How can anyone not love James Franco? And how can any gay man not dream of waiting for him outside his trailer on the studio lot, injecting a sedative into his neck Dexter-style, dragging him behind the trailer, removing his clothes, taking a few photos, re-dressing him, taking him to the airport, booking a flight on Southwest Airlines to Las Vegas, hauling him to a wedding chapel, marrying him, taking him home to meet Mom and Dad, buying a new house together, shopping at Pottery Barn for furniture, and having his babies – all before he wakes up?
Franco is turning out to be a true Renaissance Man. He started out on TV (he was great in Freaks and Geeks), moved on to blockbuster movies like Spider-Man and its two sequels, and won our hearts with his gay turn in Milk. Then he decided to mix things up by “slumming it” on daytime TV in General Hospital, a move that surprised many in Hollywood. Most recently, he’s written a book of short stories. And posed in drag for a transsexual magazine.
It’s his daring performances and apparent lack of fear that makes him so adorable to us. And he’s a pretty damned good actor on top of all that.
In Howl, which we thought was a horror movie about werewolves when we went to see it, is about the iconographic poem of the same name written by Beat Generation figurehead Allen Ginsberg, a counter-culture leader whose provocative works led to his book publisher to go on trial for distributing indecent material. Ginsberg’s homosexuality, a fact he chose not to hide, eventually led him to a mental institution, but also to true love.
The film is a wonderful collage of real footage and photographs, black-and-white recreations, and our favorite part – vivid, hallucinogenic animated sequences that bring the words of his poem to life. And because his poem is filled with “indecent” material, expect lots of animated wieners and vajayjays (but mostly wieners). It’s just like what we wished Fantasia had been like when we were little kids. Less Mickey Mouse, more Schlongie Schlong.
The cast is stellar and includes David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, Treat Williams and Bob Balaban. Clearly, they all saw the merit in Ginsberg’s work and appreciated the opportunity to act in a truly unique film that could garner several of the actors supporting nods come Oscar time. As for Franco, here’s hoping he gets a Lead Actor statue for this one.
But even if he doesn’t, he’ll always be our leading man. And we’re happy to place him on a pedestal.
Open in select theaters, with wider release every week