Zach Braff Will Never Stop Making Movies, and It’s Your Fault
Zach Braff’s new movie, Wish I Was Here, ends with the milquetoast, whiny protagonist (played by Braff, because who else could play this role?) proclaiming that it’s OK to abandon your dreams and just be a normal person. That might be the most controversial part of the most annoying movie of the summer. Whereas Braff’s last film, the equally irritating navel-gaze-athon, Garden State, famously encouraged its audience to “Let Go” as the credits rolled, this new weenie roast of a movie implores you to give up. Of course, there’s one guy out there who stubbornly continues to push his monotonous artistic agenda on a culture that has long since moved on: Zach Braff. Kickstarter and online donations will allow Zach Braff to keep making movies, even if most of us don’t want him to.
Wish I Was Here became infamous last year for being partially funded through 46,520 donations to his Kickstarter page that promised Braff-aholics across the country that they would get the unvarnished vision of their hero. At last, the Hollywood fat cats will get out of Zach Braff’s way to make the movie he wants! We’ve waited too long to get the Real McCoy!
The problem with that is those Hollywood fat cats get paid millions of dollars to make the movies lots of people want to see. This is why no one will give me $2 million to make a sci-fi romantic comedy set in the 25th century that features me falling in love with a talking salmon. OK, actually, it’s very possible that this movie could get made if certain directives were put in place:
- My character is to be played by Robert Downey Jr. or hot up-and-coming African American actor Michael B. Jordan.
- The talking salmon will be voiced by Cameron Diaz or Melissa McCarthy.
- Instead of being set in the distant future, all the action takes place in a hot-shot San Francisco tech start-up.
- James Cameron or Christopher Nolan has to direct.
What do all of these elements have in common? They are people, places, or things the general public has already made clear that they enjoy. It’s been a long time since Zach Braff did anything that the general public enjoyed. Did you see The Ex? Were you enthralled by The Last Kiss? Did you obsessively blog about the last few tedious seasons of Scrubs? Do you sometimes punch yourself in the face just to feel something real? Of course no one who gave a shit about the bottom line would give Zach Braff more than a pat on the back to make a passion project. Braff was hot shit on a gold-plated serving dish after Garden State, but I am here to offer a rather startling, potentially earth-shattering revelation: It is not 2004.
Watch Michael Shannon Fuck a Corpse in James Franco’s Short Film ‘Herbert White’
Because my film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s book, Child of God, will be released this August, I thought I would share one of my previous attempts at transforming literature into film. When I was at NYU, I made a short based on Frank Bidart’s poem ”Herbert White,” which you can watch here.
James Franco’s Summer Movie Club
For me, summer means time to watch movies and read books. Since we talked about books last week, here are some movies to watch between the blockbusters full of explosions, men in tights, and aliens on the big screens. It’s hard to choose, so I just put down the ones I’ve watched lately. Much love.
See the list
Introducing the 2014 Fiction Issue
This summer’s fiction issue is themed around movies—”Hollywood,” Clancy Martin says. We shared an intuition that a lot of the most interesting writing being done today is being done for movies and TV. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that we watch a lot of movies. So we made a long list of our favorite movies and looked up the writers who worked on them, and we harassed them and their agents and their publicists for months. We started with a really long pitch letter, but we learned that in LA it’s proper etiquette to write three-word-long emails. We tried to romance them by inviting them to dinner at the Chateau Marmont. An interesting thing about the writers in this issue—David Mamet, Michel Gondry, Louis Mellis, Alec Sokolow, John Romano, Merrill Markoe, Kevin McEnroe—is that none of them gave a damn about what we could pay. In fact not one of them even brought it up. So maybe one lesson of this issue is, if you want to be a writer and not have to scramble for every dollar, the old maxim holds true: Go to LA.
But back to movies. Here’s what we like about movies: They have stories. They are entertaining. The dialogue is simple. We were watching Searching for Bobby Fisher last night at the hotel in Chennai. William H. Macy says, “It’s just a game.” He’s the father of a seven-year-old chess player talking to another father, and we know that what he means is, “I’d like to rip your head off and s**t down your throat.” Similarly, just a few nights ago we were watching The Shining, and the actor who plays the manager of the Overlook Hotel describes the murders to Jack Nicholson during the job interview. He says, “I can’t believe it happened here, but it did,” and all three of the men in the room somehow already understand that it’s going to happen again. Because of the genius of actors and directors, there’s so much you can do—as a writer—with a line of dialogue that you just can’t do in other forms of writing. But all this is covered in an interview with Robert McKee—Alec Sokolow (Toy Story) makes McKee work through his theories, and Tony Camin, possibly stoned, asks McKee the tough questions, e.g., “Wasn’t Who Framed Roger Rabbit the third in the trilogy ofChinatown?” There are also a few pages of Nabokov’s screenplay version of Lolita with notes in his hand, masterfully introduced by Blake Bailey, and a story by Thomas Gebremedhin that evokes Santa Monica like no other fiction we’ve read (and ought to be a movie).
