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The Disaster Artist

Released 2017. Director: James Franco

WHAT MAKES A GOOD MOVIE? WHAT MAKES A BAD MOVIE? And what makes the worst movie? The Room, made in 2003, is considered by some to be the worst movie ever made, a dubious honour fiercely held by Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space since 1959, but perhaps not for much longer.

The Disaster Artist is the re-enactment of what goes behind the scene in the making of The Room. Why would anyone want to see what went on in the making of the worst movie? Well, because it’s actually a lot of fun. James Franco plays Tommy Wiseau, producer, writer and star of The Room. James’s brother Dave plays Greg, an aspiring actor who met Tommy at an acting workshop and hopped on the Wiseau wagon to LA in search of stardom.

Tommy is a mysterious man. Not much is known about him. He speaks with an Eastern European accent but insists he’s from New Orleans. No one knows his real age and his bank balance appears to be bottomless in financing his own movie.

Indeed, making movies is his driving passion. Tommy regards himself somewhat an auteur. The tagline for The Room reads: A film with the passion of Tennessee Williams. One need not be an expert to see Tommy is no auteur, not even halfway capable of delivering a movie of average standard. Nobody would finance his movie and that’s why he has to do it all himself by hiring his own cast and crew who have no clear idea what they’re doing half the time.

And that's's the central question of The Disaster Artist: Can a man be so blind to his own shortcomings in his dogged pursuit? Can someone be so out of touch with basic sense of aesthetics, performance, scripting, timing and the craft of moviemaking and still forge ahead with a misguided dream? If Tommy enrolled as a film student and made The Room as a student film it’d have failed and he’d have been told how awful it was.

From what we see in the filming process it is indeed awful and the movie plays it as a joke, a comedy to test the limit of cringe factor. Tommy not only books a small cinema to premiere his masterpiece, he even secures it for seven days in order to be eligible for Oscar consideration. Does the man have absolutely no idea how bad his movie is?

James Franco makes it look easy to be bad. He makes Tommy creepy, delusional and spoiled. It’s a laudable high-wire comedic performance, bonkers and hysterical. Is it impolite of us to regard Tommy the tunnel-vision dreamer in such harsh light? The title itself is a clue. This is not an accidental artist, or an unfortunate artist, but he’s Mr Calamity himself. The title is a judgement call. Tommy Wiseau is a disaster.

Then again this re-enactment is based on the book of the same title by Greg and Tommy. So perhaps the man is aware he’s rubbish after all.

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