Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Monday, March 05, 2018

2017 Film Roundup, Part 4: The Rest (The Good, the Bad and the Godawful)

The annual post-Oscar film roundup is a pre-blog tradition. It comes in four parts. In addition to this section, there's The Oscars and the Year in Review, The Top Four and Noteworthy Films.

Murder on the Orient Express: Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of one of Agatha Christie's most famous mysteries isn't as good as Sidney Lumet's 1974 classic, but like Lumet, Branagh tries to assemble an all-star cast. Similar to the 2011 remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the film is the equivalent of a new production of a classic play with a new cast and is worth a look. Branagh both directs and stars as master detective Hercule Poirot, who he plays as obsessive-compulsive and an aesthete. Branagh's a fine actor and tackles the part with verve, but you may find yourself entranced by Poirot's elaborate handlebar moustache as much as Branagh's piercing blue eyes. As the title suggests, someone is murdered on a train, and Poirot (who was just trying to enjoy a vacation) must figure out who done it. The scenario dictates a fairly contained set, and Branagh occasionally throws in overly flashy camera moves to try to open things up; they're so unnecessary they draw attention to themselves and away from the story or even the presumed point of the shot. Branagh's a good actor's director, as he shows again here, so I wish he had just trusted his skills and the performances instead, and opted for effective versus flashy camerawork. Perhaps the best scene in Lumet's version features a long, uninterrupted take as Albert Finney as Poirot circles Ingrid Bergman's character as he interrogates her; the camerawork is so subtle it's easy to miss the technique if you're not looking for it, but the effect quietly increases tension to the point of claustrophobia, anchored by a great, Oscar-winning performance by Bergman. Along with crazy crane zooms in Branagh's version, some of the added comedy feels a bit forced as well. Branagh (or the studio) seem worried that the kids today will get bored without some glitter. But in the end, we're here to see good acting, and the film delivers; in addition to Branagh, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Pfeiffer are standouts. Johnny Depp plays the sleazy Edward Ratchett and has a great scene with Branagh wherein Rachett tries to hire Poirot. Star Wars star Daisy Ridley is also pretty good, and it's nice to see her do well in this kind of material. If you like any of the cast or appreciate mysteries, check this one out; there's a reason this story is famous, and although Lumet's version is better, this is an entertaining outing. Branagh might be making Christie's Death on the Nile next.

Mudbound: This period film follows two families, one white, one black, and premiered at Sundance before being picked up by Netflix. Henry McAllen (Jason Clarke) is swindled on a property deal and takes up farming in Mississippi, which entails living in a small cabin without indoor plumbing or any niceties; Henry's wife, Laura (Carey Mulligan) is none too pleased about the setting or raising their daughters there. Nearby tenant farmer Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) isn't thrilled about what Henry demands of him, but bears it with good grace. His wife, Florence (Mary J. Blige), works as a housekeeper for the McAllens until Hap is injured. Henry's father, "Pappy" (Jonathan Banks), is a virulent racist, making for some tension. Laura acts much more kindly toward the Jacksons, and she and Florence help each other out in small and later significant ways. Meanwhile, Jason's brother, Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), and Hap's son, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), are both returning World War II vets and hit it off well. Ronsel chafes at being treated like a second-class citizen after relative freedom in Europe. Jamie is likely suffering from PTSD, and cares little for racial divisions, but doesn't always seem to fully account for how Ronsel might be endangered by the time they spend together. This is a good but not great film that I wanted to like more than I did. Director Dee Rees gets good performances from her lead actors, particularly Mitchell, Hedlund and the always-good Mulligan. Blige is decent, but I didn't think she deserved an Oscar nomination for acting (absolutely for her song, though). Cinematographer Rachel Morrison nabbed an Oscar nomination, but the opening scene is so darkly shot it's almost impossible to see anything (possibly not her choice, and her other work is solid). For Rees' part, narratively, the opening is an odd choice to start a film and to introduce key characters; I suspect the execution did not fully match the intent. Mudbound felt overhyped, but it's still worth a rental. The racial dynamics are interesting, and it earns points for some originality and memorable scenes.

