The Disaster Artist: My Life inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie ever made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Courtesy of Chicksdigbooks.com

Courtesy of Chicksdigbooks.com

I remember the first time I saw the majesty that was Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. My friend’s and I had gather at an ex’s apartment, my best friend had bought the Rifftrax for the film (if you don’t know what that is, please look them up it’s a video “commentary” by those who made Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its amazing) and we sat down on a cold Saturday night to watch it. We were rather boring 20 year olds, I must say. What greeted our eyes was nothing short than horrifyingly hysterical. For the entire time the film was playing we could hardly stop laughing. What stemmed from this viewing was countless trips to the Oaks Theatre in Oakmont, Pa, just outside of Pittsburgh for countless views of The Room, during which we threw spoons and bottles, cried out famous lines and had a truly wonderful experience.

When I first heard that the secondary male lead in the film, the handsome, Greg Sestero was writing a book about his experience in the The Room, I was understandably ecstatic. Such an outrageously odd and bizarre film had to have had just an equally odd and bizarre story behind it. For about a year I waited in rapt anticipation for its release. When it did finally come I out I immediately purchased a digital copy and began to dive into a world that was so much different from what I expected.

To start off the book is not just about the making of the titular movie. Chapters alternate from the making of the film as well as Sestero’s attempts at starting an acting carrier as well as his friendship with the film’s mysterious creator, Tommy Wiseau. When I first discovered that this was how the rest of the book would go I was kinda disappointed. I mean actor biographies don’t interest me at all. I mean if I’m gonna read a biography I want it to be about someone who actually made a difference in the world in some negative or positive respect, not of someone who’s major contribution was to imitate life for viewing on a screen. However after the first two chapters I was surprised to find myself completely engrossed in the story of a young actor (Sestero) going against his mother’s wishes and striving to become an actor. What it eventually became was not a story of success at all either, it’s the story of a failed actor in Hollywood, a fact of life there that is too often ignored, or when it is acknowledged, made fun of. While the chapters that are about the making of the film are extremely funny, they are tempered by Sestero’s story of eventual mediocrity. What is great about this is that Sestero completely acknowledges this and he seems to be completely accepting of this fact. This gave me a lot of respect for him because he turned his failure into something amazing through this book. It actually becomes inspirational towards the end because despite his failing Sestero obviously does not regret his actions as they helped him to become the person he is today.

Along with Sestero’s story we get to learn a lot about Tommy Wiseau himself, his is just as inspirational as Sestero’s. It is revealed that Wiseau was born in Eastern Europe during the Stalin Era and was able to be one of the lucky few to make it to the USA, although he does have a brief terrible stint in France. Here in the USA he strives to become an actor and despite his distressing inability to act at all, he manages to make his own movie, although he does become a successful clothes retailer which in the end helps him to fund his film. Throughout the book you learn his rather odd behaviors, such as ordering hot water at restaurants and spying on his actors while filming. Despite all this, Sestero tells a tale of a man who follows his dream to such a die-hard degree that he actually pulls it off. While his film never becomes the thought provoking drama that movies such as Rebel without a Cause or The Talented Mr. Ripley as he intended it to be, his own film becomes just as famous in some respects.

One of the things I loved about this book is how it was written. It’s written in such a way that it’s almost like you’re talking with Sestero himself. This is definetly a credit to both Sestero and Tom Bissell, the co-writer of the book. Also, I enjoyed his explanations of how a movie set is set up as well as the mini backgrounds he gives about the people he interacts with throughout his tale. His description of living as an out of work actor in Los Angeles is also very believable. You can almost see yourself in his shoes looking for a part time job, just so you can afford to eat every day. The aspects of his relationship with Tommy Wiseau is also very heart wrenching to some degree. You can obviously tell that he genuinely cares about Mr. Wiseau and that he is happy for him. This actually surprised me, as I expected the book to be a criticism of Wiseau. I’m actually happy that this genuine care is what is presented in the story and not the negativity that we see in a lot of Tell All books. It endears you more to the people involved and adds an aura of believability that you can’t get in other Tell All books where the authors try to distance themselves from others to such a degree that you have to wonder how much of the truth they’re stretching.

