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Friday, December 15, 2017

The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist is the best movie I've seen so far this year.  I actually have seen it three times now in the theater (for the low price of $10/month--thanks MoviePass)!  

Plus I got to see Greg Sestero, LIVE, in person--actual flesh and blood.

Greg Sestero wrote The Disaster Artist in 2013 with Tom Bissell.  In it, he recounts his experiences starring in Tommy Wiseau's so-bad-it's-good 2003 film The Room.  

Enamoured with the story, James Franco had visions to tell it on the big screen.  And, wow, he really blew it away, as both the director and star of Disaster Artist.

He'll receive an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, and probably should win, but since the movie is not erudite enough, it's quite likely that, idk, Tom Hanks will win instead.

My point, however, is that he does a really really good job playing the quixotic and mysterious Tommy Wiseau.

Tommy is of unknown origins (claims to be from the Bayou in New Orleans but his accent sounds Eastern European), was born at an unknown date, and has amassed millions from unknown means.  He also wrote, starred in, and directed The Room, a film of love and betrayal that's surreal in its melodrama and cheesiness.  He drew inspiration from Teneesse Williams and James Dean.  It's the kind of screenplay that someone might write on first draft, then realize upon rereading that it's dreck, then proceed to hide it or burn it and be eternally ashamed that he'd ever written it and thought it good.

Wiseau never had this kind of epiphany, however.  Instead, after creating the film, he paid $5,000 a week for five years to advertise The Room on a billboard in L.A.  For this reason, it never dropped off the radar, as bad movies are wont to do, but rather gradually developed a cult following.

What makes Franco's The Disaster Artist so good is its empathetic portrayal of Wisseau, as a banal yet passionate actor who finds himself deeply misunderstood in Hollywood.  

It's also a touching tribute to the friendship between Greg Sestero and Wisseau, who meet in an acting class in San Francisco, pinky swear that they will support each other, then travel to L.A. together to pursue their acting ambitions.  Sestero, for the most part, sticks by his pal Wisseau despite his eccentricities, and the two remain friends to this day.  

In his talk, Sistero says that the movie The Disaster Artist gives an honest account of what actually transpired when filming The Room, and Wiseau himself says that it's 99% accurate.  

It's got a great soundtrack and some hilarious caricatures of Hollywood-types--e.g. the Sharon Stone character who plays Sestero's agent.   

The film began with several actors and directors (e.g. Kristen Bell, J. J. Abrams) singing the praises of The Room.  This is something that the film could have done without.  

The movie also features a clubby and cast of Seth Rogan, Dave Franco (James Franco's brother), Alison Brie (James's wife), and Judd Apatow.  Hm, have we seen any of these guys in other movies together before?

Also a lot of other fun actors made appearances, including Melanie Griffith, Megan Mullally, Sharon Stone, Hannibal Buress, Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Scheer and Bob Odenkirk.  It was a fun spread of familiar faces, and one got the feeling that actors wanted to be a part of this film just because they find The Room and Wiseau so endearing.

As do I. 

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