APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: BEST F(R)IENDS, VOLS. 1 & 2 (2018)

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Justin MacGregor

FEATURING: Tommy Wiseau, , Kristen Stephenson-Pino

PLOT: After Harvey, a mortician, takes in Jon, a vagrant, the two hatch a scheme to sell golden teeth gleaned from years of cadaver processing; Jon learns the hard way that friendship is more important than money when he double-crosses Harvey.

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: The first half of Best F(r)iends just about carries its weight with Wiseau weirdness, but the plot twist(s) and the Wiseau-ex-machina in the second half steers the experience well enough into the realm of ridiculous to handily earn its weirdo chops.

COMMENTSOrson Welles and Gregg Toland, Marco Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer: to this auspicious list one must now add Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau. Auteurs often go it alone, but sometimes, it takes the discovery of a cinematic soulmate to join the pantheon of greats. Sestero and Wiseau are not (yet?) there. But with their continued collaborations (beginning with the cult classic The Room), these two dreamers have carved their own niche in the world of weird movies. Best F(r)iends, volumes one and two, exhibits something of a peculiar talent. Having already tackled the “What the…?”, they now prove they can actually maintain a (largely) coherent narrative.

Bloodied and down on his luck, Jon (Sestero) resumes his life begging on the streets of LA while pursued by a garish hearse. Its driver, Harvey (Wiseau), is a mortician with a troubled past and an odd pasttime: collecting the dental discard of the cadavers he magically transforms from damaged bodies into something you could be proud to show off. Harvey tentatively decides to take Jon under his wing, but is soon betrayed when Jon arranges to offload the boxes of gold culled from Harvey’s years of corpse work. Conspiring with his new girlfriend Tracy (Stephenson-Pino), who is not all she seems, Jon ends up murdering Harvey. When things start to go wrong for the lovers, it takes a knight in shining armor to come to the rescue.

Best F(r)iends‘ weirdness crept over me slowly. Put together from untold hours of footage, it really is two volumes in name only: this is Sestero’s epic. Though the first half merely putters along a pathway of somewhat predictable Wiseau Weirdness (I had to give up writing down Harvey’s truisms halfway through), it is the second half that blows down the barrier between quirky and outright weird. While I don’t want to ruin things for Wiseau-philes out there, I will give the hint that my plot wrap-up above is far less metaphorical than you might think.

I won’t get into Wiseau and Sestero’s long and bizarre shared history. Suffice to say, Wiseau is as alien in real life as he seems onscreen and Sestero is only nominally more talented an actor than his Room performance suggests. He is, however, not half-bad as a writer, and Best F(r)iends, improbably, hangs together as a narrative, one that alternately confounds and amuses. Even more unlikely, it somehow turns out to be an emotionally moving film that, while weaving its web of lies and double-crosses, is a compelling meditation on friendship and trust. It is no great monument to film, but Best F(r)iends is still impressively odd, and, more impressively, something you can actually follow.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…director Justin MacGregor certainly plays into the absurdity of the script’s strange premise and twisted plotting. Taken as a whole, the pacing of the experience is a little flabby and unwieldy—partly due, no doubt, to the film having now been split into two volumes—but MacGregor and Sestero seem to have taken cues from David Lynch of all people. There is a pervading sense of surreality to the proceedings, as Daniel Platzman’s score overbearingly plays over montages and scenes that convey more bewildering emotion than they do coherent plot details.”–Leigh Monson, Birth. Movies. Death.

6 thoughts on “APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: BEST F(R)IENDS, VOLS. 1 & 2 (2018)”

  1. It’s relieving to read that this is actually a genuinely odd film, and not just some cynical attempt by Wiseau and Sesetero to ride the last waves of their fame. Thank goodness they opted for an indie production, and not to be paired up in some played-out, Hollywood-controlled setup.

    I’m prepared for the fact that nothing can ever be as interesting as The Room, of course; but still, with this review in mind, I’ll probably be seeking this out.

  2. As someone who watched the two films separately when they were first shown near me, about two months apart from eachother, I found volume 1 to actually be stronger, and I think this is because the teaser at the end of 1 made me think 2 was going to be even weirder than it was. Scenes like the clown coming back to life, or the ATM being filled with lemons, ended up being in minor dream sequences, if they existed at all.

    Still, it’s interesting. It’s a very reflexive work on Tommy and Greg’s real relationship; several elements of Tommy’s character and things he and Greg’s character do together are actually taken from reality.

  3. I don’t know how this slipped past my radar. I just found out about the existence of this from the Nostalgia Critic review.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LWoUGbJh6I

    That’ll teach me to pay attention. I did hear The Tommy was making plans to make a new movie, but thought it would never go through.

    And it’s actually palatable. What in angel’s writ have we witnessed?

    1. Well, Pete, it’s half an hour later than when I read your comment.

      Mr NC nails it, impressively.
      (Though not as succinctly as I did.)

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