Beloved by cinephiles and bibliophiles alike, Steve Erickson's 2007 novel Zeroville tracks Vikar, a glowering, borderline autistic former seminarian who's so obsessed with movies that he's slathered his shaved head with a tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. ("Who's Montgomery Clift?" people keep asking.) Arriving in LA in 1969, Vikar finds himself at the crux of cinema—learning how to edit movies from Dotty (Jacki Weaver); watching Sunset Boulevard ("A movie within a movie," Vikar marvels) with a guy who just broke into his house (Craig Robinson); getting drunk and shooting a .45 with Viking Man (Seth Rogen), a barely disguised stand-in for John Milius; falling in love with the remarkably named Soledad Paladin (Megan Fox); and skittering into the orbit of a skeevy-slick producer (Will Ferrell). Somewhere in there is a good movie, but James Franco—who directs and stars, proving better at the latter—can't find it, and Zeroville wobbles between indulgent surrealism and clunky drama, with too-few blips of dark comedy. Zeroville was shot in 2014, before Franco was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct; regardless of the reasons for the film's delayed release, its timing now seems particularly lousy. Someone else just came out with an ambitious, meta epic about Hollywood in 1969, and for anyone who's interested enough in cinema to be drawn to Zeroville, their time is probably better spent rewatching Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.

by Erik Henriksen
Showtimes & Tickets


James Franco
Seth Rogen, James Franco, Megan Fox

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