The Disaster Artist: Movie Review


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The Disaster Artist is essentially a biopic of an episode in the life of the mysterious Tommy Wiseau, a failed actor who somehow managed to spend over $6m on making what some regard as the worst film in Hollywood history; The Room. (It scores 3.6 on IMDB for information.)

I would urge you to at least watch some of the ‘Best of The Room’ videos that you can find on Youtube before seeing tThe Disaster Artist.  Better still, go to a screening of the movie which has reached such levels of cult status and interactivity that it’s become a bit like a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening or a Singalonga Sound of Music.

I mean it’s awful.  The Room, that is.

Here we find out how it came about and that means trying to get under the skin of Tommy Wiseau himself, clearly a task that James Franko has tackled with some relish, as he plays the lead role (and, like Wiseua directs the movie). His younger brother Dave Franko plays Wiseau’s best friend Greg who plays Mark in the movie.

It’s outright weird in places as we try to get to grips with Wiseau’s accent – at times he is virtually unintelligible (including in The Room final cut – one of its great charms).  He claims to be from St Louis but he looks Chinese or certainly East Asian and sounds Hungarian or certainly Eastern European.  It’s a bizarre mash up that Franko nails from the off.

Then there’s the money, where does it come from?  No clues are given. And his sexuality?  His relationship with Greg is nothing if not close, but there is no sexual advances made on his ‘baby faced” charge who he takes in to his home in LA.

Seth Rogan has a supporting role as an exasperated Script Supervisor/stand in director when Tommy is on screen – one famous scene required 67 takes and is captured hilariously here.

But it’s all a little sad.  Clearly we are laughing AT Wiseau not WITH him and it all felt a little charmless in that respect.  There’s no doubt Franko pulls it off and his brother also has a good turn, but for me I’d have liked just a spark of sympathy for the big fella.

The movie has gone on to wash its face and Wiseau has milked it enthusiastically over the years – maybe a little more than a caption to that effect would have given Tommy the last laugh.

 

Battle of the Sexes: Movie review.


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Whilst Emma Stone puts down her marker for a possible third Oscar nomination the film as a whole left me slightly cold.  But then, when did you last see a GREAT tennis movie.  That’s right.  You didn’t.

But this potentially offered more because it appeared multi layered and could have been more nuanced than it is.

It tackles two themes simultaneously.  First, Billie Jean King’s lesbian relationship with her hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) that eventually ended in controversy as she was publicly outed by her lover when they split in 1981.  Throughout King remained married to her first love Larry (played sympathetically but a little limply by Austin Stowell).  This is handled very tastefully and, for me, was the better part of the whole.

Second, and the source of the title, the movie explores sexism in the women’s tennis game that led to her breaking away from the WTA and its sexist president, Jack Kramer (in an unconvincing performance by Bill Pullman), and taking on a challenge billed as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES with 55 year old ex tennis champion and self proclaimed Male Chauvinist, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell).

I disliked Carell’s part greatly, not because he didn’t perform it well but that it is written to make him out to be a complete idiot (which no doubt he was).  He becomes a caricature of himself quickly and I neither liked nor disliked him (I was annoyed by him though).  It all makes for a strange mix of comedy, politics, sexuality and revolt.

And the revolt was all too gentlemanly for me – despite the subject matter and the ire it must have stirred nobody really ever loses the plot and so the film lacks edge and dramatic tension.

What’s more, it’s 30 minutes too long and the overwrought soundtrack (Nicholas Britell – it really is a shocker) is over-pervasive and just plain annoying.

Emma Stone rarely puts a foot wrong in my view and at times you really do think BJK is on screen.  That part, and the general 70’s styling of the movie, is excellent but it’s ponderously directed and although the final shoot out between BJK and Riggs has an element of tension we all know the outcome and Britell’s pomp and circumstance was gradually doing my nut in.

Just because you loved Little Miss Sunshine it does not follow that you will love this.

 

European City of Culture. Another example of the foolish implications of Brexit.


