I Am Michael

Yes or No_

Two James Franco movies in a row? What the hell is going on in the world? Well, I guess it serves me right for messing up Jillian’s first choice and only being able to find a non-subtitled copy, rendering it useless. This was Plan B.

I must admit I was attracted to the story and to Zachary Quinto‘s involvement – and this has been on my list for a little while, so I wasn’t that upset. Welcome to another post in April’s Based on a True Story category.

One man. Two lives.

I Am Michael (2015)

Based on the fascinating true-life story of Michael Glatze, a gay activist who becomes a Christian pastor after identifying as a heterosexual.

Starring: James Franco • Zachary Quinto • Emma Roberts

*Minor spoilers*

Michael (Franco) is in a happy, long term relationship with Bennett (Quinto). The pair live and work in San Francisco where Michael is a gay rights activist and editor of XY Magazine. Life is tough but good as the socially conscious pair explore the LGBT+ scene, sexual liberation and the challenges of being gay in the early noughties. They also get a dog together which is probably the most important milestone in this entire film, right?

You can do way better, Zach

All is well until Michael has a health scare, believing he is afflicted with the same heart condition that claimed his father’s life when he was just 13 (Michael, not his dad). His mother passed away six years later, when he was 19. Despite the doctors insistence that it is just a panic attack (later it is revealed that he has Celiac’s disease), it sends ripples of panic through Michael and he starts to question everything.

Unfortch, most of that is how his homosexuality can possibly live alongside his newfound religious beliefs – which it turns out, it can’t. So Michael explores several different faiths, including Mormonism and Buddhism, all the while renouncing cock, his friends and the gay lifestyle. This is a stinger for Bennett and their mutual friends who don’t understand Michael’s need to pursue his “true self”. And nobody can blame them for that.

Michael’s Frosted Tips Anonymous group was brutal at times

When Michael travels to Wyoming to attend a Christian bible camp, he meets Rebekah (Emma Roberts), a nice Christian girl also trying to figure out life (I hear you, gurl) – and they fall in love. Which is handy as Michael’s just about to become the pastor of his own church. How will Rebekah take the news of Michael’s fruity past?

Well, this film is fine but it’s pretty lack lustre if I’m honest. There’s nothing wrong with the performances but it’s very introspective and boring at times. I mean, the story is astonishing – and even though I am against it in so many ways – it is a true account of one man’s journey so I have to accept that.

I do have sympathy for anyone struggling with finding themselves and if Michael lived the life he truly wanted to then you can’t really argue with that. I just find it awful in one of the final scenes when he speaks to Bennett and refers to his former choices as ‘abnormal’.

Some of the secondary characters are pretty good, I have a lot of time for third wheel Tyler (Charlie Carver) who’s just adorable. But this is quite forgettable and it didn’t command my full attention either – so I haven’t hit you with a lot of detail because I was pottering around for a lot of it.

“I’m a hetero, CIS white guy now so you will listen to my bullshit…”

James Franco for the record irritates me so fucking much. He’s just so skeezy and I hope he doesn’t pop up in too many of our future films. Maybe we should ban him.

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does wifey thing of our Plan B movie? Would she advocate for it like a boss or renounce it soon as look at it? Find out here, obvs where Jill gives a way more detailed take on the whole situation.

True Story

Yes or No_ (30)

More based on a true story action in the form of this murder mystery starring a man I want to cuddle and a man I want to slap the shit out of.

Let’s see if you can tell which is which from my words.

“I just called…”

True Story (2015)

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo – who has taken on Finkel’s identity – his investigation morphs into a game of cat-and-mouse.

Starring: James Franco • Jonah Hill • Felicity Jones

Michael Finkel (my boo Jonah Hill) is a promising NY Times journalist with ten cover stories to his name. He’s riding high and expecting a Politzer nom when he’s called into his boss’ office to discuss his last story – an expose on modern slavery.

Unfortunately, rather than picking up a prize, he’s soon clearing his desk when it becomes obvious he may have embellished quite a lot of the story. Claiming he must have got mixed up, his bosses believe he’s used a composite character as the focus of the article. Breaking the rules of Journalism 101, you naughty boy.

Returned from NYC back to his wife (Felicity Jones) and home in Montana, Finkel is finding it predictably difficult to find work, given the accusations leveled at him. But things pick up when he receives a call from the editor of The Oregonian, asking for a quote on the Christian Longo story. Longo (eternal douche pony James Franco) stands accused of murdering his wife and three children – and is in clink awaiting trial.

Franco was not a fan of Christa Bass’ NY Times article, “Ten Things I Hate About James Franco”.

Well, Finkel apparently doesn’t keep up with news these days as he has no idea about the case. When he asks the caller why he should have a view on the story, he is told that when arrested, Longo was pretending to be Michael Finkel. Of the New York Times.

Oooooh!

What follows is a bizarre friendship blossoming between the two men, who figure they have more in common that they could ever have imagined. And Finkel’s career looks set to take an upturn when he decides to make Longo’s story into a book – one that the pair will write together.

The main question throughout True Story is – did Longo do it though?

Well, I won’t reveal the ending but I will say that the relationship between the men is complex and it puts a strain on Finkel’s marriage to Jill. Jill obviously can’t get her head around the need to understand the inner workings of a(n alleged) killer’s mind.

“No way is Franco coming over for tea…”

Finkel wants to believe in his new friend but Longo isn’t always frank and there are some curve balls thrown on the way to uncovering the ultimate truth…

Well. This is kind of dull really, though the story itself if quite explosive. What a shame. Jonah can’t be blamed for this one as he puts in a solid turn as disgraced journo Finkel who looks super cute in his glasses.

I am biased towards Franco, I can’t deny it but he really phones in this performance. I get as a character he’s quite closed off to the truth but he just looks smug the whole way through. I guess in some ways this does work for the character, who shows little remorse or feeling throughout, but a little bit of nuance would have been nice.

The women in this film are just side pieces – supporters and victims – and that’s quite annoying. The result, without proper padding of the relationships of the men, is rather flat.

There are flashbacks to happier times for Longo and his wife MJ (Maria Dizzia), with devoted father montages threaded throughout but these are just aftershocks and don’t fully paint a picture or a motive. Therefore you never really give a damn about either of the men but Longo even less.

It’s not bad, it just doesn’t have the oomph I would have liked.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my girl Jill think of True Story? Would she lie to it or write a book about its innocence? Find out here.