13 items from 2016
This admirably-intentioned adaptation of the 1936 industrial strife novel suffers from a tin ear, flat feet and overweening vanity
There’s something worryingly stolid and self-congratulatory about this new movie directed by James Franco: a drama about a (fictional) Californian apple-pickers’ strike in the Depression-hit Us, adapted by Franco’s longtime screenwriting partner Matt Rager from the 1936 novel by John Steinbeck. High-mindedness, ambition and seriousness are things to cherish, and I admired a good deal in Franco’s recent Faulkner adaptation, As I Lay Dying. But this is ultimately just so heavy-footed and stodgy, with each performance punched out on a single, earnest, unvarying note. The dialogue lands with a heavy thud, and the rhetoric is often a matter of shouting at deafening volume “They’re treatin’ us like pigs, the sonsabitches, the pigs are crackin’ our heads with clubs, the sonsabitches and we’re gonna fight back! Aren’t we? »
- Peter Bradshaw
It’s easy to mock James Franco for the polymath showiness of all his extracurricular endeavors (actor! filmmaker! poet! collector of academic degrees! the world’s first and last postmodern Oscar host!). Yet if you leave the snark aside, there is something half-crazy/admirable about the scale of his ambitions. Besides, it’s no easy task to pull together a feature film, and Franco has directed close to a dozen of them. Up until now, he hasn’t been very good at it. Whether it’s a sexually “transgressive” (but actually cautious) documentary curio like “Interior. Leather Bar.” or one of his two (count ’em) Faulkner adaptations, Franco as a filmmaker has been more diligent than competent. At Cannes in 2013, as the audience sat dying through Franco’s “As I Lay Dying,” I tried to relieve the tedium by glancing to my left, and saw that half the people there were asleep. »
- Owen Gleiberman
Continuing his brave effort to ensure that future students of American literature can just buy the VOD equivalent of a box set instead of ever having to read another Great American Novel again, actor-director James Franco has moved from adapting Faulkner (As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury) and McCarthy (Child of God) to Steinbeck with In Dubious Battle. The author's novel is the first of what would become Steinbeck’s Dustbowl trilogy (which also includes Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath) and recounts a Great Depression-era strike that apple pickers in California organized to get
- Boyd van Hoeij
James Franco may or may not be a promising filmmaker, but he’s not afraid of failure. You’ve got to give him that. Twice, the 38-year-old multi-hyphenate has attempted to rope the byzantine narratives of William Faulkner into a cinematic structure—2013’s As I Lay Dying and 2014’s The Sound And The Fury—and both times he came up short. So, he’s doing the only logical thing and moving laterally over to Faulkner’s contemporary in bleak Americana, John Steinbeck, with an adaptation of In Dubious Battle.
The 1936 novel gives a fictionalized account of an apple pickers’ strike in central California three years earlier. Along with his supremely impressive cast, including Robert Duvall, Bryan Cranston, Selena Gomez, Sam Shepard, Ed Harris, and Vincent D’Onofrio, Franco seems to be gunning for an epic. The cinematography, by newcomer Bruce Thierry Cheung, is certainly holding up its ...
- Dennis DiClaudio
When he’s not having fun with Seth Rogen and company, James Franco is spending part of his time adapting classic novels. After directing adaptations of Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner landmarks, he’s now turned his sights to John Steinbeck with his take on the 1936 novel In Dubious Battle. Ahead of screenings at Venice and Tiff, the first trailer has now arrived for the drama which follows a pair of labour organizers attempting to unionize neglected California fruit pickers.
Featuring the eclectic cast of Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Robert Duvall, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Josh Hutcherson, John Savage, Ashley Greene, Zach Braff, Bryan Cranston and, of course, Franco in the lead, this looks to be his most polished directorial work thus far. Check out the trailer, extended synopsis and poster below ahead of the premiere soon.
Where does James Franco find the time? Between »
- Jordan Raup
Franco and partner Vince Jolivette are producing through their Rabbit Bandini Productions, which recently obtained the movie rights in a deal put in place by Joel Gotler of Intellectual Property Group on behalf of Nat Sobel of Sobel Weber Associates. The company has tapped screenwriters for each project.
