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Old 11th Apr 2010, 4:39   #1
bill
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Default The Room

[Editor's note: I do not know if the cult of The Room has expanded into the UK, or anywhere outside of the US, yet, but if it has I implore all interested parties -- which really should be all of you -- to see this film in any way you can. I will warn you here that there are HEAVY SPOILERS in the last two paragraphs of this review, but nothing -- absolutely nothing -- that you might read about The Room can possibly prepare you for the experience of seeing it for yourself. Godspeed you all...]

Johnny and Lisa seem to have everything. Johnny is Lisa's future husband, and Lisa is Johnny's future wife. Johnny has a very secure job, plus he's about to be promoted. They share an apartment in San Francisco, and it has couches and chairs and paintings in it. On their roof is lawn furniture and a corrugated tin shed, and elsewhere in their building lives Johnny's pseudo-adopted son, an emotionally regressive 18-year-old named Denny. What else could they possibly need?
.
Love. Love is what else they could need.

Oh hi. The problem, it seems to me, with writing in any controlled or structured way about Tommy Wiseau's extraordinary The Room is that there isn't a single moment in the entire film that isn't worth mentioning. I've seen it twice now (the second time around, I fast-forwarded through the sex scenes, and if you've seen The Room you know what a time-saver that is), and I found myself latching on to particular moments that had to make it into this write-up, only to have them completely crowded out in a snap by an avalanche of dialogue and performance choices that each deserved an entire post of their own. Wiseau's film is, in short, a gift that won't stop giving, and by the end the attentive viewer is overwhelmed with sensation, with such a variety of experiences, that upon reflection The Room begins to seem like nothing more than a jumble of roses, footballs, wax apples, and words and phrases like "hi", "future", "best friend", "it doesn't matter", "I don't want to talk about it" and "I definitely have breast cancer".
.
Shot like a SyFy Channel Original Movie, minus all the rock monsters and sharktopi, The Room is, as I indicated above, the story of a failing relationship. As the film begins, we are introduced to Lisa (Juliette Danielle) as she greets Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) upon his return home from work. Johnny gives her a present, a slinky red dress, and it is here that one of Wiseau's aesthetic hallmarks (he not only stars in the film, but also wrote and directed it, taking each job in both the first and second units, if the credits are to be believed), which is an inability to remember, or to read, what he's just written, and therefore writing it all over again. Here, Lisa has just accepted the dress:
.
Quote:
Lisa: Can I try it on now?
.
Johnny: Sure, it's yours.
.
Lisa: You wait right here, and I'm going to try it on right now.
.
Johnny: Mm hm.
After Lisa puts the dress on right now, Johnny's adopted-ish son Denny (Phillip Haldiman) arrives, to tell Lisa how pretty she looks and to ask how much the dress cost. He also asks if he can take a nap with Johnny, but after being gently rebuffed twice (not only is the nap a no-go, but he's told he can't watch Johnny and Lisa have sex, either), Johnny and Lisa make love. It is here that I believe Lisa begins to hate Johnny.

This growing hatred, this rending asunder of a love once so true, forms the heart, soul, spine, brain and lungs of The Room. Lisa will awaken from their passionate and incredibly slow love-making to decide, abruptly, that she no longer loves Johnny, despite the fact, as Lisa's mother Claudette (Carolyn Minnott) points out, that Johnny provides for her, and Lisa can't provide for herself (Claudette, by the way, is the one who has the evidently mild case of terminal breast cancer). Lisa will begin a campaign of manipulation, betrayal, infidelity, and not-wanting-to-talk-about-things that will include seducing Johnny's best friend Mark (Greg Sestero) and fixing Johnny, a non-drinker, a potent cocktail made up of one part whiskey and one part vodka (which I've dubbed the Necktie Headband, after the couple's ensuing drunken shenanigans) so that she can later make the claim that Johnny got drunk and hit her. Since nobody cares if Lisa got punched, this is soon dropped. But the one thing that is not dropped is tragedy. Tragedy looms, and is also symbolized. I just this second decided that there's a symbol for "tragedy" in this movie. More on that later.
.
If The Room was merely (merely!) a story of love gone cold, it would deserve our attention for Wiseau's indelible performance, carried by his rich, South-Northern Frenchtalian accent, and for the scenes of emotional violence between Johnny and Lisa (LISA: Women change their minds all the time! JOHNNY: Ha ha! You must be joking, aren't you!(?)), as well as the crushing tragedy that forms the story's devastating endgame (okay, the symbol for tragedy is a football, but just hold on for the rest), but, of course, The Room is so much more than that.

