I like this James Franco chap. Always have. Part of it, I think, is that he never seems like he's slumming. It would have been real easy to phone in Harry Osborne in Spider-Man -- it seems like such a thankless role -- but he wound up giving one of the most finely calibrated performances in the franchise. It would have been even easier to milk his heartthrob qualities for a banal and lucrative career. Instead, he's constantly doing something challenging. And even when he's not, e.g. in total junk food like Annapolis, he tries to add value.

I think I like the guy even more after this story. Franco is enrolled in the masters program in directing at NYU -- points for both ambition ("I want to direct") and humility ("I need to learn how"). (Apparently he's also, simultaneously, getting his masters in English from Columbia, which is sort of insane.) Before heading off to film David Gordon Green's follow-up to Pineapple Express, Franco will headline a low-budget project directed by his professor, Jay Anania.

Anania -- little brother to Elizabeth Edwards, weird fact! -- last directed Martin Donovan and Olympia Dukakis in the little-seen Day of Fire, an avant-garde take on post-9/11 New York. The new movie, saddled with the rather precious title In Praise of Shadows, tells the story of a dude who returns to New York City after four years "in exile" (?) to rescue a woman from the mob.

I guess it helps to have a famous student -- especially one without a bloated ego.
categories Movies, Cinematical