During our 2015 Summer in Paris Writing Retreat, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop organized a reading at the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore. The reading featured acclaimed essayist, writer, and Cambridge Writers’ Workshop instructor David Shields, who read from his new bookI Think You’re Totally Wrongwith Charles Recoursé, who is an editor for Au Diable Vauvert and Shields’s French translator. Following an introduction by CWW Creative Director Rita Banerjee, the two read select passages from I Think You’re Totally Wrong with Recourse’ reenacting the part of Caleb Powell, Shields’s co-author. The reading was followed by a Q&A and a book signing outside the store.
Author David Shields (guest curator from DOXA 2012 and Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Summer in Paris Writing Retreat Instructor) returns with a cinematic adaptation of his new book from director James Franco. What could possibly go wrong, you may ask? Well, almost from the start, just about everything. Shields and his collaborator and fellow-combatant, Caleb Powell, decide to up the ante by spending four days together in a cabin in the Cascades. The men barely make it down the driveway before an argument breaks out. On the drive to the cabin, things degenerate even further, as they variously debate the idea of life versus art. Powell, a father of three girls and a stay-at-home dad, has chosen to devote himself to family, while Shields, author of five new books in the coming year alone, is the champion of the arts.
On the first day of shooting, an actual fight breaks out over what and who can be talked about in the course of the film. Namely, whether Powell will or won’t be willing to invite his friend, a former stripper, to participate in the film. The director gets dragged into the mix. As the three men, and their respective egos, circle and jab at each other, you wait for someone to get punched in the face. The gladiatorial aspects of the film are only a beginning, as the weekend continues, something altogether more surprising happens — genuine and real communication. More than a deconstruction of the buddy film, I Think You’re Totally Wrong assails the divisions between reality and fiction, documentary and life, with subversive glee. -DW
James Franco is an actor, director, screenwriter, producer, teacher and author. He began his career on Freaks And Geeks and received a Golden Globe Award for his performance in the biographical film James Dean. Notable film credits include Oz The Great and Powerful, Spring Breakers, “Harry Osborn” in the Spider-Man trilogy, Milk and 127 Hours for which he received Academy Award, SAG and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor. He has directed, wrote and produced several features and has been published several times in magazines and through his own books. He is currently teaching college courses at UCLA, USC and Cal Arts and acting classes at Studio 4 and will make his Broadway debut in Of Mice & Men this spring.