Wiseau's loose storytelling method allows for a host of supporting characters to appear at random and leave a trail of rich texture behind him. Denny, in particular, has a habit of repeatedly dropping by Johnny's apartment to exchange dialogue with either Lisa or Johnny that seem to be constructed from the beginnings and endings of about a dozen different conversations. Such as:
.
Quote:
Lisa: Hey Denny, how are you doing?
.
Denny: Fine. What's new?
.
Lisa: Actually I'm really busy. Do you want something to drink?
.
Denny: No thanks. I just wanna talk to Johnny. You look beautiful today. Can I kiss you?
.
Lisa: You're such a little brat!
.
Denny: Just kidding. I love you and Johnny!
Early in the film, it is also revealed that Denny has some sort of vague drug problem. He is accosted on the rooftop of his building by Charlie-R, a drug dealer, who pulls a gun and demands that Denny pay him his money. Denny is rescued by the sudden appearance of every other character who's been introduced up to that point, and a long, tearful and hysterical third-degree of Denny at the hands of Lisa ensues. This conversation consists primarily of Denny saying that he owed Charlie-R money because he bought some drugs from him, but that he got rid of the drugs and it doesn't matter, and Lisa screaming "What kind of money?" and "What kind of drugs?" The answer to the question "What kind of money?" is probably "American", but the kind of drugs that Denny bought and then disposed of is one of the film's many intriguing mysteries.

This crisis in Denny's life is never mentioned again, but, crucially, a gun, or the idea of guns -- of violence -- has been introduced into The Room's false sense of love and peace. It is with these supposedly, and so-called, meaningless scenes that Wiseau subtly shapes his tragedy (or "football"). Two other non-sequitor events lay the symbolic groundwork. In one, a character named Mike stops Johnny as he's running through what appears to be a tiny abandoned warehouse. Mike, we know, is the boyfriend of Michelle, Lisa's friend. Earlier, we saw Mike and Michelle preparing for sex -- in Johnny's apartment -- by eating chocolate out of each other's mouths, which is gross, and which I don't think you're supposed to do. They were caught in the act by Lisa and Claudette, who found Mike's underwear hanging out of his pocket. It was a light-hearted scene, and Mike recounts the events to Johnny (significantly referring to the incident as a "tragedy"), in the tiny warehouse, in a light-hearted way. Johnny assures Mike that he's not only listening to his story, but that he understands stories about underwear, and points out, when Mike has concluded, that "That's life!" At this point, Denny shows up, carrying with him a football. This football -- or possibly many footballs -- is seen throughout The Room, and leads to more than one round of catch. This is precisely what Johnny, Mike and Denny proceed to do, when suddenly Mark shows up. Mark, Johnny's best friend, is at this point well into his affair with Lisa (Johnny's future wife), and we know that he's experiencing a lot of guilt about this. When he agrees to take part in their game of "catch the football", Denny and Johnny begin to hint at Mike's crazy underwear story. Thunderstruck, Mark says "Underwear!? What's that!?", and then shoves Mike into a nearby pile of trashcans. Mike is clearly injured -- badly injured -- and has to be helped away by his friends. A "tragic" story leads to tossing the football around, which leads...to violence.
.
Later in the film, Johnny, Mark, Denny, and Peter (another friend, and a psychologist) meet at Johnny's apartment, each of them wearing a tuxedo. The purpose of this evening wear is left to our imaginations, but it occurs to Denny that it might be fun to go down to the alley and throw the football around. Peter -- who knows that Mark and Lisa are having an affair, and who Mark threatened with violence -- demurs at first. He doesn't think this is a good idea. As a psychologist, perhaps he is more in tune to the emotional and phyiscal tragedy that is represented by Denny's football, but Peter's own pedestrian human nature causes him, eventually, to succumb, after the other three call him a chicken, and make chicken noises at him. So they all go to the alley and start throwing the football. Denny tells Peter to "go out" so that he can throw the football (or "tragedy") to him, and as Peter does so, he trips and falls. While he does not appear to be badly hurt, Peter never again appears in the film. The football/tragedy has led to his disappearance/death.

Finally, Wiseau is ready to stage his inevitable climax, which revolves around the surprise birthday party for Johnny that Lisa has been planning ("You invited all my friends! Good idea!"). The well-informed viewer will instinctively recognize this section of the film as the "third act", and as he or she comes to this realization, perhaps he or she will remember, as I did, something that Anton Chekhov once said: "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired." And once you think of this, you think of Charlie-R's gun. How can you not?
.
The birthday party goes badly, with Mark and Lisa brazenly "making out" in the middle of the room, despite the protestations of Michelle, and some brand new guy who may only have been the plus-one of one of Johnny's work friends, but who nevertheless clearly knows what the shot is. In any case, Johnny and Mark fight, Johnny announces that "everyone betray me", he and Lisa break up, and then Johnny tears his bedroom apart. After humping the red dress he bought Lisa for a few seconds, he notices his hope chest, laying among the waste of his trashed bedroom. In that hope chest, we see that he keeps a gun and, just beneath that, nothing else. He removes the gun, asks God to forgive him, and then shoots himself square in the mouth.

