Mr. Franco has just signed on to guest direct a new REM video. Someone seems to have a finger in a lot of pies.

Yes, that’s right. We’re speeding on our way to Franco Central, fuelled by endless public appearances and a plethora of other thesbian tidbits. Star in a massive superhero trilogy? Check. Direct a major label band’s video? Check. Get nominated for the best actor Oscar, and host that very same ceremony? Check. (Plus an hilarious cameo in The Green Hornet,  just for good measure.)

I have two things to say: his agent is a media devil. I would like to shake the guy’s hand. The other thing, I’m apprehensive to admit, is the public’ll crash straight into the brick wall of blind celebrity fervour. You know what I’m talking about; ‘Oh em gee! Jimmy F’s new film is awesome because he’s in it!’

Now, I like the guy. Really, I do. He’s a very talented actor, and he’s charming to boot. Which is the exact problem here, unfortunately. If we continue on this glitzy ride with no apparent end, no-one will appreciate him as part of a greater body of work. 127 Hours, for instance, is a fantastic film. Most of the human groundwork is laid by Franco, but it’s Danny Boyle’s lively editing that brings it all to an inspirational peak. Yet, in years to come, it’ll be remembered as ‘that James Franco movie’. Hell, that’s already the case now. He will begin to overshadow any project he stars in, merely because of his snowballing presence. A perfect example is Johnny Depp. Pirates of the Caribbean was his springboard, much like 127 Hours was for Franco; it’s now come to the point that Tim Burton – or indeed, any director – will stick Depp in his new film purely for his star power. Would as many people have gone to see Alice in Wonderland or The Tourist if Captain Jack Sparrow wasn’t bustling his way through the entire thing?

But back to Franco. I really don’t want this oblique, money-making dinosaur to pick him up and spit out the bones in a dollar bill-shaped pattern. The undertakings he’s chosen have, so far, been artful, wise or both. Whether putting in an effective supporting performance in the commercial Spider Man, goofing around in Pineapple Express or showing his acting chops in semi-indie Milk, it’s all been leading to a recognition he indeed deserves. I have hope in him, but the postered walls of teen girls and sad forty-something women are calling. Depp won’t look that good forever, you know.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Franco’s directing for REM turns out. Still, I’m surprised he survived Anne Hathaway’s poorly executed jocularities at the Oscars this past Sunday. If any man can survive that, he gets a tip of the hat from me.


About GaryGreenScreen

Freelance film critic.


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Gary Green: Freelance film critic.

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