At one point, the prospect of a Jonah Hill/James Franco movie meant lots of bro’ing out, a great many creative plays on names for male genitalia and, presumably, a whole lot of weed. But both Hill and Franco have come a long way since their early years as members of the Apatow troupe: Franco remains modern cinema’s most committed dilettante (anyone who has the balls to try and adapt Faulkner at least gets points for chutzpah, and then there’s his now-percolating take on John Steinbeck’s great “In Dubious Battle”) while Hill has experienced the blessed good fortune to work with some of our most gifted working directors, including Martin Scorsese in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the Coen Brothers in their upcoming Tinseltown farce “Hail Caesar!”
Hill and Franco’s latest collaboration is Rupert Goold’s “True Story,” a twisty, ice-pick-sharp psychological drama about a man, Christian Longo (Franco), who stands accused of killing his wife and daughter, and what happens when he assumes the identity of Michael Finkel, a reporter working for the New York Times (Hill). Goold’s film – which takes place in the world of professional journalism and examines the kind of broad ethical breaches that seem to be ubiquitous in the media lately – has received generally favorable reviews from critics, including our own Katie Walsh, who called it “exceptionally well made” and praised the performances of both Hill and co-star Felicity Jones. And now, just a month away from the film’s release, we have a new featurette, along with a clip from the film and some chilling TV spots to give you a further look inside the dark and disturbing world of “True Story.”
In the clip, Hill’s Finkel is meeting Franco’s dead-eyed killer in prison for what looks like the first time. The mood is thick with dread, with Franco in particular staring off into space and flashing his creepy Richard Ramirez smile at the most inappropriate times. Both actors appear to be engaged in a game of sick mental one-upsmanship, and the bond at stake here appears to be a powerful one – and certainly nothing if not peculiar. There’s also some new footage in this brief behind-the-scenes vid, along with interviews with the assorted cast members and first-time director Goold. The TV spots seem to be playing up the more sordid elements of the “True Story” case – a wise move given the recent popularity of something like HBO’s “The Jinx” – although reviews have suggested it’s more of a slow-burning procedural than these sensational ads might suggest. Hill and Franco are both gifted performers in their own right, and I will see “True Story,” if for no other reason then to witness these two idiosyncratic, challenging young actors pushing themselves resolutely out of their comfort zones. I guess we’ll have to see what all the fuss is about come April 17th.