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Broken Tower Reviews

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cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

January 7, 2012
This look at the brief life of troubled American poet Hart Crane is a real one-man show as its star James Franco also serves as writer, director, producer, and editor. While this isn't his debut as a director, it is probably his most well-known effort behind the camera.

It's also a colossal failure, too. It's not so much of a biopic, or even a proper film as it is pretentious, self-indulgent wankery. I'm okay with artsy, experimental indie works, but Franco tries way too hard here. It's rambling, overlong, boring, and really doesn't add up to anything.

I had read a fair amount of Crane's poems and letters before seeing this, and, while I didn't hate his work, I can't say I'm a fan. That's not to say that some of his stuff isn't enjoyable, I just think he's overrated, despite his story being worthy of cinematic treatment...but not like this.

The film has pointless title cards that serve only to spell everything out, and it's divided up into several episodic vignettes that covers periods of Crane's life, but really just sort of exist instead of actually providing a narrative about the man or his work.

It's obvious that Franco loves Crane, and this was a real passion project for him, but I have no idea what he was thinking when making this. It's sloppy, meandering, slow, jumbled, and serves as a good example of how not every film that's a low budget artsy indie is always better than the big budget mainstream studio affairs.
Bill D 2007
Bill D 2007

Super Reviewer

August 4, 2012
I'm always amazed when films made about intellectuals have little to no intellectual content. The starkness of that contrast startles and befuddles me every time. It also stuns me how often this happens. The latest example is James Franco's "The Broken Tower," which focuses on avant-garde American poet Hart Crane, who killed himself in 1932 at the age of 32.

Franco clearly has authentic interest in Crane, and he appears to be getting a serious education at a range of institutions, including Yale University, where as far as I know he is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature. But in this film project, only a shallow level of interest shows. Franco is drawn to Crane and his poetry, but here he doesn't have anything significant to say about Crane or his poetry.

There are superficial depictions of Crane struggling to get money so he could devote himself to writing poetry and many long passages where Franco reads Crane's poetry. The recitation is not particularly engaging, by the way. And since all the poetry has already been published, I'm not sure what the benefit is of having so much of it read to us. We already can read the poetry, Mr. Franco. We're not watching your movie to find Crane's poetry, since we can already get that in a library. Film as audiobook -- not good.

There are bold depictions of Crane's sex life here, including one particularly daring scene with Franco portraying Crane performing oral sex on a man. Let's just say that it's cinema verite. Franco goes down on it with real gusto and in close-up. Not many straight-male movie stars would do this. Franco appears to have forceful opposition to homophobia, which is great to see. But this is more a moral gesture than an artistic one. "The Broken Tower" may have moral force, but it has almost nothing artistic to say.

The film is also rather flat-footed. Franco demonstrates really no directorial talent here. Almost every scene feels awkward and phony. Franco's acting is also skin-deep here. A noble effort, but "The Broken Tower" is ultimately a big disappointment.
Pedro H

Super Reviewer

February 20, 2012
The Truth is Indecent.

Fail

This is James Franco's failed attempt in directing, producing and acting.

In this slow endless film, Franco tries to highlight the melancholic life of American poet Hart Crane.

Franco tries his best to make an art film, but ends up creating a piece of garbage . His attempt to use black and white, handheld cameras, and a slow picture is futile. He ends up creating a horrible film that instead of making you admire Hart Crane, you end up despising him. Avoid this movie

Hart Crane : "From pit to crucifix
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

October 9, 2013
With the pretentious drivel of a biopic of poet Hart Crane(James Franco), "The Broken Tower," Franco, as writer and director, confirms what everybody who hates poetry thinks they know and why poetry slams were invented. And somehow also manages to make self-destructive behavior just as dull. Specifically, we find out that Crane had parents(Richard Abate & Betsy Franco). Otherwise, it may just seem like James Franco is about the only actor in the movie which is either a sign of an extremely low budget or extreme narcissism.(Admittedly, Michael Shannon is around here somewhere but I'm also not sure who he was supposed to be.) As I am reminded that no man is an island, I was also wondering who might have influenced Crane's poetry, not just that his advertising job made him miserable. But Franco does get points for the blow job.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

