By Bill Browning
If you’ve been following this blog you know my BFF and I have an ongoing feud over who’s the best and bigger star: James Franco or Jennifer Aniston. I am Team Franco while she (Paula) is all starry-eyed Faniston for Aniston. We each endeavor to make our case(s) as we watch and review our way through everything the two celebrities have ever done.
The holidays and unforeseen circumstances derailed our beloved project for a couple of weeks, but we get back on track today with our separate takes on James Franco’s recent As I Lay Dying.
Before every Franco movie begins, I sit quietly with my steamer trunk full of popcorn and 55-gallon drum of Diet Pepsi, and I whisper an urgent prayer: “Please,” I say heavenward, “let James be naked in this film. Or if he can’t be naked, at least let him be wet.”
And so, for me, As I Lay Dying is not about Pa, and it is not about Cash, and it is not about Jewel, and it is not about Dewey Dell, and it is not about Vardaman. It’s about how, praise be to Jesus, for the first third of this dreary tale James Franco is soaked!
Caught in torrential rains, tendrils of dark hair curl and drip over Jimmy’s squinting eyes and a nearly see-through shirt sticks to his impossibly wide shoulders, defined back and thrillingly narrow waist. Climbing out of an angry, unforgiving river, mud-colored wool pants cling to his marble-hard buttocks and taut thighs.
Um… Sorry, I got a little carried away there.
Truthfully, I don’t know why James Franco, never happy to just fucking act, would take on William Faulkner’s atmospheric 1930 book with what looked to me like a $100 budget. But he did. And surprisingly, it isn’t all bad.
Franco draws fine acting performances from Tim Blake Nelson (as the gummy and nearly inaudible family head Anse) and Marshall Logan Green (adept in his role as Jewel and scorchin’ hot to look at). Danny McBride, James’s real-life buddy, is also excellent in a brief cameo.
But good acting and hotness isn’t enough. Not really. And Franco does some film school arty shit that takes away from, rather than enhances, his work. Like, his two frame format for a good deal of the film is confusing and annoying and screws with the stunning images and landscapes often captured by whoever the cinematographer was.
And the sound (or my hearing) is terrible. Ten minutes in, I was in bad need of subtitles.
Still, like being gay in hickish, hot Mississippi, if you can hang in there for a good, long while, it gets better. The story of the troubled Bundren family starts unfolding nicely. And by the end of the movie, Franco actually gets his groove as a director.
I also wish to point out that, tedious and tortuous as AILD is, it is a thousand times better than ANYTHING Jennifer Aniston ever did.
And remember, as I stated earlier: for much of this movie our boy Jimmy F. is wet. He’s deluged, doused, soaked, sopping. And even when he ain’t wet, he’s moist. Which, if you ask me, is almost as good.
Post Categories: Bill Browning, James Franco, thumbs up, William A. BrowningTags: acting, As I Lay Dying, Bill Browning, drama, film adaptation, James Franco, let him be wet, movie review, William Faulkner
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