Tag Archive: james franco


 

disasterartist

If you’ve lived in LA for any period of time, you’ve seen the billboard.  You may have even gone to one of the midnight screenings of ‘the Room’ (I admit at this point I still haven’t seen it, but I’m familiar with the ‘making of’ story, as most film geeks are.  As now Golden Globe winner James Franco clearly was….)

‘The Disaster Artist’ is an enjoyable watch, that (somewhat surprisingly to me anyway), covers so many of the good and bad parts of being a filmmaker.  You need a certain amount of passion to get ANY movie made.  But a bottomless pit of money and resources do not automatically translate to a good film.  And if you’ve spent any time on a set, good or bad, the making of a movie is not remotely as glamourous as you would believe.

Tommy Wiseau, as portrayed by James Franco, is (probably) a middle aged man with a thick Eastern European accent, who idolizes Brando and James Dean.  When more than one acting teacher suggests with his look and dialect, he could easily break through the door as a serious villain, he blows them off because he only sees himself in the image of his heroes (yet another lesson in there the vast majority of actors I know have to deal with in the early stages).

When Tommy meets a genuine young actor named Greg (played by Dave Franco in one of his most likable roles), the journey to ‘the Room’ begins: the two leave San Francisco to take their shot in the City of Angels.  How Tommy, a well intentioned but ultimately wildly insecure and naive actor wrote and directed a cult classic has to be seen to be believed.  Fun bit parts by everyone from Alison Brie to Seth Rogen to Hannibal Buress to Judd Apatow sell the Hollywood element to this outsider story that would be tragic if it weren’t at turns funny (like the source material I suppose).

Recommend.

 

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Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Malik Aziz share an unique, common background.  Both young men are natives of Kansas City, Kansas, graduates of the University of Kansas and went to grad school at the University of Southern California.  They both grew up in the ‘golden age of hip hop’ and share a passion for films.

For the past several years, they’ve also posted predictions about the Academy Awards.  Technology has evolved where last year for the first time they were able to post their unique commentary during the show.

This is Round 2…

Thomas: tee minus three minutes sucka!

Malik: It’s time for this year’s Oscars.  For those wondering, I’m wearing a tux from Oscar de la Renta…

Thomas: And I’m wearing a hoodie from champs sports…

Thomas: So, I’d say this was a hit and miss opening sequence. Anne Hathaway and James Franco seem game. The Black Swan bit was a little painful, though.

Malik: yeah hit and miss was right..

Thomas: Funny joke from Hathaway about appealing to a younger demo.

Thomas: That’s exactly what ABC is going for by having them host instead of a baby boomer.

Malik: yeah we’ll see how the ratings do tomorrow

Thomas: Hey, is that Lou Gosset Jr. sitting in front of James Franco’s grandma?

Malik: yeah LOL

Thomas: “There’s only two things that come out of the Oscars. That steers and queers and I don’t see no horns on James Franco.”

Thomas: Officer and A Gentleman, thanks very much.

Malik: idiot, LOL

Malik: this feels slow but I’m digging the set design

Thomas: Hey, Lou Gossett won an oscar when black people were only winning once every ten years.

Thomas: Set design is cool, but the pace is very slow so far.

Thomas: What constitutes set design and/or computer generated backgrounds?

Malik: All I know is I’m 1 for 1 in my Oscar pool brotha…

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland looked great and had great sets, but I’d be curious to know how much of the sets were created by actual set designers and not special effects guys.

Malik: good question, but it’s the direction we’re going in I’m afraid

Thomas: That category os blurring fast.

Malik: an Oscar for Nolan’s cinematographer, nice!!!!

Thomas: Well deserved win, here. Wally Pfister shot a beautiful film with Inception.

Malik: ‘his master?’

Thomas: Mark that on the list of things a brotha will never say.

Malik: i got $100 if you win an Oscar and refer to ANYONE as your master…

Thomas: If I heard any black man say that, I might bumrush the stage even if I don’t know him.

