THE DISASTER ARTIST: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made – by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell

Anyone who has seen THE ROOM can attest to that moment perhaps just after the first line of dialogue out of Tommy Wiseau’s mouth or maybe not until the end credits roll when they stop and think, wait…”What?” or maybe “How?” or the exponentially more philosophical “Why?”

Greg Sestero as “Mark” and Tommy Wiseau in the infamous Rooftop Scene.

 

 

THE ROOM, is an independent film produced and released in 2003 with a filming budget of six-million dollars  and a first screening run ticket sales of nineteen-hundred.

 

 

Yet the film continues to play on numerous theater screens around the country, has been taught in university film studies classes as a modern-era “Plan Nine From Outer Space”, and has garnered cult-like status for its stars. One of those stars, Greg Sestero (aka “Mark”), has now co-written along with award-winning journalist Tom Bissell, his account of the making of the film and his relationship with its enigmatic and curiously fascinating and mysterious writer/director/producer/financier/star: Tommy Wiseau, titled THE DISASTER ARTIST, out this month from Simon & Schuster.

A decade after the film’s release, Sestero is famous for playing “Mark”–though not in the way he probably originally hoped when he started pursuing acting. He is also incredibly kind and extremely generous with his fans. Somehow even within the sometimes awkward and repetitive onslaught of cultish fandom he manages to find the humor in his situation. Appearing at midnight screenings where audiences dress up, throw things at the screen, and scream lines along with characters, he’ll pose for pictures and sign autographs. He’ll even toss around a football with a fan. It’s clear from reading the book that this open and kind attitude is exactly what led him to being swept up into Wiseau’s world. Now with THE DISASTER ARTIST he lets people in even further, into his memories and experience making the film.

There are thousands of bad movies made every year, why THE ROOM has stuck–why it manages to be an exercise in continuity errors, rambling narrative, and plot canyons and yet be so entertaining is a fascinating question. The book examines why the film was made, who Wiseau actually is (genius, intentional or not?), and how movies get made (badly or not), but more than that THE DISASTER ARTIST is a fascinating page-turning story (almost impossible to believe it’s not fiction) of one man’s drive to create a work of art, what constitutes art, and what makes an artist.

You don’t have to have seen The Room in order to be drawn into this story, but if you have, this book may help answer at least part of the “?!” most people feel upon viewing.

 

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PERV: THE SEXUAL DEVIANT IN ALL OF US – Jesse Bering

 

Do you have genitals?

Do you have a human brain with complex psychology?

Do you exist in a society?

YOU PERVERT.

 

 

Don’t worry, though, you’re not alone. Psychologist Jesse Bering’s latest PERV: THE SEXUAL DEVIANT IN ALL OF US, (follow-up to last year’s WHY IS THE PENIS SHAPED LIKE THAT) out this month from MacMillan, shines the light on the often times blush-worthy subject of human sexuality, especially fetishes and paraphilia (the intense sexual arousal to highly atypical objects, situations, or individual). With actual scientific data to back up his plain language exploration of the history, politics, and cultural impact and attitudes of sex, Bering calls readers to examine sexuality and paraphilia from an amoral place, without moral judgement or shame.

 

Once we understand the science behind the desire, Bering claimed at a recent appearence at Town Hall, we will be better prepared to deal with its various possible impacts on society.

This book is a fascinating read, not lacivous, but a frank and entertaining page-turner even when broaching complex subjects and the sometimes silly and also darker corners of human sexuality. You may learn something about yourself, or come to view your fellow human beings with a little more understanding–After all birds do it, bees do it, even HUMAN BEINGS do it.

 

 

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HYPERBOLE AND A HALF: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms and Other Things That Happened – by Allie Brosh.

If you’ve been on the internet any time in the last few years you’ve probably seen
this figure somewhere, maybe with the caption “[X] all the [Y]”. The meme was born (or stolen depending on your opinion of fair-use) from one of web-comic artist Allie Brosh’s works.

That yellow triangle…mohawk?…party hat? Actually it’s a blond ponytail. This is Allie Brosh’s representation of herself from her wildly popular blog/webcomic Hyperbole and a Half, which she started in 2009–and is now compiled, with new material, in a book HYPERBOLE AND A HALF: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms and Other Things That Happened (out October 29th from Simon & Schuster). Except this isn’t just Allie, this figure has become the everyman (and everywoman) of the internet and beyond, the avatar of so many people who felt slightly odd or awkward but who along with and through Brosh have learned that they’re not so alone after all. Whether it’s dealing with mentally challenged dogs, the desperate need for cake, the cycle of procrastination, or the affects of depression. Brosh has been able to express the absurdist hilarity of life’s most mundane or trying moments through a distinct visual medium–MS PAINT.

With simple but magically evocative drawings and bright bold colors, Brosh manages to convey the absolute frenetic energy of a hyper dimwitted dog:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or the seering, vengeful rage of a toddler denied cake: 

 

The blog, with its scrollablity favored well into the comic genre, the reveal of each consecutive cell a treat. The book mirrors that sensation, the hilarious reveal planned perfectly with each page.

This book is laugh out loud hilarious, but it is more than simply a book of funny comics. It’s incredibly personal, memoirist, insightful, honest, and hilarious.

Brosh’s work has always had a deeper, psychological bent. After not posting for several months, Allie returned this past May with “Depression: Part Two” wherein she recounts her struggle with the condition. Her honesty and humor struck an emotional chord with fans and earned her many new ones. The final chapter of the book “Identity: Part Two” features Brosh digging deep into what kind of person she actually is, in Brosh’s own words: F*cking Sherlock Holmes, Psychology Explorer.

The hilarity comes in the shared experience that Brosh’s darker side, is our own. Whether it’s her sugar crazed, power drunk, pure ID toddler version of herself or her apathetic, “wanting to do good but maybe just because we care what people think of us” adult self, we are right there alongside her: trying to be grown ups, feeling awkward at times, hating spiders, getting attacked by geese, and spending too much time online–basically livin’ life to its fullest:

I like this book, alot.