Anyway, we asked Steph Gillies and Debbie Smith to art-direct again, and again they knocked it out of the park, with work by Richard Phillips, Martin Parr, and others. We also have some work by traditional (i.e., non-movie), LA-based writers about LA, and a story about Lindsay Lohan by James Franco, and fiction by Emily McLaughlin and Benjamin Nugent.
Pick up a free copy of our fiction issue anywhere VICE is distributed, but those go quickly, so subscribe to make sure you get a copy every month. You can do that here. If you’ve got yourself an iPad, download our free app for even more pictures, extended video footage, and special extras.
The Wolves of Hollywood, by James Franco
This is, more or less, how I imagined the genesis of The Wolf of Wall Street went down:
Marty and Leo wanted to work together again, of course; they have a great track record stretching back to Gangs of New York. When their relationship began it was mutually beneficial but they were coming from different directions: they were both talents, but at the time Scorsese was the critically overlooked doyen of crime films and scholar of cinema history, while Leo was the former critical darling whose entire identity was eclipsed by his Beatle-sized, world-dominating fame. Scorsese could get his decades old dream project made and Leo could work with his directing hero. Gangs was not the best of their outings, but at least it brought them together, and their films got better, culminating in the long due triumph of The Departed. By the time the duo got to Wolf I’m sure they were as in synch as the ATL Twins as far as how they worked and the kind of material they wanted to explore.
So, while Gangs was not their best outing, it led to The Departed winning several Academy Awards, including Best Director. (An aside: Did the .44 magnum/pussy cameo in Taxi Driver keep him from getting the Oscar until he was 64?) And I’m positive that with this long-anticipated repairing, they got their money. A superhero-sized budget, because they’re Leo and Marty, and their films do well both financially and critically, so if you’re a dude with some money to burn from stocks or oil or computers or wherever you’ve made your pile, why wouldn’t you want to get a piece of that game? So, they have the dough and they can do anything they damn well please because the money is independent and fuck it, they’re Leo and Marty and who the hell is going to tell them, “no?” This combo shits out Golden Globes like they’re going out of style (maybe they are? Heh heh) and people go to their dark, masculine dramas in the same numbers that they go to see dudes in tights with big Ss and bats on them. If they want to show Leo doing cocaine bullets out of a faceless girl’s ass, fuck it; if they want a ten minute Quaalude sequence (the best part of the film, funny as hell!), fuck it; and if they want their scumbag protagonists to go largely unpunished… FUCK IT, THAT’S LIFE.
Go See The Night of the Hunter Next Tues. in Williamsburg
For the eighth feature in our screening series with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation at Nitehawk Cinema, we present The Night of the Hunter, actor Charles Laughton’s sole directorial effort. Considered a commercial and critical flop upon initial release, it has since risen from cult staple to full-blown classic. And rightfully so: its intriguing mixture of Southern Gothic dread mixed with bold German Expressionism makes it a near anomaly of the era, so it makes sense that it took everyone a few decades to catch up to its brilliance. Beyond the sheer technical and storytelling perfection, there’s a bravura, career-defining performance from Robert Mitchum as the ghoulish villain pulsating at the center (there’s a reason why his infamous knuckle tattoos been referenced by everyone from Spike Lee to The Simpsons.)
To get you prepped, we reached out to a few directors, a noted Hunter film scholar, and a staff member of Nitehawk Cinema to offer up their feelings on this legendary singular work.
Trash-Mouth Cinema Is Alive and Well in a Brazilian Prison
On February 25, 2013, federal police in Caxias do Sul, Brazil, arrested the director Sady Baby and his girlfriend, Patricia, at a routine traffic stop. Sady had been missing since 2008 when police accused him of hiring a minor, who was supposedly his daughter, to play a role in his latest movie, The Director’s Daughter.His arrest was a shock to many, not only because he had been missing for so long, but because there were rumors going around that he had committed suicide by throwing himself from a Uruguay River bridge.
