominium they enjoy a coffee table full of Jay’s favorite things: weed, beer, Starbursts, and other junk food. Once the goodies are exhausted Seth drops a bomb-shell on Jay, they’re heading to James Franco’s house for a party. Though initially reluctant to attend, Seth convinces Jay to go.

At Franco’s party Jay runs into the who’s who of young actors in Hollywood and Judd Apatow films. He has a heated discussion with Franco about art, and eventually retreats outside to the pool deck for some cigarettes. When Jay runs out of smokes he grabs Seth and they head to the local convieneance store for some more. At the store all hell breaks loose. The earth shakes, sink holes appear, cars crash, and building explode. It’s the End-of-Days and Seth & Jay run back to Franco’s house to ride out the storm.

With the exception of Michael Cera–I hope–and Jonah Hill, to an extent, all the name actors in the film are playing exaggerated and stereotypical versions of themselves and go along for the ride in making fun of themselves.

Franco as Franco designed his own house, painted most of the paintings in the house, and plays-up rumors of his sexuality–there is giant penis sculpture in the house and Danny McBride calls-out Franco for sucking cock when he appears with toothpaste on his mouth. Rogen is confronted by a paparazzi at the airport who calls him out for always playing the same role. Baruchel balks at being called a hipster even after being presented with evidence of all the things that do make him a hipster.

As the six (Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Hill, Robinson, and McBride) come to terms with what has happened and why they survived, they are faced with the harsh reality of who they are as people, and what they have to do to survive. It’s a journey of self-discovery that involves a lot of crude humor, funny cameos, and Emma Watson robbing the boys of their supplies with an ax.

The success of the film lies both in the well written script by Rogen & Evan Goldberg, and the fun everyone is having playing themselves. All the actors are more than willing to make fun of themselves. And in the case of Michael Cera and another completely surprising cameo, go above and beyond the call of duty.

Unexpected homages to Rosemary’s Baby, Mad Max, and other films abound. The special effects are surprisingly impressive for a film most people will classify as a Frat-Boy movie.

This Is the End is a film that hits all its target. It is funny, smart, engaging, well made, and, in the end, has a good message. It is also proof positive that just because your target audience is young males doesn’t mean that that will be your only audience.

Grade = A

Click on image to view Rated "R" trailer

Click on image to view Rated “R” trailer

“About Cherry” (2012) – Movie Review

Click on image to view trailer

Director:  Stephen Elliot

Writers:  Lorelei Lee and Stephen Elliot

Stars:  Ashley Hinshaw, Lili Taylor, Dev Patel, James Franco, and Heather Graham

The idea of About Cherry is good, but it suffers from poor execution.

Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) is a high school drop-out with an alcoholic mother (Lili Taylor), a father that may have but definitely had thoughts of sexually abusing her, and a little sister who has retreated into her own internal world.  She has one friend–male–who secretly loves her and a boyfriend who really doesn’t care for her.

One night her boyfriend suggests to Angelina a way to make good money fast.  He knows a photographer that pays well to take sexually provocative photos.  He’s done it himself and can refer her.  She initially declines.  But after a night at home with her mother passed out on the sofa and her father entering her room while she and her sister sleep, she decides to go for the easy money.  After the shoot, with $600 in hand and the help of Andrew (Dev Patel), her pining friend, they drive to San Francisco in search of a new life.

In the city, they find a sublet room in an apartment where they have to share the bed.  After some time Andrew gets a job at a bookstore and Angelina one as a waitress in a strip club.  There she meets Francis (James Franco), a young lawyer giving $100 tips.  He comes in another day looking for her and wanting to get to know her better.  They eventually date and she discovers his cocaine habit.

At work while in the dressing room, one of the dancers suggests to Angelina the possibility of doing porn since she already has done sexual photos.  Tempted by the money, she goes for it.  For porn she uses the name Cherry, and her first movie is about her pleasuring herself.  Her director is Margaret (Heather Graham), a lesbian who quickly has an eye for the new girl on the block.  As she becomes more experienced, she graduates from self-fulfillment to girl-on-girl and then eventually girl-boy.  As her “career” grows, she is visited by the judging eye of her mother and deals with the building sexual tension of David, Francis, and Margaret.

Though the story is believable in how someone gets into porn and brings up some excellent points, in the end you do not care about any of these characters.  Andrew never reveals his feelings for Angelina.  When he is caught by her pleasuring himself to one of her videos, you think he is a loser because he never said or did anything to win her affection and just wasted his time being there.  Francis is a rich mama’s boy addict who hates his life and his choices.  Though she has genuine feelings for Angelina, Margret also only views her as a sexual plaything initially.  Like Andrew, she also watches Angelina’s videos for pleasure.  As for Angelina, you understand why she took the photos in the beginning as a means of escape and to start a new life.  But why when she took that chance did she not make an effort to start that new life instead of just repeating the cycle of her old one?

This is director Stephen Elliott’s first film and it shows.  He decided to go with a shaking hand-held camera look for the film, and it proves to be more distracting than artistic.  He also has some fairly abrupt edits that cause confusion.  One example is after Angelina was involved in a car accident and received a cut on her forehead.  That night she goes to sleep with Margret with the cut, but when she wakes up it is missing.  I assumed this was a continuity error, but discovered based off their breakfast conversation that months had passed.

The acting was good across the board, with high praise for Lili Taylor.  James Franco appeared to be available only for one day and came not having showered in a few.  He wore the same outfit–minus the jacket in one scene–the whole time, had the same messed-up greasy hair with pimples along the hairline, three-day growth of facial hair, and tired hackneyed eyes.  As for Ashley Hinshaw, she did a solid job, and I look forward to her next performance.

In the end the movie feels too long, and you just don’t care.

Grade = D

“Oz – The Great & Powerful” – Trailer

Click on image to view traier

I’m not sure about this one.