Hilarious Anti-Trump PSA Reminds Us To Get Out And VOTE

This election is terrifying, so a little comic relief in the form of a hilarious anti-Trump PSA doesn’t hurt. All it takes is all of us — we need to vote. So Joss Whedon got a bunch of celebrities together to remind us that one of the candidates is a racist, ignorant, idiot — and we need to do all we can to stop him. They managed to use some humor, which is a plus in this terror-inducing time we’re facing.Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Neil Patrick Harris, James Franco, Clark Gregg, Leslie Odom Jr., Jesse Williams, Scarlett Johansson… they’re all in on it.

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TIFF 2016: Five Questions for In Dubious Battle Director and Actor James Franco

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Continuing his strike as one of the most tireless and unpredictable multi-hyphenates working in film today, James Franco brings to Toronto the North American premiere of his latest feature, an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s first novel, In Dubious Battle. A tale of labor strife amongst fruit pickers and orchard owners in 1930s California, the work mixes politics with human drama as it captures the rivalries and conflicts that arise in times of activism. In addition to directing, Franco stars alongside Vincent D’Onofrio, Robert Duvall and Selena Gomez. The screenplay is by Matt Rager, who scripted Franco’s other recent Great Novel Adaptation, The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. Below, Franco discusses his love for John Steinbeck, what a tale of the ’30 American labor movement has to teach us today, and why he’s embraced such a frenetic artistic output.

In Dubious Battle screens at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, September 12.

Filmmaker: When did you first read Steinbeck’s novel, and what inspired you to direct a screen adaptation? As a raw material for cinema, what did it offer you that you wanted to explore?

Franco: I grew up reading Steinbeck, and I read the novel in high school, but it definitely wasn’t one of my favorites. (Those were probably East of Eden and Cannery Row.) But when I acted in Of Mice and Men on Broadway I reread a bunch of Steinbeck, including In Dubious Battle. It is part of the unofficial “Dustbowl Trilogy,” which also includes Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. They all take place in Northern California, which is where I grew up. After doing Mice… I was very interested in doing some Steinbeck material on screen, but I found that while Mice… was perfectly suited for the stage because of the incredible characters and the intimate scenes, it wasn’t as well suited for the screen because it didn’t require any scope; all the major scenes took place in confined spaces like the bunkhouse. But In Dubious Battle, although it was weaker on character, had an epic conflict between two irreconcilable groups. Once the conflict starts it never lets up, and man,y many people, of all kinds, are brought into the fray in various ways. I thought that that kind of set up would be much more cinematic, and the tension and conflict would drive the film from beginning to end.

Filmmaker: You’ve made In Dubious Battle following adaptations of novels by Faulkner and McCarthy, and a film about Tennessee Williams, in addition to other works of literary provenance. How much do the stylistic traits and formal devices of these individual works shape your decisions in terms of adaptation and direction, versus your own developing style? In other words, do you seek to remain faithful to these works, or to artfully betray them in some way?

Franco: With all of these classics my primary intention is to be faithful to the novels, in spirit, structure and style whenever possible. I started with McCarthy and Faulkner, two of my favorite writers. I figured that only adapting the story and not the style would not be adapting those writers, because their styles are so integral to what they write. The Sound and the Fury without Faulkner’s style and structure is just southern melodrama, so I had to adapt everything, not just the narrative.

And now with Steinbeck I was trying to be as faithful to his spirit as possible. Some things changed from the novel, mainly character developments, because Steinbeck was still learning how to create fully dimensional characters when he wrote this early book. We added dimension to all the characters, and wove them together more, sort of like an Altman film.

Filmmaker: Why tell a story about the 1930s labor movement in the States today, during a time of global capitalism? How does the story you are telling connect to the present moment?

Franco: Filmmaker: It’s very topical; the idea of battling “the man” will always be relevant. Unions, wages, 1%ers vs. the rest, strikes — these are things that will always be relevant as long as there is an exclusive upper class resting on a larger lower class. But what I was really interested in showing was man in conflict with himself.

