The Iceman (2012)

The Iceman
Director: Ariel Vromen
Writer: Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen
Based on: Anthony Bruno’s book of the same name about Richard Kuklinski
Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, Danny A. Abeckaser, John Ventimiglia, Ryan O’Nan, McKaley Miller, Megan Sherrill, James Franco, Stephen Dorff
Seen on: 30.4.2017

Plot:
Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) works behind the scenes in the porn industry, a job that brings him in contact with Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) who sees potential in Richard and promptly hires him as a contract killer. Richard takes to this new job with a sense of professionalism that includes keeping it very far away from his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) and kids. But mob politics aren’t easy to navigate and Richard can’t make everybody happy at all times.

I didn’t expect much from this film, but despite a lengthy second half and some seriously atrocious 70s hair, it drew me in, mostly thanks to a magnetic Michael Shannon.

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In Dubious Battle (2016)

In Dubious Battle
Director: James Franco
Writer: Matt Rager
Based on: John Steinbeck‘s novel of the same name
Cast: Nat Wolff, James Franco, Vincent D’OnofrioSelena GomezAhna O’ReillyAnaleigh TiptonJack KehlerScott HazeSam ShepardJoel Marsh GarlandJohn SavageRobert DuvallEd HarrisJosh HutchersonJulian De NiroBryan CranstonAshley GreeneKeegan AllenZach BraffAustin Stowell
Seen on: 24.4.2017

Plot:
Jim (Nat Wolff) just joined a political party who’s goal it is to empower workers. There he meets the charismatic and politically experienced Mac (James Franco) who takes him under his wing. Together they make their way to a fruit plantation where they hope to instigate a strike without the workers noticing that that’s what they came there to do. When they hear about a case where a plantation owner (Robert Duvall) reduced the workers’ pay from 3 to 1 Dollar, they know they have their in.

In Dubious Battle profits from Steinbeck’s strength as a writer and an absolutely stellar cast that makes the film worth seeing even though Franco directing Franco is not the best thing to ever happen.

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Why Him? (2016)

Why Him?
Director: John Hamburg
Writer: John Hamburg, Ian Helfer
Cast: Zoey Deutch, James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck, Tangie Ambrose, Cedric the Entertainer, Keegan-Michael Key, Kaley Cuoco, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley
Seen on: 24.1.2017

Plot:
Ned (Bryan Cranston), his wife Barb (Megan Mullally) and their son Scotty (Griffin Gluck) have been invited to spend Christmas with their daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) and her new boyfriend Laird (James Franco). When they meet Laird, though, Barb and particularly Ned are taken aback. Laird is filthy rich, but he is also very eccentric and has trouble with respecting personal boundaries. What’s even worse: he obviously wants to ask Stephanie to marry him soon. Can Ned learn to like and accept Laird?

Why Him? is pretty much exactly how you expect it to be: it’s filled with immature humor, very problematic in some places, but put altogether it could have been way worse than it was.

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King Cobra (2016)

King Cobra
Director: Justin Kelly
Writer: Justin Kelly
Based on: the murder of Bryan Kocis as written about in Andrew E. Stoner and Peter A. Conway’s book Cobra Killer: Gay Porn, Murder, and the Manhunt to Bring the Killers to Justice
Cast: Garrett Clayton, Christian Slater, Molly Ringwald, James Kelley, Keegan Allen, James Franco, Alicia Silverstone
Part of: Transition Festival special screening
Seen on: 19.1.2017

Plot:
Sean Paul Lockhart (Garrett Clayton) comes to L.A., meets producer Stephen (Christian Slater) and quickly finds himself a rising star in the gay porn scene under the name of Brent Corrigan. Life is good for a while, but when Sean tries to get out from under Stephen’s thumb, he finds ironclad contracts and practically no wiggle room. When he is approached by Harlow (Keegan Allen) and Joe (James Franco) about making a film together, he hopes to find help to get out of those contracts. But that help might look very different from what Sean had in mind.

King Cobra was entertaining enough, but also very problematic at some points. It makes time pass quickly, but could have profited from a less sensationalizing take.

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The Little Prince (2015)

The Little Prince
Director: Mark Osborne
Writer: Irena Brignull, Bob Persichetti
Based on: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s novella
Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Bud Cort, Paul Giamatti, Albert Brooks, Riley Osborne
Seen on: 28.12.2015

Plot:
The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) moves into a new neigborhood with her Mother (Rachel McAdams). Her Mother is a hard worker and she has big plans for the Girl, plans that need her to work  very hard to achieve them. The Girl is motivated. But there’s also her strange neighbor, the Aviator (Jeff Bridges). The Aviator tells her the story of The Little Prince (Riley Osborne) whom he met many years ago. Bit by bit, the Aviator and his stories become more important to the Girl than her Mother’s plans.

