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The Legend of James Franco

Ever since four first-year students ran into James Franco during orientation at A-1 Pizza, the legend of James Franco has been growing within the Yale SOM community. There were James Franco sightings at Louis’ Lunch, Blue State Coffee and the Yale Repertory Theater. And then there was last night. A few lucky SOMers celebrated the end of Fall 1 classes by attending a screening of “Howl,” the new film about the famed poet Alan Ginsberg. The screening was put on by the Yale University Whitney Humanities Center and with a theater capacity of only 200 people; seats were in high demand. As my opening paragraph alluded to, this was not a regular screening. “Howl” stars fellow Yale graduate student James Franco, who was kind of enough to partake in a post-screening question-and-answer session. While the film was excellent, the highlight for me was what happened after the film. James Franco, who is an English and Film Studies student, was brought onstage with one of his classmates to briefly discuss the artistic merits of the film before opening the floor to questions. The real life James Franco is … a graduate student and with two of his literary professors in attendance, was itching for serious questions. Unfortunately, they were few and far between. Questions ranged from the silly (“How are you?”) to the ridiculous (“James, your performance was really good, but was it too good?”). When asked why the director cast “Don Draper” as a serious lawyer, James, slightly annoyed by the question, responded that Jon Hamm is an actor and should not be expected to always play the same role. Though he did note how snarky the Yale Daily News has been, James was composed and provided a truly entertaining evening for the lucky few in attendance. For those not familiar with the Whitney Humanities Center, it regularly holds film screenings throughout the year and is a great resource for the Yale community. Last week, I went to a screening for “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer” and got to see Oscar-winning writer and director (and Yale Alum) Alex Gibney take questions and discuss his film. Based on the past 2 weeks, I think it is safe to conclude that the arts are alive and well at Yale (and so is James Franco).