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The Disaster Artist, film review: ‘James Franco gives an inspired performance’

PUBLISHED: 12:44 06 December 2017

The Disaster Artist. Picture: Justina Mintz/ Warner Bros Entertainment Inc

The Disaster Artist. Picture: Justina Mintz/ Warner Bros Entertainment Inc

© 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Oh hi Mark. This film is exceptionally entertaining and frequently hilarious

Tommy Wiseau (pronounced Why Zoh, rather than Whiz Oh, as I’d always assumed) is a fantastic movie star name: it starts out Italian American mobster and ends up French intellectual. And it suits him.

Just as Chaka Khan was every woman, he’s every movie star: Lon Chaney playing Dracula, Mickey Rourke Before and After; all the Expendables rolled into one; a Christopher Walken impersonation that doesn’t know he’s an impersonation; a miracle of reinvention who lies about his age and past; possibly a sexual predator and a follow-your-dreams idealist. He is a monster with a pure spirit.

Wiseau’s claim to immortality is writing, directing, producing, starring in and paying for The Room, a modern-day cross between Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. A cult bad movie, it regularly plays to riotous, packed, audience participation-filled screenings. Franco’s film tells the story of its making through the relationship with his co-star Greg Sestero (Franco, D) who comes to Hollywood with Wiseau (Franco, J).

James Franco is an actor who can be anything between woeful and wonderful, but this is his moment.

He is helped by some marvellous prosthetics but this is an inspired performance, and his film is exceptionally entertaining and frequently hilarious: told by Judd Apatow that not in a million years will he make it in Hollywood, Wiseau asks, “but after that?”

The only little criticism is that while everybody keeps talking about his unidentifiable Eastern European accent, to me he often sounded a bit Charlie Chan.

It’s a film about the forces that drive people to Hollywood, but what I took from it is the detrimental effect method acting has had on the culture. Wiseau’s terrible acting, illogical script and irrational directing choices are rooted in a desire for pure emotion. The theories of Stanislavsky and Adler were full of discipline and craft but gradually that has been whittled away. Now on reality TV nothing more is required of a reality performer than that they can throw a strop on cue.

On www.halfmanhalfcritic.com, a review of the re-release of Powell/ Pressburger’s 1946 classic A Matter of Life and Death
Rating: 4/5 stars

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