“What has James Franco been up to lately?” is something I often find myself wondering, probably more than is necessary or entirely healthy. The answer, unsurprisingly, is a whole lot. Franco jump-started 2013 with his own music video of Justin Bieber’s hit song “Boyfriend.” Is it a parody? An earnest piece of fan art? A post-modern commentary on the very nature of celebrity, as manifested through the artificial construct that is the Biebs? Who the fuck cares? It’s James Franco! With bangs!
Next up is the ridiculous Spring Breakers trailer starring, naturally, James Franco with cornrows. The movie, slated for a March release, looks like an instant classic: Selena Gomez-in-a-bikini and three of her best buds meet James Franco-with-grillz and start committing minor felonies. It’s basically Thelma & Louise plus two more chicks, if Thelma and Louise loved making out with each other in bikinis while simultaneously rolling around in piles of cash. Franco’s character, Alien (what?), is clearly going to be the best part of this movie, casually pulling off lines like: “Bikinis and big booties, y’all! That’s what life is about.” I’m excited, you guys.
But that’s just mainstream, Hollywood Franco! Any Franco round up would be incomplete without exploring his side projects— thought-provoking, nuanced works that usually feature lots of sex. Franco has two such projects coming out at Sundance this year: Interior. Leather Bar. and Kink. Interior. Leather Bar. is an experimental documentary (emphasis on experimental) that catalogues Franco and co-director Travis Mathews’ attempt to recreate “lost footage” from Cruising, a provocative 1980 gay thriller. Kink, which Franco produced, is a little more mainstream. It's just your average, run-of-the-mill documentary about Kink.com, a website that’s the largest online producer of original BDSM content. This trailer is intense. And pretty graphic. Graphic like you will definitely want to delete your entire Internet history after you watch it. And then maybe burn your computer. And then find another computer and watch it again. Classic Franco.
In a Vulture interview about his penchant for exploring gay sex and sexual taboos in his work, Franco explained, “I don’t like the fact that I’ve been brought up to think a certain way…and what that is is straight-normative behavior…Every fucking story is a dude who wants to be with a girl, and the only way they’re gonna end up happy is if they walk off in the sunset together. I’m fucking sick of that shit, so if there’s a way for me to break that up in my own mind, I’m all for it.” I love Franco for being an intelligent actor who always makes his own weird, crazy, kinky path. But srsly James, why won't you walk off into the sunset with me?