Monday, 5 February 2018

The Disaster Artist (5 Stars)

The best thing about reviewing true stories is that I don't have to worry about spoilers, especially if it's a story that's well known. In the case of this film it's even easier because the plot itself is so simple. Let's get the plot out of the way first:

Tommy Wiseau meets Greg Sestero in acting classes in San Francisco. They move to Los Angeles and make a film called "The Room", which is considered to be the worst film ever made.

That's it. No spoilers.

Tommy Wiseau was, and still is, a mystery. To this day nobody knows how old he is, where he comes from or how he became so rich. In 1998, when he met Greg, he claimed to be 19, but he was probably in his mid 40's. He said he was from New Orleans, but his accent sounded like he came from Eastern Europe. An investigator claims to have evidence that he was born in Poland, but Tommy has never confirmed it. As for the source of his money, it's a complete mystery. He invested six million dollars to make "The Room", and how much money he still has left is a closely guarded secret. Estimates range from $500,000 to $20 million.

Tommy Wiseau had unshakeable confidence in himself and the quality of his film. He thought it was good enough to win Academy Awards, even though it only earned $1800 in its opening weekend. Some people claim that the film has finally become profitable due to its notoriety as a bad film, but that's questionable. The midnight screenings at Arthouse cinemas don't earn much money.

Is it really the worst film ever made? That's a matter of opinion, and it depends on the criteria. I've seen films that I consider worse, such as "Jupiter Ascending". There's a common expression that says a film is "so bad that it's good", but I think that expression is only used by people who don't want to admit that they don't know what they're talking about. A film might have technical errors but still be exciting and enjoyable. Another film might be technically perfect but boring. "Jupiter Ascending" fits into the latter category. The best example of the former category is "Plan 9 from Outer Space", which used to be called the world's worst film.

I've only watched "The Room" once. I can't judge it impartially, and I don't even intend to try. I'll probably watch it again soon, but only in order to put "The Disaster Artist" into context. It's probably impossible to understand "The Disaster Artist" if you've never seen "The Room".

James Franco won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor for his role as Tommy Wiseau. This was well deserved, and I'm surprised he hasn't been nominated for the Academy Awards. The film is hilarious, and the cinema audience was in stitches. They weren't laughing with Tommy, they were laughing at him. Does Tommy care? I doubt it. If he'd made a good film he would have been forgotten by now. By making a bad film he's established himself as a legend.

P.S. If you haven't seen the film yet, make sure you don't miss the after-credits scene in which the real Tommy Wiseau appears.

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