In the latest edition of his Indiewire column James + Semaj—which has Franco discussing films with his “reverse self” Semaj—Franco and his imaginary friend discuss The Lobster, the new dystopian sci-fi film starring Colin Farrell.
The Lobster is about a society in which single people are given 45 days to pair off with someone or get turned into an animal. (Farrell’s character says he wants to be a lobster.) James + Semaj is full of weird digressions between Franco and his other self, like this bit where they spend some time bickering about Kafka.
Semaj: Just call it Kafka-esque. That’s what we call this kind of story where people are subject to insane power structures—furthermore, a power structure that can turn you into an animal, anyone reminded of The Metamorphosis? Hell, you could have called that story “The Cockroach.”
James: Or “The Dung Beetle,” according to Nabokov.
James: Vladimir Nabokov used to teach The Metamorphosis at Cornell, and he insisted Gregor Sampson turned into a dung beetle, or something like that, rather than a cockroach. Something to do with the translation, I don’t know.
Which is followed up by them arguing about which animal Farrell most resembles:
James: Ferrell asks for a lobster because they can live as long as a hundred years (I had no idea!) and they can mate for their entire lives.
Semaj: It’s a funny choice, not what you would ever expect, but it shows that he wants to live a long time and have companionship more than anything. A life-long companionship.
James: Colin Farrell is so good in it. I don’t know if his character resembles a lobster but…
Semaj: No, he doesn’t resemble a lobster, that’s what he’s going to turn into if he doesn’t get a mate…
James: I know, I’m just saying, the title infers that he’s a lobster already.
Semaj: He’s more like some kind of passive, chubby land animal, with the cute face of a chipmunk.
If you get through this, there’s actually a lot of clever analysis of what sounds like an interesting, challenging movie. Franco (and Semaj, for that matter) do a great job of making the movie sound worth watching. They also do an amazing job of showing exactly how weird James Franco’s brain really is.