TIFF 2017: The Divine Madness of Midnight 

Lining up to see a movie at dawn is madness—and at the Toronto International Film Festival, it's Midnight Madness, a crazy quilt of films.

This year's Midnight Madness is yet another trip to crazy town: plenty of horror, some directing debuts, a deep dive into the world of rap battling and, oh yes, James Franco portraying the man responsible for what many consider the worst movie ever made.

click to enlarge Bodied - TIFF
  • TIFF
  • Bodied
Produced by Eminem and penned by Toronto-based battle raper Kid Twist, the racially-charged, politically incorrect Bodied kicked off this year's Madness. Bodied pushes the boundaries of free speech with non-stop use of the N-word as rap battlers duke it out in boxing-style verbal jousts where practically every race on the planet takes a beating.

But the nuttiest moment of TIFF's madness was the midnight premiere of The Disaster Artist, a behind-the-scenes account of the making of The Room, dubbed by some as the Citizen Kane of bad movies. James Franco plays the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, who sunk millions of dollars into a 2003 film that is nearly unwatchable. On its opening weekend, The Room  (with a budget of more than $6 million) only made about $1,800 at the box office—and according to a film critic for Variety, about half of the opening night audience demanded its money back. But The Room is so horrible that it has reached cult status, with audiences marveling at how deliciously awful it is.

The Midnight Madness audience that I joined was...how can I put this? Let's just say the audience was appropriately primed (i.e. high as a kite). They guffawed throughout The Disaster Artist, including a good many scenes that just weren't funny. To be clear, some scenes of The Disaster Artist are funny. But the movie as a whole isn't funny enough, and considering that this material was low-hanging fruit, that's a damn shame. The film doesn't really gain steam until the final 15 minutes, when original 2003 scenes from The Room are shown side-by-side with the same scenes recreated in The Disaster Artist. Now, that's a hoot. If you absolutely love the train wreck that was The Room, you're probably already anticipating The Disaster Artist; but for everyone else, I suggest that you try watching this film as close to midnight as possible, with an audience as ready to laught as the one I found at TIFF.

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