Tommy Wiseau’s hyponitising confusion

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There’s something wonderful about The Room’s unquestionable failure. It’s the type of cinematic magic that can only happen when someone utterly without fear or talent sinks millions of dollars into expressing their strange views about love and the world through film. Tommy Wiseau is a person far weirder than fiction, and as Sestero writes about their friendship the worst movie ever made becomes even more fascinating to watch.

Note:

I struggled to use a different word other than strange to describe Tommy Wiseau 9 times while writing this.

Sestero

Greg Sestero is a young, handsome, and unbearably naive actor when this book begins. He’s also The Diaster Artist ‘s co-author, a book chronicling his time with Wiseau and the making of The Room.

He’s a clearly dedicated young man lacking any concrete signs of talent in what he most wants to do. A dreamer eventually plunged into fame through a more confusing and embarrassing way than he could have imagined.

Starring in what is cheerfully agreed around the world as one of the most laughably bad films made since Ed Wood picked up a camera tends to do nasty thing to someone’s acting career.

Wiseau

He says he’s a vampire. He has a multi-millionaire dollar fortune and no one can figure out where it’s come from. His accent is clearly Eastern European crossed with Martian yet he claims to be from New Orleans. He has the world’s weirdest ass, and puts it on camera at every chance. He wrote, directed, starred in, and distributed the world’s strangest softcore romance produced in a confused attempt at Oscar bait, depression and rage.

No, really.

Things get weird.

The book gets incredibly emotional at times.

No, really.

It’s heartbreaking and uplifting. The Room was Tommy Wiseua’s pure angst put on screen, all his frustrations about friendship and love and community. He just doesn’t understand it. He’s a homesick alien desperate to make an honest connection, and by the end of the book may just have found one. Maybe.

The Really, Really Terrible Movie

I’ve forced my friends to watch it multiple times. The movie is best in a group, with tons of screaming at the screen as the nightmare unfolds. Sometimes they love it. Sometimes they hate it. They always laugh.

Many people have already seen The Room. It’s fair to call it a cult classic at this point. Many haven’t, though, and will find out about it soon through James Franco’s new adaptation of The Disaster Artist ‘The Masterpiece’.

If you haven’t watched this film, though, do yourself a favour. Get a group, make a bowl of popcorn, and put on Tommy Wiseau’s masterpiece. In full. Keep the lights on. Go in with the right mindset and have one of the funniest nights of your entire life.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan – Review

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“It’s already clear to me how much of life is forgotten even as it happens. Most of it. The unregarded present spooling away from us, the soft tumble of unremarkable thoughts, the long-neglected miracle of existence.”

A murder-mystery novel from the point of view of a foetus would have been a concept bizarre enough to get my attention, even if it hadn’t been written by Ian “My Prose is Fucking Immaculate” McEwan. Unfortunately, this novel left me frustrated and annoyed despite some incredible strengths from a stylistic point of view.

The writing is stellar; the characters are generally well-drawn, if slightly flat; however, the potential of an unusual narrator — a young foetus seeing the world from fresh eyes — is disregarded.

Instead of merely brushing aside the issue of an intelligent foetus narrator and jumping joyfully into magical realism, there is the groan-worthy (if slightly tongue in cheek) explanation that his mother listens to a lot of Radio 4 and podcasts. Explaining something which can have no satisfying logical explanation just draws readers out of the world that’s been created; it would have been far better if this hadn’t even been addressed. McEwan should have had trust that the reader would have come on this journey with him regardless of its internal logic, because logic is simply not something most engaged readers pick up literature for. Ingenuity should always trump believability.

Still, I was hopeful for an interesting perspective on the world even if things were off to a stilted start. Then the foetus develops a taste for wine, and rhapsodises on the subject endlessly. He despises bores, and is a fierce proponent of science. He also is apparently very invested in what goes on inside campus colleges in America. That was when I realised that this foetus has the personality of upper-class sixty-eight year old writer named Ian McEwan. It’s frankly bizarre and more than a little lazy.

McEwan’s prose is sparkling as always, flying between topics, but this actually works against the novel. Its basic conceit is one of a helpless infant watching his family collapse into murder, and yet he is always acute and rational about everything that’s happening, draining away any sense of helplessness.

So the dissonant tone was something I couldn’t get over, although it did warrant reflection on other books which did unusual narrative perspectives justice. Flowers for Algernon and The Sound and The Fury, for example, are both heavily described from a mentally underdeveloped point of view, but feel no less complex or rich in subtext because of this: the stilted grammar and spelling used in both acted as a way to make us appreciate the desperation of someone who wasn’t able to communicate effectively. The narrator of Nutshell is trapped inside his own mother, with nothing but kicks as a way to talk to her, yet he never feels alive (and not in a clever meta way as a comment on what it must be like to be a foetus); there’s no true fear or even raw emotion, and so there’s little investment on the part of the reader.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t engaged at points, though. The structure of the novel combines with the as-mentioned intensely readable prose to make the book satisfying to glide through, although I’ll never feel the urge to pick it up again. It ultimately comes across as masturbatory on the part of the author, a writer of incredible ability who simply couldn’t be bothered to stretch himself too far from the norm while still wanting to put on a façade of experimentation.

If an author chooses an unusual protagonist, the difficulties this might entail in regards to prose need to be embraced. Half-hearted an interesting premise with rote stylization is just a waste.