ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

It's not one of James Franco's best films, but it's still a small, ferocious, modern classic.

1. James Franco is one of the most secretly prolific filmmakers around. He has appeared in over 100 films and TV shows, and has directed over 20 movies. He's one of the few people that I consider to be a true artist. This film continues his fascination with the early 20th century American South.

2. It's based on Cormac McCarthy's novel, the guy that gave us No Country for Old Men and The Road. So you know it's not going to be cheerful.

3. It's about a guy named Lester Ballard. The movie begins with him losing his property in an auction, which cuts his last fragile ties with society. The rest of the movie depicts his increasing isolation from everyone around him.

4. When Lester makes some stuffed animal friends, and finds a girlfriend (well, not exactly a girlfriend, but kind of), you know he's on a downward spiral.

5. Scott Haze plays Lester. He's not well known, but his performance here is crazy fierce. And it takes a special quality to let yourself be filmed pooping in the woods.

6. The cinematography isn't as creative as some of Franco's other films, and it's a little rough around the edges. But the storytelling makes up for that.

7. Franco is not afraid of confronting taboos, and he depicts one particular taboo in this movie that will not sit well with some people.

8. The movie has gotten bad reviews, but I disagree. I think the critics are being too harsh, and are hoping for things that movie wasn't trying to do.

9. This is a grotesque, sad tragedy of social and sexual deviance in an environment where such things can go uncaught for a long time. It's not a feel-good film, but it is a valuable contribution to exposting the lie of the American Dream.

What did you think? If you've read the book, how does it match up? Let us know!


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