James Franco on 12 Years A Slave

Lainey Posted by Lainey at November 14, 2013 14:53:33 November 14, 2013 14:53:33

James Franco, The Artist, reviewed 12 Years A Slave for VICE this week. I wonder if it’s a stipulation for Franco, whenever he writes for anyone, that he will not be edited. Not for content but for the basics. Like the proper title of the movie which is 12 Years A Slave and not Twelve Years A Slave. And The Counselor and not The Councilor. Why would Franco need editing though? He knows more than anyone.

He’s also a condescending prick. Right off the top, he gives you some idea of the snark in his piece when he refers to director Steve McQueen as a “video artist”. Rude.

In what’s become classic Franco style, his piece includes several references to his own work – in this case, Homefront and This Is The End; in that mention, he references the fact that the cast of End also found ways to relax after working long days and nights, and I think what he means to suggest is that some films are harder to let go of than others, which might be a salient point, only it’s way too subtle, buried underneath his awesome cleverness.

And that’s entirely the problem here. Because Franco’s primary position in his criticism is actually interesting. In focusing almost entirely on Michael Fassbender’s mesmerising performance, at once glamourising and abhorring his character’s profound flaws (Fassbender plays a sociopath slave owner), Franco asserts that we may not have changed enough, and that while slavery might be “officially” abolished, we might not be ready for absolution. Now that is a discussion worth having. Only his ego wouldn’t let that happen. It wasn’t enough for Franco to throw down one provocative claim and argue it effectively and clearly. Instead, he had to show off several other cards – by critiquing McQueen’s Shame, and Fassbender’s role in that film too, while offering another contentious opinion about that movie’s arguably insulting depiction of the gay lifestyle. That should have been another review altogether. But then again, James Franco is too busy making art to write multiple reviews. Is he busy…or is he lazy?

Maybe he’s just jealous.

You remember when Franco reviewed The Place Beyond The Pines and totally fixated on Ryan Gosling? Click here for a refresher. The same thing happens this time with Michael Fassbender. All three are around the same age. All three are acclaimed actors. All three have a certain sex appeal. Is it professional rivalry disguised in flattery? You’ll note that in both articles, Franco seems aroused by his subjects. When writing about Gosling, he structured his sentences with masturbatory rhythm. In his appreciation of Fassbender, he’s the voyeur in the window, licking his lips below the binoculars, unable to separate his disgust from his desire. Does he ever write like this about women? And how would you feel if he did?

Click here to read Franco’s full review of 12 Years A Slave.


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