A Thousand Flappers and Hobbledehoys

not merely superfluous, but ridiculous

The Disaster Artist — Review

this post was originally published on my Goodreads account.

This was hilarious and a little sad. Greg Sestero does a good job of capturing what it was like working on a movie with a mirror-universe version of Ed Wood who pursues fame and critical adulation despite being completely ill-equipped for both. In a way, the book is the most compelling argument for being true to yourself and not doubting your own instincts that I’ve ever read. If Wiseau had taken any advice from the well-qualified people he somehow got to do his movie, The Room would be significantly less interesting than it is. Filtered through his own sensibilities, there is something pure and compelling about the whole broken mess. There are film students who would give several limbs to be able to expose their id as completely as Wiseau manages, and the book makes it clear that everyone involved with the film should be able to dine out on the stories of their experience for years.

If I have one complaint, it’s that the book seems to create a more flattering portrait of Sestero than the facts he mentions would seem to suggest. Thanks to the help of co-writer Tom Bissell, Sestero puts across an image of his younger self that strikes me as a little self-aggrandizing. Incidents exposing his own Tommy Wiseau-like naivete (like when he sets up meetings with Hollywood agents but fails to provide any actual footage of himself acting) seem to pass without comment, and there’s little to suggest he knows much about the art himself. If anything, Sestero’s story strikes me as the story of a guy who discovers just how far a symmetrical face and not much else will get you in Hollywood. Unfortunately, that’s not the angle Sestero and Bissell explore. The Sunset Boulevard and The Talented Mr. Ripley quotes at the beginning of each chapter are too clever by half as well. But we’re not reading the book to learn about Sestero, and his recollection of participating in the greatest bad movie of all time is worth the price of admission all by itself.

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This entry was posted on 1 February 2016 by in Elegant Extracts and tagged , , , , .
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