Paul Haggis: The Third Person

The Oscar-Winning Screenwriter and Director Opens Up About Relationships and Screwing Up

Italian filmmakers Roberto de Paolis and Carlo Lavagna venture to Rome’s decaying and dramatic Cinecittá Studios to talk with one of Hollywood’s most celebrated and controversial players, Paul Haggis, in today’s illuminating short. The screenwriter behind Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby and director of the intense, multiple Academy Award-winning Crash took questions from the playful filmmaking duo on the set of his newest movie, The Third Person, starring James Franco and Mila Kunis. Divulging personal insecurities and pulling apart actor-director relationships, Haggis speaks frankly about the obstacles he encountered in creating the movie. The Third Person is a more intimate affair for Haggis, attempting to get to the root of the mystery of relationships in a narrative that homes in on three interlocking love stories. Haggis himself is shrouded in Hollywood mythology and also part of a very public break up with the church of Scientology after 35 years of service. De Paolis and Lavagna were surprised to find him so open in the interview: “He’s a mix of sensitivity and self-confidence,” Lavagna says. 

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    On Replay

    James Franco as Bruce Nauman

    The Artist-Actor Puts On A Good Face in Alison Chernick’s New Video Series

    Most of us know 32-year-old actor James Franco as that adorable kid from the TV show Freaks and Geeks, who went on to leading roles in Spider-Man, Milk, and the soon-to-be-released mountain climbing adventure 127 Hours, from director Danny Boyle. What many perhaps don’t know is that Franco now identifies himself as a visual artist. He's enrolled at the respected Rhode Island School of Design, and, through the end of October, his short films, drawings, photographs and sculptures are on view at New York's Clocktower Gallery. Recently there's been something of a convergence between Franco's artistic interests and his acting choices. While at work on a book of short stories, he starred as poet Allen Ginsberg in the recently released Howl, and, in a self-referential move, appeared in a number of episodes of General Hospital as the artist "Franco," turning a soap opera into performance art. Considering such extra-curricular activities, and capitalizing on the concept of celebrity itself as a ready-made artwork, Alison Chernick cast the Renaissance man in today’s film, James Franco as Bruce Nauman, a contemporary update of Nauman's Art Make-Up video piece from 1967, shot on location at the Standard Hotel, New York. The themes the artist was exploring seem perfectly in sync with Franco's own hall-of-mirrors aesthetic: "make-up," the stuff an actor smears on his face, assumes a double entendre as a verb—to make up, the very essence of any creative act. The video is the first in a new series by Chernick in which contemporary artists are enlisted to star in remakes of seminal video artworks, prompting a dialogue between the original artwork and the artist reinterpreting it.
     
    We're giving away tickets to the official premiere of James Franco's new film, 127 Hours, to one lucky NOWNESS.com subscriber and a guest. Click here to enter the sweepstakes.
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    Weightlifting Winners

    Inside the Olympic Training Camp of China’s World Record-Breaking Gold Medalists

    The intense preparations behind the success of China’s weightlifting Olympic medal winners Lu Xiaojun, Li Xueying and Wu Jingbiao are revealed in Shanghai-based artist and photographer Noah Sheldon’s portfolio. After obtaining access to the secretive National Sports Training Center in Beijing, Sheldon followed the Chinese Olympic weightlifting team’s daily routines in the run up to the London 2012 Games, from dusting their palms with magnesium carbonate chalk to endless repetitions of the snatch and the clean-and-jerk lifts at ever-heavier weights. “The athletes’ lives are so regulated, every minute is controlled, but they really seem to have nice relationships with their coaches and each other,” notes Sheldon. The Chinese team has been hugely successful this year, with four gold and two silver medals so far. While World Champion Wu Jingbiao failed his final lift in the 56kg division to come second, late call-up to the team Wang Mingjuan took the title in the women’s 48kg competition, and Lu Xiaojun from Hubei Province broke the world records for both the snatch lift and total weight on the way to his Olympic crown. “There’s a close-up of him, when he’s hanging off the bar sideways,” says Sheldon. “It’s incredible if you see pictures of him three years ago––he was a sprinter and now he’s the world’s best lifter in his category.” But the nation’s potential medal haul isn’t over yet, as World Champion and world record holder Zhou Lulu competes today in the women’s super heavyweight over 75kg category.

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