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
James Franco’s Summer Book Club
Summer is here, so I thought I would offer a few books that have been on my list. All of these books have left their stamps on my memory. There was the summer I read Moby-Dick, and the summer I read Moby-Dick again… I hope to pass on some books that might make a few marks on your own souls.
See the reading 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.
Bungalow 89 – A Short Story by James Franco About Not Sleeping with Lindsay Lohan
I was in Bungalow 89 of the Chateau Marmont, the old hotel where the stars stay. The hotel is tucked behind a wall, off Sunset Boulevard, just west of Laurel Canyon, right in the heart of Hollywood. Bungalow 89 is in the cottage area, apart from the main building, where the pool is. It was dusk.
Bungalow 89 is not famous like Bungalow 3 (Belushi) or Bungalow 2 (Rebel Without a Cause). It is only famous in my own mind, because it’s where I first met Gus Van Sant, and because I have been living in it for the past nine months while they do repairs on my house. When I met Gus here, he sat in the comfy chair in the living room and played a little red guitar and talked to me. It was back when he was casting the supporting roles for his film about Kurt Cobain’s last days alive. The role he liked me for eventually went to Lukas Haas, the kid from Witness, with Harrison Ford. Haas was one of the original members of the Pussy Posse, the group centered on the young Leo DiCaprio, back in the 90s, post-Titanic and pre-Scorsese.
Lukas Haas had a gay sex scene in Gus’s film. It was with Scott Green, the guy who talks about having to fuck a guy with a big cock in the Chinese-café scene in My Own Private Idaho. His monologue was probably based on at least some reality; he had helped River Phoenix do research for his young-hustler role in the same film. Which reminds me of a story Gus later told me about River in Portland, during preproduction. River was pulled over by the cops for wearing jeans with a hole in the front so big that his dick hung out.
There was a Hollywood girl staying at Chateau Marmont. She had gotten a key to my room from the manager. I heard her put the key into my front door and turn it, but I had slid the dead bolt and that thing—I don’t know what you call it; it’s like a chain but made of two bars—that kept the door from opening.
She said, “James, open the door.”
Across the room was a picture of a boy dressed as a sailor with a red sailor cap, and except for his blondish hair (closer to my brother’s color) he looked like me.
She said, “Open the door, you bookworm punk blogger faggot.”
Behind the Scenes of Palo Alto
Jacqui Getty’s behind-the-scenes look at Gia Coppola’s directorial debut, Palo Alto, starring Emma Roberts, James Franco, Jack Kilmer, Nat Wolff, and Val Kilmer. The film is based on James Franco’s short-story collection, Palo Alto, and is now playing in select cities nationwide.
Anyway, you’re all probably thinking, “What kind of fucking story is this? What happened to Maury from the beginning? This is all over the place. He’s just throwing a bunch of his grad school applications and some random tidbits together because he procrastinated and he doesn’t have a story. And you know what? I hate all those stupid literary references, they’re fucking annoying and stupid, they’re just his way of bragging about the books he’s read, well, you know, what James, who gives a fuck? We’ve all read them. And it’s not like you use them in any analytical way, you just cite little pieces of gossip. Wow! So impressive.” Well shit, ok, ok, maybe, maybe my references are just a way of bragging. Not like I haven’t heard every other author brag about his childhood reading lists from Nabokov to William Saroyan to Harold Bloom who all claim to have read shit like Schopenhauer when they were five. And I can’t believe that I brought up Harold Bloom, he’s the pseudo-intellectual’s favorite reference, popular criticism, whatever, he’s a genius, blah, blah, blah, anxiety of influence. And, yeah, maybe I am writing this last minute, but I’ve had a lot to do! I went to Boston this weekend for an old high-school buddy’s wedding, and then I stopped off in Iowa to look at the writing program. I’m trying to get into grad school, OK? I’m busy!
Read James Franco’s latest piece for VICE, Paying for Paying for It
As many of you know, I’ve been performing in a Broadway production of one of John Steinbeck’s best-known works, Of Mice and Men, which is why I’m writing about one of his lesser-read works, In Dubious Battle, a novel that is part of Steinbeck’s migrant-worker trilogy set during the Great Depression.
Read our latest piece from James Franco
Broadway, Baby – by James Franco
So you want to know what it’s like to put up a play on Broadway? I’ll tell ya. But, I should note, the way a classic play is put on (specifically John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, in which I am currently starring) is much different than a new one.
With a new play the playwright will most likely be in rehearsals every day, looking over the director’s shoulder and telling him or her how to manifest the story and themes through the bodies of actors and work of the designers. There are usually rewrites on the fly because new dynamics are found while putting the scenes on their feet. This forces the actors to learn new lines, often through many iterations, and sometimes the night before a performance. Essentially, when mounting a new play the director is offered the luxury of having a partner by his or her side to help guide everything until it’s just right.
With a classic play—especially if the writer is dead like John Steinbeck is dead—it’s the opposite. The words are holy; do NOT fug with them.
James Franco on the True Characters in True Detective
Alright, alright, alright, as of last Sunday True Detective is over. The finale was the last time we’ll see Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the roles of detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart. It has been a great eight weeks of watching these two swinging dicks mix it up against a sweaty backdrop of Louisiana, faith, and murder. The anthology series (which, in essence, frames each season as its own miniseries), written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed in its entirety by Cary Fukanaga, is a great study in literary adaptation to the small screen’s longest of forms.
Although True Detective is not based on a book, its characters, ambience, setting, and submission of women are taken straight from the Pizzolatto fiction playbook. Rather than an adaptation of a particular story or novel, it is quite literally an adaptation of his writing. Meaning, the artist has switched mediums, which is why the series feels so literary (exemplified by references to Friedrich Nietzsche and to Robert W. Chambers’s supernatural story collection, The King in Yellow), and also why the show is not really about solving the crime as much as it is about the bromance between our White Kings, Rust and Marty.