Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around

James Franco


James Franco's The Room true story film The Disaster Artist has trailer

Lisa, you're tearing me apart!
Jul 18
// Rick Lash
In bad movie news, Tommy Wiseau's cult classic, and honorific title holder for world's worst movie ever, The Room is getting the Hollywood treatment with a movie about the movie and its odd writer-director-star. And...

Review: Why Him?

Dec 25 // Rick Lash
[embed]221153:43291:0[/embed] Why Him?Director: John HamburgRelease Date: December 23, 2016Rating: R Why Him? is the story of a wholesome Midwest family from Michigan comprised of a well-regarded father Ned Fleming (Brian Cranston) who runs a printing business, his loving wife Barb Fleming (Megan Mullally), and their clean-cut son Scotty Fleming (Griffin Gluck) who clearly idolizes his father. It turns out there’s also a sister, Stephanie Fleming (Zoey Deutch), but she’s in college in California, and apparently the family hasn’t used phones, the internet, Snapchat, Skype, Facetime, Messenger, or beam-me-over technology to keep in touch during the span she’s been away. It’s true that the Rocky Mountains are still a cool, inhospitable, Donner-party producing, block to human travel and communication. It turns out that things aren’t so hot for this all-American family: the family printing business is in the red, and Dad doesn’t know what to do facing the challenges of a changing world and evolving print needs for his traditional client-base. Enter an, apparently, rare video phone call from said cutoff daughter and the testy revelation that she has a boyfriend (James Franco). Oh, and by the way Mom, Pops, and Junior: could you all forego any existing Christmas plans and fly to California to meet my boyfriend? Obviously, they can, or else we wouldn’t have much of a movie. California. A foreign land to a family from Michigan. Filled with strange peoples with stranger cultural habits. Or that seems to be the message of the film. Writer-Director John Hamburg, perhaps best known for I Love You Man (a solid comedy pairing with Jason Segal and Paul Rudd from 2009) teamed with Johan Hill to pen this one: and it shows. The movie is filled with a veritable thesaurus for the f-bomb, as well as references to obscure (and not so obscure) sexual practices--hallmarks of the Shat Pack (Hill, Seth Rogen, Franco, Michael Cera, Segal, Jay Baruchel, and the rest of the amorphous gang that comprises this group of miscreants that would make Cranston’s Ned Fleming cringe, especially if any of them were to date his daughter. It doesn’t matter if they’re rich, incredibly rich, live in a mansion nestled into private acreage, or run their own business: if they have tattoos and swear (“cuss”) frequently, they’re not good enough for you or your daughter. And thus begins the purported conflict of the movie. It doesn’t matter that Deucht’s Stephanie is bright, levelheaded, and apparently not prone to poor judgement; daddy knows best—and every fiber of his mid-west being is saying no to this California tech hippy. But to me, the premise seems as outdated as the beliefs espoused by Ned. Lots of people have tattoos these days, dare I say even in Michigan, and swearing is is the new Oxford English. The fact that this father is so opposed to this man he’s just met, primarily to either evidence A (poor judgement in the face of genuine excitement—if you’ve seen the trailers, you know Franco has a tattoo of the Fleming Christmas card done on his back) or evidence B (he’s sleeping with his daughter and therefore cannot be any good) does not ring true. That’s the true problem with the film: it’s hollow, as its premises are loosely constructed anachronisms that might have been more applicable a decade ago. Who in the printing business, in this day and age, could be caught unaware of the shifting landscape and needs of their clientele? The Office was dealing with this same fact for much of the prescribed decade earlier. Given these issues of authenticity and realism, there are laughs to be found. But these are the forced, awkward laughs that come from watching a son suddenly subjected to viewing an explicit love scene with his mother. It’s the forced awkward laughter that’s more cringe inducement by baby head cresting a vagina vis-à-vis Knocked Up. This awkward humor is reinforced by a score that is largely absent; large swaths of film are destroyed in conversational silence. When music does happen, it is conspicuous and perhaps feels forced (the one notable exception being a party designed to further emphasize the generational gap at work here. Humor that does work is found in unexpected twists like cameos and extended cameos from Adam Devine and Keegan-Michael Key. Or in the Siri-wannabe Kaley Cuoco voice that lives in the airspace of Franco’s mansion. This could have been done to better success, and I’d expect word of mouth box office results to confirm as much, especially given the level of talent featured in the film.
Why Him? Review photo
Why me?
Sometimes questions shouldn't be begged in the titles of pieces lacking the substance to back up or even fully answer the suggested question. Why Him? Falls victim to this trope. Why him? Why me? Why see this movie?  

Review: Sausage Party

Aug 13 // Rick Lash

Do I want to start eating dirt? Perhaps, as an individual who already entertains questions on whether or not I’m morally comfortable (in spite of a true appreciation for) eating meat, I should have more deeply considere...


Idris Elba joins Harmony Korine's The Trap

Replaces Jamie Foxx in the role of a gangster rap artist
Mar 25
// Per Morten Mjolkeraaen
We all love Idris Elba. We all love Harmony Korine (ha!). We are all "meh" on Jamie Foxx, so the news that Idris Elba is set to replace Mr. Foxx in Korine's The Trap, is more than welcome.  The news comes to us from The ...

