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.

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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.

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Spring Breakers (2012)

Spring Breakers
Director: Harmony Korine
Writer: Harmony Korine
Cast: Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez, James Franco

Plot:
Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) have been best friends since kindergarten. Now they’re dreaming of going on Spring Break together, but they lack the funds. Finally Candy, Brit and Cotty rob a restaurant and the four of them get going. But once there, they get arrested for possession. They are bailed out of jail by Alien (James Franco), a rapper/drug dealer who wants to recruit them as his new gang.

Based on the marketing campaign, I expected this movie to be all boobs and cheap thrills, but since Kids (written by Harmony Korine) was one hell of a movie, I thought that I’d give it a chance at least. And I was very glad I did. Whether or not Spring Breakers is your cup of tea, I don’t know. But it certainly isn’t your run of the mill “girls gone wild” movie.

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Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Oz the Great and Powerful
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on: L. Frank Baum‘s Oz novels
Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Joey King, Bill Cobbs, Tony Cox, Bruce Campbell

Plot:
Oz (James Franco) is a second rate magician in a small travelling circus and a great womanizer. When he gets into trouble for sleeping with the wrong woman, he flees in a balloon, but ends up caught in a tornado. When the wind calms down, Oz is – surprisingly – still alive and finds himself in the magical country of Oz. He is greeted by Theodora (Mila Kunis), a beautiful witch, who tells him that his arrival has been prophesized and he needs to save the land from the evil witch. Oz takes on the challenge because there seems to be money on the horizon, plus a chance to get into Theodora’s pants. But it turns out that there is more to the story than that.

I have so many issues that I’m surprised I managed to enjoy Oz the Great and Powerful at all. But enjoyment was had, though the issues outweigh it by far.

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Love & Distrust (2010)

Love & Distrust (it’s a short film anthology with the following segments)
Segment The Summer House
Director: Daisy Gili
Writer: Ian Beck
Cast: Talulah Riley, Robert Pattinson
Segment Blue Poles
Director: Darcy Yuille
Writer: Stewart Klein
Cast: Sam Worthington, Hallie Shellam
Segment Grasshopper
Director: Eric Kmetz
Writer: Eric Kmetz
Cast: James Franco, Rachel Miner
Segment Pennies
Director: Diana Valentine, Warner Loughlin
Writer: Eddie Adams, Marcus Kayne
Cast: Amy Adams
Segment Auto Motives
Director: Lorraine Bracco
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., James Cameron, Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, Jim Rash, Tate Taylor

Plot:
In Summer House, Jane (Talulah Riley) tries to get away from her ex Richard (Robert Pattinson).
In Blue Poles, country guy Miles (Sam Worthington) picks up hippie hitchhiker Libby (Hallie Shellam).
In Grasshopper, business man Travis (James Franco) forgets his cell phone on the train which is found by punk Terri (Rachel Miner).
In Pennies, Charlotte (Amy Adams) has to come into some money really quickly for the sake of her daughter. Unfortunately, she’s only a waitress.
In Auto Motives, we see various people in different situations involving cars.

I got drawn in by the impressive cast list in this collection. Unfortunately that seems to have also been the only criteria in the choice of putting those originally unconnected short films together in one film. There is no thematic arch whatsoever, but even taken on their own, the films are absolutely damn weak.

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Your Highness (2011)

Your Highness
Director: David Gordon Green
Writer: Danny McBride, Ben Best
Cast: Danny McBride, James Franco, Rasmus Hardiker, Natalie Portman, Toby Jones, Justin Theroux, Zooey Deschanel

Plot:
The princes Fabious (James Franco) and Thadeous (Danny McBride) couldn’t be more diffirent. While Fabious goes on quest after quest (and always returns successful), Thadeous tries to live life as responsibility-free as he can. From his latest quest, Fabious brought back Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) who has spent her life in captivity, held by the evil Leezar (Justin Theroux) who plans to use her for a ritual. Fabious and Belladonna want to get married but before they can, Leezar steals her back. So Fabious goes on yet another quest – only this time he drags Thadeous along.

This movie was so extremely bad, I don’t even have words for it. The first time I thought about turning off the film was about 30 minutes in. But then Natalie Portman hadn’t shown up yet and I kinda kept assuming that this movie had to become funny at one point or another. It never did. Instead it continued to be absolutely dreadful.

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