The Disaster Artist. James Franco directs and stars in this wonderfully twisted look at the making of one of the worst films ever made. Based on Greg Sestero’s memoir, Franco plays Tommy Wiseau, an aspiring actor who befriends Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) in an acting class in San Francisco. Neither has the skill set to make it as actors, but Greg, inspired by Tommy’s Goth look, odd accent, complete fearlessness and drive, decides to join him in L.A. to chase their dream. After constantly being met with rejection, Wiseau decides to write, direct and star in his own movie called The Room. Armed with a 6 million dollar budget that Wiseau raised from mysterious sources, the production quickly spirals into a series of disasters that makes Plan Nine From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. Things get even more interesting between the two when the film becomes the talk of the town – for all of the wrong reasons. Franco caps off a banner year (doing exceptional multi-tasking work as director, star and producer of the HBO series The Deuce), with a wonderfully unhinged performance as wildly eccentric dreamer Wiseau. Younger brother Dave is just as formidable as Sestero who runs the gamut between co-conspirator, enabler and some semblance of a voice of reason. Also look for some fantastic appearances from Melanie Griffith, Judd Apatow, Zac Efron, Hannibal Buress and former Pineapple Express co-star Seth Rogan as an exasperated script supervisor. It’s an energetic, hilariously cringe inducing look at the joy, pain and madness behind making movies. The Disaster Artist opens this weekend. You can also go to www.a24films.com for more information.
Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady. Daily Show correspondent and writer Michelle Wolf takes center stage with her first stand up comedy special. Directed by Neil Brennan (Chappelle’s Show), Wolf tackles everything from politics, feminism and dating in the 21st Century. Wolf has been a secret weapon behind the scenes for years, first with Late Night With Seth Meyers, The 2016 Academy Awards, and now with The Daily Show, so expect nothing short of a breakout performance. Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady premieres December 2nd at 9pm Eastern on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Meth Storm. The latest documentary from Brent and Craig Renard (Dope Sick Love Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later), shows the ravages that drug abuse has had on rural Arkansas. While drug enforcement agents have been successful in shutting down local meth labs, Mexican cartels have filled the void with a cheaper, more potent form of meth called ICE. It’s had a devastating effect on rural Arkansas, which was already reeling from high poverty, unemployment and incarceration rates. The Renards get extensive access to see how law enforcement is battling well organized cartels, with poor, rural users, dealers and families all caught in the cross fire. They take us into the belly of the beast of those addicted, capturing not only its despair, but how a depressed local and state economy offers little hope for those looking to break the cycle. Working as both drama and cautionary tale, The Renards have put together a compelling, can’t turn away look at a problem that has affected all areas of society. Meth Storm is available now on HBO and HBO Now. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Shadowman. Before Banksy, there was Richard Hambleton, an artist who, along with Basquiat and Keith Haring sparked the street art movement with haunting figures along Manhattan public walls in the 1980s. But unlike his contemporaries, Hambleton remained elusive, opting to work in shadows, living up to his nickname. This new documentary from Oren Jacoby gets us into Hambleton’s unique life and creative process, his unlikely rise in the New York underground art scene, his struggles with addiction and homelessness and his incredible comeback. It’s loaded with rare archival footage from that rich and vibrant period – most of which showing Hambleton creating his work – along with remembrances with family, friends, those within those circles and the artist himself. Hambleton passed away in last month from cancer, but Jacoby has put together a fitting epitaph for an art world giant. Shadowman opens in select theaters this weekend.
From A Room: Vol 2 by Chris Stapleton. The follow up to this spring’s best-selling, Grammy nominated Vol 1 picks up where that album left off. continues the path that was established in the previous collection. Working once again with producer Dave Cobb, Stapleton – with a huge vocal assistance from his wife – tips into his vast songbook to cook another musical stew that includes more roadhouse rockers, countrified soul confessionals, and choice covers. Stapleton is on a creative and commercial peak and this collection caps off another stellar year. Vol 1 will be represented during this year’s awards season. Vol 2 will all but guarantee he’ll repeat the feat next year. One of the year’s best. From A Room: Vol 2 is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all major retailers. You can also go to www.chrisstapleton.com for tour dates and more information.
New York City. Remembering Sam Shepard. To coincide with the publication of Shepard’s final book, Spy In The First Person, Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, and Tony Shanahan will present an evening of words of music to honor the screen and literary giant. The relationship between Smith and Shepard is will documented, so expect the evening to be filled with joy, laughter and, above all, love. Remembering Sam Shepard will be at The St Ann & The Holy Trinity Church on December 5th. You can go to web.ovationtix.com for tickets and more information.
New York City. More Than Meets The Eye. In the history of cinema, few directors have had a career as extensive and diverse than William Wyler. His career spanned nearly 50 years, starting at the twilight of the silent era right through the dawn of the New Hollywood. Wyler earned 12 Best Director Oscar nominations during his career (the most ever), winning three times. Quad Cinema will present the most extensive look at Wyler’s career in nearly 15 years covering just about every facet of an artist who became synonymous with craftsmanship and prestige. Ben-Hur, The Best Years Of Our Lives, The Big Country, Desperate Hours, Funny Girl, Jezebel, Roman Holiday and Wuthering Heights are just some of the many classics that will be featured throughout the two-week run. It’s a fitting and loving salute to one of Hollywood’s greatest auteurs. More Than Meets The Eye will be at Quad Cinema December 1st through the 14th. You can also go to www.quadcinema.com for tickets and more information.
Los Angeles. Damaged. Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the iconic Obey Giant and HOPE images, returns to his hometown of Los Angeles for his most ambitious show to date. Named after the classic Black Flag album, the exhibit features Fairey’s distinctive portraits, with an emphasis on Americans most affected by the current socio-political climate. It also takes aim at the role social media has played in reducing a viable way to engage and discuss into a new form of chasing celebrity and, worse, self-indulgence. Visually arresting and thought provoking, Fairey has once again proved that art can be a great weapon. Damaged will be on view in downtown Los Angeles through December 17th. You can also go to www.lscgallery.comfor more information.