Malik: LMBAO!!!!

Thomas: Much respect to Kirk Douglas.

Malik: yeah I don’t want to make a joke here.

Thomas: But, in fairness, the demo just switched the channel for a few minutes….

Malik: too bad, this is a major category

Thomas: Who wins here?

Malik: i picked Leo

Thomas: Good performances all around.

Malik: yeah this is a strong category

Thomas: This lady in Animal Kingdom freaks me out for some reason.

Thomas: Leo angered some people for lobbying for herself this oscar campaign.

Malik: yeah I’m offended, people get paid to do that…

Thomas: She took out a few ads in magazines asking people to consider her.

Thomas: But, if she really wants to win, she wants to win.

Thomas: Who’s the guy with the job of holding Kirk Douglas’ cane?

Malik: yeah I appreciate the honesty

Malik: this has to be the most agonizing moment in these five women’s lives…

Thomas: Yes…

Thomas: Not just for them.

Thomas: Leo’s life just changed.

Thomas: Leo fought for this award. She got it.

Malik: now you got me going, can’t you see some kid saying ‘Man Michael Douglas aged pretty bad didn’t he?”

Thomas: That’s the thing. There might be kids who don’t know who Michael Douglas is, either.

Malik: OHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Thomas: Leo’s a ham on stage, but we already knew she was.

Thomas: Good job in The Fighter. But, don’t be taking Kirk Douglas’ cane!

Thomas: Anne Hatahway is kind of funny. “The Young and Hip Oscars” lol

Malik: yeah good comeback

Thomas: Did you check out this short animated film?

Malik: i heard about it but no

Thomas: Looks interesting. But, I always wonder who generally gets a chance to watch these, other than festivals and voters.

Thomas: Maybe that’s it.

Malik: yeah i researched this, you have to be in a certain part of the Academy to vote on certain awards

Thomas: Toy Story 3. Nice.

Malik: probably the best overall movie this year if we’re being honest

Thomas: For anyone who loved their toys, this film was a tear jerker.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Nice way to round out the Toy Story trilogy.

Malik: yeah we grew up with that trilogy in a way

Malik: hey it’s your category brotha!

Thomas: The white tux twins?

Malik: yeah a little hard on the HDTV…

Thomas: The is Sorkin all the way

Thomas: The only question is what kind of speech will he give.

Malik: we’re about to find out…

Thomas: Even the other nominees were like, “I ain’t winning this…”

Thomas: Nice acknowledgment of the book the screenplay is based on and the author who wrote it.

Malik: yeah this is a good speech

Malik: Wrap It Up Son!

Thomas: He’s kind of a blowhard, but has a great memory of names. Overall, classy speech.

Malik: Whoa, that was my pick but I’m still surprised it won

Thomas: No surprise here.

Thomas: Seidler is in his 70s.

Thomas: Waited decades to write this story and did it well. As he said, he’s the oldest writer to win this thing.

Thomas: Seidler is also giving a classy and funny speech.

Malik: another good acceptance speech

Thomas: Writers representing with the speeches!

Thomas: Not bad singing Anne Hathaway.

Malik: (blank stare at Franco…)

Thomas: Text message from Charlie Sheen is funny.

Malik: OK Russell Brand, that was a good line…

Thomas: This is funny.

Thomas: And, I’m not even a Russell Brand fan.

Malik: me either, but I have to say the new Arthur is a good idea (on paper)

Malik: only OGs remember Dudley Moore at this point

Thomas: True, but it is a revered comedy. Hopefully they did it right.

Thomas: In HDTV, that gold envelope looks like a work of art itself.

Malik: yeah that’s pimp!

Thomas: Here comes your girl, Reece.

Malik: yeah…

Thomas: So, does Bale win and will Hathaway reference Batman?

Malik: yes and yes

Malik: as will I

Thomas: Will Bale give a crazy speech?

Malik: IN THE ALL BLACK SUIT!!!!

Thomas: Batman says “Bloody hell”?