Darkest Hour: As with most biopics, the lead performance in Darkest Hour is much better than the surrounding film. The versatile Gary Oldman is made to look like the much more heavyset Winston Churchill during World War II and, well, arguably Great Britain's darkest hour, when surrender to Germany looked like a real and perhaps the only option. Churchill is pugnacious, stubborn, and has an irascible nature, angering his colleagues and opponents as much as they do him. But this nature, coupled with his accurate assessment of Hitler, makes him the right man for the right time, and Oldman tackles the role with gusto. The film ignores Churchill's bigotry and a scene on London's new subway system ("the Tube") where Churchill mingles with the people starts decently but then becomes painfully sappy and implausible. (Apparently, the real Churchill did mingle above ground, but never had a crisis of faith.) This is British mythmaking and director Joe Wright's least nuanced film, and I wanted more. It is worth seeing for Oldman, though, and more interesting because of Dunkirk coming out in the same year and those events playing a central role in Darkest Hour. (Meanwhile, Brian Cox played the famous man in Churchill, also in 2017, although I've yet to see that.) Kristen Scott Thomas, Lily James and Stephen Dillane are good in small roles.

Logan Lucky: Steven Soderbergh delivers a decent but not great heist film centered on a Southern family, the Logans, supposedly cursed by bad luck. Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) works construction in North Carolina but is fired. His ex-wife, Bobbie (Katie Holmes), and her husband plan to move out of town, making it harder if not impossible for Jimmy to see his young daughter anymore. Logan's brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), is a sad sack who runs a bar and has a prosthetic arm due to an Iraq War injury. Jimmy decides they should change their fortunes by robbing the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a NASCAR race; his construction job let him see how food vendors use pneumatic tubes to collect money downstairs. They need to assemble a crew, most notably their sister Mellie (Riley Keogh) and Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), a bomb expert who insists that the Logans also use Joe's two dumb brothers on the job. Craig's Southern accent is dodgy, but he's fun to watch, and the rest of the actors are pretty likable as well. Soderbergh keeps things pretty light, and most of the humor is of the bumbling crook variety, but occasionally the Logans show themselves to be surprisingly clever. Hilary Swank is a late arrival as an FBI agent and makes some odd acting choices, perhaps going for quirky but landing in the realm of the distractingly strange. Seth McFarlane is memorable as a pompous, British race team owner. Katherine Waterson plays Sylvia, a do-gooder running a health clinic who Jimmy used to know in high school. Waterson's fine, but it's a slight role. This is an okay rental, but it's hard not to think of Soderbergh's best heist film, his ridiculously enjoyable version of Ocean's Eleven.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi: The latest Star Wars flick is a mixed bag. For the new crew, former stormtrooper-turned-rebel Finn (John Boyega) and raw, developing Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) remain interesting. In this installment, hotshot flyboy Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) gets to do much more, and Rose, an earnest rebel techie (Vietnamese-American actress Kelly Marie Tran), makes a welcome addition. (Her introduction was funny, a fangirl moment over Finn, and I liked that she's not a conventional starlet. I also liked that the Resistance was diverse but just as a matter of fact, never commented on.) Maz briefly appears, but it feels like a forced cameo. For the bad guys, Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) actually gets a featured fight this time, even if it's too brief for my tastes. Of the old crew, Leia (the much missed Carrie Fisher) gets several good moments. Chewie, C-3PO and R2-D2 basically have cameos, although they're welcome all the same. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is also back, and get some stellar scenes by the end.