Filmmaker: Let me ask you about your famed productivity. In a world where so many directors wait years between movies, the sheer number of films you’re able to make can seem mind-boggling. That said, there are directors in the past — Fassbinder and Raul Ruiz come to mind — who have made a kind of hyper-productivity their own style. Could you tell me what role this extreme productivity and the volume of your film work plays in your overall concept of yourself as an artist?

Franco: Fassbinder is a huge influence: his rebellious spirt, and his incredible productivity. He was doing in an independent, artistic, pro-active way what they did in the old studio days when John Ford would direct three movies a year. Also Cassavettes is a huge influence, the ultimate “one for them/one for” me creator, whose “one for them” was often a classic such as Rosemary’s Baby. He learned how to pull the kinds of movies that he loves into being when no one else would.

When I do many different kinds of things, and in quick succession, it allows me to take more risks, because I’m not putting everything in one basket. But it also allows me to be more disciplined in my approach, because each project gets its own approach. If I did fewer projects more of a burden would be put on them to deliver everything I want, whereas doing many allows me to spread out my ideas among many projects.

Filmmaker: Finally, In Dubious Battle deals with, in part, the decision-making of groups. Is there a parallel here to the movie business in any way?

Franco: Yes and no. Many people make decisions on movies, but usually in tiers, and not all at once. A director will make decisions on set, and might consult with a producer about overarching ideas and then go and discuss shooting approaches with a DP. Later, after its shot, the head of a studio, or a financier might come give notes.

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Demian Gregory & James Franco Pact For Four Films, First Up Is ‘The Game’

James Franco - The Fixer, King Cobra

Demian Gregory and James Franco have partnered to produce four feature films with budgets in the $15 million-$20 million range. The first title under the deal is The Game, based on the bestselling book — part memoir, part how-to guide — by Neil Strauss about how to become a successful pick-up artist. Franco will star as Mystery, a man who serves as Strauss’ “wingman” in the book. The New York Times bestseller is enjoying its 11th year in print this month

Gregory will produce The Game alongside Franco and his business partner Vince Jolivette (Spring Breakers); executive producers are Nicholas Cafritz and Robert Reed Peterson.

Under terms of the new deal, Gregory will produce and finance these films through his Aristocracy Group and his Composite Media Capital in partnership with Franco’s outfit Rabbit Bandini Productions. The titles in the production slate comprise talent-driven stories, ranging from comedy to thriller and high-end drama.

“Nearly every person I meet has a strong opinion on The Game, whether they’ve read it or not,” said Strauss, the author of seven other bestselling books including The Truth, Emergency and The Dirt. “For some, it changed their lives and led to marriage and children. For others, it is the one of the most terrifying things to ever happen to the dating world. For me, it is both, but I’m forever grateful for my time in the underground world of pick-up artists because it showed me that a guy who had given up all hope of ever being comfortable with himself and others could change.”

The film has been fast-tracked and is scheduled to enter production in 2017, with the producers looking to attach a director and cast.

Aristocracy Group is a consortium of vertically integrated media companies specializing in production and financing of filmed entertainment privately held by Gregory. Composite Media Capital is a U.S.-based film finance outfit launched by Gregory, Cafritz and Peterson.

Strauss is also a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, was a correspondent at The New York Times for 10 years and has writing credits ranging from TV shows for HBO to liner notes for Nirvana.

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James Franco Feted With Career Tribute, Talks ‘In Dubious Battle’ and Income Inequality

The director and star calls the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency “scary.”
In Dubious Battle on Monday won over the hearts of the audience at the Deauville Film Festival, where the pic received a warm welcome and director and star James Franco was feted following its mixed reception in Venice.

He was welcomed onstage by French actress Ana Girardot, who recited a poem in the spirit of Franco’s creative experimentation.