I also enjoyed the trivia you learn about the making of the film, such as the fact that certain takes took literally hours to shoot, along with explanations with the obvious problems that occur throughout the film as well. There were numerous times were I found myself giggling to myself while reading these scenes, which is welcome as most books take a lot to make me openly laugh. I also enjoyed many of the pictures that were in the book that showed scenes from the making of the movie as well as from points in Sestero’s and Wiseau’s friendship.

I eagerly suggest this book to any and all fans of The Room as well as anyone interested in biographies as well as books about the making of famous films. Be ready for a wild ride.

A Brief History of University Center at Point Park University

I know, I know. My attempts at multimedia for this blog have been absolutely terrible… But these projects for school, (unfortunately) must come first. In this week’s attempt at multimedia bliss, I made a short 2 minute documentary of the Campus Library at my University, Point Park. This library has an interesting history. It started as one of the largest banks in Pittsburgh, then it became a mall. After this project failed it was bought up by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Point Park University, who both ran it jointly until 2004 when the CLP moved their downtown location elsewhere. Since then it has remained firmly in the hands of PPU. While the finished product is not as bad as I thought it would have, I had to spend 2 1/2 hours on iMovie to complete it. In all my days I have never experienced a worse software. Seriously, whoever says Apple is “user friendly” can go suck an egg.

Author Interview: Michael Mangual, Author of Shattered Citadel

Courtesy of Michael Mangual

Courtesy of Michael Mangual


Courtesy of Michael Mangual

Courtesy of Michael Mangual

Since the review of his short stories were so wildly popular, I thought it would be a good idea to interview Mr. Mangual. I hope you enjoy this interview with the author, as it was exceptionally interesting!

IB: What made you want to start SC?

MM: Well it was collection of reasons. SC started when I was a kid around 12 years of age. I would draw pictures of monsters and eventually I would make back stories to them. That developed into the original SC which I called “space wars.” It wasn’t very original or good but as I grew I changed the storyline and would fill entire journals with pictures and stories based on it. At school my classmates would look through my books and after I heard for the millionth time that I “should make a book” I started focusing more on “dark crusade (the new name I gave it before SC).” I really liked the attention I got from my classmates and random strangers about it so I worked on it cause of that selfish desire. After i went to Valley Forge Military College my attitude changed, I still liked the attention, but I worked on SC to be like a warning to mankind and highlight the best qualities of us like honor, self sacrifice and love.

IB: Why did you make it a warning?

MM: A warning in the sense that I’m a huge student of history and we as a people tend to fall into the same reckless patterns of rise and fall. I know I’m not in any position to change the world but I’m hoping that some random guy reading SC will go “maybe we should focus on our national debt,” “maybe we should stop tyrants before they rise,” etc. I try to do it in an entertaining way but like most media today there is always a hidden message inside.

IB: Ah I see. I can sympathize with that immensely.
Have any other works of fiction (or non-fiction) helped to give you inspiration for the events, tech, or races you explore in your stories?

MM: SC definitely has numerous sources of influence. The obvious being in my opinion “Starship Troopers” by Heinlein and “The Lord of the Rings” series by Tolkien. I take the sense of realism, focus on character and even the way the federation is run from Starship. From Tolkien I take his enormous attention to detail. I love how he creates his own languages, cultures, bloodlines and full history. I’m doing the same with SC, putting detail into everything down to name every ship in the fleet. The only other book today that puts the same attention to detail is the “game of thrones” series and look how successful that is also. Some minor influences to my work is the HALO universe, Battlestar Galactica tv series, Exo Squad TV series, and all the ww2 non-fiction books I’ve ever read. From all these fictions I take the sense of action driven by character and epic scope. I like the emotions behind people put in “hopeless” situations. The WW2 books give me a lot of my ideas for stories and even acts of violence because a lot of the stuff I’ve written is based on real events that honestly RL is more diabolical then anything that can be written.

IB: You get a lot of hate mail and angry comments on your stories and videos. You’re often accused of racism, fascism, and nationalism, why do you think this is?

