Two books, two films, four quicktakes

I will close out 2017 with a couple of QuickTakes. First up is the book and film The Glass Castle.

Book

The Glass Castle written by Jeannette Walls (Previously reviewed here)

Film

The Glass Castle writers Destin Daniel Cretton and Andrew Lanham directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Rating *****

It’s been six years since I read the book. What I remembered of the book was that the author’s parents, especially the father, came across as sympathetic at times and borderline crazy at other times. Woody Harrelson does a good job of showing both of these emotional juxtapositions. The script hit all of the highs and lows from the book. As you watch the film you want to strangle both parents, but then one or both will do something that redeems them ever so briefly. I don’t think anyone could have done a better job than Woody Harrelson did in this part. He deserves a best actor nomination. I especially liked seeing clips of the real people during the credits.

Book

The Disaster Artist written by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell
Rating **** 1/2

I both read and listened to this book. I enjoyed the audio version. It’s one thing to try and capture someone’s voice when writing a character.  Tommy Wiseau, the man at the center of this story, is one unique character with a strange affect and even stranger accent. Author Greg Sestero does a very good job of recreating both in his narration.

I have not seen the film The Room. Having read this book and just recently seen the film based on the book, I would have liked to have been able to watch the film. Someone dropped the ball here. Tommy, if you are reading this, get on the phone right now with Netflix. You are missing out by not having your film available for streaming. Then again, after reading the book and watching the film by James Franco, I’m pretty sure Tommy won’t listen to me.

Lots of people are willing to fund their own projects, whether that means a book or a film. But I don’t think you will find very many people willing to put up six million dollars of their own cash to see their vision come to life. That’s what Tommy Wiseau did. My only problem with the book was that I felt it ended too abruptly. I wanted to know what happened after the premier. No epilogue. No update on how and when things turned around. There are hints and anecdotes sprinkled throughout, but I would have liked another three or four chapters to tell the story of what happened once Tommy’s six million dollar bet netted him just $1,800 in ticket sales.

Film

The Disaster Artist written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, directed by James Franco
Rating *****

I happened to see this film just days after finishing the book. James Franco nails it. He was crazy. He was sympathetic. He was honest. There are a couple of times in the movie where James Franco displays vulnerability without any dialogue. He very easily could have made this into a mocking of Tommy Wiseau and the film The Room. Instead, he tells a very human story of someone with determination and many flaws. I loved the whole premiere scene. Tommy’s reaction once the audience starts laughing is memorable. I think James Franco is also deserving of a best actor nomination.

The film condenses time and does away with some story lines in the book, but those compromises don’t diminish the story being told. The irony here is that what many consider to be a very bad movie has resulted in a very entertaining one.

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