Nick's Top 15 Movies of 2014

Jan 16 // Nick Valdez
30-16: The Lego Movie, The Babadook, 22 Jump Street, The Purge: Anarchy, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Maleficent, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Snowpiercer, Frank, Top Five, Gone Girl, Pride, The Drop, Nymphomaniac Vol 1, A Most Violent Year 15. Locke  I nearly missed out on Locke. With the smallest of small releases, I didn't see this until it was recommended by a friend a few weeks ago. I'm super glad I finally took the plunge. It's got the weirdest barrier of entry (it's better if you see it at night, you have to be in the right mindset), but it's totally worth the trouble. In a year full of bloated blockbusters, Locke is the concise breath of fresh air that reminds you what cinema is capable of. In the length of a Sunday night drive, Tom Hardy goes through so many complicated emotions. Enclosed, intimate, and fantastic.  14. Nightcrawler Nightcrawler (and Enemy, in fact) proved Jake Gyllenhaal still has some sides of his acting talent hidden away. With a strikingly dark, yet practical performance, he sells the film's dissection of sensationalist journalism. Literally crawling through the muck, Nightcrawler portrays the opposite end of ambition. When ambition morphs into an unhealthy aggression, one of the best films of 2014 was born.  Read our review of Nightcrawler here. 13. John Wick John Wick was an utter surprise and delight. Literally coming out of nowhere with a generic trailer that made the film seem like nothing more than a direct to home video action film mistakenly released to theaters, John Wick has a fantastic setting (I want another movie of just interactions within the assassin hotel hideout), wonderfully choreographed action (Keanu Reeves is really Neo at this point, which made the fantastical nature of the fights even more believable), and a story with so many cheesy twists and turns I fell in love instantly. Oh and the dog, Daisy! Oh. My. God. 12. Boyhood Filmed over the course of twelve years, it sort of makes sense to put Boyhood here. Both as a little dig, and because while I love what it did for cinema (and how much I enjoyed it directly afterward), I'm not as fond of it as I thought I was. While some of Mason's life speaks to me (I too had a drunk and abusive parent, was also directionless for the majority of life), a lot of it glazed over what my life was really like. Yeah, I know Boyhood won't be a depiction of my life, but it kind of stung to see someone live a happier life than mine. I don't hold it against the film critically (that's why it's here), but I'll never truly connect with it the way I think I'm supposed to.  Read our review of Boyhood here. 11. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes APEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is what we get for not hailing to the chimp. A summer blockbuster that was not only intelligent, well paced, and full of stunning visuals, but made me expect more out of my popcorn flicks. Bad action and explosions just aren't going to cut it anymore. Dawn says we can have both AND be a successful prequel/sequel at the same time. It doesn't get any better. This is what blockbusters should strive to.  Read our review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes here. 10. The Guest The Guest is a film that will forever be welcome in my home. Before my screening, I knew nothing of it other than it was a follow up from the You're Next (which is also a film you need to see someday) duo of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett. Figuring they were kind of a one trick pony (sorry, guys), I expected a run of the mill thriller with a genre twist at the end. But that's nowhere near the case with Guest. Completely confident in its lead Dan Stevens (with good reason), the film is full throttle from beginning to end. Its tone is never once tiring. With its homages to older horror films, a groovy synth inspired soundtrack, stylistic filming (there's a great use of light throughout) and fantastically staged finale, The Guest was one of my favorite movie going experiences last year. Read our review of The Guest here. 9. Joe Wow, so where has THIS Nicolas Cage been? We make fun of the guy for signing up for everything and anything, but he's some kind of wicked genius. It's when we forget how talented of an actor he can be that he decides to come out with a legitimately gripping performance. That's the heart of Joe. Three great performances (from Cage, Tye Sheridan, and the now passed Gary Poulter) root this tale in the South with the most human characters I saw last year. Remember Your Highness? This is from the same director. I just can't believe that.  Read our review of Joe here. 8. Edge of Tomorrow Just like with Nic Cage, Tom Cruise always has a surprise up his sleeve for when we forget how talented he is. It appears that both actors can truly surprise given the right material. Edge of Tomorrow (or whatever the hell it's named now) is a science fiction story about how some nerdy, cowardly man transforms into action star Tom Cruise after dying a thousand times. In the most unique premise of any science fiction film in recent memory (which is saying quite a bit as you can allude to sources like videogames), a man's life gets a reset button every time he's killed in a battle leading to some of the best and hilarious editing of 2014. And you know what else? Emily Blunt is a killer viking goddess badass and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Read our review of Edge of Tomorrow/All You Need is Kill/Live.Die.Repeat here. 7. Birdman Speaking of actors we've forgotten about, out comes Michael Keaton reminding us how much of a juggernaut he is. Sure he's had some subversive turns in films like The Other Guys, Toy Story 3 and RoboCop recently, but I haven't seen him challenged like this in a long time. Birdman breaks down Keaton and builds him back up again. A heartbreaking, absurd, hilarious, soul crushing, wonderfully shot film, Birdman is truly the peak of artistic creativity. Too bad Keaton overshadowed everyone else. But is that such a bad problem to have?  Read our review of Birdman here. 6. The Grand Budapest Hotel Budapest was my very first Wes Anderson film experience, and I'm so glad I finally took the plunge. Budapest is a film full of so much love, hard work, and time that it could only be put together after as long career. With one of the most outstanding casts (each utilized to the fullest, even in the smaller roles), a vignette style story, and an amazing performance from Ralph Fiennes, Budapest had my attention from beginning to end. The reason it's not higher on this list is because there were a few that had my attention a little bit more. And that's definitely tough in this case.  Read our review of The Grand Budapest Hotel here. 5. The Interview Say what you will about whether or not The Interview "deserved" all of the problems it caused, or whether or not it's some stupid exercise of free speech, underneath all of the drama, The Interview was the funnest experience I had last year. It's not some grand satire of North Korea's politics, nor is it your patriotic duty to witness it unfold, but you'd do yourself a disservice by missing out. Well tuned humor, great performances (with some of the best James Franco faces) led by Randall Park, and an explosive finale you're sure to remember. The Interview is a firework. Boom, boom, boom.  Read our review of The Interview here. 4. Whiplash On the opposite end of the spectrum is Whiplash. A film I had no idea existed full of darkness. Yet, that darkness is truly compelling. J.K. Simmons is a fantastic lead (if you tell me Miles Teller is the lead, I will politely ask you to leave) with a performance that's striking, violent, and full of the best kind of black humor. Imagine if his turn as J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man was even more aggressive, and you've got Whiplash. Backing up Simmons is a truly great film that's more about a bloody need to prove you're the best. Intense, rich, and has an a different kind of explosive finale.  Read our review of Whiplash here. 3. Obvious Child  Within a year so full of men that even the cartoons resemble our landscape, Obvious Child stood out from the outset. I've always loved comedienne Jenny Slate as she's great at creating tragically trashy characters,  but I was just waiting for her to break out. And the wait's been worth it. Based off a short film of the same name, Obvious Child tackles not often spoken topics like womanhood, abortion, and late twenties uncertainty with not only tact, but a sophisticated and illuminating point of view with often hilarious results. Jenny Slate is a dynamo as Donna Stern, and the film ending's blend of awkwardness and hope still gives me chills.  2. Palo Alto As James Franco continues to branch out, some of his projects don't go over so well but are nonetheless interesting. His collection of short stories, Palo Alto, and its adaptation got some attention a few months back because Franco himself inadvertently hit on an underage girl on Instagram. That's the only reason I knew about the project, and now I realize how wrong I was. Palo Alto is f**king fantastic for all involved. A well realized weave of stories helped established a broken, and compelling world. I was so invested, I couldn't help but want more. Yet, we're given just the right amount of story thanks to Gia Coppola's outstanding direction.  Featuring an eclectic cast with Franco as a creepy teacher, Emma Roberts as a misguided teen, Jack (and to a lesser extent, Val) Kilmer as a lost kid, and Nat Wolff with the most emotionally charged performance of the year. Seriously, I could not believe that the kid from The Naked Brothers Band had some talent. The final scene of the film where he charges into the night has stuck with me to this day.  1. Fury With how much Obvious Child and Palo Alto stuck with me, only one film did much more. As a fan of David Ayer's career, I was on top of Fury from day one. Though my anticipation sort of wavered in the middle thanks to some bad trailer editing, and I didn't think Logan Lerman was going to be an effective lead, once I sat down with the film all of that faded away. Fury is magnificent. Five terrific performances anchor the film's small story within this admittedly overwrought setting. Fury isn't a typical WWII film, and it delivers with a not so typical emotionally charged finale.  And Shia LaBeouf? Thank you for giving up all of that Transformers trash. This is what you're meant to do.  Read our review of Fury here.  What are your favorite movies from 2014? Did I miss any of your favorites? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter! While you're at it, why not check out my Top 5 Animated Movies of 2014, Top 5 Sequels, Top 10 Movie Music Moments, and 2014's Best Dog in Film lists too!
Nick's Top 15 of 2014 photo
I have seen 107 films released in 2014. Here are 15 of the best ones
It was the best of films, it was the blurst of films. Hey everyone I'm Nick Valdez, News Editor here for Flixist and you've probably seen my name on a good chunk of the stuff written here. If not, then I'll tell you a bit abo...