MM: Due to the highly controversial topics I write and make videos about. It’s bound to happen no matter what I do. I’ve learned to accept and now relish it. I think it validates my work and controversy leads to more renown.

IB: That’s a very good way of looking at it. Many other authors say that they have their stories planned from the start while other are the opposite, do you have the entire story of Shattered Citadel already outlined in your head or are you just creating as you go along?

MM: I don’t have all of it planned out in my head. I may be a planning kind of author. I have two main SC story arcs, the first being the WWIII story and its immediate post-war years and the second story arc, which I haven’t touched upon much, is from the years of 2450 and beyond to the end of those events all planned out. In between those years I’ve written a historical outline/timeline that is more then 200 pages front and back full of dates and important events to keep me on story. I wrote it on paper a decade ago. It has changed very little since then. I’ve always been a planner and a sucker for detail.

IB: Have you ever planned or thought of writing stories that are in the point of view of your alien creatures at all?

MM: Yes I plan to make a few from the alien POV. I have written one “SC:They Bleed Like Us” that has a few bits in the POV of the two other alien races. Its fascinating to me how outsiders (aliens) would look at our culture, mannerisms, emotions, technology and evolution. In that story I mentioned earlier I had the aliens we were fighting make note how violent we were and reckless our species can be with our own lives and the lives of other humans. It blew their aliens minds how some of us could strap on bombs and sacrifice themselves to kill them. I am taking this from the truth that almost every animal on Earth aside from certain parasitic organisms have an intense survival instinct that prevents this.

IB: Ah yes. I enjoyed that story immensely. Have you any projects or plans for projects outside of SC?

MM: Yes I have other stories I am working on, about seven different universes. One of which is dubbed “Accidental Apocalypse” where in 2012 someone somehow jump started the apocalypse. Mankind has only survived because it was triggered before Hell was ready and in the middle of a civil war. Other projects are in different states of completion.

IB: That sounds very interesting. Now I think I speak for all your fans when I ask, when will the first SC book be completed?

MM: It seems like ive been working on it forever (five years maybe) and thats because I have. This is actually my third attempt at it. the other two being completely scrapped. I am excited about the third one because it’s similar in style to Max Brooks “World War Z” and that format to me fits best in the size and scope of the book. As of late I’ve been so focused on working just to survive that I’ve had no time to work on Shattered Citadel like I would like too. Especially the book. I originally wanted to finish it before the “World War Z” movie came out, but now I am moving back home and I hope that I can finish it before the summer of 2014. Thats my goal. Then I can shop around for a literary agent and a publisher. I do hope that 2014 will be the year I get it done.

IB: Well I’m very excited for the finished product to say the least. Do you have any final comments you’d like to express?

MM: In terms of the future success of SC, I am optimistic, but also grounded in reality. The number of fiction books that are printed and sell no more then 500 copies is staggering, I heard from someone that the number was around 95% in the industry. I won’t quit my day job but I’ll continue to produce new content for myself and my fans. I may not be where I want to be in life and life may have been a struggle for me, but one thing is constant. It brings me great pride and happiness to entertain people via my writings. I love getting my readers feed back both good and bad. I also hope that I’ve instilled through my writings the values I value most of our species to my readers; courage, honor, self sacrifice, and hope where none should be.

On behalf of Interesting Books I would like to extend a hearty thank you to Michael Mangual for this interview. It’s always interesting to pick the brain of an author. Each author has so many different views as to how they do their writing, and what inspires them. Further, as a fan of Mr. Mangual, it was exceptionally exciting to be able to discuss his work on a more personal level. If you are interested in reading Mr. Mangual’s short stories and exploring his universe, please visit http://shatteredcitadel.com/ . Happy reading!

Audio Blog Post 2: Why We Read

Well friends, here we go again. Due to educational obligations I made another one of these audio blog posts. While they are very fun to make, I must confess I’m glad this one is over. Working with new tech always puts pressure on me, lol. In this weeks audio blog post We discuss why people ready. I also am joined by two guests, who tell us about the first adult books they read, what books they’ve disliked and why they think reading is important. I hope you enjoy. Happy Reading!

