Review: ‘The Disaster Artist’ Is The ‘Citizen Kane’ of James Franco Movies

The Disaster Artist is a show biz tale about the making of The Room, which is the worst movie ever made. Its absolute inept storytelling and abysmal acting has earned it with the distinction of being the Citizen Kane of bad movies. Director/actor James Franco turns that seeming dishonor into a much more sublime journey of friendship and perseverance.

Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is a struggling actor who is immediately captivated by Tommy Wiseau’s (James Franco) passionate yet absolutely out there performance during acting class. Wiseau beats to the tune of a different drummer, and Sestero is immediately captivated by his spontaneous friend (the pair drive to the spot where James Dean was killed during the dead of night). This bond eventually leads them to Los Angeles where they pursue their thespian dreams (Sharon Stone has a brief cameo as Sestero’s agent).

Seeing Sestero’s frustration over the lack of opportunities coming his way, Wiseau decides to write a screenplay that will be toplined by both of them, thus leading into the formation of The Room. Armed with an impressively solvent bank account, Wiseau is determined to make a film that spotlights their mutual artistry.

Other filmmakers would have taken this true story (it’s based on Sestero’s book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made) and turned it into a biting satire on the vagaries of movie making. Another storytelling approach would probably focus on Sestero and Wiseau’s lack of talent, humorously mocking them for their failed film.

But Franco has deeper things on his mind, and he turns The Disaster Artist into a surprisingly evocative look at an unlikely friendship that can weather the harshest of storms. A substantial portion of the narrative centers on the making of The Room, and it’s filled with very funny moments with Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Ari Graynor, and Josh Hutcherson, just to name a few. Watching the cast and crew try their honest best to make The Room a good film, even with the well meaning but ultimately egomaniacal Wiseau controlling all aspects of production, is must see viewing that will garner its share of attention.

The emotional anchor of the film rests on the chemistry between the Francos, as their affection for each other immediately pulls us into Sestero and Wiseau’s friendship. When their movie finally premieres to an unsuspecting audience, and the laughter unfurls, we hope these buddies find a way out of this ridicule, and without giving too much away, they both learn to appreciate The Room in an entirely different light.

Franco’s diverse talents as a novelist, teacher, director, and actor have also been criticized over the years, and it’s easy to see why he sees a bit of a kinship with Wiseau. Both men are passionate about creating projects with the ones they love, and one would assume he poured his heart and soul into The Disaster Artist. Though it may not be considered the worst movie of all time, The Disaster Room is definitely the Citizen Kane of James Franco movies and one of my favorite films of 2017.

The Disaster Artist, co-staring Alison Brie and Jackie Weaver, opens nationwide today.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

That’s a Wrap: The Week in Movies

Wes Anderson‘s highly anticipated new film Isle of Dogs has secured an April 20, 2018 release for Fox Searchlight. As expected, Anderson has quite an impressive cast list for the film with Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Greta Gerwig, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Courtney B. Vance, F. Murray Abraham, Fisher Stevens, Frank Wood, Koyu Rankin, Konichi Nomura, Mari Natsuki, Akira Ito, Yojira Noda, Yoko Ono and Akira Takayama all set to appear.

… And here comes the payoff pitch! Deadline reports that M. Night Shyamalan revealed via social media that he’s readying a new film titled Glass, that will serve as a sequel to two of his films – 2000’s Unbreakable and 2017’s Split. As was revealed in Split, the James McAvoy character’s story took place in the same universe as the characters from the Unbreakable film. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson will reprise their Unbreakable roles, while McAvoy and Anya Taylor Joy will reprise their Split roles in Glass, which is expected to arrive on Jan. 18, 2019.

Get that calendar out! The movie studios have been penciling in premiere dates right and left, starting with the news that James Cameron has nailed down the schedule for his Avatar sequels. Look for the first sequel to arrive on Dec. 18, 2020, followed by the second on Dec. 17, 2021, with the third and fourth sequels scheduled for Dec. 20, 2024 and Dec. 19, 2025.

2018 will be filled with three superhero films in the X-Men universe! Fox has announced that New Mutants will open on April 13, with Deadpool 2 set for June 1 and X-Men: Dark Phoenix set for Nov. 2.

