James Franco is now writing for VICE. Here’s his first column, about The Great Gatsby.
James Franco Reviews ‘The Great Gatsby’ Movie
The challenge Baz Luhrmann had in adapting The Great Gatsby to film was similar to what Walter Salles faced with On the Road: how to stay loyal to the era depicted, while still retaining the rawness of the original text. Salles did a great job of capturing the ambiance of 1950s America, but it could be argued that his Dean and Sal didn’t have enough zeal—enough of that desire to live, live, live.
The old saying is that a good book makes a bad film, while a paperback potboiler like The Godfather makes a great film. But this wisdom is derived from the idea that a good book is made by the writing, and if it’s adapted into whatever, its magic is lost. As just about every (film) critique has already noted—and they’re right, if repetitive—most of what makes The Great Gatsby great is Fitzgerald’s prose. We allow the classics to get away with so much because we love the characters. But when older stories are revived for film, the issue of the past and present must be rectified. But that lack was not a function of anything missing in the actors or the general direction as much as it is a result of the passage of time, the encasing of a book in the precious container of “classic” status.
I’ve known Harmony Korine for many years; we’ve been friends through thick and thin, good times and bad. I feel like every element of Spring Breakers was him creating an environment where people felt really open and safe—perhaps so they were comfortable going crazy (in a fun way). The fact that he brought this cast together—James Franco, Gucci Mane, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and his wife, Rachel—was a sign that this movie was going to be very special. And I think casting the ATL Twins was him recognizing that they were a physical manifestation of what the film is about. They were so clear about their desires: drinking, double-penetrating women, and doing drugs. It was all out in the open with them, just like the movie. I’m happy to share with the world some of my favorite behind-the-scenes photos, along with a few captions that will provide some context for what the hell was happening on this crazy set.
Harmony tells us some stories from behind the scenes of Spring Breakers, with personal production photographs by Annabel Mehran and never-before-seen footage from the set by producers Chris and Roberta Hanley.
Spring Breakers OFFICIAL RED BAND Trailer HD
“spring break forever”is such an amazingly terrifying concept
PREMIERE OF DADDY’S “LOVE IN THE OLD DAYS (KOLOUR KULT REMIX)” VIDEO DIRECTED BY JAMES FRANCO
James Franco has his thumb in a lot of pies, as they say, and these days most of them are stuffed with gooey fillings of the artistic variety. So we were more thrilled than surprised when a freshly baked golden-brown Franco treat was pulled straight from the oven and dropped into our gullets. Specifically, we were lucky enough to be offered the premiere of Daddy’s new video for the song “Love in the Old Days (Kolour Kult Remix)” offThe PVD Remixes EP, which you can download for free right here.
If, by chance (and understandably), you’re not up to speed on the dozens of art, writing, acting, and video projects the hardest working man in show business has in the works, Daddy is Franco’s musical project that he formed last year with his Providence-based art school BFF Tim O’Keefe. We spoke with both of them about this vampy remix video of theirs, the recontextualizing of culture into an amorphous blob of awesome, and why so many weirdos come from Providence.
VICE: What made you decide to record the remix EP and direct the remix video? Are you guys remix crazy? Was it all pre-planned when you released the initial Motorcity EP and the initial “Love in the Old Days” video?
James Franco: I mean, no. It wasn’t pre-planned in the sense that we thought, “We know what we wanna do for the first one, and for the second one we’ll use this footage,” and that kind of thing. The way the band started was through conversations with my friend from RISD [Rhode Island School of Design], Tim O’Keefe, and he comes from this electronic music world. A lot of this is new to me—at least working in this area is new to me. But I think we both just assumed the music would take on many different forms including visual forms and remixes. And I do a lot of different kinds of projects, I have a lot of different kinds of video shoots and photo shoots and film shoots that I do for different purposes—some commercial purposes, fashion campaigns, some just for purely art context. So I liked this idea of using some of that material, or just like a song is remixed, I liked this idea of taking other things, like movies or fashion videos or whatever and remixing them for other purposes.
In other interviews about the Daddy project you mention that a lot of it hinges on juxtaposition. It seems that you are very much exploring juxtaposition and contrast with other work you’ve been doing as well, such as Spring Breakers.