In the meantime, writer-director Rian Johnson (of Looper and Brick) has Luke walk away from Rey, who wants to be trained, at least four times, and it gets really tiresome. A visually neat mirror sequence when Rey goes into a pit strong with the Dark Side (shades of the tree in The Empire Strikes Back) doesn't really go anywhere narratively. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey form a bond of sorts, but Kylo remains whiny, petulant and easily the least interesting arch-villain in the franchise. We get to see more of the evil-emperor-with-a-dumb-name Snoke (voiced and motion-captured by Andy Serkis), and we're told a bit more about how he recruited Kylo, but only a little. Basically, as with the previous installment, The Force Awakens (reviewed here), it seems as if the major story has taken place mostly off-screen. Although the Empire wouldn't just completely fold up after the destruction of the Death Star, the loss of a key fleet, and the death of both the emperor and Vader in Return of the Jedi, those were nonetheless four colossal setbacks, utterly demoralizing and representing a massive victory for the Rebel Alliance. How did the Empire's successor, the First Order, completely take over the galaxy? Where did Snoke come from? How could Kylo Ren, son of Han and Leia, and trained by Luke, turn out evil? Were the key three heroes from the original trilogy the worst child-rearers ever, unable to intercede? A series of Rashomon-like flashbacks with Luke and Kylo showing the same events from their different perspectives is intriguing, but the clips are short and leave us with many questions; Snoke doesn't really explain much more. (Bridging the gap between Episodes VI and VII might be something the studio does with its later films, including a new trilogy in the works, but it's a huuuuuge leap. )

The biggest problems, though, are with plotlines involving the newer characters. The center of the movie is a long-and-slow space chase with the First Order ships chasing the Resistance ships, who are running out of fuel; the First Order has developed tech to somehow track them through hyperspace, so they can't jump. Finn and Rose go on an implausibly lengthy side mission in the middle of all this to recruit someone to disable the tracker. Although Benicio del Toro's character, DJ, introduces some welcome moral complexity by pointing out to the pair that he's sold arms to the Resistance as well as the First Order, narratively, the side quest feels largely pointless – exemplified by a casino scene and a high-roller apparently just there as red herrings. Meanwhile, although Laura Dern is normally a fine actress, as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, she lacks steel and is woefully unconvincing as an authority figure. Her conflicts with Poe Dameron make little sense and scream of bad writing; what's maddening is that just a few tweaks could have solved obvious objections made by many viewers. (In contrast, in Poe's conflicts with Leia over the early bombing run, they both make good points.) Give The Last Jedi credit for a memorable climatic showdown, and many other good moments besides, but its errors feel awfully unforced, making them all the more painful. I suspect "too many cooks" was a key problem. Here's hoping the filmmakers stick the landing with Episode IX. Plenty more in the…

Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman is an above-average superhero movie and was a summer cultural phenomenon. Wonder Woman is probably the most famous female superhero, and Wonder Woman is really the first good DC comics movie since Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Director Patty Jenkins becomes the first woman to helm a superhero blockbuster, with its appeal to female moviegoers playing a huge part of its success. Diana/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is supposedly not born, but crafted from clay by the Greek god Zeus, growing up on the magically hidden island Themyscira (Paradise Island in some of the comics), where the all-female Amazon warriors train to defend the world from the Greek god of war, Ares. One day, the illusion that hides the island is crossed accidentally by an American pilot working with the British during World War I, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). The Amazons help Steve defeat some pursuing Germans, he tells them what's happening in the outside world, and Diana is convinced that only Ares could be behind the war. She steals the "godkiller" sword that supposedly can slay Ares, and taking her magic lasso and armor, leaves with Steve for London; he's carrying news about a lethal gas being developed by a German evil scientist, Isabel Maru (Elena Anaya), aided by German general, Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston). Diana and Steve manage to convince the British high command of the peril, and they assemble a team to somehow get into German territory.

The core of Wonder Woman's success is Gal Gadot's performance as Diana/Wonder Woman. She's tall, athletic, and convincing in the action scenes, has charisma, and shows not only wit but deep compassion. She and Pine have great chemistry together, providing both humorous banter and plenty of flirtation. The film provides several memorable scenes, including a montage of Diana trying out British women's clothing in London, testing the outfits for the ability to fight in them (most fall short, of course). Diana dealing with a sniper in a tower is impressive and also funny, and a charge she leads across No Man's Land may be the most striking sequence of the film. Diana is a heroine not because she overcomes emotion, but because she feels it, and her compassion for the victims of war both defines the character and drives the plot. I also appreciate that the film is set in World War I and isn't yet another World War II flick; the later war has many great films about it, of course, but also plenty of mediocre ones and the subject is just overdone. I think the First World War is too little remembered and its dynamics (more moral complexity, mass slaughter, dehumanization) make a much better fit for the main character's journey.

