Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made

I've been wanting to read The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell for awhile now.  My brother and I watched The Room many years ago with some friends; I bought The Disaster Artist as a gift for him several years back because I'd heard it was good; neither of us got around to reading it.  But when I saw a trailer for the movie based off of the book, I told my brother I would drop everything I was reading and read The Disaster Artist instead.  He originally thought I was joking, but true to my word, when he lent it to me I started it.

The Room is a movie created by Tommy Wiseau.  Wiseau writes, directs, produces, and stars in the movie (he plays the main character, Johnny).  Greg Sestero plays Mark, Johnny's best friend who is sleeping with his fiancee. It's a simple story with a simple plot, yet it manages to be absolutely crazy, with nonsensical dialogue, crazy plot holes, and a whole bunch of random shots of skylines.  It's honestly one of those movies you will be wondering how it got made as you are watching it.

The Disaster Artist is the story of how The Room got made, as told by Sestero.  It has two plot threads: the first one is about Sestero's life: how he got started in acting and how he met Wiseau (those two things are really closely intertwined).  The second is how Wiseau made the movie.  Slowly the two stories converge to give you one big long story.

The Disaster Artist is a fascinating look at not only how a notoriously bad movie got made, but also at how hard it is to succeed when you are not a "normal" person (particularly in a place as cutthroat as Hollywood).  I really enjoyed reading it, and look forward to James Franco's movie version this December!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Ghost Bride

I've been wanting to read The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo ever since I came across it at work. It sounded like a very different but interesting read.  I ended up buying it for myself around my birthday.  I intended to get to it a bit sooner than I did (for some reason I got distracted by Charles de Lint's The Wild Wood), but I still managed to read it within a month of getting it.  I'm pretty proud of myself - with the amount of books I have piled up waiting to be read, that's super good timing!

The Ghost Bride is the story of Li Lan, the daughter of a merchant who has withdrawn from the world (and let his business and contacts slide as a result).  Because of this, Li Lan has no real prospects.  But another powerful family, the Lim family, contacts her father and requests that Li Lan become a ghost bride to their recently deceased son.  Their son, Lim Tian Ching, begins courting her in her dreams.  In an effort to rid herself of his attentions, she accidentally overdoses on a potion a medium gave her.  Sending her body into a coma, her spirit is released into the afterlife.  There she gets drawn up with the supernatural Er Lang, who is trying to figure out what is going on with the Lim family in the afterlife (because they clearly have some clout with the border guards).

I loved Choo's writing style.  It really set the stage for 19th century Malaya.  And I really liked the world of the Malayan afterlife.  My major complaint was that parts of the story were very predictable (such as who Li Lan's mother actually was in the afterlife, or what Li Lan would ultimately choose for her own life).  I know that some people (here are two examples) complained that Li Lan wasn't a very engaging character, but I didn't really have much of a problem with her.  While she sort of failed to save herself all the time, she was at least trying.  And since she was a young woman who was not at all worldly (and was largely left in her house, or only went outside when accompanied by her Amah), I thought the way she was seemed entirely fitting.

Overall, I enjoyed The Ghost Bride, and would be interesting in reading Choo's second book, whenever it comes out. :)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Wild Wood

I've wanted to try reading something by Charles de Lint for awhile now, especially after hearing him speak at Ad Astra in Toronto a few years back. Somewhere along the way I picked up a copy of The Wild Wood, which sounded interesting. I don't know why exactly I decided to read it right now (I was going to start The Ghost Bride, but changed my mind at the last second and started this instead).

The Wild Wood is the story of Eithnie, an artist who has retreated to her cabin to try to reclaim her lost artistic muse. Her paintings have been lacking soul - and critics have been noticing this as well - so she's hoping getting back to nature will help. But after a particularly troubling vision of faerie creatures, she flees to her friends in the desert. Thanks to their wisdom, she returns, determined to discover whether the faerie creatures are real (and what they want if they are).

I really liked de Lint's writing, especially near the beginning of the book. I particularly liked his descriptions (they weren't as jarring as some of Stephen King's were in The Gunslinger). I also really liked Eithnie as a character; I felt I could really relate to her. 

I wasn't a fan of how abruptly the book seemed to end. I felt like Eithnie struggled to accept the faerie creatures for 3/4 of the book, but once she did accept them, things kind of fell into place a little too neatly (this was also not helped by the fact that the only person she really told everything to sort of accepted everything right away - it just seemed too easy I guess in a story that started off questioning what was real).

But for the most part, I quite enjoyed reading The Wild Wood. I'll have to give de Lint's other books a shot.