Movie Blog Post: Tommy Wiseau's THE ROOM & James Franco's THE DISASTER ARTIST

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Disaster Artist vs The Room
Tinsel & Tine's Look at


By Le Anne Lindsay, Editor

A couple weeks ago when I received Allied's weekly screening list, Tommy Wiseau's The Room was scheduled. I didn't know anything about the movie, so I went to You Tube for a trailer and discovered something weird and nonsensical - only it didn't appear to be a comedy or a spoof. I didn't even finish watching the trailer; I just sorta scratched my head, didn't give it a lot of thought and chose the other films on the list I planned to see in the coming week.

Blog Tommy Wiseau The Room and James Franco The Disaster Artist
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Cut to maybe 2 or 3 weeks later, I start hearing about James Franco, finally working with his brother Dave Franco in a movie called The Disaster Artist.  I normally follow the films that do well at Sundance, Cannes and Toronto, so I don't exactly know why I wasn't up to speed on this movie, but upon seeing its trailer, it suddenly clicked... Oh, Hai The Room, now I know why you were on screening list.

Luckily we got another opportunity to see The Room before The preview screening of The Disaster Artist - only, I got another surprise... 80-85% of the audience had already seen the movie, not just seen it, memorized it. They had props for the screening - like an endless supply of plastic spoons to throw at the screen every time the framed spoon portrait came into view.  They tossed blow up footballs around, they knew each character's entrances and exits, of which there are many. Basically, they all were completely in on the joke that is reportedly believed to be the worst movie ever made. And once again, I felt completely clueless.  Why didn't I know about this? To be fair, I will say that same 80-85% of the audience in the know, were under 40, white, hipster-ish, irony seeking types. Not really my peer group. However, now having seen both movies and researched several articles, I can say I've developed a sincere appreciation for the cult classic and its homage.

Dave Franco interview The Disaster Artist working with his brother
Dave Franco was asked by InStyle Magazine about his first time seeing "The Room":

My brother [James] and I were both pretty late to the game. He actually read Greg Sestero's book before ever seeing The Room—he's probably the only person on the planet who did it in that order. But after reading the book, he watched the movie and then texted me and said, "If you haven't seen this yet, watch it immediately. We need to make a movie about this." I was working in Boston at the time, so I watched it alone in a hotel room, which is not the way to watch that movie for the first time—you watch it in a group where you can turn to people and say, "What the f-ck is going on?" READ MORE

For others who have yet to be initiated, let me try and break it down for you...
"The Room" stars Tommy Wiseau and his friend and co-producer Greg Sestero. The film has very little storyline or plot details, it's basically about this guy Johnny (Wiseau) who supposedly works as a banker, I didn't get that from watching the movie, but read it later. His life really revolves around his live in girlfriend Lisa. But she's tired of him, something we hear again and again in heart to heart talks with her mother, who at one random moment announces she's dying of breast cancer, yet it's never mentioned again. Lisa, heeding her mother's advice to stay with Johnny because he's a nice meal ticket, decides she can have her cake and eat it too, by starting an affair with Johnny's best friend Mark (Sestero) who lives upstairs. There's also another kid of maybe 17 or 18 year's old that also lives in the building, who Johnny and Lisa have kind of "adopted" who just stops by randomly for very shorts scenes and then leaves.

Midnight Screening Cult fan favorite worst movie ever THE ROOM

The room has no character arcs, super low budget production value, although it's been reported Tommy spent 6 million dollars getting the movie made. There are these strangely chosen stock footage shots of water and lakes and the Golden Gate Bridge, which pans steadily to the left and then the next time you see this shot it's panning steadily to the right.  The establishing shot of where they live from the outside looks nothing like what their place looks like from the inside. There's one shot of Johnny walking around in what looks like maybe downtown LA, with the Disney store in the background and then he just walks right into the apartment. The love scenes take up so much of the movie, it could almost be a porno, except they are just so badly shot and conceived, even a porn house would be embarrassed to put out something so schlocky. And of course, every moment, whether it involves Johnny, Mark, Lisa, the mother or any other random role, is so, so, so very badly acted.
Canadian documentary filmmaker Rick Harper was given the green-light by Tommy to make a documentary about his life and the making of "The Room", way before Franco decided to do "The Disaster Artist", but right before the doc was to see the light of day, Tommy pulled the plug and threatened to sue Harper, an injunction was order, which has just recently been lifted.

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Harper - But it’s fair to say he’s made a legitimate business out of The Room, right?

Harper: Oh absolutely. Say what you will about Tommy Wiseau, but he’s an excellent marketer. He was able to turn a really horrible movie into a movie that makes so many people happy and they open up their wallets and buy anything — Wiseau shirts and wallets and underwear. He’s made himself a celebrity. In part that’s because of The Room, but also because he’s one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. I remember saying to someone that he’s probably the most interesting person after Michael Jackson. There’s no understanding this person and there’s always a thirst to know more about him. READ MORE

The Disaster Artist (based on the memoirs of Greg Sestero) fills us in on who this, let's say, unique actor/director/producer Tommy Wiseau is and why this awkwardly put together film exists.  Tommy Wiseau is a guy from an indeterminate Eastern European country who denies being anything but American.  If anyone asks about the accent, he says he's from New Orleans.  He and Greg meet in acting class, although Tommy is not the star pupil, he's not afraid to let go and make a fool of himself when performing a scene, Greg wants to learn how to be that free. Tommy, for some completely inexplicable reason is rich. Really, no one knows where his money comes from, he's often compared to a vampire, so for all we know, he could really be from old Transylvanian money.  At any rate, when he meets Greg at these acting classes they're both living in San Francisco, but after Greg introduces Tommy to some old James Dean movies, Tommy convinces Greg to move to LA with him. He'll pay for all the expenses, he just wants them to encourage each other to never give up until they both become stars.

Bottom Line: What I like about The Disaster Artist is the fact that James Franco takes it all seriously, it's funny, but it's never mocking. It's obvious the film comes from a place of love and fascination for Wiseau and Sestero’s story.
Franco, who stayed in character for the entire shooting of the movie, both as an actor and director of the film, has said he sees a lot of himself in the narcissistic, brittle Wiseau:
"So much. In ways I don't want to admit."

Note: below video of James Franco, Dave Franco, and Dave's real-life wife Alison Brie (Mad Men) won't be visible to those receiving T&T via RSS feed. click HERE to view

There's some great cameo roles for Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith and Megan Mullally and a fun moment for Bryan Cranston playing himself. But it's Seth Rogan who really shines as the script supervisor on the movie set. He plays this, I thought I'd seen it all/done it all in this business, but this guy takes the cake, role in the movie; often stepping in to run things, as Tommy is clueless about running a set, keeping actors happy or really anything about the business of movie making... and yet, he's now a cult movie legend, showing up at midnight screenings around the globe. Just goes to show, you never know what will happen if you follow your dream.

T & T's LAMB (movie bloggers association) Score: 4 outta 5
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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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