As evinced by the recent 83rd annual Academy Awards, and the every-other-day piece of news that breaks, James Franco must sleep about 20 hours a week maximum, as he’s constantly announcing or working on some new enterprise. Not content with hosting the Oscars and tweeting at the same time, while starring on “General Hospital” and juggling a myriad of ventures, including films, short films, art projects and books, the “127 Hours” star — who did not win an Oscar this past Sunday — is teaming up with arthouse enfant terrible-turned-relatively-mellow, Harmony Korine (“Gummo,” “Mister Lonely,” “Trash Humpers“).
Having confirmed most of the details with Korine’s rep. the New York Post reports that Franco and Korine are collaborating on what sounds like a documentary-style video art project about capturing street gangs in the middle of fights. “The twist is they want the two gangs to fight, using real knives,” an anonymous source told the Post. “The production team is panicked that they’ll end up with blood, injuries and potentially dead bodies on set.”
This isn’t the first time Korine has tried to capture real-life violence on screen.
Circa the late 90s/early aughts and intended as a follow-up to “Gummo,” Korine and his illusionist friend David Blaine, collaborated together to make a project intended to be called “Fight Harm.” Having grown in infamy over the years, the project really was simply Korine giving Blaine a camera with instructions to secretly shoot him as he picked fights in the middle of the streets. After being savagely beaten several times and hospitalized, Korine abandoned the project.
At the Apple Store in 2008, David Blaine joined Korine onstage to describe the project explaining that Korine would provoke fights, but was never allowed to throw the first punch. “[Korine went after] two big guys standing there on a street corner [and he] slapped the food out of their [kids’] hands,” Blaine said. After prodding the “football-looking dude”s to fight they eventually, “clocked him, kicked him on the ground “like crazy,” and finally smashed him with a garbage can.
In the spring of 2010, Korine threatened to release the project in about ten years. “There are nine fights in total,” he told IFC last year. “Once I distilled it down to the pure violence, it was a little over 17 minutes. I go back and forth. My wife is really adamant about me not showing it at this point. She thinks I need to wait another ten years for it to be really funny. The only purpose of these fights was to make the world’s greatest slapstick comedy, something that Buster Keaton or The Three Stooges would have been jealous of.”
Surely what Franco and Korine are doing is distinctly different, but it does sound somewhat reminiscent of “Fight Harm.” Hopefully Franco knows that having his handsome mug pummeled beyond recognition is probably not a good look for his career.
Speaking of strange art projects, what happened to “Below the Waist, Above the Ankles” which he announced at the same Apple store event? It’s about a woman who puts her husband into a trance and can’t get him out of it. “He thinks he’s a goat and regurgitates eggs all day,” Korine said. Hard to say, Korine, like Franco is always dreaming up little projects with awesome titles — “What Makes Pistachio Nuts?” is the name of one screenplay that he lost in a house fire — but who knows if all, or any of them, will come to fruition. Last we heard Marlon Wayans was going star in Harmony Korine‘s next film titled“Twinkle Twinkle” about a former hitman who dresses up as a dollar bill. No, really.