The Room: Greg Sestero Interview

Perhaps the most popular and enduring film of the 'so bad it's good' phenomenon is Tommy Wiseau's disasterpiece, The Room. On Friday 30 September, The Five and Dime Picture Show bring its star, Greg Sestero, to Sheffield for a special event. Sestero's best-selling memoir of working with Wiseau, The Disaster Artist, has been adapted into a major motion picture by James Franco, due for release in 2017.

Did you ever think you'd be talking about The Roomover a decade later?

Looking back on these 13 years, I see The Room as a very strange gift. I’ve come to appreciate how much audiences love it and all the efforts Tommy put forth in getting it made. 'Good' or 'bad' doesn't do it justice. At this point, The Room fits more in its own category.

The book has been adapted into a feature film, The Masterpiece. What has that journey been like for you?
It was a life-changing experience. Everyone that worked on the film was so generous and passionate to be part of it. For me, it was therapeutic in a way. You get to see your life experiences recreated in the same locations from years earlier and those experiences now exist in a different world.

What can people expect at your event in Sheffield?

I’m going to be screening my documentary about the making of The Room, read from The Disaster Artist, bringing some audience members on stage to perform scenes from The Room’s original script, and ultimately talking about what it was like to be at ground zero of this cinematic masterpiece. Think of it as a person who was caught inside a tornado and had a camera to capture the whole thing.

Tickets for The Disaster Artist: A Night Inside The Room with Greg Sestero on Friday 30 September are available at picatic.com/roomsheffield. All proceeds to Cavendish Cancer Care.

Neil Breen: Rebel Without A Clue

Neil Breen is a cult filmmaker of singular vision. The American architect turned writer-director has made four movies since 2005 and each one of them is demonstrably bad, but in the best possible way.

Inhabiting the same cultural broom cupboard as Tommy Wiseau (The Room) and James Nguyen (Birdemic), Breen’s notoriety comes from making films so lacking in self awareness and finesse that they become unintentional surrealist comedies.

Most of his flicks consist of Breen, who always plays the protagonist, wandering around the Nevada desert musing about lost love or global conspiracies. This is all intercut with stock footage that looks like it was purchased in the 90s. The results are joyous.

Breen’s profile first began to rise when his debut, Double Down, found its way onto Netflix and his second movie, I Am Here... Now, was voted the '21st Best B Movie Ever' in a widely seen 2014 poll. He’s been on a slow creep towards the mainstream ever since.

There’s an admirable environmental message that runs through all of Breen's work, but it’s crushed under the weight of preposterous and muddled supernatural or paranormal contrivances. This all adds to the unique charm and inexplicably entertaining nature of his films.

Leftfield dialogue and performances that William Shatner might describe as stilted only add to the strange authenticity of these films. This is work that has come completely unfiltered from one man’s mind directly to the screen. These are films that demand to be watched amongst like-minded lovers of cinematic oddities.

The movies of Neil Breen have no regard for the audience, narrative sense or even the basic principles of filmmaking. All that matters is Breen’s personal story and he’s going to tell it, whether we understand it or not.

Brett Chapman

Barry Lyndon

More than 40 years after its initial cinematic run, this re-release sees Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece return to cinemas in all its bold visual glory. Barry Lyndon tells the story of the trials and tribulations of its titular anti-hero as he wanders from adventure to adventure around Europe.

Barry Lyndon (Ryan O’Neil) starts and ends the film with very little, yet Kubrick’s film tells the story of a quite spectacular life in between. Barry fights for two armies, marries into wealth and travels half of Europe along the way.

O’Neil’s performance is reserved. Never overjoyed or distraught with his successes or failures, he simply continues on in his own introspective manner, a blank canvas on which Kubrick paints these elaborate stories, all of which unravel with a matter-of-fact detachment, constantly at odds with the spectacle of the lavishly candlelit set design.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Barry Lyndon is that interior scenes really were filmed by candlelight. Kubrick looked to camera technology which NASA used in the Apollo moon landings in order to achieve this, eliminating the need for electrical light. The result is yet another cinematic innovation from Kubrick, whose 2001: A Space Odyssey featured revolutionary advances in special effects.

Kubrick’s preference for naturally-lit scenes arose from the desire for the film look as realistic as possible, in contrast to the artificial and set-bound period pieces of the time. Kubrick could now film interiors not only by candlelight, but also on location, taking full advantage of the grandiosity of Ireland’s stately homes.

The film is concerned with the finer details of Barry’s life, but it is never concerned for him. This ambivalence stands in stark contrast to the luxurious beauty on display, creating a wickedly funny tale of the man who had it all, only to lose it all again.

Charles MacDonald-Jones

Film Listings

Collated by Samantha Holland

D.O.A.
Rudolph Maté, USA, 1950
Tue 13 Sep | 7pm | Café #9 | Free
Film/Coffee/Music at #9 presents another noir classic - and this one’s a stunner. With an innovative and demented storyline, D.O.A. does an especially intriguing job of exploring noir themes of masculinity and self-identity via leading man Edmond O’Brien’s traumatised accountant, who makes the narrative error of having some fun before settling down to marriage.
facebook.com/filmsatnumber9

THE BIG SHORT
Adam McKay, USA, 2015
Sun 18 Sep | 7:30pm | 215 Sharrow Vale Road | £3 w/ cake and coffee
Sharrow Reels has made an excellent choice yet again, giving us the opportunity to see a film that went somewhat under the box office radar but sheds critically-acclaimed light on the housing and credit bubble of the 2000s. Combining comedy and a clear understanding of contemporary events, this is definitely one to watch. 
facebook.com/SharrowReels

THE GLASS CELL
Hans W Geißendörfer, Germany, 1978
Sun 25 Sep | 4pm | Showroom | £7.50/£5.50
Perhaps the most intriguing of the excellent films that make up September’s Adapting Miss Highsmith season, as so little seems to be written about it. But the book is highly regarded and the filmmakers involved in this tale of a man whose life unravels when he’s in prison for a crime he didn’t commit have spectacular cinematographic pedigrees. I’d recommend this along with the rest of the season.
showroomworkstation.org.uk/the-glass-cell

OCEAN FILM FESTIVAL
Thu 29 Sep | 7:30pm | Leeds Town Hall | £11.50/£13
Presented by the Banff Film Festival UK Tour producers, this is a three-hour collection of short films documenting the beauty and power of the ocean, and celebrating divers, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers who chase the crests of waves and marvel at the mysteries of the big blue.
eventbrite.co.uk