Nick's Top 10 Movie Music Moments of 2014

Jan 14 // Nick Valdez
Honorable Mentions: Birdman - Flight scene, Snowpiercer - "What happens if the engine stops?," The Skeleton Twins - "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," 22 Jump Street - "Ass-n-Titties," Into the Woods - "Agony" [embed]218773:42129:0[/embed] 10. The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Part 1 - "The Hanging Tree" as performed by Jennifer Lawrence Every year there seems to be a song that's meant to break into mainstream pop. Usually by happenstance, or some kind of weird popularity spike, and "The Hanging Tree" is 2014's single. Written by the Lumineers (with influence from the original text), and given an odd dance backing so it can be played on the radio, this moment may have been forced but it did show off the first actual rebellion against the Capitol. Like other parts of Mockingjay - Part 1, the scene finally opens up the world beyond Katniss and her compatriots.  [embed]218773:42130:0[/embed] 9. The Lego Movie - "Everything is Awesome/(Untitled) Self Portrait"  "Everything is awesome, everything is cool when your part of a team" was 2014's "Let It Go." There's a dollar theater in my town next to the local grocery, and when I first heard a little girl singing that song, I knew we had a winner. The scene it's used in doesn't hit perfect status until the "12 Hours Later" bit but it's still very good. Even better? Batman's demo tape, "DARKNESS! NO PARENTS!" [embed]218773:42132:0[/embed] 8. Guardians of the Galaxy - "Come And Get Your Love"  As critics like myself (although I'd like to think I'm as far from that definition as possible) continue to worry over the staleness of Marvel's films, the intro to Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring a nonchalantly groovin Chris Pratt dancing to a once forgotten Redbone tune, helps alleviate some of that worry. Starting off on the right foot, this scene helped set the tone for Marvel's future. It's going to be a lot more fun.  [embed]218773:42134:0[/embed] 7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - "Elevator Beatbox"  You won't see the TMNT movie on many Best of 2014 lists, but I've got to credit where it's due. It may have be clouded by a bunch of odd decisions, but the Turtles themselves were great. Although they looked like giant steroid hulks, the few times they got to act like their "Teenage" namesake truly stood out. This came to a head in the elevator ride before the final battle with Shredder. It's the most fun scene in this film, and it's completely unnecessary when you think about it. But it's full of so much personality it's hard to care. I want the sequel to basically be this scene x 100.  [embed]218773:42133:0[/embed] 6. The Guest - "Anthonio" The Guest has one of the best soundtracks of 2014. Fusing synth pop and trance together with little known European Pop remixes, and coupling them with a nostalgic run through the horror genre lead to one of the best musically inclined films of the year. The Guest owes most of its successes to its soundtrack and it's never better than the final scene. A stare down, a remix of Annie's "Anthonio," and a sinister Dan Stevens are a match made in heaven.  [embed]218773:42135:0[/embed] 5. The Book of Life - "Just A Friend/The Apology Song/I Will Wait" as performed by Diego Luna, Cheech Marin, and Gabriel Iglesias I think The Book of Life'll be the only time I hear Tejano-inspired music in film and that's a bit sad. Like me, it takes influences from classic pop tunes and unapologetically puts a little Mexican flair into each one. There's too many awesome songs to name (but the one touted as the "big" one, where Diego Luna performs a cover of "Creep," is kind of lame) with the too brief "Just a Friend," and the great "Apology Song" sung to a flaming skeletal bull in the Land of the Forgotten, but my favorite is definitely the montage set to "I Will Wait." It's hilarious, critiques Mexican culture, and it just sounds so pleasant.  [embed]218773:42137:0[/embed] 4. The Interview - "Firework" as performed by Jenny Lane Although the clip above doesn't refer to the scene on this list (as it's much better to experience it without being spoiled), trust me when I say that it's truly a great movie music moment. The scene that launched a thousand emails, and was most likely toned down in retrospect, but it's a damn fun scene. Much like the rest of The Interview, it makes sense in the most absurd way. Hope you get to see it for yourself.  [embed]218773:42138:0[/embed] 3. X-Men: Days of Future Past - "Time in a Bottle" With as many comic book films I see now, they all start to blend in together after awhile. What woke me up from my haze, however, was Days of Future Past. While the rest of the film followed the same beats, and Quicksilver himself wasn't the most interesting addition, I've never seen a better demonstration of super speed. Sure we've seen this type of slowdown in films like The Matrix, but I can't recall seeing it used so humorously. It's the little touches that made everything work.  [embed]218773:42136:0[/embed] 2. Frank - "Secure the Galactic Perimeter/I Love You All" as performed by Michael Fassbender Frank is a film about twelve people saw, and that's a damn shame. It's got some of the best music from 2014. The songs were notably assembled by the cast (and not even available in full on the soundtrack) and they're just so weird. Good weird. While the final song "I Love You All" gets the full bump on this list, it doesn't really mesh as well as it should until you've seen the film. Once you've seen the film, learned of all of Frank's quibbles, then it truly comes together.  [embed]218773:42139:0[/embed] 1. Whiplash - "Caravan" as performed by Miles Teller God, Whiplash has the best f**king music. That finale? So gooooooooooooooood. What are your favorite music moments of 2014? Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter! Stay tuned through the rest of the week for more "Best Of" lists! 
Nick's Top 10 Music photo
Music to my eyes
Music plays an integral role in film. Easily ignored, easily forgotten, a film's soundtrack is the little celebrated framework of cinema. But when sound and sight marry into a great scene, you get some of the best moments. Li...

VOD photo

The Interview grossed $31 million on VOD despite piracy

Jan 09
// Nick Valdez
When Sony released The Interview on most video demand services but its own, it was promptly pirated nearly 100 million times. At first it seemed like this news would only deter studios from simultaneous theatrical and VOD rel...