Franco was on hand to present his fifth directorial effort — adapted from the John Steinbeck novel — as well as receive a career retrospective from the festival. It was the multihyphenate’s second time at Deauville, which screened his James Dean biopic in 2001 at the start of his career.

Steinbeck’s story of striking farm workers was important to the Northern California native, he said, though he added that the book ranks among Hawaii native President Barack Obama’s favorites as well.

That the film was screening on Labor Day in the U.S. was not lost on Franco. “Even though the novel takes place in the Great Depression, it’s still very relevant to a lot of things that are going on now and as long as certain social relationships are in play, stories like this are still important,” he told The Hollywood Reporter earlier in the day.

“I read the news every day and I feel like there are so many [unjust] things. The issue that my movie addresses is rights for the working class and it’s still a very important story to tell,” said Franco. “A lot of jobs in America are being sent overseas and the workplace is changing. I think it’s something that should be addressed, I don’t want a situation where a small minority of the country is living in these walled off palaces and the rest of the country is in poverty.”

He characterized the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency as “scary,” though he dismissed the importance of an actor’s political views on a reality TV star running for president.

Despite being listed as starring in 20 upcoming projects and directing at least a handful of those, as well as being attached to both the stripper tale Zola Tells All and the sci fi actioner Kin, Franco says his impressive IMDb credits are deceiving. Several of the projects are helmed by his graduate students from UCLA, USC and Cal Arts, where they asked him to take part in their films.

“I feel like there is a certain kind of overexposure, but I also know what it’s like to be a young filmmaker,” he said, noting that having his Hollywood name attached can boost a first-time filmmaker’s prospects. “I can do that, just lend myself and put myself in those films to get those films made, it’s worth the risk.”

While Franco is immersed in the indie world, he doesn’t rule out a return to Hollywood blockbusters or franchises, either in front of or behind the camera.

“The more money it costs, the more people have a say in how it’s made, so it would have to be the right people that I’m working with. I’d have to believe in their vision on whatever the money is being spent on,” he said, pointing to CGI-heavy endeavors such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Franco has another, smaller, project with longtime collaborator and Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine in the works, he said.

While he boasts several job titles as notches on his creative belt — including novelist, photographer, poet, professor, sculptor, student and seemingly any new outlet that fuels his creative fires — there’s only one thing Franco rules out: “I’m not running for president.”

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James Franco On Adapting ‘In Dubious Battle’, Tweaking Steinbeck & Loving His Actors

James Franco - The Fixer, King Cobra

Originally published in 1936, In Dubious Battle is the least-known title in the author’s unofficial Dustbowl Trilogy — which also includes Of Mice And Men and The Grapes Of Wrath. Set during a Great Depression labor dispute, its 99% v 1% themes remain relevant today.

Franco stars alongside Nat Wolff and an impressive ensemble cast that includes Robert Duvall, Vincent D’Onofrio, Bryan Cranston, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Selena Gomez, Josh Hutcherson, Ashley Greene, John Savage and Zach Braff.

Wolff plays Jim Nolan, a young recruit who joins Franco’s activist Mac McLeod to organize a group of California fruit-pickers oppressed by Duvall’s ruthless tycoon. The film chronicles their infiltration of the workers’ world, the ensuing strike and how they help and hinder the situation — and at what cost. Check out the trailer here.

Franco, who continues to straddle genres and media, says he chose the book after he had done Of Mice And Men on Broadway. The ideal medium for that, he tells me, is the play because of the setting and what actors can bring to a story that doesn’t move around a lot. Steinbeck, he feels, grew as a writer with both Mice and Grapes Of Wrath. But In Dubious Battle, which was written first, “shows him as more of a beginner, and in particular one of the things he learned how to do in the latter two books was develop character. There are indelible characters in the later books.”

