Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell-The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made

Themes explored: Hollywood, life, dreams, nonfiction, autobiography, memoir, culture, film, film history, pop culture, movie culture, independent film making, humor, cult classic, screenplays

Synopsis: From the actor who lived through the most improbable Hollywood success story, with an award-winning narrative nonfiction writer, comes the inspiring, fascinating and laugh-out-loud story of a mysteriously wealthy outsider who sundered every road block in the Hollywood system to achieve success on his own terms—the making of The Room, “the Citizen Kane of bad movies”.

 Readers need not have seen The Room to appreciate its costar Greg Sestero’s account of how Tommy Wiseau defied every law of artistry, business, and interpersonal relationships to achieve the dream only he could love. (From Goodreads).

Review: Everyone dreams of stardom. No one aspires to middle management. What exactly is stardom? Your name in lights? Instagram fame? Multiple magazine covers? These days everyone lives online. Between Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, WordPress (like moi), WhatsApp, YouTube, and so on, everyone can broadcast every moment of their life. Before Social Media, finding fame took slightly more work. Usually this involved moving to New York or Los Angeles, the two entertainment epicenters in America. New York specializes in singing, theater, and comedy. Los Angeles is the home to Hollywood and television. Both cities house stars, wannabes, reality stars, and the people who came for stardom but now serve coffee full-time.

Some people never took a chance on their dreams, majored in something practical, and settled down into a predictable American middle class life. Than there are the people who have tons of tenacity, the willingness to chase a dream, and minimal talent.

Enter Greg and Tommy, two dudes who wanted more out of life. Greg wanted to act. Tommy wanted fame. They met at an acting class and a cult classic emerged. Born into a comfortable middle class family, Greg fell in love with acting and the art of film making. When he was twelve, Greg sent John Hughes, the writer of Home Alone, a screenplay. While Hughes did not buy the screenplay, he encouraged Greg to keep trying and never giving upon his dream of working in the movies.

Greg’s parents did not want their nineteen-year-old son working in entertainment. They wanted him to pick something practical and stable. Greg had other ideas. He enrolled in acting classes and met Tommy, a guy with a shady history and lots of money. Tommy came from an undisclosed country yet swears to be a red-blooded American. He struggles to act, dies his hair black, and refuses to discuss anything personal. After moving to Los Angeles, Tommy and Greg decide to make a movie. Tommy wrote the screenplay and funded the film, to a tune of $6 Million dollars, making this one of the most expensive independent movies ever made.

The Room became a cult hit due to the terrible acting, slapdash directing, the mystery surrounding Tommy, and the inconsistent narrative. I learned about The Room in college. One of the multiple guys who fostered an unrequited crush on my roommate took me to a late night showing. My roommate was unavailable. Anyway, The Room was the weirdest film I have ever watched. Though throwing spoons at the screen was a novelty.

The Disaster Artist, now a feature film starring James and Dave Franco, relates Greg’s experiences with breaking into Hollywood and the circumstances that brought The Room into existence. Tommy certainly seems to suffer from a psychological disorder to some kind. He is extremely obsessive, jealous, and unable to read social cues of any kind. My brother stopped reading this book half way through since he kept getting mad reading about how Tommy treated Greg.

This book is not for everyone Greg holds nothing back. Indeed, it is actually amazing that Tommy was both weird yet oddly normal. He wanted what everyone else wants: recognition, family, success, some form of satisfaction with life, and belonging. The story is both fascinating and a little depressing. Here are two guys trying to make their deepest held dreams come true yet their own lack of talent and connections holds them back.

If you are a fan of The Room, a movie that is almost indescribable, or just a Hollywood nerd, The Disaster Artist is a quick look at the other side of the red carpet. Not everyone who comes to Hollywood leaves with accolades and money. Some leave with creepy billboards, a cult classic and pop culture infamy.

The Disaster Artist, Simon & Schuster, 2013, ISBN: 9781451661194

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