Why what The Interview says about North Korea actually matters (an analysis)

Dec 26 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
I feel like Flixist has become an inadvertent "Interview Defense Force." Between Nick's glowing review of the film and... well, this article you're reading, it seems like we're one of the only places that legitimately thinks it's a film worth watching. I don't like it as much as Nick does, but I'd be a dirty liar if I said that it didn't make me laugh a whole lot. I also think that if all of this hadn't happened, the film would have gotten a somewhat more favorable reaction. A lot of people went into it with the same mindset I had when I wrote "Why did it have to be The Interview?" and their experience was colored by that. I'm more easily won over by stupid jokes than they are, clearly, but it's a bad mindset to start from. And speaking of mindset: If you went into The Interview expecting The Great Dictator, you were just being dumb. I've seen this comparison made (obviously with a "Chaplin made a good satirical film, so this has no excuse" bent), and I think it's ludicrous. Although both of them share a conceptual similarity (lampooning one of the most dangerous men on earth), the work of Charlie Chaplin was always holding a mirror up to society where Seth Rogen's films rarely have much to say at all. They're funny. That's all they've got. If The Great Dictator hadn't been a scathing indictment, that would have been more surprising. But the minds behind The Interview have no such reputation.  Even so, The Interview is different. When you take on a dictatorship, you have to go beyond the surface. Seth Rogen was one of the final guests on The Colbert Report, and the interview came before the shitstorm that saw the film blocked and then canceled and then uncanceled and then released on VOD and in theaters simultaneously. (Quick aside: The ludicrously high piracy numbers are unfortunate not because they represent stealing work from a company that was so afraid of this film that their name doesn't appear anywhere in the credits (though Columbia, whose name does appear, is a Sony subsidiary), but because the idea of VOD day-and-date releases has just been set back at least a couple of years by this. Companies will (not wrongly) use those numbers as evidence that the public can't be trusted. That is a shame. Now, back to your previously scheduled programming:) During that interview, Seth Rogen talked about the research that went into creating this film, where he and others in the creative team read pretty much everything there was to read about the experience of living in the country. He said that they wanted to show, in some small way, just how terrible a place this was. And if we're being totally honest, they don't actually show it, but they do make their feelings on the atrocities clear.  [embed]218772:42093:0[/embed] This film is more than just a film about killing Kim Jong-un. Not much more, but more. Those who say it belittles some of the real human tragedy won't be wrong, but the film still deserves at least a little more credit than it's gotten. I know enough about the fake presentation that North Korea puts on for the rest of the world, with the exact sort of not-real grocery stores that the film portrays, because I find it fascinating. Does your average person, the person most likely to go see a movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, know about that? Be honest with yourself. The answer to that question is No, they don't. This will be the first exposure a lot of people have to that. Maybe they'll see it and be interested, going off to read more in-depth books or see other films. It may be used for comedic effect, but it's just something that's inherently bizarre. I can imagine a lot of people looking up whether or not those fake grocery stores exist, and then they go down the rabbit hole. You can argue that that's not enough, and I would acknowledge that the true horrors of the regime are referred to rather than actually seen. But let's go back to the simple fact that this film is a comedy. And ask yourself this question: Would you feel better if a comedy had James Franco running around a concentration camp mugging for the camera? Or actually seeing the millions of starving people? No. Instead of complaining about the film not doing enough, people would be arguing that it's exploitative or whatever. There was no way for this movie to win. It could have gone farther and still functioned, sure, but it's an extremely fine line, and for the purposes of mainstream entertainment, The Interview stayed on the safe side of it. I'm not going to blame them for that. And as mainstream (keyword) entertainment (also keyword), The Interview always had the potential to reach millions upon millions of people. And with all of the insanity that surrounded it, it has likely already been seen by more than a million (legally or not). That fact is worth acknowledging, if not applauding. No film that hoped to document the true tragedy of the North Korean experience could ever hope for that kind of reach. And let's be honest: As it was, this film barely came out. Even in its current form, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai personally stepped in to tone the film down. If it had gone farther, the project wouldn't have gone further. Gore Verbinski's Pyongyang was canceled. It shouldn't have been, but that's fear. The same fear that Sony felt with the film as it is. And as it is, it's pretty tame.  But tame or not, let's think about how it could actually make a difference: The most interesting internal email from the Sony hack regarded someone deep in the government who saw potential for The Interview to be used as propaganda. There are entire groups of people who work to bring foreign films into their borders, at literal risk of death. This is a film that will undoubtedly make it into North Korea. People will watch this film there, and they will see not just a vision of the outside world, but the outside world's vision of North Korea. They will see how the world perceives them, but they may also see something that they recognize, something that rings true. Hell, that's what the entire third act of the film is about. It's about belittling the government in the eyes of it's people. It's about subversion in order to begin the revolt. It's about getting people to see Kim Jong-un not as a god but as a fallible man, one who loves Katy Perry and has the same bodily functions as the rest of us. And that matters, no matter what else the film does or doesn't accomplish. Team America (a better film than The Interview) took on North Korea before, but this goes so much further, and so much harsher. As I've said already, we don't see the true horror of North Korea, but we see a mastermind of manipulation, a man who will kill people at a moment's notice to prove his power. (Of all the things the film doesn't show, that's the one I most wish it had. But then again, public executions aren't much funnier than concentration camps.) And we do hear some shocking numbers, the number of hungry people, the number of workers in concentration camps. It may be more effective to see than to hear, but have the people inside of North Korea heard those numbers? Probably not. They know they're starving or may know others in their community who are, but they don't necessarily know just how horrible conditions are for everyone. Look at this as a film for the North Koreans, and suddenly things change. It becomes a film that is far more subversive than people give it credit for. There are serious problems with its depictions of pretty much any group of people, and there are arguments to be made that it's racist, sexist, and homophobic (though not maliciously so), but it still has the potential to reach people and make them think about the North Korean regime. People see Kim Jong-un as silly, not dangerous. The Interview portrays him as both. That may not be enough, but it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. That is something to be celebrated. So let's celebrate. Who brought the fireworks?
The Interview Analysis photo
Alternately: Why it had to be The Interview
I saw The Interview because I was curious. Amidst the complete ridiculousness of the past few weeks, thoughts and feelings have been flying around about the film. Outside of the few who had attended pre-chaos press screenings...

