CULTURE

Chris R from Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" Is Running for Congress

Chris R may have lost to Johnny and Mark in The Room, but he can still win big in Texas.

While Tommy Wiseau's The Room, often considered the best bad movie of all time, might be technically terrible in almost every aspect, one actor's performance stood out from the rest as...almost maybe good?

In a scene so random that it feels baffling even within an already baffling movie, actor Dan Janjigian plays a drug dealer named Chris R who tries to shake down another bit character named Denny (or Danny?) for owed money. Chris R is only in that single scene, and Danny's drug addiction is never brought up again, but that doesn't stop Janjigian from making a meal out of his role. Janjigian's crazed intensity and the seriousness with which he seemed to approach a nothing role in a no-name movie was compelling enough that Zac Efron portrayed him in The Disaster Artist.

WORST acting ever [MUST WATCH!] The Room www.youtube.com

Now, over 15 years after The Room, Dan Janjigian has taken on a new role, perhaps his biggest one yet: running for Congress. As it turns out, Janjigian is a man of many talents. On top of his iconic role as Chris R, Janjigian was also a Microsoft employee and an Olympic bobsledder. More recently, however, Janjigian has spent over a decade working in healthcare and raising a family in Texas.

Danjan congress https://www.danjanforcongress.com/

According to Janjigian's official campaign website, his experience as a healthcare professional and his family's history escaping the Armenian Genocide solidified his political beliefs. Currently running as a Democrat to represent Texas's 31st congressional district against Republican incumbent John Carter, Janjigian's platform revolves around enacting public healthcare (while allowing private options for those who choose it), streamlining legal immigration, and promoting clean energy solutions to battle climate change.

Best of all, Janjigian is running a grassroots campaign "PAID FOR BY A WHOLE LOT OF TEXANS SUPPORTING DANJAN," meaning that he's not beholden to big money or corporate interests, and possibly even that Danny finally paid him back.

Frontpage Popular News

Oscars 2018 Preview: Best Picture

Get Caught Up on This Year's Nominees

Yesterday the Academy revealed their nominees for the 2018 Oscars. In case you're not caught up, here's Popdust's previews of the Best Picture candidates:


The Phantom Thread

It's been a decade since the Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Johnny Greenwood dream team got together to make a film, and while The Phantom Thread may not be quite as seismic as There Will Be Blood, it's made with just as much quality and finesse. Methodical, detailed, and imbued with significance in every smallest moment of run time, it's also the film that pushed Day-Lewis to retire from acting, which makes The Phantom Thread worth watching on two fronts. For a more in-depth look, check out my review.


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

For my money, Martin McDonagh is one of Europe's most talented dramatists alive today. Three Billboards plays like a stage show—small scale, modest production value, dialogue-driven, etc—and possesses the qualities of McDonagh's best works: icky moral dilemmas, harsh characters, every variation on sh*t, piss and c*nt. Perhaps no other film this year is as tightly written.


The Shape of Water

Not since Beauty and the Beast itself has a film concerning bestiality (or whatever the monster version of that term would be) garnered so much critical acclaim as The Shape of Water. Like much of Guillermo del Toro's work, Water is beautifully colored and shot, but lacks depth in its writing. In spite of an emotional climax that amounts to the sort of "he loves me for who I really am" sentiment most common to teenage dramas and rom-coms, The Shape of Water has been reeling in praise and Critics' Choice Awards. Plus, the monster character looks a lot like an Oscar statue up close, so that bodes well.


Lady Bird

In tone and style, Greta Gerwig may be the closest equivalent to Woody Allen for the millennial generation. The character of Lady Bird, played by Saiorse Ronan, feels like a culmination of all the other pseudo-Gerwig protagonists of past films—Mistress America and Maggie's Plan come to mind—and the story a culmination of that character. It's also really funny.


Get Out

I remember listening to the October 29, 2013 episode of Pete Holmes' podcast, when Jordan Peele, his featured guest, mentioned a script he was working out: a sort of comedy-horror film called 'Get Out'. He played it off as being early-stage and, frankly, I wasn't too interested in a movie with such a bland title from the Key & Peele guy. Evidently, I did a misread. Get Out isn't perfect—the acting is fine, it's (intentionally) corny, and it plays the Easter eggs meta-game with little regard for subtlety (He drives a Lincoln? Just hammer it into my skull why don't you?). But its concept is, basically, perfect—unique, hilarious, social commentary turned on its head—which is particularly refreshing in our age of sequels, revivals and rehashes. There's also never been a movie more suited to its cultural moment.


Dunkirk

Dunkirk is another pique Christopher Nolan picture—heavy, shot in expensive film, meant for only the largest of IMAX theaters. Its subject—the battles at Dunkirk during the Second World War—is so significant in 20th century history that it's surprising how few films have gone there before. Most importantly, in addition to all the other young British actors you can think of, it non-ironically features Harry Styles in a dramatic role.


