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The Disaster Artist: Room at the top

Story behind The Room - cult classic described as the worst film ever released - should mean an Oscar for director James Franco

01 December, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist

Directed by James Franco
Certificate 15

THE Prince Charles cinema, just off Leicester Square, is one of the best places in London to watch films. It is neither the most comfortable of surroundings – forget the boutique posho screening palaces with their deep sofas and posh snacks – nor has the best quality projector and sound system. No, the reason for its longevity, its special place in the hearts of true film-o-philes, centres on the fact the programmers there just seem to have the greatest amount of fun deciding what to put on. They do the cheese well – Sing-a-long-a-Sound of Music, Swear-a-long Team America, World Police…Eighties classics, triple bills, special seasons – they understand that hitting the pictures should be a laugh and a half, and they don’t do things by half.

A few years back, they ran a screening of a film called The Room, with the catchline describing it to be simply the worst film ever released. Being of a curious nature, I thought, on behalf of you, dear reader, I should pop along and can confirm that indeed it was beyond awful. Yet the infectious response of the audience shoe horned into that lovely old picture palace made it a thoroughly joyous occasion.

The Room has since become a cult classic, a film that is shown globally and offers, without meaning to, a bird’s-eye view over the landscape of cinematic storytelling.

Now we can learn more about this odd footnote to early 21st century culture. The Disaster Artist tells us the story behind this film, how it was made, who was behind it and does so for both laughs and as a character study of how the Hollywood studio machine sells grotesque dreams to us all, and sadly suckers many into thinking that life would be complete if they could get their faces up on the big screen.

Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) is the mysteriously rich, atrociously bad wannabe actor who befriends young hopeful Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) at a San Francisco acting class. The pair move to LA to make their fame and fortune – and when they hit a wall in terms of jobs., Tommy decides he’ll pour some of his personal wealth into making a film himself. He’ll write it, direct it, produce it and play the lead.

With a host of actors playing themselves – Bryan Cranston pops up, as do many of the original actors who were in The Room – this film oozes goodwill and humour, which considering it focuses on a persons inability to have any level of self-awareness is no bad thing.

James Franco is nothing short of masterful. He deserves an Oscar for this one, and you sense it was done with Wiseau’s blessing, as he too pops up in the cast. Super, super stuff.


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