Review: The Interview

Dec 25 // Nick Valdez
[embed]218768:42087:0[/embed] The InterviewDirectors: Seth Rogen and Evan GoldbergRelease Date: December 25th, 2014 (limited and VOD)Rating: R The Interview is the story of Dave Skylark (James Franco), a sensationalist TV journalist who specializes in celebrity gossip, and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen). After filming 1000 episodes, Aaron realizes he would like to cover more hard hitting news and after discovering that the dictator of The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), was a fan of their show, he sets up a one-on-one interview. Then the two are tasked by CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) to assassinate the North Korean dictator.  I've been anticipating The Interview for some time. As the proper follow up to last year's extremely surprising This is the End (as I refuse to count Neighbors' major misstep), I've come to expect a certain level of intelligence from Rogen and Goldberg. Sure their screenplays are littered with crude jokes (and The Interview follows that trend for better or worse), but when broken down, the core of the comedy always comes from a well thought out place. The Interview does not disappoint in this area. The dialogue is tightly written and well delivered leading to some amazing back and forth from Rogen and Franco. As the two tap into a years developed chemistry (that's so fine tuned that Franco gets major laughs from just his facial expressions), the incredible ridiculousness of the premise is digestible. Even when the film goes to some outlandish lengths, the two always anchor the ship and point the comedy in the right direction.  While the comedy is well thought out, there is an unfortunate sense of familiarity however. As some of the better gags lead to callbacks later in the film, it's like the film depends on those gags to survive instead of crafting new ones. To be more specific, there's the term "honeypotting." Interview defines it as using seduction to manipulate (instead of the actual disgusting definition) and while it's a notable gag the first time it's used, it runs out of steam the more and more the term is thrown out during the film. Interview has a bad case of this with a few other jokes, but sometimes they're twisted in such a way that they're funny again. It's just an unfortunate case of becoming desensitized to the material after a while. And without giving too much away, Interview pulls the same trick seen in This is the End (with a small bit of dialogue heavily foreshadowing the film's events) and it's just not as great the second time around.  But when Interview works, it works splendidly. The cast is so well placed. Franco nearly steals the show as his performance is seemingly effortless (as he combines an intelligent naivete with a suave and narcissistic demeanor), but the casual racism given to his character is quite troublesome. Rogen is the literal butt of most of the crude humor, but he takes it like a champ, Lizzy Caplan gets very little to do and that's a shame, but Randall Park as Kim Jong-un is the real take away. His Kim Jong-un is at times humanized, but never quite able to shed the terrible image of the real thing. There are several nuances in his performances that could be easily ignored if you aren't paying attention. From the way he animates his face, to the way he can stare off blankly to the side and still command attention. Park definitely needs to be in more things.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the elephant in the room. The Interview has a weird portrayal of North Korea. Sort of non-committal, sort of racist and nowhere near as "America, f**k yeah!" as recent events would have you believe. There's always someone saying North Korea is a bad place, but there's never an offer for a better alternative. Both the USA and North Korea are treated as interfering and destructive entities as Dave and Aaron are just roped into this American plan despite their wishes, the United States is shown to have highly advanced military technology at their disposal, and North Korea becomes a cartoonish hellhole of a country. Yet despite all of this, the film just sort of ends. Sure I didn't expect an intense political discussion, and The Interview does get credit for bringing attention to North Korea's issues to people who wouldn't know about them, but it's weird to be wandering around in this grey area. But at the end of the day, The Interview is still a damn fine piece of entertainment. A concise, intelligent film that marks the maturing of the stereotypical "stoner comedy" framework (taking a crazy premise and sticking two random guys into it) as the actors themselves grow older and more confident in other styles of work and experiment with interesting ideas and perspectives. It's stylishly shot (with some wonderful red "communist" hues and backgrounds), and the soundtrack gives empty scenes poignancy. I mean, I had fun...unless I was honeypotted. Whatever, they hate us cause they ain't us. 
The Interview Review photo
Land of the free, home of the butthole
After a crazy couple of weeks of Sony hacks, full on terrorist attack threats, cancellations, and a last minute reneging, I sort of forgot that at the center of all this mess was a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco....

The Interview getting limited theatrical release, possibly VOD

Dec 23 // Nick Valdez
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES LIMITED THEATRICAL RELEASE OF THE INTERVIEW ON CHRISTMAS DAY [Hollywood - December 23, 2014]  Sony Pictures Entertainment today announced that The Interview will have a limited theatrical release in the United States on Christmas Day. “We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment. “At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.” “I want to thank our talent on The Interview and our employees, who have worked tirelessly through the many challenges we have all faced over the last month.  While we hope this is only the first step of the film’s release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech.”  
The Interview Release photo
It's a Christmas miracle!
After all of the hubub and hooey giving attention to a film that's probably super funny, but forgettable, Sony is allowing a limited theatrical run of The Interview on its intended Christmas Day release (for those theaters th...

True Story Trailer photo
True Story Trailer

First trailer for True Story starring James Franco and Jonah Hill

Dec 18
// Nick Valdez
When you hear James Franco and Jonah Hill are starring in a movie together chances are some cheap comedy comes to mind. But beside their comedic talents, they're terrific actors capable of leading any drama (see Palo Alto or...

Why did it have to be The Interview?

Dec 17 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
By now, you've likely heard that Sony has officially canceled the Christmas Day release of The Interview. That event took place after I wrote the rest of this article, which sort of threw a wrench into things, but it doesn't change the point of the article, so it's still being published. This all came in response to the Guardians of Peace, who perpetrated the hack against Sony, threatening some sort of horrific violence (invoking 9/11 in the process) against any theater that shows The Interview. Was it a credible threat? No, probably not. I don't think there's any way North Korea (assuming Guardians of Peace is related to that regime) could pull off something like that, and people who know a lot more about this stuff than I do agree. But, and this is the big but, what if it is credible? Because the reality is that the group doesn't have to bomb every theater showing the film to make their point. They only have to bomb one of them. And while I never believed anything would happen, I also wasn't going to take my chances at a movie theater on opening day. But I kind of wanted to. I didn't want to before this whole thing happened, because The Interview was never something I intended to see in a theater, but now that all of this has happened, I feel compelled to stand up for it. Because what has happened to The Interview sets a terrible precedent on so many levels. (And now that the Christmas release has been canceled, it's even worse; although the eventual release may be stronger for it... we'll see.) If you have been following the stories that have come out of the Sony hacks (which Flixist has taken an official stand against covering), you know by now that it hasn't been a great year for the project. And while I stand by the decision to not cover the attack on this site, I also think that what those The Interview-related emails in particular tell us about the way the film industry works behind the scenes is fascinating and worth understanding. Of particular note was the revelation that Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai stepped in to meddle with the project directly, something that hasn't happened in 25 years. The point of contention was the actual death of Kim Jong-un (which the entire movie builds towards). While it has not technically been censored in America (though it will be internationally), it has been absolutely and unquestionably toned down.  A clip has circulated online featuring a later version, which features a far less explicit version than those on the creative team had intended. In fact, the version as presented there (and thus as will play onscreen) is kind of... nothing. Really. Even without the leaks, it would be pretty obvious that things had scaled back, because it just looks weird. And it looks weird because Sony is scared. And Sony has every right to do what it wants with its own properties... but at the same time I can't pretend like I'm not bothered by the whole ordeal. (On a vaguely related note: the fact that US state officials have backed the project and believe it could potentially be useful propaganda is kind of incredible.) I may not always put much stock in other critics' opinions, but the 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and the 54 on Metacritic thus far aren't exactly inspiring numbers. (By contrast, This is the End received 83% and 67.) They imply, at the very least, that this may not really be a film worth fighting for. Why couldn't it have been Team America: World Police (77% and 64) that set off North Korea? Why did it have to be a film that is probably mediocre?  Imagine if Hotel Rwanda had caused this kind of thing to happen, if Rwanda declared the film an act of war, or if The Act of Killing was seen by the Indonesian government as worthy of a terrorist response. Those are films that people would get behind and fight for, because those are films that show something significant. They're films that could make a difference. The Interview was never going to make a difference, in part because it's fictional, but also because it's a Seth Rogen movie. Seth Rogen's movies are generally enjoyable, but they don't go beyond just being fun to watch. There's nothing wrong with that, but in the face of a horrible terrorist threat, "It might be kind of funny" is hardly something worth dying for. I don't believe anyone will die for The Interview, but in the face of threats of horrific violence, you need to weigh the thing you're fighting for against the potential dangers. By choosing a film that very few people legitimately care about, the power dynamic has shifted. Many people would normally stand up for art's right to exist, but voices are silent, because it's The Interview and not The Act of Killing. It all seems so pointless. I don't believe that Sony should bow to these terrorists, but I also can't blame theaters for removing it from their lineup. The whole situation is so completely fucked, but the fact that it's a Seth Rogen film at the center seems like some cruel joke. The kind of joke that Seth Rogen would turn into a movie.
Why The Interview? photo
Couldn't the terrorists have chosen a more meaningful film?
The Interview is the most important film of 2014.  Does that sentence depress anyone else? It really should, because it's undoubtedly true. The film that will have the greatest impact on the world at large is not Boyhood...