Sady Baby is the stage name of Sady Plauth, the infamous actor and filmmaker who blew up during the decadent boca do lixo [“trash-mouth”] era of Brazilian cinema. The numerous low-budget productions from that time were almost entirely devoted to explicit sex, and Sady was at the forefront. In a twisted way, he represented an expression of Brazil’s deepest feelings. The best way I can describe the mantra of this movement is with a line from one of Sady’s films, Orgy Bus: “Working is for morons. If this country is fucked, then let’s fuck.” His work often pushed the boundaries of sexuality, exploring taboos and controversial subjects like zoophilia, rape, and necrophilia.
When I was around seven, I used to go to Balneario Camboriu in Santa Catarina for summer vacations with my family. Every day, at the edge of the beach, a guy with curly blond hair, a Viking hat, and a G-string thong would get on a megaphone and announce the beginning of an erotic play called Soltando a Franga, which, loosely translated, means “Release the Inhibitions.” Years later I realized that the strange man hosting sexy public theater on the beach was Sady Baby himself.
I wanted to speak to the father of Brazilian smut, so I visited Sady at the Caxias do Sul penitentiary.
Luana Scarlet holds a snake that will be shoved into one of the actors during Sexual Feelings of a Horse.
VICE: The majority of your work was done decades ago, but many of the themes remain taboo today. What’s the creative process surrounding work controversial enough to offend generations of people?
Sady Baby: I watched a lot of movies and always felt like something was missing. I noticed that everyone has a perversion, a fantasy, but they’re ashamed to expose it or talk about it. I started to put that in my work, and it went well. At the time people would stop me in the streets. Some would compliment me and others criticized me, but there has always been an audience for that, you know?
Did you know that you are something of a cult figure in pornography?
I had no idea.
Yes. A journalist in Sao Paulo is writing a book about my career. It will be released next year, but I never cared for any of that. I’m a simple guy. I’ve always respected people. One of the most important things to me is when someone stops me on the street and says, “Hey, I really like your work.”
I read somewhere that Gio Mendes is writing your biography and the title is Every Pussy Has a Price. Is that right?
Yeah, that’s right. But I don’t go anywhere with a title like that.
Sady doing sexy stuff with Marcia Scarpette near a waterfall in the city of Guararema.
We Interviewed a Blind Film Critic
If you’re one of those army fuckers with 20/20 vision, chances are you’re not aware that there’s a whole other (very fuzzy) world that us lesser-sighted people inhabit every day. A world where sometimes you can’t even tell if another person is staring deeply, romantically into your eyes or if they’re asleep. Sometimes all you normal-sighted folk’s eyes are just two dark splodges on a big pink splodge. Sorry.
This happened to me the other day, when I tried to watch Ratatouille and couldn’t find my glasses. I had to listen really intently to figure out when the rat was talking, and when the humans were. But obviously a lot of people can’t just put their glasses back on, so movies with shitty soundtracks and clumsy dialogue sound 100 times worse.
Tommy Edison goes by the title the Blind Film Critic and makes YouTube videos reviewing movies he’s never seen, only heard. It’s pretty fascinating, and totally useful for fellow blind and partially sighted movie buffs. We caught up for a chat, largely to find out what he thought of The Matrix, but also to learn more about his Instagram account, his favorite movies, and who he crushes on.
VICE: What exactly made you want to start reviewing movies in the first place?
Tommy Edison: Well, I’ve always been into film, but sometimes with movies it’s a long watch, and then you get to the solution at the end and… they don’t say anything, it’s all visual. Ben, my video producer, was like: “You’ve got to see Die Hard, that’s an action movie with great dialogue.” So we thought, Hey, why not start reviewing movies?
Which movies are the most reliant on visuals?
Action movies are, quite frankly, pretty dull for me, what with all the CGI, fights and effects. That’s true of most superhero movies, really. Like Thor, for example, bored me—the story wasn’t much. Although The Dark Knight was amazing.
Some movies are hard enough to follow when you’re not blind. Like Inception, WTF.
Well, if you close your eyes, I think you can actually follow Inception even better. That was one of the earlier ones we reviewed. Everyone kept asking me to review it, but in the end, I was actually able to follow it pretty well.
How about The Matrix?
When the first Matrix movie came out I watched it over and over and still couldn’t figure out why everybody thought it was so great. Then I used the “descriptive video” feature and was able to follow it. Then I realized why everyone was going crazy for it! When I go to the movies with Ben, though, we don’t talk about the visuals—I just listen. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any point in being a blind film critic.
Do you develop crushes on movie stars?
Mila Kunis—I’ve never seen her, but I love her!