When the couple behind me left the TBA Festival
screening of Erased James Franco
after 20 (long, long) minutes, every sinew of my body berated me for not doing the same. Sitting through this concoction requires an immense feat of willpower,
on a par with James Franco's own heavy, labored attempts to show off this “favorite performance of any that I have ever done.”
And for an actor who has his name plastered 10 times across the opening credits, it must be delightful to have the stage entirely to oneself. It was no doubt great fun to act.
The 65 minute film, which aims to fracture and reconstitute narrative and identity, is perhaps best summarized by the Scene With The Armchair (props took the place of a supporting cast). The tightly-stuffed leather seat looks very much like a lightweight prop chair, but Franco struggles to make it look heavy for a painfully long time, and for very little reward. (Read WW Screen Critic Aaron's Mesh's take on Carter's Erased James Franco
While the split-screen scenes, where two interpretations of a monologue are run side by side, prove vaguely interesting, this really is acting for acting's sake. To my mind, the point of acting is to portray something, create a character, make a point. But by reconstituting bits and pieces of narrative without context and growling them inaudibly, they will look overacted no matter how hard you try. Even “I love you” isn't confessed convincingly. I suppose the writing was on the wall when our lead man gave this quote last year:
"Usually one just tries to make the character he's playing life-like, expressive, and interesting. Carter's project worked against all these goals…"
No shit. Highlights from my deranged notes include:
“James Franco has lazy eyes. And a hairy neck.”
“Christ, it's not surprising he looks a little bloated, we've be watching him down water and crackers since forever.”
“Oh wow, great cut between scenes there – an image of some machine instead of Franco's face. Hope there's more of those.”
(there weren't, for the record).
So if you're going to see an arts film at the NWFC, please, please go see circles and spinning wheels
instead. And if anyone really enjoyed Erased
, I would genuinely love to hear why.
Erased James Franco at NWFC: Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park. 8.30 pm Thurday, Sept. 10, 4.30 pm Sunday Sept. 13. $6-$7.