Cleaning Out the DVR Yet Again #37: The Sound and the Fury (dir by James Franco)


(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Thursday, December 8th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)

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James Franco’s 2015 adaptation of William Faulkner’s classic novel, The Sound and The Fury, aired on Starz on November 2nd.

You know what?  Haters are going to hate but James Franco does more in an hour than most people do in a month.  Not only is James one of the most consistently interesting actors working today but he’s also a writer, a painter, a teacher, an activist, and a film director.

Indeed, it’s his work as a director that might be the most overlooked part of James’s prolific career.  Since making his directorial debut in 2006, with The Ape, James Franco has directed over 30 movies, television episodes, and short films.  As a director, James Franco has shown a talent for strong visuals and a willingness to take on difficult material.

For instance, can you imagine any other director who would have the guts to try to make a film out of The Sound and The Fury, the classic novel that may be the most unfilmable literary work this side of Finnegan’s Wake?

Told through the perspective of four related but very different characters, The Sound and The Fury details the fall of both the once mighty Compson family and the old South that the Compsons represent.  Benjy Compson is developmentally disabled and sees the world in a disjointed, nonlinear style.  Quinton Compson is fragile and sensitive and, while his section of the book starts in a fairly straight-forward enough manner, it quickly becomes nearly incoherent as Quinton’s mental state starts to deteriorate.  Jason Compson is cruel and evil but, because of his ruthless and self-centered personality, his section is the most straight-forward and the easiest to follow.  And finally, there’s Dilsey, the Compson family servant who is the only person to understand why the Compsons are in decline.  Faulkner utilized stream-of-consciousness throughout the entire novel, to such an extent that readers and critics are still debating just what exactly is happening and what Faulkner is actually saying.

In short, it takes courage to adapt a novel like The Sound and The Fury.  It takes even more courage when you’re an actor-turned-director who has his share of jealous haters.

Now, I should admit that James Franco was not the first director to attempt to make a film out of The Sound and The Fury.  In 1959, Martin Ritt made a version of the film, which reportedly did away with the nonlinear structure and centered the film around the straight-forward Jason.  (I haven’t seen the 1959 version.)  James Franco, on the other hand, not only adapts The Sound and The Fury but also adapts Faulkner’s style.

James Franco replicates the novel’s nonlinear structure and even takes on the role of Benjy himself.  It makes for a film that is occasionally frustrating and difficult to follow but which is also undeniably fascinating.  Filled with haunting images, James Franco’s The Sound and The Fury is a visual feast, one that perfectly captures the atmosphere of a decaying society.  The South, in this film, is trapped between the possibly imagined glories of the past and the harsh reality of the future.  There’s a dream-like intensity to the film.  It sticks with you.

As well, James Franco does an excellent job casting his film.  Tim Blake Nelson brings an enigmatic combination of grandeur and threat to the role of Mr. Compson and Jacob Loeb is haunting as the fragile Quentin.  Scott Haze dominates the film as the cruel Jason.  Though you never sympathize with Jason, you can understand how he became the man that he is.  Jason may not be a good man but, unlike the rest of the Compsons, you never doubt that he’s going to survive in one way or another.

James Franco took a big chance directing The Sound and The Fury and he succeeded.

 

The LAFCA Rejects Zero Dark Thirty And Embraces Amour


Oscar season continued today as the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named their picks for the best in 2012.  The winners are listed below:

BEST PICTURE
“Amour”
Runner-up: “The Master”

BEST DIRECTOR
Paul Thomas Anderson (“The Master”)
Runner-up: Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”)

BEST ACTOR
Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”)
Runner-up: Denis Lavant (“Holy Motors”)

BEST ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Dwight Henry (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)
Runner-up: Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams (“The Master”)
Runner-up: Anne Hathaway (“The Dark Knight Rises”; “Les Miserables”)

BEST SCREENPLAY
Chris Terrio (“Argo”)
Runner-up: David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)

BEST EDITING
Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg (“Zero Dark Thirty”)
William Goldenberg (“Argo”)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Roger Deakins (“Skyfall”)
Runner-up: Mihai Malaimare Jr. (“The Master”)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
“The Master”
Runner-up: “Moonrise Kingdom”

BEST MUSIC/SCORE
Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)
Runner-up: Johnny Greenwood (“The Master”)

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
“Holy Motors”
Runner-up: “Footnote”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Frankenweenie”
Runner-up: “It’s Such a Beautiful Day”

BEST DOCUMENTARY/NONFICTION FILM
“The Gatekeepers”
Runner-up: “Searching for Sugar Man

Over on Goldderby.com and AwardsDaily.com, all the usual suspects seem to be shocked that Zero Dark Thirty didn’t win best picture and happy that Beasts of the Southern Wild got some love.  A lot of the people leaving comments are also upset that The Master got as many votes as it did.  Over at Goldderby, one visitor found the time to comment, “Those votes for The Master should have been tossed in the trash, along with the film itself!” before going back to his usual routine of waiting to see if any celebs had responded to his twitter follow request.

As far as Amour winning best picture is concerned, I’m happy to see another film win a major critics’ award because seriously, Oscar season can get pretty boring when only one film is winning everything in sight.

As for Beasts of the Southern Wild, this is one of those times when I find myself respectfully disagreeing with just about every other reviewer out there (including our very own Leonth3Duke, whose excellent review can be read here).  The film had its moments (and I do think that Dwight Henry was the best thing in the film) but, for the most part, it left me cold.  Then again, I’ve never had much patience for the myth of the noble savage.

As for The Master, it’s one of the best of the year.  Deal with it.