The Disaster Artist, 2017

Directed by: James Franco

Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco

IMDb

The Disaster Artist was a pretty great film. I can’t recommend it (and the titular Disaster it tells the story of) highly enough.

If you’re not aware, The Room is heralded as one of the worst films ever made, and it has gained an ever-growing cult status in the years since its release. For my Sydney friends, The Hayden Orpheum in Cremorne (not sponsored, I swear) hosts a screening on the first Friday of every month and it’s a great laugh. The cult movie experience is more than worth the price of admission. One of the most striking things about The Room is its Director/Writer/Producer/Star Tommy Wiseau: a vampire-looking man of unknown origins and a notable lack of… any talent, and the way he presents himself is intriguingly strange. He’s a truly interesting and mysterious real-life figure.

James Franco absolutely knocked me out with his performance as Tommy. What a truly captivating character, and what a seamless performance/portrayal. I did not for a moment see James Franco, I saw Tommy. There were times that I totally forgot I was watching a performance and thought it was really the man himself. Truly legendary. One of the most convincing performances I’ve seen of any kind in years.

Everyone else was good too. Dave Franco played the other lead, Greg, very well and very sympathetically, despite being vastly upstaged by his brother. I particularly enjoyed the minor characters played by Josh Hutcherson and Seth Rogen. You really get the impression that tonnes of celebrities were pining super hard to be involved in this production, and their passion is felt very strongly. Everyone feels like they’re having a good time.
If I were to nitpick, I would say that it was actually kind of distracting having so many super-famous people in the movie, it kind of distracted from their characters a little. This isn’t a serious issue though.

The story is captivating in that it makes you immediately curious right from the get-go as to just how The Room came to be. It would probably be less interesting if it weren’t based on a true story, but fortunately for us it really happened and damn is it interesting. The story does get a little cheesy at points in ways that depart from the actual truth of the sequence of events, but I feel that these changes do ultimately benefit the film as a whole.

It’s a really funny movie as well. You will probably appreciate it more having seen The Room though, so if you haven’t I would recommend at least looking up a ‘best of’ list of moments on youtube or something.

Soundtrack, cinematography, editing and directing were all good, but not particularly notable. That’s ok though, this is a character driven movie and it succeeds to a spectacular degree at being that.

Hurry up and go see it. It’s awesome.

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The Founder, 2016

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch

IMDb

The Founder stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the ‘Founder’ of McDonalds and chronicles the true story of his and McDonalds rise to the goliath of a company that it is today. The film clearly sets out to depict the events accurately, and they certainly don’t sugar coat it: Ray Kroc was a total asshole, but he was also kind of brilliant and inspiring.

Michael Keaton’s performance was just perfect. I have no more to say on the matter. I also really liked Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the McDonald brothers. They felt very real and sympathetic, but the film never oversteps its bounds in manipulating the audience to feel for them through dramatic soundtrack, it’s really just the circumstances and the performances pushing the emotional buttons, which is a style I feel works well for this kind of story. The knowledge that the events unfolding really happened is more than sufficient to make you feel sympathetic

Honestly the best reason to see this movie is to see the story play out, it’s very interesting, it’s not too long, and you will easily be captivated from start to finish. It really is fascinating to see how it all played out. It was also very well shot and had some really great character scenes, which certainly don’t hurt the viewing experience.

I feel as though some of the sub-plots were very rushed and thus felt a little unsatisfying, and the soundtrack was a little stock in places, but otherwise I have very little to complain about here.

I expected The Founder to be good, but it was honestly a little better than what I was expecting. If you’re at all interested, check out the trailer, it very accurately depicts the kind of movie you’re going to get. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch… ) And strangely, despite all the awful history about McDonalds I’d just learned, I was craving a Quarter Pounder afterwards. Not sure how to explain that one.

I highly recommend The Founder.

Hacksaw Ridge, 2016

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey

IMDb

Hacksaw Ridge is definitely worth seeing. Great performances, directing, cinematography with a really inspiring story, based on true events.

The story is about Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield). A conscientious objector in WWII acting as a combat medic. The first half of the film plays out like a Christian drama with Doss growing up in the south, developing the wish to never kill anyone and fighting for his right to not bare arms, while training in boot camp. The second half takes place in Hacksaw Ridge, Okinawa, where the battle takes place and Doss proves his worth without ever having to handle a weapon.

I think this was the perfect story for Mel Gibson to be directing. If his style can be narrowed down to two elements they would be Christian Values and Intense violence/graphic imagery. This story already embodies both really well, and Gibson managed to take it a step further. The film is very heavy-handed when it comes to the religious values it presents, but never forces them upon the viewer, nor criticises those who don’t. It’s some of the least judgemental/propagandistic use of religion I’ve ever seen in a film.

The battle scenes were also very well handled, cleverly using elements from horror films in order to put the audience in the terrifying position of the soldiers. It’s very intense and doesn’t hold back on graphic acts or images, but I feel like this only works to the film’s benefit. Like I said before, this is just a really good story. Once the actual acts that Doss is known for start happening, it’s really hard to not feel a sense of awe to know that this really happened.

I have very few real criticisms here. Like most films based on a true story, the pacing is a bit wonky, as the screenwriters had to work around the actual order of events. Some bits also end up seeming a bit cheesy, which thrusts you out of the film to wonder if that really happened.

I highly recommend Hacksaw Ridge. Go see it!