If you’re not a fan of Star Wars but looking for a new release to see in theaters, you have several other options to choose from. Two of these include The Disaster Artist, a biographical comedy-drama from James Franco about the making of Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult film The Room, and The Shape of Water, a dark fantasy drama from Guillermo de Toro.
The Disaster Artist stars James Franco as aspiring actor and filmmaker Tommy Wiseau, who after a brief attempt at becoming an actor in Hollywood, decides to make his own film, which today is known as The Room, a movie that is considered by some to be one of the worst ever made. In The Disaster Artist, James’ real life younger brother Dave plays Greg Sestero, Tommy Wiseau’s friend, roommate, and partner in his film.
Whether you’re familiar with Wiseau, have seen The Room, or are simply viewing The Disaster Artist without any additional information, it’s quickly apparent that Wiseau is quite the eccentric character and practices some very questionable methods when it comes to filmmaking and socializing with other people in general. In the film, Wiseau thinks very highly of himself, mistreats others, and appears to have some sort of accent, yet it is unclear where he is from or even how old he is.
In this offbeat, comedic film about the making of a film that is eventually deemed to be a disaster, Franco appears to knock his portrayal of Wiseau out of the park. Along with Dave Franco, this film is filled with an ensemble cast made up of Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver, Hannibal Buress, Ari Graynor, Paul Scheer, Zac Efron and more. The actual Tommy Wiseau, among other real life characters from The Room, are seen in the credits part of The Disaster Artist in order to show how well they are portrayed.
All in all, The Disaster Artist is quite a bizarre film, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t entertaining on many levels. The film has received an array of award nominations, from Best Motion Picture and Best Actor at the Golden Globes, to Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, to name a few. While I haven’t had a chance to see The Room, I’d imagine the experience of watching The Disaster Artist is only strengthened with a better understanding of the real Tommy Wiseau, but Franco’s film still has much to offer on it’s own.
The Disaster Artist is rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity. The Running time is 1 hour and 44 minutes. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
In Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, a mute janitor named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works the night shift at a high-security government research facility in 1960s Baltimore. When the facility receives an amphibian humanoid creature for experimentation, Elisa begins secretly spending time with it during her shift. Eventually, Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) orders that the creature’s body be harvested for further study, but Elisa convinces her neighbor to help break it out of containment, which leads to a messy turn of events as Elisa attempts to hide and aid the creature that is now out in the open.
According to del Toro, inspiration for the film stems from his novel “Trollhunters,” as well as Rachel Ingalls’ novel “Mrs. Caliban” about a lonely housewife who finds companionship with a character from her imagination. It has similarities to the 2015 short film The Space Between Us and also draws inspiration from del Toro’s childhood memories of seeing Creature from the Black Lagoon and wanting to see “Gill-man” (the creature) get together with actress Julie Adams.
If you’re familiar with del Toro’s other work, you know that monsters and creatures are common themes, among other things in his films. With The Shape of Water, the filmmaker combines his childhood fantasy of the creature getting the girl with a story of torment and tragedy that examines the relationship between two unlikely lovers to create what some of calling a powerful masterpiece. The film has very impressive visuals, a thrilling music score, and features a cast made up of Hawkins, Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Doug Jones, Nick Searcy, Lauren Lee Smith and Michael Stuhlbarg.
The Shape of Water is rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language. Running time is 2 hours and 3 minutes. 3 out of 5 stars.
Both The Disaster Artist and The Shape of Water are currently playing in theaters.