Malik: yes so what?

Malik: learning your American accent is something we only do to make ourselves more accessible to you Yanks

Thomas: Just saying. Batman sounds kind of British up in this piece.

Thomas: At least Superman is still played by an American. Wait…

Malik: did he get a little emotional at the end?!?

Thomas: Either that, or he had a brain fart, forgot his wife’s name and played it off.

Thomas: I like to think it was emotion, though.

Malik: it better be, couldn’t pull that with no sista…

Thomas: She’d be staying daggers at him. “Negro please…”

Malik: LMBAO!!!

Malik: great intro for the sound/music categories

Thomas: Yup.

Thomas: One of my biggest loves – film scores.

Malik: i almost got up and started swinging my lightsaber around – no homo

Thomas: No comment.

Thomas: But, The King’s Speech score was well done. And used very well in the film.

Thomas: Social Network has a good one, too. Though it was a little monotonous.

Thomas: I would have picked Kings Speech, personally, but I get it.

Malik: yeah I thought Inception might have had a chance there as well

Malik: the sound was a big part of that film as well

Thomas: True.

Thomas: Scarlett Johanson. Hot?

Malik: Yeah I dig her, I’m always surprised when I hear some guys say they don’t get her appeal.

Malik: You one of them?

Thomas: She’s nice. But, there are times when she’s much better than others.

Thomas: Inception deserves this win. Great sound.

Malik: yeah tonight is not one of her better nights

Malik: and yeah there’s the Inception win

Thomas: black with bow tie.

Thomas: Don’t see that often.

Thomas: Man, they start the “get off the stage music for non actors RIGHT AWAY.

Malik: I blame Kirk Douglas still.  There I said it.

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Inception taking no prisoners with sound and effects…

Thomas: But Nolan got no love for directing.

Thomas: I heard the Academy might see him as a “comic book guy” even though The Dark Knight was well respected. Think they’ll award him for the next Batman or will it take a non comic/special effects film?

Malik: good question…

Malik: depends on how good the next Batman is, people have a short memory.

Thomas: Cate Blachett. Much respect for her skills.

Malik: yeah she’s like an even more mainstream version of Streep

Thomas: This is another category which blends the practical work with special effects.

Thomas: How much of the Wolfman look was practical and how much was computer generated?

Malik: don’t know but i have a side question for you…

Malik: what would you do if you won an Oscar and the music never stopped?

Malik: they play you on to the stage and just keep playing…

Thomas: Go up on stage and stare down the orchestra. Don’t say a word, just stare at them the entire time they play.

Malik: that would be the greatest moment ever!

Malik: God forbid I’d be in the crowd, the camera would catch me looking like I had no home training…

Thomas: Got the first black people on the show.

Thomas: Of course, they’re rapping.

Malik: (shaking my head…)

Thomas: How much could they pay you to sing the Beauty and The Beast song with an English accent?

Malik: Not enough. Next question…

Thomas: Randy Newman songs just make people feel good.

Malik: God bless Randy Newman, but Family Guy nailed him in one of their first seasons.

Thomas: lol. Just watched the Family Guy clip of Randy Newman!!!

Malik: Told You!!!

Thomas: How did Waiting For Superman not even get nominated for a documentary oscar, though?

Malik: Man, I don’t know

Malik: i’m not sleeping on the teacher’s union though…

Malik: our first awkward looking Oscar winner…

Thomas: This guy is a film student. Nuff said.

Thomas: But, he’s living the dream if that’s the case.

Malik: very true, I’m not hating…

Thomas: Figured Auto tune was coming.

Malik: i’m trying not to laugh…

Thomas: They could have picked a better film to do it with, though. Winter’s Bone. Some movie that’s the opposite of musical.

Malik: “He Doesn’t Own a Shirt”  – that’s a winner

Thomas: yeah, funny

Thomas: That’s what the demo wants!

Malik: i was going to say that’s her best look tonight I think

Thomas: yeah.

Thomas: Oprah sighting.

Malik: the Queen has arrived

Thomas: I wish I could watch more documentaries.

Malik: I thought Restrepo was good, haven’t seen the winner yet though

Thomas: The level of quality has really been amazing in this category.

Malik: I’m sure more fictional filmmakers are naturally gravitating towards docs these days

Thomas: Can always depend on the documentary people to make a political statement or two.

Thomas: Good.

Malik: Yep, now get off the stage!

Malik: Billy Crystal getting a well deserved ovation.

Thomas: Yes. Still the best Oscar host ever.

Thomas: For our generation at least.

Thomas: Bob Hope was known as pretty good himself.

Malik: yeah Hope is iconic

Thomas: That passover joke is iconic itself.

Malik: LOL

Thomas: I wonder who did “new Bob Hope’s” voice.

Malik: yeah that was awkward.

Thomas: Inception has to win this, right?

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland was really good for effects, but the turning room itself probably won this for Inception.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Social Network is cleaning up. Some in their camp have to feel like they have a shot at best picture. What do you think?

Malik: Ask me after the give out the Directing award in a few minutes…

Thomas: Jennifer Hudson. Hot?

Malik: Usually but I don’t like her look tonight

Thomas: Yeah, I agree. Doesn’t seem like her own look.

Thomas: But, she lost weight and that looks good for her.

Malik: oh i see brotha; you like those size 1 types…

Thomas: I ain’t saying that.

Thomas: Just think that she looks good either way.

Malik: i guess you’re digging Gwyneth Paltrow huh?

Thomas: lol. The skinny snow bunnies…?

Thomas: Gwyneth’s never been my type. To each his own.

Thomas: I do wonder if Jennifer Hudson looks at Gwyneth’s singing and is like, “Don’t even try it…”

Thomas: The Family Guy Randy Newman is still in my head. Lol…

Malik: it’s going to be there for awhile LOL

Malik: “she takes a bite”

Thomas: The real randy Newman is pretty funny, though.

Malik: yeah that dude is pure Cali

Thomas: Uh Oh. Celine’s singing your song.

Malik: no comment

Thomas: You’ve always been a fan of “Smile” and an even bigger fan of Celine.

Thomas: This is nice.

Malik: i heard this really was MJ’s favorite song though

Thomas: Yeah.

Thomas: Perfect song for this montage.

Malik: yeah

Thomas: Well done. They normally go to commercial after the montage. Not this year. Think I still have a crush on Lena Horne.

Malik: I still have a crush on Halle Berry…

Thomas: NOW they go to commercial.

Thomas: Nice.

Malik: that may have been the best In Memoriam even though it wasn’t the most star studded

Thomas: It was well done.

Thomas: Here we go – directing…

Thomas: Wow. Hooper wins in his first nomination.

Malik: yeah that’s impressive

Thomas: Not sure how I feel about that.

Malik: the Social Network folks just got their bubble burst I think..

Thomas: Looks like The King’s Speech just grabbed the inside track on best picture again.

Thomas: The Social Network took the early prizes, but The King’s Speech might be coming on late.

Malik: nice Mama’s boy speech there

Thomas: Yeah. Nice and simple speech.

Thomas: Fincher has one in the bank for a future award, though.

Malik: you know the historian in me wants to get into the Governors Award ceremony one day

Thomas: Wow. That photo of Lucas, Scosese, Speilberg, Coppola, DePalma  etc, was pretty cool.

Malik: yeah i was wondering if you caught that!

Thomas: Don’t think I’ve seen a director’s photo like that before.

Thomas: How would you feel if they were taking a photo like that and asked you to step out of it?

Malik: LOLOLOL oh man….

Malik: thanks for pulling me out of my sentimental moment brotha…

Thomas: lol

Malik: Warren Beatty looking like “I remember when you yelled at me like that…”

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Jennifer Lawrence has a bright immediate future if she wants it.

Thomas: BUT, this is Natalie Partman’s night.

