NYU prof directed James Franco in a Lifetime Original, basically

After the jump, I’ve got the trailer for The Letter, starring James Franco and Winona Ryder, and it’s shots like the one above that make me think, “Wait, this is a real movie? I feel like I’m being dicknosed again.”

But a basic Googling reveals that it is indeed a real movie, and in fact was written and directed by Jay Anania, who heads the graduate directing program at NYU. Which makes it even weirder that the whole thing feels like a Funny or Die parody without a punchline. Or maybe the lack of punchline makes it performance art. You decide.

A playwright (Winona Ryder) begins to mentally unravel while preparing her latest work for the stage. She is plagued by dreams and visions of being watched, while also falling under the spell of her charismatic new leading man (played by James Franco). As the curtain call grows closer, she finds she can no longer decide if she is at the center of a manipulative plot or simply losing her grip on reality.

Directed by Jay Anania (”Shadows & Lies”), the film also stars Josh Hamilton (“J. Edgar”), Marin Ireland (“28 Hotel Rooms”) and Katherine Waterston (“Being Flynn”). [Collider]

It looks horrible, but the strange thing is, it doesn’t even look horrible in the way you’d expect from an NYU film. There’s no bad poetry, no one’s naked or crying over dead butterflies, and no one has a gun for no reason. No one even puts Spaghettios up their vagina or anything! It just looks like a run-of-the-mill TV movie you’d see on Lifetime or SyFy. And this guy teaches directing? Totally worth the $60 grand a year, I’m sure.

Or maybe it’s actually a transgressive comment on the current state of race relations because James Franco’s character is named “Tyrone.” Again, you decide. That’s one way to know if you’re making true art, by the way, is if the viewer has to tell you what it’s about.

Note: IMDB says Anania “heads the directing department,” but his NYU faculty page just says Associate Professor.