Whereas with In Dubious Battle, the characters “are not as fully dimensional as the other books, but the situation is better for a movie” with the action moving around on a vaster canvas. “Steinbeck, by the time he got to Grapes Of Wrath, was doing a lot of research,” Franco says. “He was going out to these encampments. So he had seen by that point firsthand how horrible the conditions were and that people were being ripped off and all their wages were being halved. So by the time he wrote Grapes Of Wrath, he was fully on the side of the workers.”

With In Dubious Battle, it sounded “like he was going for a bit more of an even tone.” Franco’s movie version veers “a bit” from the book, especially the ending. He says the reason for that “was not to change the intention or spirit of the novel, but I really feel like Steinbeck just wasn’t on his sort of dramatic game as well as he was later in his books.”

Franco himself is surprised by the folks he was able to pull together in the cast. “When I step back and think about some of the guys I got in the movie, I think just ‘wow.’ It’s kind of crazy,” he says. “People like Robert Duvall are people I studied when I was in acting school, and they were held up as the greats of the profession. To work with them is a real honor.”

A shift since he began directing has been a bonus. “My whole attitude towards other actors changed,” Franco says. “Meaning, I don’t know, maybe when I was a young actor I was really competitive and it was all about fighting for roles or whatever. But now as I direct, it’s like I want to get along with every actor. I want to love every actor so they can be in my movie, and so whenever I work with anybody, especially people that I really respect, I try to stay in touch with them.”

NYU Film School also boosted his confidence. “When I first started directing, I was really shy and I was a little insecure about my skills. … Now I’m not shy about asking actors to be in my projects; the worst that can happen is they say no.”

This is Franco’s fourth movie as director to premiere in Venice. He says his long-lasting relationship with the festival “might be something to do with being in Europe that they are better able to allow me to be a director in ways that maybe are tricky for people in the States to do. I feel like early on they sort of got on board and were very supportive of the movies I was doing.”

He allows that the films are “of a certain type. I understand there’s not a huge call for Faulkner adaptations in the marketplace today,” he says, laughing. But, he adds, “I feel like I’ve been fortunate. And I think my team has been really good about putting these movies together in a certain way and at a certain price so that it can be really loyal to the novels and that’s really — changing the ending aside — I think we were very loyal to the spirit of In Dubious Battle.”

Franco has recently branched out into television, directing an episode of the Stephen King/JJ Abrams miniseries 11.22.63, and two episodes of the upcoming HBO series The Deuce, which he’s doing with The Wire’s David Simon.

He’s also just completed the Seth Rogen-produced The Masterpiece about The Room, or as Franco says, “the best worst movie ever.” That project is “a very different kind of movie for me. It still fulfills my artistic ambitions. It’s about making things and it’s about art and all of that and it’s also got a different kind of commercial side to it,” Franco tells me.

Then, he adds, “I think the kind of stuff I’m doing is changing while I’m still also very interested in these adaptations of American classics. I guess you could just say I’m still doing what a lot of people say I’m always doing which is a lot of different kinds of things.”

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James Franco, Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz to Star in Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Kin’

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James Franco, Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz and Dennis Quaid will star in the sci-fi action-thriller Kin.

Jonathan and Josh Baker will direct the film based on their own short film, Bag Man. Daniel Casey penned the script, which follows a recently released ex-con (Reynor) and his adopted younger brother who are forced to go on the run. Chased by a vengeful criminal (Franco), the feds and a cadre of otherworldly soldiers, their only protection is a found weapon of mysterious ancestry.

Quaid will play the brothers’ father and Kravitz joins the brothers’ journey as a trusted ally.

Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps Entertainment will produce along with Jeff Arkuss, David Gross and Jesse Shapira of No Trace Camping. The film is slated to begin shooting Oct. 24.

Sources say that WME and Good Universe are planning on shopping the project at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival and will meet with the studios in advance of the fest’s Sept. 8 kickoff.

Franco’s upcoming work includes The Disaster Artist, which he stars in and directed, and comedy Why Him? He is repped by CAA, Untitled and Sloane, Offer.

