Monday, November 29, 2010

All James Franco All the Time

So it appears actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway will be hosting the Oscars this spring. To which I say: hoo-ray! Love 'em both, and I think they'll be great. Besides, they'll look just so damned gorgeous together, next thing you know someone will get the bright idea of casting them opposite each other in some awful rom-com...On second thought, maybe they shouldn't co-host after all.

Seriously, though, this is a good choice. There's some chatter on the Internets that picking Franco is a faux pas since he's a near-lock for a Best Actor nomination for "127 Hours." That doesn't trouble me, mainly because I think he'll be nominated but won't win...and I certainly don't think his being a host will improve his chances of winning. If anything, I'd guess the opposite. Then there are those who point out Franco's ubiquity in the media these last couple of years, as if this were a bad thing. True, he's drawn almost as much interest for his offscreen artistic efforts as his onscreen roles, but as an actor, he's only had as much exposure as he deserves. He's that rarest of creatures, a pretty boy with actual range.

You needn't look farther than his two most recent films - "127 Hours" and "Howl" - to see this. In both, he plays a real-life figure who wasn't anywhere near as good-looking as James Franco, yet his prettiness proves to be an asset - a subtle asset - rather than a distraction. He uses it to amplify what was compelling about each of these very different men: Aron Ralston's careless, yet complex, lone-wolf charm; Allen Ginsberg's rather endearing mixture of nervous diffidence and passionate eloquence. I'll have more to say about these performances, and the films they inhabit, when I get some free time that isn't gummed up by a plaguey, energy-sapping cold.

In other news, R.I.P. Irvin Kershner, best known for directing the greatest episode of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, "The Empire Strikes Back" - and in my opinion, one of the greatest films of the twentieth century, yes, I said so - and Leslie Nielsen, best known for his roles in "Airplane!" and the "Naked Gun" movies. They may, perhaps, have wished to be remembered for other aspects of their careers and lives. But there's really nothing, after all, like creating something that achieved iconic status, and for that feat, their names will endure.

Monday, November 08, 2010

November Notes

Is it November already?

I realize it's been a while since I've posted anything movie-related. That's partly because there haven't been very many movies that I've felt compelled to see in theaters and partly because, per usual, I've fallen behind in my reviews.

I did finally finish my writeup of "The Social Network", which hasn't worn particularly well with me over the last month. Don't get me wrong, I still think it's a good movie; I'm just less and less convinced it's the masterpiece so many were proclaiming it was when it first came out.

Looking ahead, I'm eagerly anticipating the Colin Firth Oscar vehicle "The King's Speech" and Darren Aronofsky's mad-ballerina thriller "Black Swan", both of which should drop some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm also planning on seeing, among other things, "127 Hours", though I probably won't be able to watch the most talked-about scene (if you don't know why, Google "Aron Ralston"), and "Howl", because one can never get too much of James Franco and because I'm one of the geeks who's actually intrigued at the prospect of Franco recreating the original reading of the entire poem.

Finally, R.I.P. Jill Clayburgh, best known for her performance in "An Unmarried Woman," which I haven't seen, but who built a well-respected career on screen and stage. And a much more belated R.I.P. for the divine soprano Joan Sutherland, whom I'll always associate with her frequent duet partner, Luciano Pavarotti, but who was as a great a star in her own individual right.