By Mario Ricciardi
Most people are familiar with “Citizen Kane.” Maybe you haven’t seen the film, but you’ve probably heard that it’s regarded as the greatest film of all time. Its fame is thanks to a genre bending story, uniquely inspired lighting and the innovative use of cinema’s mostly elementary feature, the frame.
It was a major feat that first time director, 25-year-old Orson Welles, was able to negotiate unlimited creative control (Welles co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film). Many critics hail Kane as a masterpiece. Film buffs and the casual viewer alike can easily see its relevance by the end of a first viewing. With that being said, I’m here to talk about “The Room.”
“The Room” is everything “Citizen Kane” is not. It might even be its antithesis. “The Room” suffers from a poorly written script, soap opera lighting and a disregard for anything conventionally professional about a real Hollywood movie. Curiously, “The Room” is hardly less inspired than “Citizen Kane.” The film sports passion and ambition. It just managed to fail in every single way.
Like Kane, “The Room” has a single mind behind the writing, directing and producing of the film. He stars in it also. His name is Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau’s erratic management of filming “The Room” lead to shooting in both film and digital at the same time, taking green screen roof shots instead of going up to an actual roof, and painstakingly recreating on the set the alley outside where they were filming.
He would also show up to the set six hours late because of things like dyeing his hair and refusing valet service for fear of someone farting on his seats. It took him 32 takes for him to say the line: “It’s not true! I did not hit her! It’s bullshit! I did not. Oh, hi, Mark!” There is also no apparent reason for why the movie is titled “The Room.”
This strange movie has lived on thanks to a cult following and popular midnight screenings rivaled only by Rocky Horror. A tell-all book by co-star Mark Sinestro contributed to the movie’s popularity, as well as a new film based on the book being one of the award season’s top contenders: “The Disaster Artist.”
“The Disaster Artist” follows Tommy Wiseau and Mark Sinestro on their fateful journey from Hollywood nobodies through the haphazard production and release of “The Room.” “The Disaster Artist” is produced by James Franco and Seth Rogen, but instead of another one of their usual stoner comedy romps, it’s a biographical comedy about following your dreams.
James Franco plays Tommy, his brother Dave Franco plays Mark and Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Alison Brie and Jacki Weaver all play real life people involved in the making of “The Room.” Even J.J. Abrams and Bryan Cranston show up. Everywhere you turn, the movie has established Hollywood celebrities in it. This irony speaks to the power of “The Room” as a movie. It is so bad, yet so determined, it has ascended the ladder of popular culture instead of being dismissed by it.
“The Disaster Artist” shows the struggles dreamers face and the joys of those same people finally getting to do the thing they love. When you’re not laughing, you’re feeling for the characters on screen. It is a comedy with heart which very delicately handles the lives of those the film is based on.
Although it tends to err on the side of caution when dealing with the more irrational side of Tommy’s personality, it does not shy from the awkward. “The Disaster Artist” is a feel good movie with purpose, and it’s pretty darn hilarious as well.
???? (4/5 Penguins)