The film has some issues, though. The Amazon mythology isn't really explained; in the comics, the Amazons are supposed to be immortal, but in the movie, viewers might be left wondering how an island of only women reproduces or persists. The Amazon actresses adopt an invented "Themysciran" accent, but they're not consistent, which occasionally makes for some unintentional comedy, as when Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta asks Steve Trevor, "What eess your meeeshun?" The final battle opts for visual effect spectacle over human (or demigod) drama, which is typical for the genre but remains a choice I almost always dislike. It seems like a wasted opportunity given the strength of the movie's best scenes, which trust the performances by Gadot and the other actors. Still, the movie's worth checking out if you haven't already.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: It's not as good as the first movie (reviewed here), but it's still a lot of fun, and develops a few of the secondary characters nicely. The Guardians are hired by the Sovereign – a haughty, gold-skinned race that considers itself superior to everyone else – to defend special energy batteries from an interdimensional monster (with plenty of teeth and tentacles, naturally). This leads to an entertaining opening credits sequence. The feat also earns the Guardians Gamora's half-sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan) as payment, but Rocket reverts to his scoundrel ways, earning the enmity of the Sovereign. Soon the Guardians are being pursued by the Sovereign as well as Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his crew. Luckily, they're saved by the mysterious Ego (Kurt Russell), who claims to be the father of Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). The humor works well, as you'd expect, and we get to know Rocket, Yondu, and Drax better. Nebula and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) have a number of good scenes together, and we gain new insight into their complicated relationship. Pom Klementieff is a standout as Mantis, an empath with antenna and large, dark eyes. She's socially awkward because she's grown up knowing only Ego, leading to some good comedy but also some more poignant moments. I didn't like that the big finale was so visual-effects-heavy; I know that's a common Hollywood decision, but the first film's big finale focused more on the characters (although thankfully, the very end of the big showdown here does). There's an odd discontinuity with Gamora urging Quill to reunite with his father and then feeling rebuffed for it. Sylvester Stallone gives a painfully overbaked, grim performance in a small role. Still, this is a fun summer flick.

Thor: Ragnarok: The third solo Thor film has fun moments, but Marvel decided to make it too much like Guardians of the Galaxy and cram it with jokes, which doesn't always work well for its main character. This time around, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Norse goddess of death, arrives to take over Asgard and destroys Thor's powerful magical hammer, Mjolnir, leaving him at a grave disadvantage. If that weren't enough, Thor is kidnapped and forced to fight in gladiatorial bouts by the wry, decadent Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and Loki is no real help. Can Thor find true power within himself, gather friends and save the day? Director Taika Waititi is best known in the U.S. for the funny 2014 vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows (reviewed here) and also voices rockman gladiator Korg, delivering improv riffs throughout. On the plus side, Blanchett is fabulous as Hela, bringing a powerful, regal bearing to the character (complete with occasional Jack Kirby lattice horns) and even a goth sexiness. Chris Hemsworth continues to make a good Thor, and Tom Hiddleston is great as always as Loki. Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/the Hulk mainly provides comic relief but also some more tender moments, and his marquee fight against Thor (advertised in all the trailers) is fun. Tessa Thompson is okay playing a drunken former Valkyrie turned kind of bounty hunter/slaver, but the American Thompson's accent veers considerably, occasionally ending up oddly cockney. The beats of the final fight feel a bit by-the-numbers. The use of Led Zepplin's "Immigrant Song" (also used in the trailers) is likewise unsurprising, but admittedly awesome nonetheless.