Reynor was most recently seen in Sing Street and appears in the upcoming Free Fire, which will play at TIFF. He is repped by WME, MacFarlane Chard and Sloane, Offer.

Kravitz recently joined Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; her other upcoming projects include Rock That Body and HBO series Big Little Lies with Shailene Woodley. She is repped by Paradigm and Untitled.

Quaid will next be seen in A Dog’s Purpose and appears on Pivot TV series Fortitude. He is repped by WME and Hansen, Jacobson.

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‘In Dubious Battle’ Trailer: James Franco Takes On John Steinbeck – Venice

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Multi-hyphenate James Franco, no stranger to classic American literature, has taken his first directorial shot at moving John Steinbeck to the screen with an adaptation of In Dubious Battle. Originally published in 1936, the novel is the lesser-known title in Steinbeck’s unofficial Dustbowl Trilogy — which also includes Of Mice And Men and The Grapes Of Wrath — but has been hailed as among his strongest works. It’s a study of man’s struggle against himself set during a Great Depression labor dispute whose themes are still relevant today.

Multi-hyphenate James Franco, no stranger to classic American literature, has taken his first directorial shot at moving John Steinbeck to the screen with an adaptation of In Dubious Battle. Originally published in 1936, the novel is the lesser-known title in Steinbeck’s unofficial Dustbowl Trilogy — which also includes Of Mice And Men and The Grapes Of Wrath — but has been hailed as among his strongest works. It’s a study of man’s struggle against himself set during a Great Depression labor dispute whose themes are still relevant today.

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James Franco Developing Crime Movies ‘Smonk,’ ‘Poachers,’ ‘Hell at the Breech

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James Franco is developing three movies based on novels by crime fiction writer Tom Franklin — “Smonk,” “Poachers,” and “Hell at the Breech,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Franco and partner Vince Jolivette are producing through their Rabbit Bandini Productions, which recently obtained the movie rights in a deal put in place by Joel Gotler of Intellectual Property Group on behalf of Nat Sobel of Sobel Weber Associates. The company has tapped screenwriters for each project.

“We plan on shooting all three of them in the next one to three years,” Jolivette told Variety. “There are no plans at this point for James to act or direct, just for us to produce. We feel the material is rich enough to attract A-level talent.”

Playwright David Van Asselt is working on a script for “Poachers” and Franklin will write the “Smonk” script. Ian Olds and Paul Felton are penning the adaptation of “Hell at the Breech.”

“We’re labeling these as our gritty Southern Gothic series of films,” Jolivette said.

“Poachers,” Franklin’s first book, is a collection of short stories. The title story, which won the Edgar Award for best mystery short story, focuses on three wild boys confronting a mythic game warden as mysterious and deadly as the river they haunt.

“Smonk” is set in 1911 in Old Texas, Ala., where every Saturday night for a year, E.O. Smonk has been destroying property, killing livestock, seducing women, and beating men.

“Hell at the Breech” takes place in 1897. When an aspiring politician is mysteriously murdered in a rural area of Alabama, outraged friends — mostly poor cotton farmers — form a secret society, Hell-at-the-Breech, to punish the townspeople they believe responsible.

Franco has starred in and Jolivette has produced two adaptations of William Faulkner novels about the rural South in the early 20th Century — “The Sound and the Fury,” which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and “As I Lay Dying,” which debuted at the 2014 Venice Film Festival.

Franco has been producing, co-directing, and co-starring in the post-apocalyptic thriller “Future World” with Milla Jovovich, Suki Waterhouse, Snoop Dogg, and Method Man. Franco’s recently completed projects include “The Adderall Diaries,” “I Am Michael,” “In Dubious Battle,” “The Long Hour,” “Palo Alto,” and “The Masterpiece.”

Franco also directed and co-produced “The Masterpiece,” which centers on the making of Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult film “The Room.” Rabbit Bandini, Point Grey, and Good Universe are producing the New Line film. Franco plays Wiseau. His brother Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Ari Graynor, Jackie Weaver, and Bryan Cranston also star.