Though it is in the works, we’ll have to wait a while longer for a fifth installment in the Indiana Jones franchise. Disney and Lucasfilm have pushed back the release from July 2019 to July 2020.

Walt Disney have also penciled in a sequel to the hugely successful animated film Frozen. Frozen 2 returns to the big screen on Nov. 27, 2019.

There has been talk of a Jon Favreau-helmed live-action remake of The Lion King, and it’s now on the schedule for the summer of 2019. Meanwhile, two more roles have been cast as Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen will portray Timon and Pumbaa, the meerkat and warthog buddy duo.

You’ll have to wait for your prey! The Shane Black-directed update of The Predator has been pushed from February 2018 to Aug. 3, 2018. The film stars Boyd Holbrook, Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Yvonne Strahovski, Olivia Munn, Jacob Tremblay and Edward James Olmos. With Predator vacating its February slot, 20th Century FOX is moving up Maze Runner: The Death Cure to Feb. 9.

The next installment of the Jurassic Park series will have a nod to the original. The Wrap is reporting that Jeff Goldblum has been cast in the movie, where he’ll appear alongside the returning leads Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. J.A. Bayona will direct the film which is scheduled to open June 22, 2018.

Brad Pitt is ready to go to war again … specifically a sequel to World War Z. Variety reports that the actor and his Se7en director David Fincher are expected to sign on for the sequel, which would reportedly start shooting early in 2018.

Deadline reports that Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro are circling an Eric Roth feature film adaptation of David Grann‘s book Killers of the Flower Moon. The movie would be a true crime story based on multiple murders of members of the Osage Indian tribe in Oklahoma after oil is found on their land.

Variety reports that Margot Robbie is in negotiations to play Queen Elizabeth in the new film Mary Queen of Scots, opposite Saorsie Ronan. Josie Rourke is directing the film.

Kevin Hart has signed on to star in an update of the 1988 comedy The Great Outdoors. Universal Pictures is developing the film, which initially starred John Candy as a family man whose getaway vacation is interrupted by his annoying in-laws led by patriarch Dan Aykroyd.

Adam Sandler and Chris Rock will pair up again for the Netflix comedy The Week Of. According to Deadline, the film, directed by Robert Smigel, will shoot this summer and centers on the week of wedding preparation leading up to the nuptials between Sandler’s daughter and Rock’s son. Sandler co-wrote the comedy with Smigel.

Ewan McGregor, currently playing warring twin siblings on Fargo, is in talks to star in the upcoming Disney film, Christopher Robin. Variety reports that the live action film would follow the grown-up Robin, who has lost all his imagination until his childhood friend Winnie the Pooh and his friends help him get it back.

Uma Thurman and Rob Riggle have joined the cast of The War With Grandpa, a comedy that already stars Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken. According to Deadline, the film is based on a book where a child decides to declare war on his grandfather after the man moves into the family home and takes over his bedroom. When Peter devises a plan to make his grandfather give up the room, the old man retaliates.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ang Lee is in negotiations to direct the long gestating project Gemini Man. The action film has been circling Hollywood for nearly 20 years with plenty of talented directors and actors in line to finally bring it to the big screen. The story centers on an aging assassin trying to leave the business who finds himself battling his clone who is 25 years younger than him and at his peak abilities. Deadline reports that Will Smith is in talks to star in the film.

Director McG has bowed out of helming the upcoming Masters of the Universe reboot for Sony Pictures. EW reports that McG has exited the project, with the search on to find a replacement.

Gilles Marini has joined the cast of the WWII drama Burning at Both Ends, which stars Cary Elwes and Judd Hirsch. Marini will play a French policeman who assigned to work as a local liaison for the Gestapo.

The Madonna biopic Blonde Ambition has been optioned by Universal Pictures. According to Deadline, the highly in-demand script follows Madonna’s rise in the New York scene of the ’80s and her struggles to get her first album released while navigating fame, romance and the music industry.

Keeping it in the music scene, The Daily Mail reports a Kinks biopic of sorts is in the works, loosely based off the 2014 West End musical Sunny Afternoon.

Like, oh my god! Can you believe they’re doing a remake of the ’80s film favorite Valley Girl. Gag me with a spoon, it’s also a musical! Deadline reports that Chloe Bennett, Logan Paul, Jessie Ennis and Ashleigh Murray have joined a cast that’s led by Jessica Rothe and Josh Whitehouse.