Some of the gags are funny, but others are predictable. Waititi's improv riffs as Korg, helping Thor pick out weapons, work well for that scene; funny, but also reinforcing the underlying peril. The same approach doesn't work as well elsewhere, and the worst instances feel forced, obvious or out of character (the Banner "bounce"; an Asgardian saying "We don't know who you are" to Hela after she's just announced herself simply to set up her quip back; Thor being scared, or awkward, or constantly bantering). The best moments of humor are based in understanding the characters and their relationships. Thor works better as a comedic straight man, not a quip machine. For example, as noted in our review of the first Thor movie (it's the 15th film reviewed here), that film "has a number of funny moments, most of all from Hemsworth being incongruously lordly, as when he bursts into a pet shop and demands a horse. (Female lust for the hunky Thor also is a frequent source of humor.)" Likewise, the best humor in Ragnarok stems from understanding the characters. Loki's self-aggrandizing little play is funny but also in character for him, as is Thor's method for breaking it up (borrowed from Walter Simonson's wonderful run on the Thor comic book). Consider also the "get help" bit and the elevator scene right before it; as in each of the three films, Thor disarms Loki with surprising sincerity and affection. The "get help" bit itself is funny and advances the plot, but the two scenes together also capture the heart of Thor and Loki's long relationship as brothers: competition, some irritation, but also a sense of devotion underneath. It's great stuff, and I continue to wish the Marvel team would make the Thor and Loki relationship more central to the films and ditch some of the visual effect spectacle. The actors have become friends in real life and have great screen chemistry. Mythology and other discussion in the…

Alien: Covenant: You know the drill: the nightmarish alien xenomorphs (or in this case, the earlier form neomorphs) terrorize and kill a bunch of humans accompanied by an android. The Covenant, a colony spaceship crewed by married couples, experiences a bad accident and makes a detour when they pick up a distress call from a nearby habitable planet. The usual mayhem ensues. Ridley Scott helming the previous entry in the Alien franchise, 2012's Prometheus (the first film reviewed here) meant a great visual style, plenty of atmosphere and some good performances, but also bad story moments so inexplicable and unnecessary many viewers were pulled out. Some of the actors are appealing in this one, too, especially Michael Fassbender in a dual role (the android David from Prometheus and Walter, a new android) and Katherine Waterson as traumatized, weepy but plucky Daniels. Danny McBride, normally a comic actor, is surprisingly good as country-music-lovin', ace pilot with nerves-of-steel Tennessee. The David-Walter scenes are intriguing, and a few scenes (medical experiments, etc.) are genuinely creepy. At one point, the film's title was Alien: Paradise Lost, and thematically, the film owes a great deal to Milton's Satan, Frankenstein and the Romantic poets, which some literary-inclined viewers might appreciate (and some critics found pretentious). But ultimately, the film holds few surprises and, as in Prometheus, presents supposedly smart characters making really stupid and inexplicable decisions. That makes it hard to root for anyone. At this point, the best reason for seeing Alien: Covenant is being a completionist and wanting to finish out the series; unfortunately, there's not much inherent value. The film didn't do that well at the box office, which reportedly may mean that only one more Alien prequel may be made rather than a planned two. Sadly, that's welcome news, given that the series has produced two great films, Alien and Aliens, but none of the next four (six if you count the Predator crossovers) have been very good (even if some have had good moments). More in the…

What Happened to Monday: This sci-fi film is mainly interesting for Noomi Rapace playing identical septuplets. In the future, overpopulation has become a serious problem, and having more than one child is outlawed, so Terrence Settman (Willem Dafoe) has to get creative when his daughter dies giving birth to seven girls. He names each of the girls after a day of the week, which dictates their schedule for taking turns sharing the public identity of Karen Settman, all the while trying to stay clear of the Child Allocation Bureau (CAB), the brainchild of Nicolette Cayman (Glenn Close). The sisters have different personalities, though, and some chafe at their predicament more than others and the severe restrictions it imposes –for instance, one-night stands are possible, but long-term relationships are almost impossible. On her allotted day, Monday goes to work as usual but does not return to their apartment at the end of the day, throwing their precarious existence into greater turmoil. Rapace is good as usual, even if the sisters could have been presented to viewers with more clarity; also, some of them seem defined mostly by cosmetic shtick. Dafoe is always a welcome presence. Close is decent but isn't given that much to work with. Viewers will guess one of the dread "secrets" of this society easily, but the film does present some unexpected twists. What makes the film the most interesting is that the sisters can be rivals at times, but do feel affection for one another, creating emotional stakes as the their peril grows more intense. This is an okay rental. (Unintentionally funny and distracting: several characters receive blows to the head, but in one scene a brutal blow will only temporarily phase the recipient whereas in another a lighter tap will knock the recipient out. Unrealistic reactions to physical trauma is nothing new in the movies, of course.)

