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The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made Paperback – October 7, 2014
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*Starred Review* Reading this downright thrilling book is a lot like watching Tim Burton’s Ed Wood: it’s sometimes infuriating, often excruciating, usually very funny, and occasionally horribly uncomfortable, but it’s also impossible to look away from. The Room, a 2003 film written, directed, and starring the inscrutable Tommy Wiseau, was massively and enthusiastically lambasted by critics, proclaimed by some as the worst movie ever made (an insult, some movie fans might say, to Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space). Sestero, who starred in The Room, teams up with magazine journalist Bissell (who previously wrote about the movie in Harper’s) to walk us through the unpredictable, confusing, and—it must be admitted—wildly incompetent production of Wiseau’s vanity project. This is a making-of book like no other, the day-to-day story about the filming of a movie that everyone involved with it, except its creator, knew was awful. But it’s also the story of a very interesting friendship between Sestero and Wiseau (who knew each other for several years before The Room), and the story of an enigmatic and incredibly self-absorbed man who, in making his film, seemed to be trying to exorcise a troubled past and build an entirely new version of himself. Wiseau, for all his eccentricities, comes off as a sympathetic fellow, someone we, like Sestero, can’t help rooting for. The Room has become a cult fave, and this book goes a long way toward explaining how and why. --David Pitt --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
The Disaster Artist is co-written (or probably, judging by its wit and literacy, written) by journalist Tom Bissell, and with its allusions to Ripley and Sunset Boulevard, it understands the story it wants to tell. Tommy is a middle-aged man of some means and cloudy provenance, desperately lonely, waiting for the world to take notice. Greg is the beautiful young man who notices. —Louis Bayard --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I think as fans we sometimes forget that these characters we see onscreen (and yell insults to on countless midnight screenings) are portrayed by actual human beings, separate from their characters. I loved reading about how Juliette Daniels ended up playing Lisa and Dan Janjigian's preparation for the Oscar-worthy role of Chris-R. The Disaster Artist has brought an entirely new dimension to The Room. The book's biggest feat was helping the reader understand Tommy Wiseau, as much as anyone can understand Tommy Wiseau. Some of the details that Greg shares with us break my heart. I now view Tommy in the same way one would view a vampire puppy-- with an equal mixture of "aw" and "eek".
I can be sure that the next midnight screening I attend, I'll be giggling to myself over how long it took to shoot the famous, "I did naaht heet her" line. Or over the real reason why Peter was blinking so much. Or whether the enigmatic Chloe knows what obscenities audiences yell when they see her name appear onscreen. Without this book I would never have known that I've memorized The Room better than Tommy Wiseau. It was a fantastic read and I'm so excited to see what Greg Sestero does next!
If you have seen The Room, you probably already realize that the man behind the movie is a person who doesn't see things the way the rest of us see them. We see poorly-built sets, ill-fitting and unflattering costumes, stilted dialogue riddled with non sequiturs, rampant continuity issues, bad green screen special effects, nonsensical plotlines, and most of all, Tommy himself, who is probably the worst actor you've ever seen unless you attend a lot of middle school theater productions...and maybe even then. But, as this book very eloquently explains, Tommy saw something else entirely.
If you are looking for pee-your-pants funny anecdotes about what it was like for Greg Sestero to be first Tommy's friend and then, eventually, his employee on the set of The Room, they're here. (He had to write down the code to his apartment's gate because he could never remember it--it was 1234!!) If you want to understand the many issues that plagued the production of The Room and how the thing got finished against all odds, that's here too. (Short answer: he's loaded. Money can fix almost anything.) If you want to understand who Tommy Wiseau is, that is probably an exercise in futility, but Greg Sestero does an admirable job in showing us his own understanding of that question, as well as some of how Tommy understands himself. (He's a vampire, obviously.) This was a very satisfying read that I think came as close to answering my questions about Tommy Wiseau as anything possibly could.
Obviously it's easy to make fun of The Room, as I have done myself in my Amazon review of it. And there is a side to Tommy Wiseau that is very hard to like--manipulative, vain, secretive, annoying, argumentative, cruel, misogynistic, and insecure, and I think you can see aspects of that in The Room. But there is also another side to him, a side that's playful, naive, fun, and really kind of delightful, and I think that's why I keep coming back to The Room, because that side of him comes out in the final cut too. No one else could have made this movie because if anyone else tried, they'd know just how bad it was, and they wouldn't be able to stop themselves from throwing a little irony in there, letting you know that they know. The Room doesn't do that--it is utterly sincere in its awfulness, and that makes it kind of charming and really special. It is very difficult to coordinate the million details that need to come together to make a movie, as I knew even before I read this book, but Tommy Wiseau did that against all the odds, and I give him credit for that. I think very few of us who have enjoyed The Room ever suspected that Tommy Wiseau was trying to make a movie about the worst experience of his life, that he is Johnny in a very literal sense, and that he fully expected the audience to react to his movie the same way he had reacted to his reality. Of course they didn't...but they watched it and loved it anyway, and that is an accomplishment, even if it's not quite the accomplishment he was hoping for.
Thank you, Greg Sestero, for writing this truly entertaining and illuminating book. And also for being Tommy's friend all those years and not murdering him and depriving the world of the amazing and unbelievable disaster that is The Room.