Wiseau serious? See THE ROOM and make up your own mind

February 5, 2010

Wow, my first post in four months or so and I kick it off with a pun that would make Kathy Lette weep with self-loathing…even more than usual, that is. Anyway, aficionados of fine cinema in Melbourne and the surrounding area, the so-bad-it’s-freaking-crazy cult hit THE ROOM starts screening at Cinema Nova in Carlton tomorrow, and I wrote about it for my Inpress column ‘Trailer Trash’ back in December (hence the now-dated New Moon references):

Wither under the piercing gaze of Wiseau!

I am not the same as I once was. My eyes have been opened. My horizons have been broadened. My soul has taken wing and soared to the heights of Mount Olympus and beyond. Yeah, it’s safe to say that my perspective on human interaction, creativity and indeed life itself has irrevocably altered. And I can chalk it up to a single cinematic experience. Sure, the kids may be lining up at midnight so they can be the first on the block to check out Taylor Lautner’s sculpted abs and Robert Pattinson’s sculpted facial expressions in New Moon but all they’re gonna take away from that is a Team Edward tattoo and a vague sense of shame and self-loathing, whereas if they’d followed me down the path less travelled they would have found a new idol, someone who exudes the kind of raw, musky masculinity that lesser men can only find in a spray-can of Lynx and an Ed Hardy T-shirt. That idol’s name is Tommy Wiseau, and his masterpiece is a motion picture called The Room.

The Many Moods of Tommy Wiseau: Sophisticated...

What is The Room? Well, as is the case with the Matrix, you can’t be told what it is, you must experience it for yourself. But, hey, I like getting paid so I’m gonna write this column that gives you some indication of what it’s all about before you check it out. (And you will. Believe me, you will.)


I’d heard a bit about this movie before I actually settled down one balmy Sunday evening to watch it. There’d been reports in a couple of magazines and a few websites about this painfully earnest and decidedly odd melodrama produced, written and directed by Mr Wiseau, who also took on the lead role of Johnny, a sensitive, generous guy who gave his heart to the allegedly beautiful Lisa, only to have her falsely accuse him of domestic abuse, lie about being pregnant and repeatedly sleep with his best friend. The Los Angeles comedy cognoscenti, including the likes of Paul Rudd and David Cross, were all over the film, which reportedly had a budget of six million bucks but looks as if it was shot in someone’s dinky apartment with a ‘90s-era camcorder. (That said, there are reports that Wiseau was torn between shooting on film or digital video and decided to split the difference by strapping the two cameras together and using both. Man, that’s not thinking outside the box, that’s folding the box into an origami eagle and taking to the skies on its back.)


And because I know I don’t make a move without my actions having a hipster celebrity’s seal of approval, I then knew that The Room was something I was going to have to check out. After all, there were also reports out of L.A. that The Room was becoming a modern-day midnight movie in the vein of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Blues Brothers, with audiences lining up to jeer at the oh-so-smoove songs ladled over the love scenes (including one that repeats the lyric “You are my rose” over and over and over – there’s a bit of a red rose motif throughout the film, you’ll discover), puzzle at the scene where the movie’s band of buds decide to unconvincingly toss the football around while dressed in dinner suits and chuckle at the many, many continuity errors and non sequiturs.


Mostly, however, I’m guessing they’re lining up to marvel at the majesty of Wiseau. I’m not really one for conspiracy theories but the idea circulating around the interwebs that the multi-tasking maestro is actually a being sent from another planet to record his impressions of human relationships and transmit them back to his alien overlords kinda makes sense once you get a load of the guy. His accent seems European by way of Saturn. His mangled syntax makes Christopher Walken’s line deliveries appear relatively stable. His face…well, what’s the best way I can describe it? Remember in Conan the Barbarian when James Earl Jones’ Thulsa Doom made the supernatural transition from human being to jumbo-sized snake creature? Picture the change stopping about one-third of the way through. Wiseau is reptilian but in a strangely charismatic way: he could be in his 30s or he could be in his 50s but no matter how long you look at his strangely expressionless visage you’ll never get a clue as to how long he’s been on this planet or what his intentions may be – is he here to prepare the way for his extra-terrestrial masters or help usher in a new era of peace, love and understanding? (Oh, by the way, To Serve Man? IT’S A COOKBOOK!)


I wish I had more space to discuss The Room and its creator Tommy Wiseau, whose heart is clearly in the right place but whose head is a pit of autistic vipers with more women-issues than Cosmopolitan (seriously, if you think New Moon’s hot-tempered werewolves, who permanently scar up their girlfriends during a split-second temper tantrum, are maybe sending the wrong issue about sticking with an abusive partner, you will have hours of fun deciphering Wiseau’s take on the fairer sex). I mean, there’s so much to discuss, from the abject creepiness of Johnny’s inappropriate young chum Denny (who interrupts Johnny and Lisa’s lovemaking because “I just like to watch you guys”) to the stunning denouement that redefines the acronym WTF. But rather than talk about it, I’ll instead offer you an early Christmas gift: my recommendation of The Room. It’s available on DVD in the US, so if you place your order now it might just arrive in time to land under the tree on Christmas Eve. Just so you know, though, once you enter The Room, you never truly leave it. Never.