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I know a number of people who poured their hearts and souls into Dundee’s bid to become the UK’s contender for European City of Culture 2023.  I don’t know anyone in Leeds, Nottingham, Milton Keynes or Belfast/Derry who did the same, but I bet they too broke their backs and, in some cases, their bank accounts.

But guess what, The EU has decided that the UK has essentially null and voided its application because it has elected to leave Europe’s governing body.

What would I do if I was the European arbiter of this situation?  Exactly the same.  Although I would have had the grace to declare the UK null and void before the process began.  (Now, I appreciate that wasn’t possible as the bids were opened in 2014. But upon declaration of the UK’s intention to leave the EU the implications should have been stated, not the week the entries went in.)

And all those research scientists.  Do they really think they’ll now get those grant applications in the light of this decision?

Sunderland got lucky when Nissan stamped its feet about the Brexit decision and the UK Govt stumped up a ton of dosh to pacify them.  Shame the silly fuckers voted to leave without thinking about the possible consequences for one of their biggest employers.

The UK is a global laughing stock and yet Theresa May marches on regardless. (I have to say JC is not covering himself in glory on this one either.)

In previous protestations I have blamed the Tories for this fiasco and I still do because they are carrying the torch for this and refusing the reconsider, or even listen.  To their own back benches if not the country.

Please dear readers, can we start a revolution?

Why are there no public demonstrations about the utter fuckwittery of this arrogant posturing?

 

 

 

 

A new venture. Spotted by Locals; Edinburgh.


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Look out for my impending travel writing.  I’ve just been interviewed by Bart and Sanne who run Spotted by Locals.  A travel app and website, created in 2008 and reaching over 60 cities, that invites a small group of writers to share their insights into their HOME city.

It’s a great idea because you get insights into cities all over the world from a non commercial perspective and outside of the usual historical or just plain obvious sights.

Anyway there will be five Edinburgh writers when I start.  Looking forward to it.  If anyone has any interesting spots for me to check out do please let me know and I’ll go investigate.

Wind Resistance by Karine Polwart at The Lyceum.


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It’s simply impossible not to go over the top about how wonderful this magical piece of theatre/music/storytelling is.

A standing ovation on a Saturday afternoon from the resolute “we will not give performances a standing ovation at the Lyceum” audience pretty much sums up its brilliance.

Joyce MacMillan’s 5 star review (I nearly always concur with this doyen of Scottish Theatre) supports the case.

My tears in act two (a rare thing in the theatre) closes it.

This is live performance at its very finest.  A beautiful brew of environmentalism, motherly love, medicine and football delivered through stories and song with a simply astounding soundscape and visual technology making for theatrical magic.

Polwart’s performance draws breath again and again.  I could hear sobs and sniffles all over the auditorium as the tale of life near a peat bog in Fala, in the Scottish Borders, drew in strands that connected the nearby ‘beautifull’ (I concur Karine) wind turbines, bird life and tales of birth in 1919 and 2007 with a beautiful symmetry that makes the conclusion achingly beautiful.

Whilst Polwart has published the script and invites others to perform it, it is hers.

100% hers.

Nobody has the range and skill to deliver this monumental (but understated) piece of Scottish theatre like Karine Polwart.

Bravo.

Hats off too to David Grieg for persuading Karine to turn an idea into a thing.

A thing of truly great beauty.

Wow. Just wow. The Killing of a Sacred Deer: Movie review.


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Wow.

Just wow.

Sorry for the repetition.

It’s not easy to reinvent cinema; but Yorgos Lanthimos is doing just that.

He’s pulling in Hollywood A listers to put in career defining performances in his movies and hey, with a Greek shrug of his shoulders, he’s pulling it off.

Agamemnon would cheer; I think.

This is a great piece of work.  It’s art house and it’s extremely challenging, but nobody left the screening I was at, despite several flinching moments.

I can’t review this on a plot basis because it would spoil it entirely.

But I will say it’s a masterpiece in direction, superb acted by all three main protagonists and darkly hilarious, although not many in the auditorium laughed.

And beautiful.

Just beautiful.