Like a circus train on fire falling over a cliff, The Room hurdled into our consciousness shortly before it went big. Back then, it played in one, maybe two screens at the monthly screening in Hollywood. One could get there forty minutes before the show and get a good seat. Now, the movie sells out two nights a month on all screens and getting good seats involves careful planning and dedicated hearts.
Hell, I’m not even one of the original fans of the movie and I still sound like an old-timer.
The Room was given to us when a friend of a friend was told about what we do at Yakmala and said, “Oh I have the perfect film for you.” While I’ve rolled my eyes more than once when someone has said this, it turned out to be the most accurate time anyone has ever utter that phrase to another human being.
And possibly other lifeforms as well.
So we went to the next screening and it was a revelation. The film wasn’t just perfect for our purposes, it was a text book example. From the acting, the writing, the directing, the editing, the cinematography right down to score it was a complete mess … but also charming in its messiness. Like Philip Michael Thomas said at the end of Death Drug, “this is just a dramatization, but the story is real.” That realness forever marks The Room as a special highlight in the Yakmala Hall of Fame.
Plot: Johnny is a good man who loves Lisa. Lisa is bored with Johnny and starts an affair with Mark. Lisa talks to her mother about her problem with Johnny. Denny is confused young man with keys to Johnny’s apartment. Lisa talks to her mother about her problem with Johnny. Lisa’s mother has breast cancer. Unrelated people sneak into Johnny’s apartment a lot. Lisa talks to her mother about her problem with Johnny.
Football is played by tossing a ball around at a distance no great than five feet. Denny gets into trouble with Chris R because he owes him some money for drugs. Lisa talks to her mother about her problem with Johnny. Peter is a psychologist who appears to die after playing football in a tuxedo. Time and space is warped as Mark appears to have sex with Lisa and jog with Johnny at the park at the same time. Lisa talks to her mother about her problem with Johnny. After a birthday party that appears to go on for weeks, Johnny makes a momentous decision when he learns of Lisa’s infidelity. Now you know why they call it The Room.
Analysis: If it reads like a Skinemax plot, that’s no mistake. The Room most closely resembles a late night soft corn porn movie; complete with some boobage (of the female kind). While they storyline might be familiar to a teenager with all-inclusive cable package, the movie is oddly innocent in that regard. More than any real attempt at titillation, it feels as though the filmmaker has only seen one type of movie and follows the format because he believes that’s how all movies are made. He leads a gang of people who all seem unsure of their contribution to the rich tradition of cinema.
Every important facet of the production collapses under its own weight (that’s not a fat joke about Lisa). The editing loses track of the Aristotelian Unities before the opening credits end. The camera work often loses focus and centers on the wrong aspect of the scene. The performances prove its very tough to act “badly.” Oh, and the music:
I could go on, but that would spoil some of the surprises. The Room, more than any other movie of questionable quality, is an experience one must take unprepared. It’s important to have company on this journey … but learn nothing more than what I tell you. You’ll be glad you did.
What makes The Room special for us is the unmistakable sincerity its writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau poured into the film. The man was clearly hurt (possibly hurting someone along the way) and needs to show the world how he was wronged. It is, in its way, a young writer’s early attempt to come to grips with a bad break-up. Of course, one needs to factor in that Tommy looks like this:
Tommy is one of those special people that could only make sense in Los Angeles. However, unlike Angelyne or Mark Woodruff: Actor, Tommy did accomplish something it making a film. Flawed and terrible as it is, Tommy made somethng of himself and the city rewarded him with uncomfortable fame.
The “success” of The Room is based in one important factor: Someone with passion made a movie. One of the key differences in Yakmala film is misguided passion and no film we’ve ever watched is as misguided as this one. Unlike Repo! The Genetic Opera, Tommy Wiseau never meant to court this audience. He thought he was making a profound statement and instead he found us.
If you doubt me, here’s a clip that just about says it all:
It’s been a long time since you could legitimately add a movie to the pantheon of film that include Plan 9 from Outer Space and Manos: the Hands of Fate. The Room easily sits on that shelf and Tommy Wiseau deservedly joins Ed Wood and Harold P. Warren at the table of awesomely bad directors.
All of these things led to the film’s “Best of” induction at a special Yakmala trip to on of the monthly screenings. A full row and half was required to fit us all in, but we sat there and enjoyed Tommy’s vision. We laughed, we cried, but we did not hurt each uther.
I guess that’s kind of an in-joke … but see The Room and you’ll get it.
Special Lessons Learned:
The Red Dress: it never fails. People are curing breast cancer all time. Psychologists can change form at will. Always be sure to take your wedding photos one month to six weeks prior to the ceremony.