Welcome to April, and the third edition of The Franco Files! We again continue exploring the different ways in which one actor has an impact on the overall film. There have only been two editions thus far, but I think I’ve already highlighted some pretty diverse roles from this, the former heart throb of Freaks & Geeks. Unfortunately, his reputation as of late has been cast into a not-so-favorable light given certain Instagram-related activity, as has been made public several days ago now. What I’m going to say next will probably stun many as to how blind a follower of the guy I may be. . . . .
. . . .because I really think the guy just made a mistake using social media. While I don’t believe for a second that he’s as clueless to apps like Instagram as he is claiming to be, people and the Internets man. . . those two things sometimes don’t mix. Social media has proven so far to be an incredibly complex beast that can have far-reaching implications depending on the actions of its participants. An actor being a fairly high-profile user of these kinds of applications can find themselves in the news depending on what they choose to do and who they choose to associate with.
What this scandal is really good for, though, is setting up for my next highlight. Last month we looked at James Franco becoming a friendly stoner in David Gordon Green’s stoner comedy Pineapple Express. We turn this time to a more scandalous and possibly controversial role of his, a very recent one as a matter of fact. It’s a role that’s quite befitting of the times, what with 17-year-old girls blowing up his account with selfie’s and shit. Oh, James. You silly, lovestruck fool.
Francophile #3: Alien, Spring Breakers
Role Type: Supporting
Character Profile: Quite possibly James Franco’s most cosmetically transformative role, the gold-teeth gangster-rapper might also be his most psychologically transformative as well. Franco brings his charismatic smile to a face hardened by a presumably troubled life, a life maybe even on the streets which has led him to where he is now, living it up in a sunny beach locale doing drugs and putting on a show for the drunken mob of spring breakers visiting his town. Clearly older than most who appear on screen, he’s a hell of a hard partier himself and frequently courts danger with all of his shady connections with various gangs. He’s undoubtedly a misled man but when four young girls crash land in his life when they are arrested suddenly and need bail money to get out, Alien discovers he has something more buried underneath all those tattoos and cornrows. As the girls continue to stick around the scene, Alien becomes something of a protector (even if a more accurate term might be an enabler) to these. . e-hem, adventurous 18-year-olds. A fondness for Britney Spears and the color pink demonstrates a capacity for caring, a trait that wonderfully contradicts his physical appearance. Despite how transformative the supporting role is though, the film’s best asset is still Franco being Franco.
If you lose Franco, the film loses: it’s sense of humor. Despite the bikinis, bright colors and bumping soundtrack, Spring Breakers is a rather dark and morose series of events. Without Franco’s Alien, it’s not difficult to imagine the film becoming overburdened by melodrama. Alien is not only a creative, surprising character, he provides the film some much-needed comedic relief in a number of scenes. He may also be a big reason why some of the drama is created, especially in the film’s later stages, but the chief thing the film would lack without him would be any laughter at all. The girls, despite putting on good performances, are not what one would call generally likable and “funny,” even if some of their actions may cause a smirk. No, it is indeed James Franco who gives Spring Breakers a jolt of delicious entertainment.
Out of Character: “[Spring Breakers] is a critique and it’s a celebration, and I don’t think it wants to be any one thing. This movie is the ultimate mash-up. In a way, it has its cake and it eats it, too. If you want to read it one way, it’s a critique of pop culture; the way we are just more and more dealing with surface-level things and images and the way those things fill our lives. And on another level, it’s using that idea of ‘surfaces’ as an aesthetic choice. The movie really takes advantage of those music video, cell phone-video aesthetics. I think we all just were waiting for a movie like this to be a part of. It was sort of effortless, such fun.”
Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):
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