What a load of wank. In James Franco’s masturbatory ode to youth, weed, and partying it up with attractive high school girls, he’s managed to make life imitate art onscreen with a sleazy Lolita love story starring himself as Humbert-the-gym-teacher-Humbert. Equipped with the perfect director to peddle his pretentious autobiographical tales of growing up in suburban California (in the form of the latest Coppola to network her way into the industry), the whole thing is so up its own arse it probably can’t even hear the indie synth soundtrack. Eff off Franco, no one likes you.
Loathe as I am to criticise anything showcasing the delights of travel photography and Kristen Wiig, this film reminds me of Britney Spears circa-2007: sweet, beautiful, but a bit of a mess. Stiller’s latest go at directing is filled with breath-taking images and earnest stabs at making a point about life the universe and everything, but boils down to a mish-mash of sequences of disjointed if beautiful cinematography disguising a very run-of-the-mill romance plot-line. Somehow Mitty transforms from dull office worker into “Indiana Jones playing for the Strokes” in the clumsiest hour-long character development possible, and it just doesn’t quite work.
I watched Samsara on a big screen, and it’s the only way to do it. The film is phenomenal. Beautiful, intelligent and eye-opening, full of sequences and stills that will stick in your head for weeks and a soundtrack that crosses every continent and back again. Ron Fricke has made a film about globalisation and culture that isn’t didactic but only breath-taking, making you stop and think while your mouth hangs open. Samsara is the best film I’ve seen all year and probably longer – and all without any dialogue at all. Amazing.