The Disaster Artist

December 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen
Directed by: James Franco (“Child of God,” “As I Lay Dying”)
Written by: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (“500 Days of Summer,” “The Fault in Our Stars”)

“The Disaster Artist,” a comedy documenting the creation of the cult-classic film “The Room,” is based on the book of the same name by co-star Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell. Over the years, I’ve become intimately familiar with both stories: the over-the-top tale of the film featuring Johnny and his love for Lisa, undone by her infidelity with Johnny’s best friend Mark, and the book featuring the equally over-the-top tale of how the batshit movie came to be.

The film, like the book, chronicles the meeting of Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), a mysterious man with an inscrutable accent and long black hair who looks much older than he says he is, and Greg (Dave Franco), a fresh-faced 19-year-old struggling to make it as an actor in San Francisco in the late ’90s.

Tommy and Greg become friends–in Tommy’s case, Greg is really his only friend–and move to Los Angeles to make it big as actors, despite Tommy’s eccentric behavior and his cryptic warnings to Greg to not tell anyone anything about him and his increasing jealousy of seemingly anything Greg gets that he doesn’t, like an agent, or something that steals Greg’s attention, like a girlfriend.

After they both struggle to find work, Tommy vows to write a film for he and Greg to star in and, with Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” as his inspiration, Tommy bangs out the script for “The Room” and digs into what one character calls a “bottomless pit” of money to produce his “All-American” vision his way, including the unorthodox practice of buying film equipment over leasing it and using it to shoot film and HD video side-by-side.

Tommy himself and the script for the film baffle crew members, including the script supervisor and de facto director Sandy (Seth Rogen) and director of photography Raphael (Paul Scheer), who both nearly quit over Tommy’s outrageous behavior, only to be talked out of it by Greg, the checks that are still clearing, and the notion that no one will see the film anyway.

Of course, the film saw the light of day in 2003 and became a midnight sensation thanks to Tommy’s paying to keep it in theaters (to qualify for the Academy Awards!) and an infamous, ominous billboard that lorded over Hollywood for more than a decade.

Easily his best film as a director to date (most of them are really weird and terrible), James Franco also disappears incredibly into Tommy, making him more than just a weird accent and greasy black hair, but also leaving the mystery of Tommy effectively intact. Sure, the audience might want to know some simple things like where Tommy came from, where he gets his money, and just how old he is–but the real Wiseau has never publicly revealed that either.

Franco’s wonderful performance, like the film itself, is easily on par with the Johnny Depp-Tim Burton biopic “Ed Wood,” that film a career-best turn for both, about a delusional, never-give-up director of terrible-yet-sincere movies that share DNA with “The Room.”

The question remains if “The Disaster Artist” will play to a crowd that isn’t familiar with “The Room” and all of its foibles. As someone who has seen “The Room” a dozen times or so, this question is difficult to answer, but without a doubt “The Disaster Artist” is delightfully hilarious and, like the inimitable Tommy Wiseau, has genuine heart.

Bonus Episode 13: The Disaster Artist with Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

December 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

 

It’s a very special “The Disaster Artist” themed bonus episode of The CineSnob Podcast. First up, Cody and Jerrod talk to friend of the show Greg Sestero as he returns to catch us up on the past 2 years of seeing his memoir about the making of “The Room” turned into a major motion picture.

Next, the boys talk with co-author of the book Tom Bissell about how he stumbled upon “The Room,” exploring Tommy Wiseau’s past, and how he helped Greg tell the story of his friendship with Tommy.

Click here to download the episode!

SXSW Review: The Disaster Artist

March 14, 2017 by  
Filed under CineBlog

“The Disaster Artist,” a comedy documenting the creation of the cult-classic film “The Room,” often called “the worst movie ever made,” received a standing ovation from a crowd at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, where the film screened for South By Southwest as a work in progress.

Director and star James Franco, who plays the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, was on hand along with producing partner Seth Rogen (who has a role as an exasperated script supervisor in the film) and Franco’s brother Dave, who plays Wiseau’s best friend and “The Room” co-star Greg Sestero.

(The actual Tommy Wiseau an Greg Sestero were in attendance as well, receiving a standing ovation themselves as they took the stage for a post-show Q&A.)

The film, based on the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever” by Sestero and Tom Bissell, chronicles the meeting of Wiseau, a mysterious man with an inscrutable accent and long black hair who looks much older than he says he is, and Greg, a fresh-faced 19-year-old struggling to make it as an actor San Francisco in the late ’90s.