James Franco is also starring with Cranston in Fox’s upcoming comedy “Why Him?,” which opens on Dec. 25.

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First Zeroville Trailer Sees James Franco And Seth Rogen Bound For Hollywood

James Franco and Seth Rogen, the creative duo behind such cult comedy hits as The Interview and This is the End, are Hollywood bound in the first trailer for Zeroville, a biting satirical period romp hailing from Franco himself.
It’s pitched as his most ambitious directorial effort to date, and after clocking eyes on the extensive first trailer, we’re inclined to believe those claims. Featuring a host of regular faces in Jacki Weaver, Megan Fox, Craig Robinson, Will Ferrell and Danny McBride, Zeroville is set against the Tinsel Town of ’69 where Ike “Vikar” Jerome stars out on a journey that offers up tragedy and discovery in equal measure.
Placing a laser focus on celebrity culture and all things Hollywood, Seth Rogen is on board as a character known as Viking Man – “gatekeeper to all the right parties, a cigar-chomping surf hippie; Vikar’s eccentric Hollywood guide” – while the casting sheet reveals the larger-than-life personalities of Rondell, (Will Ferrell, Dotty (Jacki Weaver), Financier (Danny McBride) and femme fatale Soledad (Megan Fox). There’s also a Wim Wenders cameo buried in today’s first-look.

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Pedro Almodovar, James Franco films flesh out TIFF 2016 lineups

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A Pedro Almodovar film based on Alice Munro’s stories, James Franco’s adaptation of a John Steinbeck novel and movies starring Richard Gere, Christian Bale and Naomi Watts are the latest additions to the 2016 TIFF lineup.

The Toronto International Film Festival unleashed a fresh wave of movies Tuesday, including new galas and special presentations, movies from master auteurs, bold offerings for its City to City spotlight, contemporary world cinema titles and features slated for the experimental wavelength program.

A pair of galas joins the high-profile slate: the star-studded tale Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, starring Gere, and historical wartime drama The Promise, set against the final days of the Ottoman Empire and featuring Bale and Oscar Isaac.

Walter Hill’s assassin story (Re)Assignment, a Canadian production, is among the films added to the special presentations, along with Brain on Fire, Gerard Barrett’s Irish-Canadian film about a woman’s battle against a sudden and mysterious neurological illness, lifesaving diagnosis and recovery.

Other special presentations include:

Quebec director Phillip Falardeau’s The Bleeder, about the real-life boxer who inspired the Rocky films and starring Watts, Liev Schreiber and Elisabeth Moss.
I, Daniel Blake, British filmmaker Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning contemporary drama about an aged carpenter unable to work after a heart attack, but blocked from medical benefits due to bureaucracy.
In Dubious Battle, the labour conflict-migrant worker tale directed and starring Franco alongside Vincent D’Onofrio, Selena Gomez, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Robert Duvall and Bryan Cranston.
Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey, a visual effects-laden exploration of the universe and natural phenomena narrated by Cate Blanchett.
Burn Your Maps, featuring young Canadian actor Jacob Tremblay (Room) as a young boy convinced he is actually a Mongolian goat herder.

Acclaimed Spanish director Almodovar’s Julieta, part of the Masters lineup, adapts three of Canadian Nobel Prize-winner Munro’s short stories into a “time tripping tale” about a mother-daughter relationship.

Other auteurs bringing films to TIFF this fall include Wim Wenders (The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez), Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women), Cristian Mungiu (Graduation), Brillante Ma Mendoza (Ma’ Rosa), Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper), Terence Davies (A Quiet Passion) and Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (The Unknown Girl).

Lagos takes the spotlight for the festival’s City to City program this year, with eight “Nollywood” titles to screen and up-and-coming actors OC Ukeje and Somkele Iyamah Idhalama — rising stars from Nigeria’s largest city — invited to participate in special events, seminars and workshops.

TIFF 2016 runs Sept. 8-18.

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