As I Lay Dying: Filming the ‘Unfilmable’


As I Lay Dying (2013)
Directed by James Franco
Screenplay by James Franco and Matt Rager
Based on the novel by William Faulkner


As I Lay Dying is James Franco’s seventh feature-length film as a director, but only his second to receive much of a release. The first was The Broken Tower, a biography of the poet Hart Crane, which was completed as his MFA thesis for NYU. Despite the fact that Focus picked it up and it starred Franco and Michael Shannon, that film felt like a student film through and through, and Franco received the critical berating he earned. Two years later, he’s back with another difficult work of American Modernism.

James Franco kind of stepped into a minefield with this one. The literary crowd is unimpressed with his famoused-my-way-into-a-book-deal poetry and prose, and his more mainstream fans are turned off by his occasional excursions into ‘pretentious shit’. Here, then, is a way to alienate two distinct fan bases at once.

I must just be a contrarian, because these are the sorts of films that interest me most.
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The Lords of Salem: A Love Letter To A Lost Genre


The Lords of Salem (2013)
Written & Directed by Rob Zombie
101 min.

Mild spoilers.

If there’s one movie trend I can totally get behind, it’s the “B Movie Love Letter”. It’s almost its own genre at this point. Recent examples include Neil Marshall’s Doomsday, Wright and Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (and their upcoming The World’s End), Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained (really his whole catalogue), Ti West’s House of the Devil, Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone, and Peter Travis’ Dredd. And Star Wars and Indiana Jones are some not so recent examples. These filmmakers mine their inspirations for their best aspects and transplant them into modern productions—which are almost inevitably better than the movies they pay homage to, as the ‘originals’ were often made quickly and on the cheap just to provide cheap thrills and make a buck or two. Dredd was much talked about last year, and I’m hoping The Lords of Salem gets similar attention this year, because it’s even more fun.
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