The Little Prince is not so much an adaptation of the original novella as an extension and an expansion of it (you could say that it’s fan fiction). It’s a beautifully crafted film that harnesses the original message and reinforces the capitalism critique in it. I loved it.

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Queen of the Desert (2015)

Queen of the Desert
Director: Werner Herzog
Writer: Werner Herzog
Cast: Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson, Damian LewisJay Abdo, Jenny Agutter, Holly Earl, Mark Lewis Jones, David Calder
Seen on: 14.9.2015

Plot:
Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman) really doesn’t care about getting married, which puts her rather at odds with British society. She was one of the few women who were allowed to study at university, which gives her family an excuse to send her traveling. So Gertrude travels to the Ottoman Empire. With every passing year Gertrude becomes more independent until finally she defies all social norms and starts traveling the desert, really getting to know the area and its people, acquiring insights no other British person was able to get.

Queen of the Desert can be summarized with “Orientalism the Movie”. It’s flabbergasting that such an unquestioned imperialistic view on the Middle East could still make it on the screen today. We should all know better by now.

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Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015)

Every Thing Will Be Fine
Director: Wim Wenders
Writer: Bjørn Olaf Johannessen
Cast: James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Charlotte GainsbourgMarie-Josée Croze, Peter Stormare, Patrick Bauchau, Julia Sarah Stone, Robert Naylor
Seen on: 9.4.2015

Plot:
Tomas (James Franco) is trying to write his newest book. That attempt includes staying in a trailer on a frozen lake and hours of driving around the countryside, leading to more than one fight with his girlfriend Sara (Rachel McAdams). On one of his drives, Tomas hits and kills a little boy, which leaves both him and the boy’s mother Kate (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother Christopher (Jack Fulton/Philippe Vanasse-Paquet/Robert Naylor) reeling. Will every thing ever be fine for them again?

Every Thing Will Be Fine is a calm, beautiful movie that manages to be completely intimate, despite spanning several years and some rather difficult topics. I really loved it.

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Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men
Director: Anna D. Shapiro
Writer: John Steinbeck
Based on: his novella Of Mice and Men
Cast: James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester, Jim Parrack, Jim Norton, Alex Morf

Plot:
George (James Franco) and Lenny (Chris O’Dowd) are a team, working as hired hands on farms. But Lenny, who has a mental disability, got them fired from their last job when his attempt to pet the skirt of a girl was mistaken for a sexual assault. They had to leave in a hurry, but have found a new job already, which starts off well enough with their coworkers Candy (Jim Norton) and Slim (Jim Parrack), and less well with their boss Curly (Alex Morf) and his flirty wife (Leighton Meester). George and Lenny are dreaming of buying a bit of land together and becoming independent – a dream that suddenly becomes very attainable when Candy offers to pitch in. But attainable isn’t the same as attained and money isn’t the only issue.

This version of Of Mice and Men really was a very straightforward production that focused on making the characters and their actors shine. And shine they did.

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This Is the End (2013)

This Is the End
Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Writer: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Based on: the short film “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse
Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, David Krumholtz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rihanna, Martin Starr, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Jason Segel, Brandon Trost, Jason Trost

Plot:
Jay Baruchel comes to LA to visit Seth Rogen. He had planned to have a weekend full of movies, video games and weed at Seth’s place, but Seth gets him to go to James Franco’s housewarming party. While they’re there, the apocalypse happens – literally. None of them ascends into heaven, but at least Jay, Seth, James, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride also don’t fall into the hell pit that opened just outside the door. But what should they do now?

I was afraid that I wouldn’t like This Is the End and I was right. Apart from a few moments of actual fun, there was nothing that I could enjoy about it.

thisistheend

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Homefront (2013)

Homefront
Director: Gary Fleder
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Based on: Chuck Logan‘s novel
Cast: Jason Statham, James Franco, Izabela Vidovic, Kate Bosworth, Marcus Hester, Clancy Brown, Winona Ryder, Omar Benson Miller, Rachelle Lefevre, Frank Grillo, Austin Craig

Plot:
Phil Broker (Jason Statham) worked undercover with a biker gang for years but after the case was closed – and rather unfortunately – he and his daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) moved to a small town to get away from it all and to disappear. But then he gets into the crosshairs of the local gangster Gator Bodine (James Franco) and his past quickly catches up with him.

Homefront tookt itself very seriously. Way too seriously for the kind of film it is. There are some glimpses at a better film underneath the rubble, but the result is generally rather meh.

homefront

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