The Interview photo
The Interview

Final Trailer for Rogen and Goldberg's The Interview

Nov 26
// Nick Valdez
I've been worried how Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were possibly going to follow up This is the End, hands down one of the best films of 2013, after their recently produced effort Neighbors showed quite a few cracks in their...
The Interview Trailer photo
The Interview Trailer

First Red Band trailer for The Interview has some jokes

Sep 22
// Nick Valdez
After watching this latest Red Band trailer for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's latest film, The Interview, I think I'm okay with its push from October to December. There are some good jokes here as the trailer reveals more o...
The Interview photo
The Interview

Watch this 20 minute MTV special for The Interview

Aug 19
// Nick Valdez
Just as how MTV once had a cool promotion for This is the End last year, this year they're working with Sony to promote Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's The Interview. I'm pretty excited for it, North Korea seems less excited,...

Sony is digitally altering The Interview

Communism wins
Aug 14
// Matthew Razak
You know who hates democracy and freedom? Sony. They've kowtowed to pressure from North Korea about some crazy issues it has with the comedy, which is about two interviewers who get to sit down with Kim Jong Un. What's the ch...

First look at James Franco's The Sound and the Fury

No sound, some fury in these images
Aug 11
// Matthew Razak
As the next step in James Franco's epic prank on the entire world (that is the only explanation for his existence as a whole) an adaptation of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury must signal we are near the prolifi...
The Interview photo
The Interview

Rogen's The Interview gets new release date, possibly because of communism

Aug 08
// Nick Valdez
I'm really, reeeeeeeeeeeeally looking forward to The Interview. It's Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's follow up to This is the End, one of my favorite films of 2013, stars Rogen and James Franco doing what they do best, and it'...

Teaser trailer for The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco

Oh man.
Jun 12
// Isabelle Magliari
James Franco and Seth Rogen are the peanut butter and jelly of the film world; they just work so well together. And their dynamic duo-ness holds up strong in the first teaser for their upcoming and undoubtably hilarious come...

James Franco is against Spring Breakers 2, producers respond [UPDATED]

And I'm against hitting on underage girls!
May 17
// Mike Cosimano
[UPDATE 5/17/14] Chris and Roberta Hanley recently spoke to Variety regarding Franco's comments. "Franco is a sequel junkie in his own reality, embracing the too big to fail studio system that is his meal ticket to dilettante...

James Franco and Kate Hudson star in trailer for Good People

May 09
// Liz Rugg
In Good People, James Franco and Kate Hudson play an American couple who move to England with dreams of having a home and starting a family. When they fall on hard times financially, the sudden death of a neighbor and subseq...

James Franco stars as a troubled actor in Maladies

Feb 05
// Liz Rugg
In Maladies, James Franco plays a semi-washed up soap opera star in the 1960s, appropriately named James. James not only struggles with his floundering career, but with his seemingly failing mind and his fluctuating relation...

