Friday, May 24, 2024

James Franco’s Big Weekend; Paul Weller Jams Up the Apollo


James Franco had a big big weekend. His movie, Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours,” sold out all its shows in a limited run in New York and Los Angeles. When it goes wide, “127 Hours” is headed for huge box office. It’s deserved. Franco–who spent the weekend shooting his movie about Hart Crane–with his mom, Betsy, playing Crane’s mom just the way she played Franco’s mom on “General Hospital.”

Many people I spoke to over the weekend were still voicing resistance at seeing the movie because Franco as Aron Ralston cuts his arm off. My joke is, most actors would cut off their right arms to have these reviews and this first weekend box office! Look: Ralston is alive and well, and thriving. The arm cutting constitutes about five minutes toward the end of the film. It’s not so bad, and nothing we haven’t seen–or worse–in lots of much more violent films. Boyle has made a great and entertaining film. Franco is off-the-charts good.

My prediction: in the end, the Oscar race is really going to be between “The King’s Speech” and “127 Hours” with some strong jockeying from “The Social Network.” Everything else from all the Oscar bloggers/blabbers is just filler…

Paul Weller made his name with The Jam, a rebellious punk group rooted in R&B, in the late 1970s. Then Weller ditched The Jam and went heavy into soul with The Style Council. That’s two careers. Career #3 has been as a solo act for about 10 years. He’s also had three wives, so maybe there’s some correlation. Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed his work.

Weller did a show on Saturday night at the famed Apollo Theater to promote his new “Wake Up the Nation” CD. Some of it was grand; some of it was perplexing. The long guitar solos eschewed by punk rockers like Weller are now interminably thrown into some of his songs. Numbers like “Wake Up the Nation” and “No Tears to Cry” were punchy and perfect. His reworked version of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet it Is to Be Loved By You” is slow and smoldering.

A couple of old hits like “Start,” “Pretty Green,” and “Shout to the Top” were most welcome. Weller should draw more from his popular catalog. And am I wrong, or does an odd new song called “Trees” actually sample Paul McCartney’s “Helen Wheels”? Weird.

Paul Weller photo c2010 Ann Lawlor for Showbiz411 despite the overzealous security at the Apollo on Saturday night.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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