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.
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!
“YO YOU KNOW THOSE BIG PLASTIC MICROPHONES THEY SELL AT THE TOY STORE? THIS IS WHAT THIS SHIT SOUNDS LIKE IT WAS RECORDED WITH. INTO A FAN. A BIG TOY MICROPHONE IN FRONT OF A FAN. BRB I JUST BURNED A COPY OF THIS I’M ABOUT TO GO FINGER MY MACBOOK TO IT.”
Octomom Masturbating Is the 38th Wonder of the World
Nadya Suleman—aka Octomom—is about to have sex with herself on my computer screen. Supposedly. I’m beginning to think that it is a lie, because so far she is just twirling back and forth in front of a fountain, making a face like the time I was in traffic, three lanes from the shoulder, two miles from the exit, and accepted that I was absolutely going to have diarrhea in my pants. Now, eight minutes into Octomom: Home Alone, she is trying to balance on a wooden stool, holding both of her breasts in one hand while grabbing her vagina with the other. It is not going well. It looks like someone trying to open the front door while carrying groceries in from the car.
During a Howard Stern appearance to promote Home Alone, Octomom agreed to ride on the Sybian, Stern’s unofficial coronation ceremony for women with little shame and tanned thighs. (For people who don’t watch porn all day, the Sybian is basically an aggro vibrator.) It is impossible to adequately convey how ridiculous her performance on the device was, but understand that witnessing Octomom on the Sybian is basically the internet doing donuts on your front lawn. It was like she was doing her best Sexxi Babez impression, only she based it on phone sex hotline commercials and Cinemax instead of real human behavior. She screamed not in ecstasy but in distress, like a recording of a 9-1-1 call, or the cockpit audio as a plane was about to crash into an ocean. Try as she might, Octomom has all the sex appeal of a tragedy. But not Romeo and Juliet, which I learned in tenth grade was a “tragedy,” but was still sort of hot, particularly during the scene where Mercutio fingers Benvolio’s asshole behind a Sunoco station, but Mercutio can never say anything, because Benvolio is afraid his homosexuality will jeopardize his football scholarship.
Still, despite her inability to have a convincing orgasm in front of strangers, these are prosperous times for the once-bankrupt Octomom. She revealed to Stern that she recently became a sponsor for the coupon website Save Everyday, and the spokesperson for OctoLoan, a lender network that arranges for her to hang out with you down at the bottle deposit. Its website quotes her as saying “OctoLoan is a trusted source that connects you to cash lenders nationwide,” which is like Tony Danza telling you how to become an astronaut, or a giraffe trying to explain the electoral college.