THE DISASTER ARTIST (2017) – My rating: 8.5/10

The Disaster Artist is a biographical comedy-drama film produced and directed by James Franco. Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the film is based on Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell’s non-fiction book of the same name and chronicles the making of Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult film “The Room”, which was considered by many, one of the worst movies ever made.  In my opinion, The Disaster Artist is one of the most bizarrely good films I’ve seen in a long, long time.  While it was entertaining, it was strange and if you’ve never heard of “The Room” your curiosity will be peaked to the nth degree.

In 1998 while living in San Francisco, 19-year old aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) meets a mysterious man named Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in his acting classes with instructor Jean Shelton (Melanie Griffith).  After Wiseau attempts to perform a scene from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, the performance is ripped apart by Shelton. Greg becomes infatuated by Wiseau’s fearlessness on stage and wants to learn from Wiseau. Over the coming months, Greg and Wiseau form a strong, bizarre-like friendship. Eventually, on Wiseau’s suggestion and dime, Greg uproots from his mother, Mrs. Sestero’s (Megan Mullally) home to Wiseau’s apartment in Los Angeles to give their acting careers more of a chance.

After a few weeks, Greg signs with Iris Burton (Sharon Stone), one of the top young talent agents at that time. Wiseau, on the other hand, faces rejection from agencies, casting directors, and Hollywood insiders. During this time, Greg develops a relationship with Amber (Alison Brie), whom he meets at a nightclub. Wiseau begins growing jealous and temperamental, feeling dejected and hopeless and ready to return to San Francisco. Greg’s auditions also dry up. He shares his frustrations with Wiseau, wishing that he could simply make a movie to supply himself with a role. Wiseau takes this suggestion literally.

Over the next three years, Wiseau writes The Room, and presents it to Greg. Despite recognizing its incoherence, Greg insists to Wiseau that the script is great. Wiseau offers him the role of Mark, along with an associate producer credit. Greg reluctantly accepts. They rent out Birns & Sawyer, a production house in North Hollywood. Wiseau insists on buying all of the production equipment himself, as well as insisting that the film be shot on 35mm film and HD Digital simultaneously. The employees of Birns & Sawyer introduce Wiseau to Raphael Smadja (Paul Scheer) and Sandy Schklair (Seth Rogen), who work as his cinematographer and script supervisor, respectively. Schklair, however, essentially performs all the director responsibilities for Wiseau. Production initially starts out smooth, but Wiseau grows increasingly narcissistic and demanding. He verbally lashes out at crew members, repeatedly forgets his lines, shows up late nearly every day, and refuses to supply his crew with basic needs such as drinking water. This culminates in Carolyn Minnott (Jacki Weaver), who also plays Claudette, fainting from exhaustion.

The crew grows more resentful of Wiseau, with many questioning his behavior despite an endless supply of money that nobody knows the source of. During prep for a sex scene, Wiseau humiliates Juliette Danielle, who plays Lisa, by pointing out how “disgusting” her body acne is in front of the entire crew. Smadja reaches his limit, and Wiseau briefly fires him. Having filmed near-constant behind-the-scenes footage, Wiseau reveals that he knows everybody hates him, and believes that nobody, including Greg, is interested in seeing his vision through. One afternoon, Greg and Amber happen upon Malcolm in the Middle star Bryan Cranston, who invites the bearded Greg to fill in for a small lumberjack part in a Malcolm episode currently shooting. Greg begs Wiseau to postpone shooting his beard-free scenes by a day to accommodate Cranston’s opportunity, but Wiseau refuses, disillusioning Greg even further and causing Amber to split up with him. On the last day of shooting, Greg finally calls Wiseau out for being entitled and selfish throughout the course of their relationship, and questioning his age, background, and source of income. They get into a brief fight and then do not see each other for eight months.

The Disaster Artist was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2017, as well as two received nominations from the 75th Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Musical or Comedy for James Franco.  The Bazaar thing about The Disaster Artist is it’s a really good movie about the relationship between two real people who’s lives were interesting enough to make Franco’s movie a hit. It was their actual life story that sold The disaster Artist not the actual story of The Room.  The mystery surrounding Wiseau is still what intrigues people — Franco does an excellent job of showing what a disaster The Room is both in it’s production and it’s story, which is why it still remains “one of the worst movies made”.  I was memorized from the very beginning.  I thought the ending was brilliant with just the right amount of information to keep me guessing.  No one knows the answers to Wiseau’s source of income or his age or where he’s from however he continues to make movies — all bad!  The Disaster Artist is brilliant.  Check it out!

[The Disaster Artist is Oscar nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay]

 

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