The Disaster Artist
Oh Hai, Mark …
Very recently a friend suggested that, in order to properly round out one’s film education, it was quite important to view the Worst Film In The World – a cult classic and utterly appalling, disturbing, complete train wreck of a film, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. So utterly terrible it’s actually brilliant, my friend promised. Well, let’s just say I’m still looking for the brilliance.
If you’ve heard of this film, you can chuckle at my folly for thinking this would be a good way to spend the afternoon. If you haven’t seen the film … Well, where to begin? The dialogue makes zero sense, plot holes are big enough to fit a Mack truck through, there are framed photos of spoons in the apartment, characters raise issues like terminal cancer and drug dealing, only to have these never mentioned again (often in the same scene), and the ending is just, OMG I can’t even explain how quickly that escalated. All I can say after viewing was that it will make you appreciate even the most mediocre of films. The basic plot line is that Johnny (played by Wiseau, who also produced, directed, wrote, funded, marketed, fired the crew, fired the crew again, interviewed, cast and filmed The Room), is basically a Very Nice Guy who is continually betrayed by the people in his social circle. Anything after that is a mess of contradictions and plot holes.
But, through the swamp of weirdness that is The Room, comes The Disaster Artist. The behind-the-scenes novel/memoir of Greg Sestero, who was cast as the film’s best friend character, Mark. It seriously is one of the best books I’ve read lately. Sestero, with the help of writer Tom Bissell (Magic Hours), is hilarious, and his memoir is well written and witty. It has a great double storyline – half covers Sestero’s journey of wanting to become an actor and how he ended up best friends with Wiseau; the other half explores how the film was put together. This book does answer many questions the film might raise – why was the film so badly written? (There’s still no definitive answer there yet). Why are there framed photos of spoons? (Answer, Wiseau never sourced real pictures for the frames and so left them as they had come from the store, with a backing insert of a plastic spoon). How did a film that made only $1,800 in it’s entire cinema run, cost six million dollars to make? (Apparently all film equipment – including lighting, a HD camera, a 35mm camera, an entire apartment to film in – were purchased outright by Wiseau instead of being rented like every other film maker in history has done).
The Disaster Artist is highly refreshing, a very interesting and slightly surreal memoir of working with, quite possibly, the most unreal real person ever and making the most bizarre film in the world. Even if you haven’t/never intend to see The Room, this book is still hilarious and has many laugh out loud lines and absurd scenarios that leave you thinking, surely that can’t have really happened! This would be a great read for anyone interested in film memoirs, The Room, or just in need of a good laugh!
(Although, I am putting a big Caveat Emptor on sitting down to watch The Room. You will never, I mean never, get those two hours of your life back! Read this book instead.)