That’s a Wrap: The Week in Movies

twins_ver3Can you imagine Christian Bale as Dick Cheney? Variety reports that Bale will re-team with his Big Short director Adam McKay in an untitled project about the former Vice-President. Steve Carell would play Donald Rumsfeld in the film, while Amy Adams would star as Lynne Cheney.

Get ready for a sequel nearly two decades in the making. Arnold Schwarzenegger has stated that he’s positive about the prospects for Triplets, a sequel to the 1988 comedy Twins. The original starred Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, who both would reportedly return, while Eddie Murphy would join in as well, and Ivan Reitman would return as director.

According to Deadline, Sly Stallone has decided to bow out of The Expendables franchise. Even though he was due a large payday, the actor exited after he and Nu Image / Millennium could not come to an agreement on the director and script.

Is it Bat vs. Rock? The Walking Dead‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan will star opposite Dwayne Johnson in the upcoming monster movie Rampage. The film, which also stars Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Joe Manganiello, Jake Lacy and Marley Shelton, is expected to be released on April 20, 2018. Morgan will play a government division chief while Johnson is the soldier tasked with stopping the giant monsters.

Jeremy Renner and Hannibal Buress are in talks to join the Ed Helms-led comedy Tag. Variety reports that the film is based on the true story of a group of friends who have been playing a no-holds-barred version of the children’s game Tag for over 30 years.

Director Barry Levinson and comedy great Billy Crystal have joined the new comedy Revival. The film centers on a once great Broadway director who gets stuck writing jingles after a bitter divorce. Deadline reports that Crystal would play the composer, who finds out a nearby high school is staging his most famous musical and becomes obsessed with shutting it down.

If you liked Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., they’re about to team up again in the Ben Wheatley-directed film Freakshift. The action thriller centers on a group of misfit cops who hunt and kill nocturnal underground monsters.

Speaking of on-screen reunions, Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church are reuniting for the indie comedy Shriver. Church stars as the titular depressed and frequently inebriated loner who is mistaken for a reclusive author with the same name. Collette is an English professor who takes a liking to Shriver.

The cast for Ridley Scott‘s drama on the Getty kidnapping is coming together. Deadline reports that Michelle Williams is circling the role of Gail Harris, Kevin Spacey is in talks for the role of J Paul Getty and Mark Wahlberg is circling another major role in the film, which is titled All the Money in the World. In other Ridley Scott news, the director reportedly has interest in helming the war epic Battle of Britain.

Jackie director Pablo Larrain has signed on to direct The True American, starring Tom Hardy. The movie is set in Texas in the days after 9/11 and follows a Muslim immigrant and Bangladesh Air Force vet who narrowly survives a killing spree that claimed two other immigrants.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will reportedly write, direct and produce the feature film Invincible based on the comic series from Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker. The film comes from Kirkman’s deal with Universal Pictures. The movie centers on a normal high school student whose father is the most powerful superhero on the planet.

The Reese Witherspoon-starring film Home Again has been given a Sept. 8 release date. The film, directed and written by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, follows a recently separated mother of two whose new life in L.A. is turned upside down when she takes in three charismatic guys who become her unconventional family. According to Deadline, the cast also includes Nat Woff, Jon Rudnitsky, Pico Alexander, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen and Lake Bell.

Amy Madigan and Peter Fonda have joined the cast of The Last Pull Measure. Deadline reports the project is based on the true story of a young Pentagon investigator (Sebastian Stan) who unravels what really happened in a bloody Vietnam War battle that led to fight to persuade Congress to award the Medal of Honor to an Air Force Pararescue Jumper. Lisa Gay Hamilton, Robert Pine, Samuel L. Jackson, William Hurt, Christopher Plummer, Bradley Whitford, Grant Gustin, Michael Imperioli, Linus Roache and Alison Sudol also star.

Deadline reports that John Travolta has signed on to star in Speed Kills, a John Luessenhop-directed drama based on the life of speedboat racing champ Don Aronow.

Simon Pegg has signed on to star in Katharine O’Brien‘s Lost Transmissions. O’Brien will direct the film which is based on her own script about a shy songwriter who discovers that her friend Theo, a respected record producer, has lapsed in his medication for schizophrenia. Hannah and her friends then try to catch up to Theo and have him committed while he flees following his delusions through the streets of L.A.