The Wall: The Wall starts with a promising premise for a thriller – it's the Iraq War (exact year unknown), and a two-man American sniper and spotter team are investigating the aftermath of a pipeline attack, possibly the work of an enemy sniper. After waiting and watching for almost a day, shooter Shane Matthews (John Cena) advances, covered by spotter Allen Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). But they take fire, and have to take cover behind a low, not-very sturdy wall. The range on Isaac's radio's isn't working, their water is low, and somehow they need to survive with no relief coming anytime soon. (Slight Spoilers) Eventually, Taylor winds up talking to the enemy sniper over the radio, who speaks English, and enjoys probing and subtly taunting Isaac. Cena's solid, Taylor-Johnson gives a good performance as the rattled but resourceful Isaac, and the movie delivers some tense sequences, but also becomes increasingly implausible. The enemy sniper gradually becomes a cinema Master Villain, seemingly omniscient and omnipotent, which does fuel both the physical peril and psychological games, but also strains suspension of disbelief the more one thinks about the narrative and the characters. Viewers who just go along for the ride might not care, though. Doug Liman has a good command of the genre, although The Wall falls far short of his best thrillers, Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity.

I, Tonya: This surprisingly good biopic of infamous tabloid fodder Tonya Harding is engaging thanks to a strong central performance by Margot Robbie as Harding as well as Allison Janney as LaVona, Tonya's demanding and abusive mother. For those who don't know, Tonya Harding was one of the United States' best figure skaters, vying for the Olympic team in 1994, but she was seen as classless and crude, unlike golden girl Nancy Kerrigan. A crazy, semi-successful plot to injure Nancy Kerrigan was put in motion by people in Harding's circle, although her exact involvement remains a matter of dispute. Harding grows up being abused first by her mother and then by Jeff (Sebastian Stan), her off-and-on again husband; as she remarks, to her, it seems normal (sadly). It's hard not to feel at least a little sympathetic for Tonya Harding; Robbie is particularly affecting in a late courtroom scene. What's odd is that the relationship between Harding and Kerrigan is barely shown, although it would seem to be key to the story. It's established that the judges like Kerrigan better, but also that the two skaters were pals of sorts and occasional roommates on the road. It almost seems as if the filmmakers steered clear for fear of a defamation lawsuit. Margot Robbie learned to skate for the role, although a double did the more difficult maneuvers, and Robbie studied footage of Harding, including old interviews wherein the young teen spoke emotionlessly about her abusive mother. I had little interest in the actual scandal at the time and likewise scant interest in the movie, but it's pretty well done.

The Disaster Artist: Director and star James Franco wisely takes the sincere route while depicting the roots and creation of one of the worst films ever made, cult classic The Room. It'd be easy just to laugh at The Room's delusional and almost talentless writer-director-star, the odd and enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, but Franco focuses on the friendship between Tommy and his best friend, Greg Sestero (Dave Franco, James' younger brother). Tommy can be creepy and controlling, but also generous, and the self-conscious Greg is genuinely inspired by Tommy's fearlessness. The two dream of making it in big in Hollywood, and after facing a series of rejections, Tommy gets the idea to make a film themselves. It's a familiar show biz tale, and it's easy to root for them – too bad that Tommy is so awful at every aspect of moviemaking. The filmmaking scenes are both painful and funny, aided in large part by Seth Rogen playing Sandy, the script supervisor, who voices the obvious WTF questions the crew (and much of the audience) is asking. I've seen The Room a few times, including screenings introduced by Tommy Wiseau and/or Greg Sestero, and read The Disaster Artist book by Sestero and Tom Bissell this film is based on. Franco's film is a pretty faithful depiction of what's known (or has been publicly admitted to, at least). It winds up being a pretty good movie about an absolutely awful one. Stay through the end, which shows scenes from The Room side-by-side with recreations from The Disaster Artist cast, and demonstrates how hard it is for trained actors to be bad – The Room's special, unique ineptitude was dark lightning in a bottle, and can't be fully recreated intentionally.

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