The Post

If every Hollywood movie ever made had a group baby together, it might look something like The Post. The product of three of the industry's most accomplished and least objectionable figures—Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg—with a current events tie-in and leftist political appeal, The Post may just be the most normal movie ever made, for better and for worse.


Darkest Hour

Faced with the fate of his nation—whether to fight or surrender to the seemingly unstoppable Nazi Blitzkreig—Winston Churchill steps out of his private car on the way to Parliament, and takes the Tube for the first time in his life. Of course, no single bit of this sequence occurred in real life, but even as you're sitting knowing that, the pure emotion of the scene compels you to just let it happen. Such is the tension of Darkest Hour: it's Hollywood-ization without remorse, though the product itself is a terribly compelling drama.


Call Me By Your Name

Starring the point guard of this author's middle school Safe Haven basketball team, Call Me By Your Name is beautifully deep and uncomplicated. Much more compelling than what the film is actually about—a teen summer romance, queerness, coming-of-age—is how it handles the minute-to-minute interactions and shifts in its characters. For more, read my review here.


For continuing Oscars coverage, stay tuned for Popdust's predictions and review of the show.

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Could we count the ways James Franco and Tommy Wiseau are similar?

Whether he's actually sedated by Pineapple Express or just really happy all the time, James Franco appears to be eternally stoned. Browsing through Franco's filmography on IMBD, a true fan could detail when Franco's pothead aesthetic went from novice smoker to the guy who does bong rips and dabs for breakfast. His wide, jubilant grin is a telling sign, contorting his face into layers of wrinkles as his eyes open just enough, indicating his earthly cognition.

James Franco has done it all or has at least tried to. He has an M.F.A. from Columbia, a master's in filmmaking from NYU, and was even a professor at NYU, UCLA, and Colombia just for kicks. Outside of his scholastic endeavors, most people know Franco as Spidey's best friend (and frenemy in the inexcusably bad Spider-Man 3), or as the other half of the Hollywood bromance with Seth Rogen. Seth Rogen is the peanut butter to Franco's jam and The Disaster Artist, inspired by a memoir of the same name, is the bread to their midafternoon lunch. This buddy comedy interprets how its source material, the cult sensation The Room, came to be: Given the Franco and Rogen treatment, one of the worst movies ever made now stars Franco as Tommy Wiseau and, to no one's surprise, Franco lands the woozy, slurred performance by acting like a knockoff brand of himself.

Could we count the ways James Franco and Tommy Wiseau are similar? Yes and no (in fact, James Franco has probably written a term paper psychoanalyzing the parallels of Wiseau's imago with his own). Would Franco have been a Wiseau had he not found his comedy niche or a Rogen to counter his wild antics? Yes and no. The Disaster Artist conveys how someone can make a piece of art so bad that it's lauded by everyone for its badness. How can something so tacky, so cheap, and so weird still find itself in arthouse theaters around the States? And how can a movie that has the aesthetic of a back-alley porno get Hollywood recognition from one of the finest bromances to grace the silver screen?

Well, for every Tommy Wiseau desperate for fame and fortune, there's a friend who's willing to back up his bad ideas because of…friendship. Yep, The Disaster Artist is about friendship and the early stages of creation, what it feels like to have an idea you believe in enough to become a pariah. Franco is joined by his little brother, Dave Franco (who plays Greg Sestero), an aspiring actor who, unlike Wiseau, has a shot at acting. The Disaster Artist is a hilarious enactment of some of the best worst acting you've ever seen; the Franco brothers share a weirdly poetic exchange onscreen as friends trying to make it big, and Seth Rogen (as Sandy Schklair) sits in a chair winking at the audience like: "Look, we get the joke and then some."

Watching The Room is similar to watching any movie in the Twilight franchise: it's a cringeworthy experience, yes, but it's also your favorite comedy of all time, a noteworthy addition to the films your friends come over to hate-watch with you on Friday nights. The fun is there because Tommy Wiseau was somehow able to convince a cast of actors and a production crew to film the type of movie you'd believe in after five bowls of Pineapple Express, one filmmaking tutorial on YouTube, and a pep talk from a hobo wearing Chanel slippers. It doesn't matter if the actors you've convinced to star in your romantic melodrama are all doing laxative commercials to pay rent, or that your voice slightly sounds like you're from a faraway land where a Yiddish and New Orleans accent intertwine. You too can dream big and make a wonderfully bad movie.

Classroom Takeaways

Here's a fun drinking game. Take a shot every time Tommy Wiseau seems confused by the cameras in front of him. Have a paramedic on standby.

POP⚡ DUST Oscar-worthy Score: ⚡


Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.


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Popdust has been watching all the flicks released in 2017 and have narrowed down your watch list to the absolute best of the best before award season kicks off. Grab some popcorn and get comfy. You've got a lot of screening to do before the big ball drops!

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