Here’s a question for you: does James Franco continue to make juvenile comedies as a way of subsidizing his serious work, or does he make serious movies to provide himself the latitude to make juvenile comedies? I honestly have no idea. For every The Night Before, there seems to be an As I Lay Dying; for every Why Him?, a Child of God. While many actors and aspiring filmmakers try to find their niche and consolidate their power, Franco seems to be split pretty evenly among his penchant for comedy and his desire for drama. He could win an Oscar or a Razzie at any given moment.

After the mixed results of the aforementioned Why Him?, the first trailer for In Dubious Battle (via Vulture) swings Franco right back to serious work. San José State University describes the original book as author John Steinbeck’s first important work of fiction and an introduction to his exploration of “group behavior, social inequality, and human rights” that would comprise much of his later work. In that vein, Franco’s adaptation follows a group of political activists as they try to rally local fruit laborers to fight against the local landowners. The film premiered at the 2016 Venice Film Festival and received mixed reviews, with Owen Gleiberman of Variety noting that Franco “has acquired skills that are beginning to fuse with the best side of his instincts.”

James Franco may not be an easy man to figure out, but one thing is for sure: few filmmakers have established quite the network of actors as Franco has. In Dubious Battle features no less than Vincent D’Onofrio, Bryan Cranston, Sam Shepard, Ed Harris, and the legendary Robert Duvall in supporting roles, making it virtually impossible for anyone who is a fan of good actors (and that should be all of us) to pass this film up. It may not be a great trailer  —  there’s just a little much going on in there  —  but it’s a pretty hard proposition to pass up on.

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