The Best of the Worst


What’s the worst motion picture of all time? Well, as I have acquired the ability to walk into my backyard – right now – and aim my smartphone wherever I’d like, the distinction is fluid and the possibilities are endless.

Present company excepted? Okay … I used to think the Worst Movie Ever was Reefer Madness, the 1930s anti-marijuana melodrama revived in theaters for the derision of ’70s hipsters. Then, I was … uh, won over by Plan Nine From Outer Space, the bizarre 1959 masterpiece from anti-auteur Ed Wood with a star (Bela Lugosi) three years into the grave, cardboard props too easily toppled, and pseudo-profound dialogue: “We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.”

Plan Nine was so bad that Tim Burton made a movie about it, Ed Wood, in 1994. But now, we have a new contender for the bottom of the barrel, and it also has a movie to memorialize it. This new flick, The Disaster Artist, concerns itself with the 2003 production of The Room, an independently produced, 99-minute mess about a San Francisco entrepreneur whose girlfriend cheats on him with his best friend. The money man is played by the film’s writer-director, Tommy Wiseau, whose odd, vaguely Eastern European patois and quirky, out-of-nowhere catchphrases add to the weirdness. The Room was made by a largely amateur cast – Wiseau included – for less than $6 million, but has amply rewarded us in unintentional entertainment value.

James Franco portrays Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, which Franco also directed. His breezy film is inspired less directly by The Room itself than a memoir about it by the actor who played the best friend. The film highlights the relationship between that actor – Greg Sestero, played by James Franco’s brother, Dave – and Wiseau. Well received by critics (the Los Angeles Times called it “a hilarious, heartening celebration of failure”), The Disaster Artist was Academy Award-nominated for its screenplay. (The same honor might have gone to James Franco for his acting, save for untimely #MeToo allegations over his offscreen conduct.)

The Flint Institute of Arts will show The Disaster Artist on March 23-25, in a month of Friends of Modern Art selections highlighted by films about characters who challenge status-quo attitudes.

The setting is Switzerland in The Divine Order, a comedy-drama slated for view March 2-4. In 1971, a young housewife rallies her townspeople in a campaign for the right to vote. In 1971? Uh-huh.

Coming March 9-11, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a strange-but-true origin story about the creator of the comic-book superhero, “Wonder Woman” – and the two women in his 1940s-secreted life.

The Florida Project (March 16-18) earned an Oscar nomination for supporting actor, Willem Dafoe. It’s a drama about a six-year-old girl (newcomer, Brooklynn Prince) who battles her rebellious mom while living in the shadows of Disney World.

The Hippopotamus (March 29-31) is a deliciously wicked comedy of manners about a disgraced poet investigating a series of unexplained miracles. American actor, Matthew Modine, joins an otherwise British cast.

As usual, information on all screenings at the FIA is available by visiting or calling 810.234.1695.



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