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James Franco Calls 'The Social Network' "Classically Made" But Conventional

by Cory Everett
January 26, 2011 4:18 AM
11 Comments
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Actor/director/writer/painter/Oscar host James Franco stopped by the Movieline suite at Sundance to discuss his latest film, Best Picture nominee “127 Hours,” as well as its competitor and possible frontrunner “The Social Network.” In the candid and clearly uncoached interview (his PR agent is probably having a freak out right now), Franco says that he believes “127 Hours” was the most innovative movie of 2010 and for a movie supposedly about technology, “The Social Network” is actually a very straightforward narrative.

“I know I’m biased; I think it’s the most innovative movie this year. Look, ‘Social Network’ is about new technology and how people are communicating now? Or it’s supposed to be? They don’t deal with any of that! It’s a very classically structured movie and classically made movie. “127 Hours” is about a guy — one single character in a single place. That is like the cutting edge of moviemaking. Short of, like, doing it in 3-D or something. I think [“127 Hours”] is perfect. The fact that people are scared shows they just want the old. They want more of the old, boring stuff.”

He basically sums up what everyone under 50 already knew about “The Social Network”, in that, as well made and entertaining as it is, 'Network' does not “define a generation.” Hell, it’s hardly about the actual technology, it’s a courtroom drama told in multiple flashbacks, not exactly reinventing the wheel. We’re pretty sure David Fincher wouldn’t disagree with him. He goes on to say that even Sundance, supposedly a place for fresh new voices, is not immune to these familiar stories. “I’ve seen, like, three love stories here at Sundance. Traditional love stories! It’s the same old! [Laughs] Two white people… How many time have you seen the story where two white people can’t be together? How many times have you seen that story? Romeo and Juliet! It’s 400 years old! Yeah. I mean, they’re well made movies, but the story itself…”

While we’re not sure “127 Hours” was the most innovative film of last year either, we admire Franco for saying what was on his mind in regards to “The Social Network.” We love Fincher but the film is, by his own admission, a movie about friendships and not trying to rip the lid off anything. We suspect that a few older critics got a little overexcited with their praise of the film and made it out to be something it's not. Watch the full video below via Movieline.

“127 Hours” is expanding onto 600 screens this Friday to capitalize on today’s 6 Oscar nominations so if you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth catching in the theater. Unless you want more of the old, boring stuff.

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11 Comments

  • rodie | January 27, 2011 12:13 AMReply

    I really like Franco, and I admire him for many reasons, but I do disagree with him here. His statements have the air of bias. While The Social Network may not have pushed boundaries in terms of what a mainstream movie can do when it focuses on new technology, you cannot fault Fincher and Sorkin for that because that was not their intention in making the film. They looked at a modern phenomenon and its creator and found universal themes in his story and centered the film around those themes. It may not be innovative, but it resulted in a great movie.

  • ryan | January 26, 2011 6:58 AMReply

    when someone does as many projects as franco, he needs as much goodwill as he can get. as a rule, he probably shouldn't be talking about how he's acting in the best movie of the year, as it makes him sound like a punk, and i really don't think he is one.

  • Katie | January 26, 2011 6:12 AMReply

    First, the sound....second, it's not so funny...

  • Bill | January 26, 2011 5:49 AMReply

    I like Franco but his film wasn't all that inventive. It was good but it's not like Danny Boyle embraced the concept of being locked in one environment with his crazy edit tricks, flashbacks, dream sequences, etc etc. It's a great film but it's not as inventive as the films that developed the single location gimmick- Lifeboat, Rope, Obsession, 12 Angry Men, or even the recent Phone Booth & Buried. The Social Network is a simple story told well. 127 Hours is also a simple story told well but with far too many trick gimmicks to make sure you never feel trapped.
    I don't know. I like Franco, hard to fault the guy, but a lot of the things he does seem to just reek of ego trip (a mockumentary about Thanksgiving at the House De Franco? really?). It's easy to be blase about films at Sundance that go with the boy meets girl formula when you can make ANY film you want after a decade of collecting checks playing the bad guy, the stoner, or the male romantic lead (Eat,Pray,Love must've paid BIG BUCKS). People will watch a 90 minute film about a dude alone because it stars James Franco. Few would watch a 90 minute film starring Joe Nobody alone.
    Oh well, I just hope Franco doesn't become a more attractive Kevin Smith.

  • Liana | January 26, 2011 5:47 AMReply

    I agree that The Social Network is nothing new, and has little to do with Facebook as it does to relationships and friendship. I love Franco, still I found nothing new or innovative about 127 hours. I did enjoy it, but it was no new stretch. Also, best adapted screenplay is laughable.

  • zatopek | January 26, 2011 3:28 AMReply

    The Social Network is about a guy who invents the world's most popular social networking system, but who himself is socially inept. Oh, the irony!

  • rodie | January 26, 2011 2:56 AMReply

    They need to do a taped bit at the Oscars with Franco and Hathaway shooting "teaser" commercials for the Oscars in which they mention each of the BEST PICTURE nominees in the promo, and then we see their between-take banter where they are ripping on the movies they just promo'd. That would be good, and then Hathaway could take a dig at 127 Hours, too.

  • ken | January 26, 2011 2:53 AMReply

    So are you guys just finding different ways to talk negatively about The Social Network or what? You KNOW you guys gave it a rave review in the beginning but now you're trying to backtrack because it's gotten rave reviews all across the board. It seems like every other day, you guys just have to find a way to say "uh dudes, the social network was good, but not THAT good... fincher didn't even think it was that good!" Ignoring the fact that Fincher is a pretty modest guy in general and probably said those things to diffuse all the extremely positive buzz.

    I'm just saying you need to cool it. It's still a great film. Obviously not as good as Peter Travers proclaimed it to be and maybe it's not deserving of all the awards it's getting, but can we really fault the film for that?

  • carrie | January 26, 2011 2:53 AMReply

    he may adore "buried":a guy in a box during 1H30 and it's not boring

  • Kevin | January 26, 2011 2:31 AMReply

    I hope part of his Oscar hosting duties include reviews of all the competing films and actors.
    I really liked 127 Hours and felt that most of the gimmicks paid off nicely in the end but it doesn't come off as innovative even though the filmmaking process, including two different DPs, appears to be a break from the norm.
    Although in terms of defining a generation, I'd say 127 Hours does actually define us today more than The Social Network. I've felt like it was kind of the It's A Wonderful Life of this generation but, instead of seeing what life would have been without him, it was about how the lives of his loved ones had already pretty much been without him. (But, no, it's not an all-time classic like It's A Wonderful Life.) Whether it's rock climbing of surfing the web, I feel like most people are disconnected today and sadly it will take being literally caught between a rock and a hard place to make us appreciate what we have had around us.

  • Mike_M | January 26, 2011 2:19 AMReply

    I was highly, highly disappointing by 127 Hours, from the score and the use of gimmicks throughout the whole movie by Boyle. Both movies are basic stories really and I was way more interested in TSN over 127. I think 127 needed to be grounded in a bit more reality, the triptych should not have been used as much as it was and maybe some music that actually related to the character in real life (Phish)...

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