October 9, 2013
With the pretentious drivel of a biopic of poet Hart Crane(James Franco), "The Broken Tower," Franco, as writer and director, confirms what everybody who hates poetry thinks they know and why poetry slams were invented. And somehow also manages to make self-destructive behavior just as dull. Specifically, we find out that Crane had parents(Richard Abate & Betsy Franco). Otherwise, it may just seem like James Franco is about the only actor in the movie which is either a sign of an extremely low budget or extreme narcissism.(Admittedly, Michael Shannon is around here somewhere but I'm also not sure who he was supposed to be.) As I am reminded that no man is an island, I was also wondering who might have influenced Crane's poetry, not just that his advertising job made him miserable. But Franco does get points for the blow job.
Brian H.
May 4, 2013
Defying the all too common biopic recipe, Franco's Broken Tower examines the life of a poet through the eyes of a poet.
April 9, 2013
Hope you like scenes of someone walking, because you'll see a lot of it if you watch this movie. Self-indulgent, trying to be art but failing miserably, I actually cheered when he finally offed himself.
January 6, 2013
There is a long lineage of films about troubled, doomed artists, and here is yet another one. I took a chance on this because I like James Franco, but frankly speaking, I didn't even know who this poet was. All I knew from the onset was, "This is not going to end well"; someone is going to end up with their head in an oven or jump off a bridge or something. I suspect most people would find this more arty than artful, but I kind of enjoyed it. Howl was better.
September 5, 2012
i have always loved james franco as an actor, but i would like to see him write and direct more films. while not perfect and mostly panned by critics, i found this film to be very genuine and sincere.
Bill D 2007
Bill D 2007

Super Reviewer

August 4, 2012
I'm always amazed when films made about intellectuals have little to no intellectual content. The starkness of that contrast startles and befuddles me every time. It also stuns me how often this happens. The latest example is James Franco's "The Broken Tower," which focuses on avant-garde American poet Hart Crane, who killed himself in 1932 at the age of 32.

Franco clearly has authentic interest in Crane, and he appears to be getting a serious education at a range of institutions, including Yale University, where as far as I know he is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature. But in this film project, only a shallow level of interest shows. Franco is drawn to Crane and his poetry, but here he doesn't have anything significant to say about Crane or his poetry.

There are superficial depictions of Crane struggling to get money so he could devote himself to writing poetry and many long passages where Franco reads Crane's poetry. The recitation is not particularly engaging, by the way. And since all the poetry has already been published, I'm not sure what the benefit is of having so much of it read to us. We already can read the poetry, Mr. Franco. We're not watching your movie to find Crane's poetry, since we can already get that in a library. Film as audiobook -- not good.

There are bold depictions of Crane's sex life here, including one particularly daring scene with Franco portraying Crane performing oral sex on a man. Let's just say that it's cinema verite. Franco goes down on it with real gusto and in close-up. Not many straight-male movie stars would do this. Franco appears to have forceful opposition to homophobia, which is great to see. But this is more a moral gesture than an artistic one. "The Broken Tower" may have moral force, but it has almost nothing artistic to say.

The film is also rather flat-footed. Franco demonstrates really no directorial talent here. Almost every scene feels awkward and phony. Franco's acting is also skin-deep here. A noble effort, but "The Broken Tower" is ultimately a big disappointment.
June 26, 2012
the entire time i was watching "broken tower", i kept wondering "why the fuck did james franco make this movie?" a film which has annoying qualities not limited to scenes that go no where and take too long to get there, artsy cut to blacks, for no apparent reason, and a script that i can't imagine was more than fifteen pages. i can not stress this enough, "broken tower" is one of the worst movies i have ever watched.
martinw
June 15, 2012
Please tell me why somebody would watch a black and white movie about Hart Crane and then complain that it's "artsy." That's almost as funny as the woman who bought William Burroughs' "The Wild Boys" and then was shocked by the sexual content. Seriously. She even posted an online review. What are these people thinking?

"The Broken Tower" is a fascinating movie. Franco does a beautiful job with his interpretation of Crane's work and life. It is Franco's interpretation but then it's his movie. Make your own movie about Crane if you don't like it. You should have learned in Lit 101 that any interpretation that can be justified by the text is legitimate.

If you're not familiar with Crane and his work read a little bit of biographical material and some of his poetry before you watch the film. Otherwise you'll probably have trouble following the story. Franco's reading is great. As good as his reading of Ginsberg's poetry in the movie "Howl."

I'm glad some people are getting back to the basics of film making and not just making gluttonous-budget brain candy. Critics live on brain candy. That's why their brains are decayed.
May 28, 2012
sorry james, dicoba lagi film-film berikutnya.
January 12, 2012
Oh, oh my, is this an appallingly bad film. I don't even know where to start. It's dramatically inert, poorly acted by Franco, the other characters are cyphers, it has the quality of a master's thesis if one could present it in film form, it's confusing, it quotes liberally from the poetry of Crane without offering any insight into the verse, the poet, or the world they inhabit, and it trots out all manner of faded arty techniques, the worst being the sudden use of color, in an otherwise b&w film, to highlight the artist's state-of-mind. Most of the film is made up of extreme close-ups whose sole purpose seems to be preserve the period authenticity. It is not laughably bad until the very end when Franco chooses to have Crane end a reading of his verse (no visual, only a black screen) and then as "The End" appears on-screen one hears faint applause.
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