Tommy and Greg become friends–in Tommy’s case, Greg is really his only friend–and move to Los Angeles to make it big as actors, despite Tommy’s eccentric behavior and his cryptic warnings to Greg to not tell anyone anything about him and his increasing jealousy of seemingly anything Greg gets that he doesn’t, like an agent, or something that steals Greg’s attention, like a girlfriend.

After they both struggle to find work, Tommy vows to write a film for he and Greg to star in and, with Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” as his inspiration, Tommy bangs out the script for “The Room” and digs into what one character calls a “bottomless pit” of money to produce his “All-American” vision his way, including the unorthodox practice of buying film equipment over leasing it and using it to shoot film and HD video side-by-side.

Tommy himself and the script for the film baffle crew members, including the script supervisor and de facto director Sandy (Rogen) and director of photography Raphael (Paul Scheer), who both nearly quit over Tommy’s outrageous behavior, only to be talked out of it by Greg, the checks that are still clearing, and the notion that no one will see the film anyway.

Of course, the film saw the light of day in 2003 and became a midnight sensation thanks to Tommy’s paying to keep it in theaters (to qualify for the Academy Awards) and an infamous, ominous billboard that lorded over Hollywood for more than a decade.

Easily his best film as a director to date (most of them are really weird and terrible), James Franco also disappears incredibly into Tommy, making him more than just a weird accent and greasy black hair, but also leaving the mystery of Tommy effectively intact. Sure, the audience might want to know some simple things like where Tommy came from, where he gets his money, and just how old he is–but the real Wiseau has never publicly revealed that either.

Franco’s wonderful performance, like the film itself, is easily on par with the Johnny Depp-Tim Burton biopic “Ed Wood,” a career-best turn for both, about a delusional, never-give-up director of terrible-yet-sincere movies that share DNA with “The Room.”

The question remains if “The Disaster Artist,” still technically not complete and a little scraggly in the middle, will play to a crowd that isn’t familiar with “The Room” and all of its foibles. The audience at SXSW was certainly made up of devotees (myself included), loudly cheering and laughing at every recreated line and situation (the original film screened right after the Q&A wrapped up…I didn’t stay for that).

Regardless, “The Disaster Artist” is delightfully hilarious and, like the inimitable Tommy Wiseau, has genuine heart.

Rob Riggle & Dave Franco – 21 Jump Street

March 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Interviews

Next up were co-stars Rob Riggle and Dave Franco. Franco plays Eric Molson, a popular kid and drug dealer who befriends Jonah Hill’s character, while Riggle plays Mr. Walters, a brash, loudmouth coach. True to his character, Riggle started on me right away.

Rob Riggle: Jerrod, you look very serious.

Don’t be fooled, it’s a thrift store coat. First off, were you guys fans of the original show?

RR: Uh, I wasn’t a hardcore fan. I didn’t watch it, like, every night, but I caught my share of episodes.

I don’t think it was on every night, was it?

RR: No, I mean every Friday night. Weekly.

Dave Franco: I did not ever see the show until I found out about the movie, went back and watched a few episodes, saw that it was a completely different thing and felt like I didn’t really need to watch more. Even though it was a cool show.

I had the first season on DVD and I…don’t have it anymore.

DF: Where’d it go?

RR: Yeah…

It may have been re-gifted.

Both: [Laughs]

It’s fair to say you’re different ages, right?

RR: Yes. Barely. I mean, just barely.

It’s like an older brother situation.

RR: Just barely.

Were the cool kids in charge when you both were in high school, or was it like the movie?

DF: (To Rob) What was your experience like?

RR: You know, Hollywood paints a picture and stereotypes and all this. You know, my high school…yes, sports and stuff like that, that was a big thing. But nobody was mean to each other. I don’t remember any of us being mean to each other. So, like, I played football but I also did drama. Everybody kind of cross-pollinated. I guess you could say there were some cliques, but it wasn’t as hardcore as people make it out to be.

DF: I had a very similar experience where there weren’t necessarily “the cool kids” or anybody. Everyone–and maybe this is fortunate—but like everyone got along decently well, considering. My group of friends were pretty social and got along with everyone. But at the same time we were the kids playing Ultimate Frisbee at lunch. We weren’t cool, you know? But everyone got along. I don’t know.

RR: That was my experience.

We had cowboys at my school.

DF: What do you mean?

Like, people that wore cowboy hats…

DF: Oh, okay..

RR: Belt buckles…

They raised pigs and goats on campus.

DF: On campus?

On campus. We had a barn.

DF: Come on.

RR: That’s…interesting.

I’m serious.

RR: Really?

