The history of cinema has seen some of the most influential and significant pieces of art and media throughout the 20th and 21st century. With numerous filmmakers gunning for an Oscar win every year it can sometimes be difficult to find a director or film that is truly unique in their art form with some obvious exceptions of course. It takes true genius to make a film so bad that it develops its own cult following, mass screenings across America and Europe years after the original release, and the title of ‘best worst movie ever made.’
In 2003 Tommy Wiseau whose background is still shrouded in mystery released his debut film The Room to the world, and with a budget rising up to $6 million it’s hard to believe that a film could be made of such poor quality. The plot of the film, if it is possible to really identify one, follows Jonny an all American, affable banker played by Tommy himself. While Jonny showers his partner Lisa with affection, she is engaging in an affair with his best friend Mark, played by Tommy’s good friend Gregg Sestro. The plot seems fairly simple at this point and no too hard to follow, however, throw in some random sub plot such as Lisa’s mothers breast cancer which fails to be mentioned more than once in the film and is just forgotten, a drug deal gone badly involving Jonny’s strange friend who obsess over kissing Lisa, some very uncomfortable sex scenes in which Tommy believed he needed to show his buttocks to sell the movie, and numerous scenes of Jonny and Mark throwing a football and all of this leads to a not so much confusing film, but one that will leave you questioning why any of what you have just seen happened. The film concludes with Jonny discovering Lisa’s infidelity and trashing his apartment and eventually committing suicide. Along with some very bland acting and The Room cements itself as one of the most peculiar pieces of cinema in history.
You couldn’t argue that the room is a good film, but it generates a strange feeling when viewing, not the same feeling you would get when watching a film that is bad for the sake of being bad, but one of great mystery leaving you wondering, how did no one during the production of this movie realise how poor the quality was. The real reason is because the overwhelming feeling you get from viewing it is you can see its charm. Form watching it you can see that it is from a man who’s true passion is filmmaking, not to convey a message, but to entertain it’s audience and to keep them enthralled throughout the entire run time and The Room does this better than most mainstream cinema you will see today. It is because of this, Tommy Wiseau can be seen as a Hollywood genius.
The production and filming of The Room was recorded by Gregg Sestro in his book titled The Disaster Artist and the movie rights purchased by James Franco. Normally for a bad movie the release in cinemas is the end for it but The Room’s cult following had inspired Franco to create the ‘making of’ satire which would show audiences and fans of The Room around the world a true insight into the mind of Mr. Wiseau and the production of one of the most popular cult movies of a generation.
James Franco who channels his inner Tommy Wiseau both directed, written, and starred in the movie as Tommy providing a masterful performance alongside his brother Dave Franco who portrays Gregg Sestro in an emotional and passionate portrayal leading to question why we don’t see Dave Franco in more serious/Oscar contender pieces of cinema. They are followed by numerous familiar faces including, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Josh Hutcherson, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, and Zac Effron for a brief stint.
The film is based entirely on the memoirs recorded of Sestro follows his perspective of events as he finds the bizarre and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class in San Francisco and is taken under Tommy’s wing to Los Angeles to live together in Wiseau’s apartment. After ultimately failing to reach the spotlight they were both dreaming of Sestro almost accidently spawns the idea of making their own movie and thus, Tommy decides to call his own shots and the production of The Room begins.
The portrayal James Franco provides makes the audience watching question which could be the real Tommy and is clearly having a great time in the role. With the Oscars just around the corner I for one would love to see Franco receive the award for best actor or best motion picture joined by his now good friend Tommy Wiseau which I am sure would be a heart-warming moment for everyone watching.
It is important to note that while a lot of the audience will be made of The Room’s cult following, having the context of the film or now will not affect how charming, emotional, hilarious, dramatic, and simply stunning film. The whole thing is entertaining from start to finish, keeping your eyes glued to the screen as the madness unfolds.
James Franco’s The Disaster Artist is a triumph and definitely a must watch not just for fans of The Room, but for any movie goer looking to be enthralled by an amazingly told true story.
The Disaster Artist is currently showing until Thursday 14 December.