Thursday, March 25, 2010

Required Reading: "Just Before the Black" by James Franco

It's rare these days that a talented actor can be found in Hollywood - save for those of old. Enter James Franco: At first, I think nothing of him. He's just the pretty boy cast to play Peter Parker's best friend in Spider-Man. Like any nerd, this deeply insults me.

Still there's something alluring about James Franco that I can't quite point out - at least, not during the first movie. Two Spider-Man sequels later, I watch a little film called Pineapple Express where Franco plays drug dealer/best friend to the main character played by that fat guy whose name I hardly remember. Then it hits me: James Franco has talent. Fuck that - he's brimming with talent. He's a guy who's not using the term actor loosely in this world of Robert Pattinsons. 

Then an explosion of sorts happens when I discover the April 2010 issue of Esquire in my mailbox one afternoon. Not only is the ever sexy Tina Fey on the cover, but within its pages also lies a short story by one James Franco. Surely this cannot be the James Franco who has won our hearts over the years. No man can have that much talent, right? 

I turned to page 20 only to find out that yes, it is that James Franco. I also learned that he's coming out with a book called Palo Alto this coming October, published by Scribner.  It's a collection of short stories and I'm guessing that "Just Before the Black" is one of its features. Steady now - we all know that actors want to be more than just actors and usually fail at doing their moonlighting jobs. Could James Franco be a great writer? 

I wasn't even done with the piece when I called El Senor and told him he had to go out and buy a copy of Esquire only to read the story. Hell, I'd lend him mine if he didn't want to pay for it. Because James Franco is a great writer, or at least he has promise of being a great writer. 

In this short story, James writes about life right before death. Only someone with great talent can pull this off. I tip my hat to you, James. Well played, hombre.

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