Michael's 10 Most Unnecessary Nude Scenes of 2013

Jan 09 // Michael Jordan
10. Blue is the Warmest Color -  Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos  Coming in at an astounding 12 mins long of combined sexual escapades, Blue is the Warmest Color took its lesbian porn scenes with Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos to a whole new level of unnecessary when these two actresses hit each other's trenches as if it was World War II. Out of context you really feel like you just entered in to a high quality soft core porn (this might be the first one ever made!) and not an amazing movie about the growth of a young adolescent and her path to adulthood.  9. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa - Rubber penis in vending machine. You are already rolling your eye at the sight of "Jackass," I can feel it. We already know its going to be over-the-top, but penis in the vending machine over-the-top? I think not. In an effort to reach out to their demographic, teen boys that own rubber penises, Bad Grandpa takes some time out of its heart warming story of a Grandpa traveling the country with his 8-year-old grandson, to give us a tasteful dick joke or two.  8. Sweetwater - January Jones Its safe to say that January Jones is quite the bad ass right now. Whether she is playing Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class or Betty Draper in Mad Men, she has been mixing her sex appeal and personal strength to make some memorable characters. Sweetwater took some of that mysterious eroticism out of the sails, in one of the most ass kicking ways possible, when her character, Sarah Ramírez, busts out her hand cannon on two scoundrels on horse back who interrupt her river bathing. 7. Spring Breakers - Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens & James Franco Now this comes in kinda low on the list because you don't actually see any areola or dong, just some bodies grinding a butt, but put it into context of Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hugens sexing up James Franco doing his best impersonation of Riff Raff, and you have the recipe for shattered dreams that will leave you sad inside. I could have just as easily said the Rachel Korine drunken gang bang montage that actually shows some nipple, which is just as horrifying, especially when you think about the fact that Rachel Korine is the wife of director, Harmony Korine. That must have been an awkward talk, "Hey honey, I want you to be in a scene where you get topless and have an extremely depressing drunken gang bang montage that leaves you with physical and mental scars." I am sure those where his exact words.   6. Behind the Candelabra - Matt Damon & Michael Douglas  While this year has been kinda light on on the male side of nudity, it makes up for it in creepy. The autobiographical story of Liberace and his lover, Scott Thorson, takes you deep (bit the pillow) into there behind (wink wink) the scenes romance (butt sex). The "look who's up" scene is equal parts weird guy on the corner offering candy to kids, and "Holy crap, did I just see Michael Douglas in bed with Matt Damon. I need to stop drinking." 5. This Is The End - Giant Devil  Copying a page out of the video game adaptation of Dante's Inferno, This is the End sports a huge floppy Devil dong. With a litany of dick jokes, you could say this one was the largest in the movie. This has been a big year for digital penis physics. 4. Wolf of Wall Street - Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie I know what you might be thinking: the scenes are not over the top and are used to set the tone of their lives. Sure, but when it comes to having sex on top of a pile of money, then you have gone to far. Margot Robbie was even quoted as saying: I got a million paper cuts on my back from all that money! It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. If anyone is ever planning on having sex on top of a pile of cash: don’t. Also did anyone stop to think, wait are they now going to spend that cum covered money and where? The thought of handing it to some poor sob at McD's drive through is gut retching.  3. Trance - Rosario Dawson Now Trance was a pretty good heist movie starring James McAvoy as an art auctioneer that gets mixed up with a group of not so savory partners and a hypnotherapist. But though the smash and grab of a multi-million dollar painting heist left many confused and stumbling, Rosario Dawson sporting full frontal nudity and a Brazilian wax was just as jaw dropping. Dawson has come a long way since Clerks 2, that's for sure. 2. The Hangover III - End Credits While not known for its taste and refinement, The Hangover III sports raunchy jokes and an over the top story of drunken buffoonary, but the credits shot of full frontal male nudity just seems like a throw away, as if they did not have the balls to show it in the movie itself. Don't marginalize the penis Hollywood, you have wood right in your name! In a movie based on drunken dick and fart jokes, you would think they wouldn't have the testis to go all out. God knows they gave enough opportunity to do so in the movie.  1. The Canyons - Lindsay Lohan Oh Lindsay Lohan, the candle that burns twice as bright and twice as fast. What can I say she has made a career out of a train wreck. Not her career obviously, but a career for every paparazzi that chooses to follow her around, documenting her decent into crazy town (making me remember a very bad 90's band). Unlike most of the movies on this list, I would say the entire movie was unnecessary. The only reason anyone watched this movie was to see how many times Director Paul Schrader could get Lindsay Lohan to get naked. I am sure the words he used to convince her were more along the lines found on a mirror cut up with a razor and snorted via $100 bill than "This will win your respect back in the film making community." Honorable mention: Orange is the New Black - Laura Prepon and Taylor Schilling While not being a movie but still making the dreams of my teenage self come true, Laura Prepon, better know for her roll as Donna form That 70's Show, gives us a happily unnecessary (at least for me) lesbian topless make out scene in the first episode of this Netflix hit series. Unlike her past co-star on That 70's Show, Mila Kunis, who uses body doubles and CGI for her nude scenes (what are you hiding Kunis!), Prepon is not afraid to get a little chesty in a scene ripped straight out of a Cinemax late night skin flix. Honorable mention: Lady Gaga Not exactly having to deal with film but definitely making a scene in an effort to show just how little a crap she actually gives, and possibly to see how many STDs she can give to her fans in one show, Lady GaGa showed up to Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in this little number. Thank you Lady GaGa for all your hard work.
10 Least Necessary Nudes photo
Who bares it all?
Some times the film world likes to take things to the extremes, sometimes they just want to see if they can get a way with it, and sometimes they just don't give a flying poo about what they put in their movies as long as peo...

Bound 3 photo
Bound 3

Rogen and Franco recreated Kanye West's "Bound 2"

Nov 25
// Nick Valdez
On the set of Seth Rogen's directorial follow up to This is the End, The Interview (featuring Rogen and James Franco as a TV personality and producer who are roped into helping assassinate the prime minister of North Korea), James Franco and Seth Rogen did a shot for shot remake of Kanye West's weird music video for "Bound 2." Ye...yeah it's pretty sexy.  [via Twitter]

Review: Homefront

Nov 22 // Mike Cosimano
[embed]216888:40950:0[/embed] HomefrontDirector: Gary FlederRated: RRelease Date: November 27, 2013 Homefront stars Jason Statham as former (Current? It’s not explained very well) DEA agent Phil Broker laying low in the Deep South after the last case he was on resulted in a bunch of agents shooting a guy who went for a gun. Somehow, this was too much for the man who had already shot about three bikers by that point. He’s moved to his late wife’s hometown in the hopes of being able to raise his daughter Maddy (played by Izabela Vidovic). But those hopes are shattered when Maddy beats up a schoolyard bully, leading to a direct chain of events that involves a meth empire. And I literally mean ‘direct chain of events’. This childish feud kicks off the entire film. If that sounds preposterous, that’s because it is at first. It feels like a leftover aspect from the first draft: a placeholder to connect Statham and Franco. “So, how does Phil Broker get involved with Gator (Franco’s character) and his meth buddies?” “How about…Statham’s kid beats up Franco’s nephew, and then Franco’s sister asks him to give Statham and his kid a scare? Then, Franco stumbles upon Statham’s case files, just so happens to pick up the file from the beginning of the film, with the bikers, and -- get this -- he knows the bikers.” In all fairness, this is in the book on which Homefront is based, but that doesn’t make it any less silly. Thankfully, once all this nonsense is out of the way and the major conflict ready to go, the film’s plot settles down and becomes something a little more standard. But, once the pieces introduced in the first act are pushed aside, the film did lose some of my interest. There’s real potential in some of these ideas, like the relationship between meth dealer Franco and his meth addict sister (played by Kate Bosworth) or how much Statham seems to enjoy violence. Sadly, these ideas are either not explored (like in the first case), or contradict themselves (in the second case). When Statham unleashes on these human punching bags, the dialogue and acting suggest that what he’s just done is reprehensible in some way. But director Gary Fleder’s camera depicts the action with a sort of glee that overpowers what the other aspects of the film are trying to accomplish. So it’s a real shame that I can only praise the action on a purely superficial level. If you can look past the dissonance, there’s some really exciting and well-paced stuff here. It’s not an orgy of violence, thankfully. The opening sequence where Statham and the DEA bust a meth ring is abysmal, with no sense of geography, terible editing, and a nonexistent axis of action. In fact, everything right up to Statham walking away from the scene in disgust while his boss yells “Don’t you walk away from me!” had me worried. Thankfully, it gets better from there.  The cast is generally quite talented, with Vidovic’s Maddy a particular highlight. She comes off as too precocious in areas, but this girl has an otherwise bright future in acting. Statham is fine as always, but he’s trying to force a half-American accent here, and it could not be more distracting. I have yet to see an unentertaining James Franco performance, and happily this is no exception. He’s an entertaining villain, and his performance elevates what would be a stock baddie in the hands of an inferior actor. But there’s no one performance that stands out other than the above three, and you’ll be hard-pressed to remember anyone else minutes after walking out of the theater. Apparently Wynona Rider was in it? That’s a pretty decent summary of Homefront, actually. So much of it just slips through the cracks, but what does stick is actually not half bad. There are so many cool ideas on display here that scream for a more thoughtful film. But there’s no use in wishing for what might have been. If you want to see Jason Statham beat some rednecks up, this certainly is a movie where he does that.
Homefront Review photo
No, not the video game.
It’s somewhat fitting that, early on in Homefront, the platitude ‘Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” can be seen on a wall, because it’s a fitting descript...