‘CinemAddicts’ Podcast Reviews ‘Manhattan Night’ & ‘Hard Sell’

Manhattan night

On this week’s CinemAddicts, we start off the program with Manhattan Night, an intriguing thriller headlined by Adrien Brody and Yvonne Strahovski.

Based on the novel Manhattan Nocture, the movie centers on Porter Wren, a talented yet tabloid driven journalist who always manages to get to the bottom of a story. A mysterious, beautiful woman named Caroline (Strahovski) immediately catches his eye, and Porter’s investigation of her filmmaker husband’s (Campbell Scott) death leads him down dark terrain that may cost him his sanity and his family’s (Jennifer Beals plays his wife) safety. Strahovski is first rate as the story’s femme fatale, and director Brian DeCubillis’ love for Brian De Palma suspense thrillers (Body Double, Blow Out) and film noir is on full display in Manhattan Night.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, which features the additions of Chloe Grace Moretz and Kiersey Clemons, is actually an improvement over the original hit comedy, and though it has its share of gross out moments, the picture has a ton of heart. The documentary Art Bastard, which centers on the life of New York based artist Robert Cenedella, is also covered.

For our streaming picks of the week, I discuss my love for the new indie comedy Hard Sell, a coming of age story featuring solid performances from Skyler Gisondo and Kristin Chenoweth, and Anderson discusses 24 Hour Party People, a flick directed by Michael Winterbottom.

To enter our CinemAddicts giveaways (the winners are announced at the end of the program), please rate and review the show on iTunes.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’ Packs Comedic Punch With Empowering Touch

neighbors2If one were to jump to conclusions, the assumption behind Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising was it would be a rehash of the original and an innocuous cash grab from Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and company. Thankfully, that’s not the case, as the sequel actually brings a fresh take to this suburban adults versus energetic college kids scenario.

Though weed is still a prominent part of their household, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are actually setting into their roles as parents, as their daughter Stella (Zoey Vargas) seems to be a well adjusted kid (even though she’s always using her mother’s vibrator as her own play toy). With another baby girl on the horizon, the couple’s current house is now in escrow as they’ve purchased a newer home in Georgia. Their fraternity nightmares with Teddy (Zac Efron) and his fellow college buddies is long over, and things are definitely looking up for the loving couple.

Trouble comes in the form of freshmen Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), Beth (Dope star Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (a scene stealing Beanie Feldstein), three ladies who are sick of pledging for sororities that depend on fraternities for most of their social activities. These independent minded women want a sisterhood of their own, where they can throw their own parties, and thus they form Kappa Nu and instantly gain popularity thanks to the re-emergence of Teddy.

As much as Mac and Kelly support girl power, Kappa Nu’s noise level is a bane on their neighborhood and could lead to a failed escrow. Meanwhile, Teddy is still in search of a place to belong and to be valued, so helping them form Kappa Nu is his temporary calling. When they eventually separate from Teddy due to creative differences on how to run the sorority, Teddy teams up with his former enemies to take down Kappa Nu.

The movie opens with Kelly throwing up all over Mac during a lovemaking session, and gross out humor fans should be satiated with some of the comedy’s most lowest common denominator moments (a Zac Efron dance scene that goes south comes to mind). Much of the film’s lasting appeal, however, comes from the likable appeal of Moretz and the women that inhabit Kappa Nu. These ladies want to create a sorority that enables each member to express themselves in whichever manner they choose, and it’s hard not to pull for them when their goals come from a pure place. Credit also goes to writer/director Nicholas Stoller for injecting a ton of humor that seems to actually come from real life (for example, Mac and Kelly’s continuing neurosis about being good parents) rather than simply low brow, raunchy humor.

One of the wonderful surprises behind Neighbors was witnessing the maturation of Teddy from a two dimensional frat boy to a caring friend (Dave Franco, who plays Teddy’s best bud Pete, is also back), and thankfully Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising gives Teddy even more space to grow as a person.

There’s a ton of humor to keep you laughing in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, but there’s also a bit of heart and substance thrown in for good measure. As sequels go, this movie absolutely hits the mark and it’s actually an improvement over the original.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising opens Friday.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi