It’s a James Franco Summer

Note: I don’t normally talk about myself but…I’ve been in hiding for the past three weeks. College work and a huge pile of applications have consumed me. A bunch of great things in film and television happened and I missed it (the Parks and Recreation season finale was awesome!) Anyways, I’m back, and decided to post about James Franco’s never ending list of projects.

When you think of the upcoming summer movie season, thoughts of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars or the new Transformers film fill your mind. Well actor James Franco has managed to sneak his way into having four films coming out this summer. Every month from May to August, Franco will have a movie coming to theaters.

May 2014: Palo Alto

Based on the 2010 bestselling short story collection written by Franco himself, Palo Alto focuses on the happenings of a group of rebellious teenagers. The film is the directorial debut of Gia Coppola, granddaughter of director Francis Ford Coppola and niece of Sofia Coppola.

Coppola mentioned how she fell in love with the book when reading it and how it depicted teenagers is a realistic way. She adapted the short story collection written by Franco and collaborated with the teenage cast in order to make it more authentic.

James Franco appears in the film as a soccer coach who hits on a high schooler (Emma Roberts).

May 9, 2014

June 2014: Third Person

In this ensemble romantic drama, Franco plays a New York-based painter who fights with his ex(played by four-time co-star Mila Kunis) over the custody of their son. The film ties in several stories over the course of three cities.

June 20, 2014

July 2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


A follow-up to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the film follows Caesar, the ape, as he leads a rebellion through San Francisco. Franco makes a small cameo (leaving the lead role he had in the first film) as Will Rodman, Caesar’s former owner.  July 11, 2014

August 2014: Child of God

Lester Ballard is a murderer and an outcast in 1960’s Tennessee. Franco plays Jerry, who is part of the mob hunting down Lester.  Franco (who served as director) adapted the film from Cormac McCarthy’s critically praised 1973 novel of the same name.   August 1, 2014


Top Indie Films of 2013


Obviously there have been a lot of good independent films this year. I read an article that stated 2013 was the “Year of the Indie.” It is a strong declaration to make. Several mainstream big budget films this year did not fare well (RIPD, Turbo, The Lone Ranger, Broken City, and so forth). Below is a list of the films that had a positive reaction among many and seemed good word-of-mouth talk.

Before Midnight

Richard Linklater’s third installment in the “Before” trilogy follows a married couple who are in the challenging stages of their relationship. They met each other on a train in Before Sunrise (1995), nine years later they were reunited at a bookstore in Before Sunset (2004) and now, nine years later, are married, living in Greece with twin girls.

The film never fails to capture what a real life relationship is like. The script does a fine job of displaying the different perspectives in a relationship (leads Julia Delpy and Ethan Hawke share writing credit with Linklater for the film). Like the two previous installments, the film employees the use of (extremely) long takes to make the exchanges feel authentic and natural. The beginning of the film involved a 14-minute continuous take of Delpy and Hawke’s characters exchanging conversation in a car ride.

Audiences seemed to fall in love with Linklater, Delpy and Hawke’s characters all over again. Before Midnight went on the become the highest grossing film of the “Before” trilogy, raking in over $20 million worldwide against a modest $3 million budget.

The Way Way Back

Giving off a strong 80’s vibe (the movie was originally supposed to be set in 1983) The Way Way Back is a film about a 14-year-old socially awkward boy named Duncan (Liam James) who travels along with his mom (Toni Collette) and mean stepdad (Steve Carell) to a vacation at a beach house for the summer. At the start of the summer Duncan gets a job at a water park run by a talkative and fun-loving guy named Owen (Sam Rockwell).

The solid performances by Rockwell, Carell, and James keep the movie from being passed off as just another coming-of-age film with a socially awkward lead that a hipster would love. The script lets the variety of characters in the film shine without seeming too cluttered. Everything is tied up by the film’s end. The “summer that changed everything” is officially over. Duncan has made a new friend, Owen, and has a better sense of confidence in him.

The Way Way Back received acclaim from critics and went on to make $23 million from a production budget of just $5 million.

The Spectacular Now

It’s very hard to make a film chronicling the coming-of-age process for teenagers without having it suck. So many films have done. So many films have done it badly. The Spectacular Now is not one of those films. The Spectacular Now follows Sutter (Miles Teller) and Aimee (Shailene Woodley), two high school seniors trying to figure out their lives. Aimee has hers figured out and Sutter does not.

What makes the film great is it’s realistic and simplistic nature. The characters are played by actors that actually look like teenagers. There is no iPhone toting, excessive texting, or glamourized things going on. It is just Sutter and Aimee, navigating life, trying to figure out where to go.

Sutter and Aimee aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. They cuss. They were regular clothes. The viewer feels connected with them.  Teller and Woodley’s performances let the viewer feel like they know them. At the film’s end, one could feel good with the film.  The film depicts the age of 18, becoming an adult, effectively. Coming of age is no easy process.

The Spectacular Now received widespread acclaim. Teller and Woodley received the Special Jury Award for Acting at the Sundance Film Festival. Woodley has received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead. The film grossed around 6.8 million from a 2.5 million budget.