Well, this is Texas.

RR: I guess…

DF: Wait, they would go have a period to tend to their animals?

Yeah.

DF: Come on. That’s a class?

I assume. I wasn’t in it.

DF: That’s awesome.

RR: Might be an FFA thing or something…

Yeah, it was an FFA thing.

RR: That’s probably what it was.

DF: (Laughs)

Rob, you’re a bit of a jock, safe to say…

RR: Yeah, yeah. Here’s the thing, though: 8th and 9th grade, I was pre-pubescent. And everybody else grew and was huge and I was small and scared. I spent those two years running for my life, in fact, hiding in the boys’ bathroom after lunch on many occasions.

DF: Come on.

RR: Fact. And then in 10th grade it hit like a thunderbolt. And I grew and got big–

DF: You got back at those kids?

RR: No, never did, ’cause I remember what it felt like to hide in that bathroom. So it was weird. I had two experiences. The latter half of my high school experience was fun. I played sports. It gave me self-confidence, self-esteem. And then I did drama. I was on the radio and TV station. I kind of came out of my cave a little bit and it was awesome.

DF: I never quite had that second experience. (Laughs)

You never hit puberty?

DF: Well…I’ll get back to you on that.

RR: (Laughs)

Was there a coach you drew inspiration from?

RR: Without naming names. For this character? For Mr. Walters?

Right. You’re a big enough star, you can name names now.

RR: No, I would never want to do that. But I did draw from a specific coach that I had. Actually, it was an amalgamation. I shouldn’t say that. He was one guy, I had another gym teacher, and I think a driver’s ed teacher, and I just pulled from all of them. Maybe one drill sergeant in there, too.

So were there any actual teenagers in this movie?

DF: Yeah, this is actually a really bad story. Um…we…this isn’t in the movie…

Do we need to stop taping?

DF: Actually, should I say this?

RR: No.

DF: This actually might get me in trouble.

RR: Yeah, don’t say it.

DF: I’m not gonna say it.

RR: All right.

We’ll talk afterward.

DF: It was bad though.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Anton Yelchin & Dave Franco – Fright Night

August 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Interviews

During an interview with me at the Highball in Austin, actors Anton Yelchin (“Star Trek”), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Superbad”), and Dave Franco (“Charlie St. Cloud”) talked about their remake of the 1985 horror comedy “Fright Night,” which now stars Colin Farrell as a powerful vampire who moves into a suburban neighborhood and feasts on teenagers one by one.

Vampires seem to be the only horror movie creatures that are given this kind of sex appeal on a consistent basis. You never see a shirtless zombie showing off his abs.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse: (Laughs) Not yet.

Why do you think so many women are attracted to the idea of vampires?

Anton Yelchin: I think the point at which vampires connect with you is through the neck, which is essentially a sexy zone.

Chris: And they can only be out at nighttime.

Anton: They can only be out at night, right. And they’re immortal.

Chris: They’re not losing flesh like zombies or growing hair like werewolves.

Anton: Yeah, they’re more like enhanced human beings that are immortal. I think people lust for immortality. There is this sexuality that comes with staying young forever.

Chris: Yeah.

Anton: They’re also extremely well hung.

Dave Franco: Vampire cocks.

What about from a guy’s perspective, though? You don’t see as many men lusting over female vampires.

Dave: We were just talking about that actually. What about Salma Hayek in “From Dusk Till Dawn?”

Chris: Yeah, Salma Hayek!

Anton: Salma Hayek!

Well, sure, there are some exceptions but if you were to walk into a bar and saw a female vampire, would you try to pick her up?

Dave: Psht, yeah!

Chris and Anton: (Laughing)

Chris: I mean, it depends. In “True Blood” there are some sexy female vampires that nibble on guys, but don’t turn them, right? So, if that was the case, then yeah. That would be fun as hell.

Anton: Yeah, I’d be down to get nibbled on.

Is there anything you guys are really scared of?

Dave: People.

Anton: Yeah, people.

Chris: I mean, I’m still just scared of spiders.

Dave: Are you really?

Chris: Yeah, really. I freak out.

Anton and Dave: (Whispering) Pussy.

Dave, have you given Chris a chance to redeem himself and try to beat you in another “You’re So Hot” competition?

Chris: He defeated me!

Dave: Ah, man, we have another one in the works with two girls this time and we’ll possibly make a cameo.

Anton: I watched that on the set of “Odd Thomas” and I was in the car with Willem Dafoe and he was saying all the shit you guys were saying.

Dave: Fucking great!

Chris: That’s awesome!