Thursday, July 31, 2014
CHILD OF GOD - SCOTT HAZE AND JAMES FRANCO
CHILD OF GOD is a brilliant, honest, earthy, intense film, directed and co-scripted by James Franco, from a novel by Cormac McCarthy. Scott Haze portrays the title character -- Lester Ballard, a degenerate, dangerous outsider -- with one of the most spectacular film performances ever: Scott's intense, natural, and human performance of such an extreme character.
The main character (and the story) is brutal. (Note: Several veteran, older, female film critics at the New York Film Festival told me they found the film almost impossible to watch.)
In order to portray such a difficult character, who is rooted in a distant, rural Tennessee, with a reality that seems to completely inhabit the character within his country environment, Scott prepared by spending months and months and months in Tennessee with bootleggers, learning to shoot a rifle, and living in isolation in caves, ingesting the environment.
WATCH HERE FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH SCOTT HAZE
IN QPORIT AND YOUTUBE.COM/QPORIT
Ballard is treated by Franco and by Scott Haze matter-of-factly, without condemnation nor excess compassion, but rather in the spirit of the story: As McCarthy writes, in first describing Ballard:
There is a vast difference between Ballard and Haze. Yes, Haze is acting! though watching the film one might wonder: the portrayal is so convincingly real and harrowing.
Photo by Eric Roffman
Scott himself created a theater (the black-box Sherry Theater in LA), where he has acted, directed and written, producing everything from Shakespeare to modern plays and a film-festival. He met James Franco when they studied acting together in LA, and is part of an ad-hoc repertory group that has been featured in varying roles in varying projects with James Franco.
Scott Haze is at this moment live in New York starring in THE LONG SHRIFT (directed by James Franco) at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater off Broadway. (See below!)
James Franco is a scholar of film and literature. He is a PhD student in English at Yale, studying the presentation of classic stories across different media. He has multiple degrees in creative writing and filmmaking. He has published interesting articles of film criticism, a book of poetry, and has numerous film and theater credits (as an actor, writer and director), based on novels and poetry. His adaptation of CHILD OF GOD seems to me uncannily accurate in conveying the content, style and mood of the original.
Franco has just completed a run on Broadway in John Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN, a story that in its very conception was designed to be simultaneously a novella and a play. (Note: The production has reportedly been filmed for broadcast at a later date.)
Both in his portrayal of George in OF MICE AND MEN (OMAM) and in his work as a director and co-screenwriter of CHILD OF GOD (COG), Franco’s take is an intense but dispassionate portrayal of the main character (George in OMAM and Ballard in COG have kindred elements), which is not sentimental, not overtly judgmental, and not explanatory, but rather straightforward, honest, and unflinching.
In OF MICE AN MEN, to not explain the character is an especially interesting acting choice, since, for example, the play seems to cry out for an explanation of why George and Lenny are together; and, in other respects, Steinbeck’s script is full of explicit foreshadowing.
Note: among the ideas thrown out for why George stays with Lenny, but mostly denied, are:
• the idea of a homosexual connection (George seems blissfully unaware of this possibility);
• an idea that George is exploiting Lenny's strength (denied by George);
• that they have a family connection (probably not true);
• that they have been friends since they were classmates in school (probably true);
• that George is more involved in the episode of "false" accusation of "rape" in the town of Weeds, than we are told about (no direct evidence, but maybe: they were both hunted, they escaped together).
Other films inspired by literary choices, in addition to OF MICE AND MEN and CHILD OF GOD, made by Franco include Faulkner’s AS I LAY DYING and THE SOUND AND THE FURY (which premieres at the Venice Film Fest in a few weeks), and a documentary on poet Charles Bukowski (described by Wikipedia as a writer of "transgressive fiction", something much akin to the nature of the stories in “Of Mice And Men” and “Child Of God”).
Franco's sometime "slacker/stoner" persona seems related to his dramatic aesthetic in these stories, because it implies a laissez faire attitude toward whatever humans do. “What is, is.” It suggests description and evocation, rather than judgmental explanation. Human behavior is too complex and subtle for fatuous explanations.
He really seemed to be enjoying himself
signing autographs and taking CELfies with his fans
at the stage door for OF MICE AND MEN
immediately! after a matinee.
Photo by Eric Roffman
(Note: A CELfie is a selfie taken with yourself and a CELebrity -- I just made that up, I think. Google didn't find it. It did show CELfie as a selfie taken by a CELL phone, or in a jail CELL.)
In addition to his own study and scholarship, Franco has taught classes at NYU, UCLA, USC CalArts, and Yale, and is developing his own acting studio, STUDIO 4 (see the link below) in LA and NY.
CHILD OF GOD TRAILER
CHILD OF GOD TEASER-TRAILER
SCOTT HAZE - WIKIPEDIA
SCOTT HAZE - IMDB
SCOTT HAZE’S SHERRY THEATER
THE LONG SHRIFT
The Long Shrift
by Robert Boswell
directed by James Franco
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
224 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014
Richard Singer, a dorky teenage boy is accused and thrown in jail for rape, tearing his parents apart. Now, nine years later, Richard is out of jail and his accuser is back in his life.
Cormac McCarthy, (81 a few days ago), the author of the novella, CHILD OF GOD, also wrote ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, BLOOD MERIDIAN, and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, made by the Coen Brothers into an Oscar winning film, among numerous other novels, short fiction, and screenplays.
CORMAC MCCARTHY - WIKIPEDIA
ALL CORMAC MCCARTHY ITEMS
James Franco, 36, has more than 99 acting credits since 1997, 24 directing credits, and 17 writing credits. Reportedly, he hates sleeping because he has too many interesting things to do.
JAMES FRANCO - WIKIPEDIA
JAMES FRANCO – IMDB
STUDENT FRANCO – COMMENTS BY HIS THESIS ADVISOR AT YALE
ALL JAMES FRANCO ITEMS
SHARE THIS STORY!