Ender’s Game Movie Part 1: The Preview

photo credit to wikipedia

photo credit to wikipedia

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game has had a massive effect on the Science Fiction genre as well as Modern American Literature. Needless to say, it’s also an exceptionally popular book. It’s been published in tens of languages, it has comics and video games based off of it, and finally, after years and years of waiting, it has been made into a movie. This is the point of this post, to discuss the movie. Now I know what you’re all thinking “But Jeff! This is a blog about books and book reviews! You can’t discuss a movie!!!!” Oh, but my diligent readers, but I can. This is in part because I’m required to by my Multimedia Class a Point Park University in which I use my blog to complete numerous projects. This assignment, which this post will fulfill, is to preview something. What better thing to preview than the movie version of one of my favorite Sci-Fi books which I’ll be seeing very soon.The book Ender’s Game is a very deep and complex book, both in the story as well as into the emotions and character developments that take place inside its many pages. In all honesty I’m quite surprised that the movie has even been made. This is because I’m not entirely sure if you can make a good movie adaptation of the book. So much happens inside of it that how one could really chose what to take out and what to leave in so that the film doesn’t go out of the standard 2 hour format that most films utilize. Based on what I have seen from the trailers it does look rather entertaining. But then again, World War Z looked really good too, but that turned out to a rather poor imitation of the source material. Despite my wariness I do look forward to seeing this movie. After I have seen it, rest assured I shall report back as to my experience.

Author Biography: Tom Clancy

Courtesy Wikipedia

Courtesy Wikipedia

Hello all! I hope everyone is well. Please forgive my lack of original posts as of late. It’s been midterms at school and I’ve had trouble catching up. This is besides the point, however. Tom Clancy is probably one of the most famous military fiction authors of the last few years. The names of his character, Jack Ryan is a household name and many of Mr. Clancy’s books have been made into very successful film. Case in point The Hunt for Red October starring Alec Baldwin. As many of you know, much to our grief, Tom Clancy recently died at the young age of 66. His cause of death has yet to be known publicly. For decades, Mr. Clancy’s novels have influenced the course and tone of the Military Tech genre of literature. Besides the many books and movies that have Tom Clancy’s stories as their base material there are also numerous games under the Tom Clancy moniker. It is hard to deny Tom Clancy’s effect on Modern American Literature.

Due to a school project I have been required to do Mr. Clancy’s Author Biography through the use of audio, rather than that of the written word that I usually use as my main medium. I’ll be the first to admit that this audio isn’t the best quality, but please bare with me this was my first time using the equipment. I hope you enjoy listening to it in the same respect I had while making it. The music in the background is that of the theme from the movie version of The Hunt for Red October

Kim Jong-Il: Greatest Filmmaker Of Our Time?

Jeff:

Because I have a “mild” interest in all things North Korean, I found this review exceptionally funny. WHile I have not read this work I have had the oppurtunity to read a lot of other works from North Korea, some (and by that I mean most) were supposedly written by the dear leaders themselves. While I doubt this is true all I can say is that all official North Korean works are endlessly dry and terrible. You can feel nothing but pain at the fact that people are forced to read these somewhere.

Originally posted on 101 Books:

You know whom I turn to when I want to know about the art of moviemaking?

Well, none other than Kim Jong-il, the late North Korean dictator.

Back in 1973, before he was a tyrannical dictator who tortured his people, disposed of the ones unfortunate to be born handicapped, and routinely threatened nuclear war, “The Dear Leader” wrote a book called On the Art of Cinema. It’s an actual book. With words.

Apparently, he was North Korea’s “culture minister” at the time—a post given to him by his father, the founding prime dictator, Kim Il-Sung. The little guy, Kim-Jong-il, was a movie buff who owned a vault of 15,000 films.

One chapter of his book is titled, “A Film Without Music is Incomplete.”  Riveting stuff, this book. 

With a chapter title like that, does anyone think he ghostwrote The Sot-Weed Factor? Or remember the book…

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