Thomas: Think I still feel that my favorite nomination announcement was when it was done by peers (a group of fellow actors/actresses) a year or two ago.

Malik: agreed that was awesome

Thomas: Natalie Portman takes it.

Thomas: She’s been good for years. Deserves this. Was great in Black Swan.

Malik: yeah

Malik: I’m a Natalie fan so this is cool

Thomas: She’s been acting since she was born, so you know she’s been thinking about this moment forever.

Thomas: Shout out to Luc Besson!

Thomas: The Professional!

Malik: still the flick!

Thomas: I like Portman, because as I said before, she seems very normal and even has a geeky side.

Malik: it’s coming out in this speech

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: she just thanked the 1st AD and the camera operators for God’s sake!!!

Thomas: 1st AD is even surprised by that…

Malik: also loving the Chinese Theatre backdrop by the way

Thomas: Yeah, that’s great.

Thomas: Hey, if you get nominated for an acting oscar and I’m sitting behind you, remind me to lean up behind you when they call your name and be like, “Yo, they said your name. You hear that? You hear that?” as I shake your shoulder.

Malik: LOLOL, please don’t…

Malik: that’s EXACTLY why there aren’t any minorities nominated…

Thomas: Colin Firth has to win this, it seems.

Malik: well deserved in my opinion

Thomas: Yeah, they got it right. Great performance.

Thomas: Funny first line of his speech, too.

Malik: that’s going to be replayed for years…

Thomas: Does Harvey Weinstein ever shave?

Malik: naw that’s his look

Thomas: But, he never lets it grow into a full beard.

Thomas: The stubble beard has been his thing forever.

Malik: yeah he’s on that Paul Pierce program

Thomas: lol

Malik: so the last one, it has to be King’s Speech right?

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: Spielberg keepin it real!

Thomas: Nicely put by Speilberg.

Thomas: Even if you lose, you’re in great company.

Thomas: They’re playing the best moment from The King’s Speech.

Malik: Exactly

Thomas: By the way, this is a great score as I said before.

Malik: Excellent montage

Thomas: Yup. Well done.

Thomas: Whoever did the montages for the oscars should get an award themselves.

Malik: yeah montages and set design were aces

Thomas: Alright. There you go.

Thomas: King’s Speech. Well done.

Malik: yessir

Malik: I know we have other obligations; any last words brotha?

Thomas: It’s been fun. Gotta love the movies. Best job in the world is to be able to tell stories. On to Oscars 2012.

Malik: i don’t think The Dark Knight Rises will be eligible yet but I’m sure there will be other good films..

Thomas: Looking forward to seeing them. Peace out!

Malik: thanks to everyone who read along.

 

Oscar Previews, Part II

 

The Lead Actor categories…

Best Actress

Personal Favorite:  I’m a self professed geek and snob, so who else but Natalie Portman? Seriously though, one of the first DVDs I ever bought was The Professional. There are certain athletes you feel like you grow up with, watching their career from college to retirement; Natalie is one of the actresses I feel like I’ve watched grow up in front of the camera from innocent kid to intelligent, fully developed woman.  And I don’t think it’s remotely a coincidence that that last sentence could be a one sentence pitch of the main character’s arc in Black Swan.

Who Should Win: It’s hard to paraphrase Black Swan without either giving the spoilers away or ruining a great visual film, so just take my word for it that Portman did a great job.

Who Will Win: I just feel like Annette Bening is going to sneak in here.  And she wasn’t bad in The Kids Are All Right. Frankly I liked her performance in Mother and Child a lot more.  It’s just my gut feeling, I wish I could tell you I know something I can’t prove.

Best Actor

Personal Favorite:  James Franco, 127 Hours. I think I covered this when I wrote about the film, but a) it takes something special to keep a film interesting when it’s (literally) you onscreen by yourself and you can’t move for the majority of it, and b) it takes something special to get an audience to buy in that you’re breaking and chopping off your arm when we know it’s coming and we know we’re watching a damn movie!  And James Franco did all of the above in 127 Hours. Nuff said.