“We plan on shooting all three of them in the next one to three years,” Jolivette told Variety. “There are no plans at this point for James to act or direct, just for us to produce. We feel the material is rich enough to attract A-level talent.”
- Dave McNary
James Franco is one of those actors smart enough to know a good thing when he’s got it – the star’s seen massive returns on his comedies with Seth Rogen, and so there’s no reason to expect that he’ll stop making them, and he’s been met with significant acclaim for playing nastier characters in smaller, darker indie fare, which might explain his recent roles in everything from Spring Breakers to True Story.
Recently, the star is also excelling in an unusual capacity: starring in adaptations of works by the horror great Stephen King. He was uniformly terrific in Hulu’s 11.22.63, a sprawling miniseries adaptation of King’s tome about a time-traveler trying to prevent the JFK assassination, and now he’s lining up another feature gig collaborating with the author: Drunken Fireworks, an adaptation of a short story by King.
Franco will star as a mechanic »
- Isaac Feldberg
Rabbit Bandini Productions and Rubicon Entertainment are teaming up to produce an adaptation of the Stephen King short story Drunken Fireworks, with Deadline reporting that James Franco (11.22.63) has signed on to star, and may also possibly direct.
Drunken Fireworks is featured in King’s short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams and “is set in small-town rural Maine, where local good ol’ boy Alden McCausland (Franco) strikes up a rivalry with retired mob boss Nicky Serrano when Nicky moves in across the lake from Alden and his mother. When Nicky bests Alden’s Fourth of July fireworks show, Alden goes to great lengths to ensure that he beats Nicky the next year in a competition known henceforth as the ‘Fourth of July Arms Race’.”
- Gary Collinson
Following the success of "11.22.63" on Hulu, actor James Franco is set to star in and produce another Stephen King adaptation - this time a film take on King's short story "Drunken Fireworks" for Rabbit Bandini Productions and Rubicon Entertainment.
The story is set in a small town in Maine and centers on a mechanic (Franco) and a retired mob boss who compete in the town's annual Fourth of July fireworks competition. Franco, Vince Jolivette, Doug McKay, Robert Kaplan, Marc Senter and Nathan Grubbs will produce.
Source: Deadline »
- Garth Franklin
“Drunken Fireworks” is set in a small town in Maine and centers on a mechanic — to be played by Franco — and a retired mob boss who compete in the town’s annual Fourth of July fireworks competition.
Rabbit Bandini is in production on “Future World,” directed by Franco and starring Milla Jovovich, Lucy Liu, Snoop Dogg and Franco. He also stars in the upcoming Fox comedy “’Why Him” with Bryan Cranston. »
- Dave McNary
Exclusive: Add the short story Drunken Fireworks to the number of Stephen King-penned fictions making their way to the big screen. Rabbit Bandini Productions and Rubicon Entertainment have teamed on the drama, and James Franco is set to star. He possibly could direct as well, but that hasn’t yet been decided. The script is being written by Matt Rager, a frequent Franco collaborator whose credits include As I Lay Dying, The Sound And The Fury and the upcoming John… »
James Franco, Elysium Bandini Studios and UCLA are developing “Mississippi Requiem” — a single movie consisting of four black and white shorts — Variety has learned exclusively. Franco will star in the adaptation of William Faulkner’s stories, along with Topher Grace, Amy Smart and Alicia Witt.
The pic deals with issues of race, gender and class set in the American South during the early 20th Century. Beth Grant, Marianna Palka, Elayn Taylor, Sky Van Vliet and Zackary Arthur also star, along with musician George Lewis Jr., known as Twin Shadow.
This production is the second film collaboration this year under Elysium Bandini, the newly formed philanthropic studio »
- Dave McNary
Franco will direct from a script by Neel and Mike Roberts. Franco and Vince Jolivette are producing through their Rabbit Bandini Productions with Killer Films’ Christine Vachon and David Hinojosa, and Gigi Films’ Gia Walsh and Kara Baker.
Kushner’s story was billed as an exclusive account of Wells’ 148-tweet about her October road trip to Florida with her friend Jessica, Jessica’s boyfriend Jarrett, and Jessica’s violent Nigerian pimp “Z.”
The first tweet read, “Okay listen up. This story long. So I met this white bitch at Hooters…” The tweets »
- Dave McNary
13 items from 2016
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