Yeah, I think so. And I think that for a couple reasons. I started my professional life in narrative film and television and TV shows. Commercial movies are generally structured along narrative lines, and they tell a story, and there are characters, and the object for a lot of this project is to pull the audience into this imaginary world so that you’re not thinking so much about the structure or the apparatus or the making of the thing, and all that stuff should disappear so you’re focused on the story and the drama before you. With the music, that for me as opposed to what I just described, it allows me to string images in a different way, along the line of music. It opens up new ways of storytelling and new ways of using the video images and film images and material I’ve used in my other sphere of work to organize them in a new way. So I think what you’re talking about is inherent to what we’re doing.
The idea of remixing a movie has always been interesting to me. I guess the closest example I can give to what I’m talking about is The Rules of Attraction, and then Roger Avery did the movie and thenGliteratti was excised from that, even though I don’t think it was ever publically released. There’s something interesting about telling the same story from a different point of view, or rearranging scenes to tell a different story. Have you ever had thoughts about that with your filmmaking or acting or working with other filmmakers?
Yeah, I’ve tried to do exactly that. In a project that I feel is sort of related to what we’re doing and is in other ways different, I did a new version of Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho. And sometimes you’ll get a re-release or a new version of a movie like Apocalypse Now: Redux, where they’ve put back in scenes that weren’t in the original release so you’ll get more of the Playboy bunnies and this dinner scene with these French people that was cut out. This project that I did with Gus is completely different. He had kept all the dailies from My Own Private Idaho. And he had cut it in 91 so he did it using an analog process. What he had were all the actual editors’ reels, and what had been used in his version that came out had been physically cut out of these reels. Meaning what was left was literally all the stuff that wasn’t used. So even if there are takes of shots that were used in Gus’s version, the takes that were left behind were unseen. So all the material I had had never been seen by anyone but Gus and the editor. And so I got that digitized and made a new version of the movie. To me it is a re-mix of a movie, or it’s almost sculptural, where the raw material of Gus’s film becomes my material for a new kind of structure, a new kind of project that is both connected to the material but is also its own thing and is not like a director’s cut or the extended cut in any way.
Looks like Harmony Korine’sSpring Breakers is coming out in time for spring break.
James Franco has formed a band. It’s called Daddy, and you can watch their new video (and leave a comment telling us how much you love/hate it) here.
Hey y’all are following noiseymusic right?
This Gay Indie Sex Movie Isn’t Really Porn, Even Though It Kind of Is
The Supreme Court has never explicitly defined what constitutes pornography. Instead, they go with the old, “we know it when we see it” doctrine (and considering Clarence Thomas is still on the bench, I have a feeling the Court has seen plenty of it). Yes, there are many shades of grey (50 to be exact) between what constitutes a work of art about love and sex and what is just straight up spank material. A photographer once told me the difference between erotica and porn is “better lighting.”
That seems to be the stance that San Francisco director Travis Matthews took when making his gay indie sex drama I Want Your Love. The movie depicts the gay post-graduate creative class in San Francisco complete with light sweaters, thrift stores, regrettable tattoos, facial hair, piercing, yearning to be a performance artist, and lots of angsty discussions about their relationships. Oh, and there are boners, too. And buttfucking. And cumshots. And a beej or two. And all the penises are real, and going into real assholes and mouths.
This is getting Matthews a whole lot of attention. Not only is it selling out screenings at gay film festivals (including two at Lincoln Center this weekend) but he caught the attention of celebrity dilettante James Franco, and just wrapped filming a real-gay-sex movie project with him.
Here’s why Matthews thinks his movie isn’t porn.
VICE: How would you classify this movie?
Travis: If I were to just toss it into a genre? I think of it as an indie art film with gay sex in it. I don’t classify it as a porn.
To me pornography is something you watch with the sole purpose of jerking off to. When we were filming it, it wasn’t to film sex scenes for people to jerk off to, but to film sex scenes that aren’t documented in film and to use sex to bring out story and character elements. Surely there are shots of explicit things going on that may or may not be sexy, but I was more interested in showing the sloppiness, the funniness, the painful moments. My intention was not to make it hot for hot’s sake.
What if guys do want to jerk off while watching?
Great. I’m not policing anyone’s experience about how they engage with it. I think it’s exciting that people have different experiences with it. Some people will think the guys are hot because they have natural bodies, and to some people that’s a buzz kill. Even if someone calls it pornography, I’m not interested in arguing if they interpret it as pornography. I can tell you my intention, but it’s a losing battle to get defensive about.
Chris Nieratko went on vacation in Tampa and hung out with the ATL twins (of sharing clothes, girlfriends, and sleeping in the same bed fame). Apparently they’ve been busy hanging out with Selena Gomez & James Franco on the set of Harmony Korine’s new film Spring Breakers.