Who Should Win: The craftsman in me can’t get over how well Colin Firth nailed all the mental and internalized ins and outs that go with being a stutterer.  And to this point, damn near every voting body recognizes how well he played that role too, so…

Who Will Win: Colin Firth.

127 Hours

While not the crowd pleaser that Slumdog Millionaire was (and let’s be honest, few films are), 127 Hours has all the makings of another Oscar-caliber film for Danny Boyle.  Based on the true story of a young man who got trapped in a Utah canyon and had to cut off his own arm to survive, James Franco gives possibly his best overall performance in this film (and that’s saying something in what already has been one hell of an acting career).

I was at a screening where Danny Boyle and the writer (fellow Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy) acknowledged that the pitch (a man is stuck in a canyon for five days and cuts his arm off) is…not the most cinematic idea you will hear.  It’s a testament to the script, direction, and acting that they found ‘the human element’ in the story and kept the film engaging throughout.  When we get to the inevitable gruesome part, even though everyone in the theatre is completely aware that James Franco has both arms and is simply acting, you still get squeamish when he does what he has to do to get out of his situation.  (And I’m personally thankful the guy sitting next to me went out like a complete sissy; he made me clenching my teeth seem normal by comparison).

Hosting duties aside, I’m sure I’ll be talking about Franco and this performance again in the next couple months.

My Golden Globe Pics

 

golden-globe_0114051

Alright gang, the Globes is this weekend, and as you can probably guess, I’ve seen almost every nominated film and performance.  Here are my picks for the film categories:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Comedy or Musical

I could make a case for Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia (the biggest hit) or Emma Thompson in Last Chance Harvey  (solid as always), but I’m going with Frances McDormand in Burn After Reading.  With Clooney, Pitt, and Malkovich all hamming it up, McDormand brought the comedy more through mannerisms and behavior than over the top theatrics.  Well played.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical

Not even his best work this year in my opinion, but I’m going with James Franco in Pineapple Express.  I’ve said this before, but at a pretty young age he’s shown a) range, b) he takes his craft seriously, and c) no real love affair with being a ‘celebrity.’  My kind of actor.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

If this were the People’s Choice Awards I’d easily choose Mamma Mia, but instead I’m taking Burn After Reading.  A tightly written genre piece by the Coen brothers, that’s pedigree enough without the all star cast. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

At this point, we know Penelope Cruz can be more than a pretty face.  Doubt is a good movie, but I keep hearing it’s better on the stage where it originated.  Call me biased, but I say Kate Winslet for the Reader.  With all due respect to the other four actresses in this category (and I admire and respect all of them, they were great), I feel with some rewriting Kate Winslet could play the characters that they’re nominated for.  But watch the Reader, no one else on this list could play that role but Winslet.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

joker-heath-ledger

I think you and I are destined to do this forever.  (sigh…)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Jolie, Streep, Winslet…there are some heavyweights in this category.  I’d cast my vote for Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married.  She’s been around so I don’t want to use the word ‘breakthrough’, but she definitely wasn’t playing the glamour girl in this role.  The Globes are more of the ‘feel good’ awards, and the timing would be perfect.  Speaking of feel good…

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Frank Langella is my dark horse here for Frost/Nixon, and in my opinion, Sean Penn as Harvey Milk was the best performance of the year.  But this is a ‘who I think will win’ column, and all signs point to Mickey Rourke for the Wrestler.  I didn’t bring as much of his past into the theatre with me as most people, but I still thought it was a great performance.  Now I’m hearing he’ll co-star in Iron Man 2.  Got to love Hollywood…

Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture – Drama

If you want to see a fun, politics free, well crafted movie, Slumdog Millionaire is the way to go.  Written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Danny Boyle, Slumdog is way, WAY lighter than its competition (Frost/Nixon, Benjamin Button, Reader, Revolutionary Road).  And the way things are in the real world right now, that lightness is the perfect tonic.