James Franco has written, directed and starred in a new biopic, The Broken Tower, which was released on Video on Demand and digital download on Tuesday. The man behind the mustache is Hart Crane, a homosexual Jazz Age poet who committed suicide at sea after a turbulent life full of love affairs, dense and difficult poetry and friendships with big literary names.
The self-consciously artsy black and white film is a series of biographical sketches, loosely structured on Crane's multipart poem "Voyages." But what you really want to know is that The Broken Tower features a shirtless Dave Franco (James's brother) and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Boardwalk Empire) plays Crane's lover, Emil Opffer Jr., in an extended love scene. The notorious moment of the film, of course, is when James Franco fellates a prosthetic penis, adding another drop in the bucket of times the actor has explored gay and gender themes on screen.
In 2008, Franco shared an onscreen kiss with Sean Penn inMilk
and in 2010, Franco played another gay poet, Allen Ginsberg, inHowl
. His first solo art show in New York was calledThe Dangerous Book Four Boys
, a play on the bookThe Dangerous Book for Boys
, a guidebook to all things "masculine," including tree house building and knot tying. A short film included in the show,Masculinity & Me
, featured explicit images of defecation, monologues on rape and violence and the line, "We're all gender-fucked -- we're all something in between, floating like angels."
Initial reviews for The Broken Tower have not been positive, but it wouldn't really be James Franco if they had been and it wouldn't really be James Franco without some oddity and boundary pushing.