See Homefront early and free

Nov 19
// Matthew Razak
James Franco action like a crazy, southern crime lord? Yes and please. Add in a little Jason Statham kicking butt and rescuing his daughter and you've got a mixture that's at least weird enough to intrigue. Homefront pro...
Homefront Trailer photo
Homefront Trailer

Red Band trailer for Homefront is so America

Oct 21
// Nick Valdez
Homefront is a film, written by Sylvester Stallone, starring Jason Statham as an ex-DEA agent who has to eventually confront the druglord Gator, played by James Franco. How has this film not been hyped more? If you're lookin...

NYFF Review: Child of God

Sep 23 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]216507:40684:0[/embed] Child of GodDirector: James FrancoRating: TBDRelease Date: TBD There's something fundamentally inartful about the execution of Child of God, and I think it comes down to the direction more than the performances. Scott Haze plays the film's main character, Lester Ballard, a barely articulate manchild who lives on the outskirts of society in a ramshackle cabin in the woods. He spends his days hunting and talking to himself in a mostly unintelligible blur of language. It's part twangy schizophrenia, part Boomhauer from King of the Hill. While in the deepest throes of isolation, Lester resorts to necrophilia. We get to watch him madly hump away at a corpse like he's in a farce about dogs in heat. These sequences are sure to cause walkouts. Most people will leave because necrophilia is one of the grossest of the gross taboos, though they should really leave because the movie is poorly made. I'm no connoisseur of necrophilia in the media, but Child of God reminded me of a few things that explored necrophilia better. There's a pair of notorious German horror films by Jörg Buttgereit called Nekromantik and Nekromantik 2. (I've only seen the first one and just clips of the second one. One's fine, thanks.) There are also some articles on necrophiliacs in Apocalypse Culture and Apocalypse Culture II, those two cult classic non-fiction books edited by Adam Parfrey. Whether it's the Buttgereit films or the testimony of Karen Greenlee, there's more going on in the heads of the necrophiles than just wanting to get off, and one of the issues with Child of God is the amount of psychological and emotional distance we have from Lester as a character. Lester may not be able to articulate any great profundities about life, but he's always processing the world in his head. Since he dominates the narrative, it'd make sense that some of his point of view or some insight into his point of view might seep into the film. That's not really the case. So much of Child of God plays out as if we're simply observing Lester rather than inhabiting a sympathetic mental and emotional space. Given, this is a difficult worldview to imagine, and it may be even more difficult to portray on screen than it is on the page, but I'm surprised how detached the film feels from Lester when it also seems like Franco is trying to find a deeper connection to him. This all comes down to Franco's inexperience as a director. Not only is this difficult, dark, challenging material to wrestle with, but it's also set in a backwater town in the 1960s. Sadly, the recreation of the era is ineffective. So much of the movie has the gloss of a contemporary world playing dress up. The actors drive vintage cars and they wear period costumes but they never feel like they're actually from the 1960s. Very little about Child of God feels lived-in. The entire look of the film is pretty ho-hum as well, sort of like a made-for-TV movie that was rushed. This is really the sort of material that should be labored over. Ultimately, Child of God is the film of a tyro. What it really needs is a masterful director who can translate McCarthy's beautiful language about grotesquerie into beautiful images of grotesquerie. There needs to the be this tension to create sympathy for Lester and the universal plight of the isolated at the fringe, no matter how repellent it gets. This is ugly, but the writing is so compelling that I can't stop reading; this is ugly, but the imagery is so compelling that I can't look away. This is a collision of opposites as a means toward recognition. There's almost no poetic grotesquerie in the film version of Child of God. Instead, we get Lester ejaculating onto the side of a car, as if Franco just stomped on a tube of toothpaste just out of frame. Rather than find a suitable visual equivalent for the language, Franco stumbles and tries to incorporate McCarthy's text directly into the film. There's voiceover briefly that's then abandoned, and there's text on the screen briefly that's then abandoned. The film is at a loss for images that can substitute for words. It wants to say so much about the human condition but winds up saying very little. During a press conference after the screening, Franco discussed the subtext of isolation and empathy for Lester as a character. The ideas he expressed were better articulated than they were executed in the film. While watching Child of God, I inferred the subtext he was going for, but it just didn't feel like this was implied by the film. If the subtext remains buried beneath the rest of the execution, it winds up sounding like it's a foreign idea or, worse, an afterthought intended to add significance where there's none. One of the first foul images in Child of God is of Lester bending over and taking a dump on camera. As far as I could tell, it really is Haze taking a dark, ugly crap right there in front of us. We then get to watch him clumsily wipe his ass with a stick. I'm sure some people will read this as an act of artistic transgression, an introduction into the primal earthiness of Lester's world. In another film maybe I could get behind that idea, but sometimes a man taking a dump is just a man taking a dump. I mean, hell, it wasn't even shot that well. [Child of God will screen at the Walter Reade Theater on Sunday, September 29th and at the Francesca Beale Theater on Tuesday, October 1st. For tickets and more information, click here.]
Child of God Review photo
A film by James Franco, full of snot and necrophilia, signifying not much, really
Allow me to state my bias upfront. While I like James Franco as an actor, I'm not a fan of his work as a would-be Renaissance Man/Jack of all trades. His fiction is pretty mediocre and the stuff I saw about his art installati...

Homefront Trailer photo
Homefront Trailer

First trailer for Homefront, written by...Sly Stallone?

A film so American, only a British guy could be the hero.
Sep 13
// Nick Valdez
This first trailer for Homefront, adapted from a Chuck Logan novel with a screenplay written by Sylvester Stallone, is everything great about movies. It's about an ex-DEA agent, played by Jason Statham, who travels to a back...
This is the End photo
This is the End

This is the End getting re-released in theaters soon

The end is back, alright! (Sooner than you think!)
Sep 02
// Nick Valdez
This is the End was the best film of the Summer hands down (Fast & Furious 6 notwithstanding). It brought the biggest surprises, biggest laughs, and most memorable moments (that finale had to be the greatest thing I've se...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...