When I was first planning to compose this critical essay of Tommy Wiseau's The Room, it was my belief that Charlie-R's gun -- which we see Mark take from the drug dealer -- and the gun Johnny uses to end his shattered life, were one in the same. It was based on this belief that I was able to construct my Chekhov idea. However, screengrabs of the two guns provided to me by a friend prove that they're two different guns, and I was, briefly, despondent. But only briefly, because then I thought of something Denny said, up there on that rooftop, under the blue sky of San Francisco. He said, "It doesn't matter!" And despite Lisa and Claudette's continued averring that it did, in fact, matter, Denny stuck to his "guns", and you know what? He was right. It doesn't matter. Because each of The Room's guns represent all guns, just as however many footballs they used represent all tragedies. When Charlie-R introduced that first gun, it was assured that either that gun, or another one, would go off. The tragedy of The Room -- as is far too often the case in our world, in our streets, in our homes -- is that it went off in Johnny's mouth.
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Last edited by bill; 17th May 2010 at 18:53.
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Old 17th May 2010, 7:12   #2
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Default Re: The Room

Having seen this film for the first, and most certainly not the last time, I can only encourage people to read Bill's excellent review, but also to see it for themselves. Because this is a truly unique film. Your Scorseses, your Spielbergs, your Lynches, all your fancy names could never have made this film. And yes, I use the word "film" deliberately; "movie" carries with it expectations of action, special effects, thrills, spills, vacuous entertainment... all the stuff that a different director might have used a multi-million dollar (well, six is multi) budget on. But not Tommy Wiseau. He has a vision, and that vision is, as that of all great visionaries, of himself. This is his life, his dreams, his naked jiggling ass up there on the screen, as an ever-changing ensemble of a half-dozen people play out the drama on the $500 set. Everyone in the film keeps telling each other, with increasing desperation, that this doesn't matter, that doesn't matter, nothing matters, yet in the end it's excruciatingly clear that it all matters. Except the mother's cancer and Denny's drug problems and the tuxedoes and anything else that's not about Tommy. I mean Johnny. This is the cry of a wronged man; a man who knows how fantastic he is, what a great friend, banker, lover and film maker he is, and just wants his real life Lisa to know how sorry she'd have been if he really had blown his brains out.

Instead of doing that, he gave us this film. And what a film it is. It's a film that, in the words of Johnny, tears us apart - Bill, me, and everyone else who has had the fortune of seeing it. We're torn apart, yet unified in our love for it, just like the numerous scenes where Johnny tears the petals off roses just to sprinkle them over his impossibly beautiful Lisa, carrying on the eternal circle of creation and destruction, desire and repulsion, age and beauty, reality and artifice. I can only implore you all: watch it. You will never look upon the medium in quite the same way. And I'm sure you will all join me in a deeply heartfelt "Oh hi, Tommy."

Oh hi, Tommy.
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Old 17th May 2010, 18:53   #3
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Default Re: The Room

Welcome into the fold, bg.
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Old 1st Jan 2011, 17:31   #4
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Default Re: The Room

I want you to imagine the best soap opera ever made. I just saw the pilot episode, and there's a good chance HBO are developing it right now. It's just like every other soap you ever saw but with one special, ground-breaking difference. TV will never be the same again. It's called, The Room.

Meet Johnny. He's a serial killer. You know the type: as a miscellaneous europeman in America, the superficial strangeness hides the killer behind the smile. Like his hair, midnight black and slickly leonine, something no native would wear ever, not even on Halloween. Like his indefinable accent, the vowels, just off, the intonation, not quite right. Think Christopher Walken in Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast on a VHS recording so worn by overuse that the audio sync fluctuates eerily wherever it wants to. But when that smooth persona is casually slipped off like a slacks and vest combo all you can see are those eyes. You don't notice his superb, lethally honed, killing-machine physique, nor his uniquely low body fat ratio, so low that when he's making love to his lovely fiancé you're reminded of a prize-winning greyhound, fine-grained flanks flexing, as it tenderly humps a cabbage patch kid. No, all you see are those dead, those distant eyes – oh hi Lisa.

Meet Lisa, Johnny's girl. She's a serial killer. You know the type: demure blonde by day, passionate lover by night. Black widow come morning. Beautiful, desirable, her inadequate breasts surgically supplemented by Johnny's presumably limitless wealth, of course she cannot support herself; she needs him to make her more than half a person. Needs him, to pass unrecognised for what she truly is. Her perfect prey, but she needs him. Unless... unless she can find a new lover, a new cover, freeing her to claim Johnny not as husband, but victim. A better man, to support her in Johnny's place until the terrible boredom rises within her again, driving her to – oh hi Mark.

Meet Mark, he's Johnny's best friend. And a serial killer. You know the type: sculpted perfection from head to toe, strokeable tan hair, strokeable tanned skin, radiant blue eyes – radiant blue balls. Fighting to remain loyal to his best friend and forever unable to act on his desires, his absolute impotence fuels a simmering rage, all that hatred welling up within him, waiting to erupt into unspeakable violence. If only he could consummate when Lisa makes her play for him perhaps the horror could be averted; if only his ultimate release, of one kind or another, was not interrupted by a fade-to-black, or a pan-away to later and an awkward moment between would-be lovers in limbo, or by the untimely intrusion of Lisa's love-lorn neighbour, drawn from his ear at the wall by the sound of – oh hi Denny.

Meet Denny. Actually Denny doesn't interrupt Mark and Lisa trying to have sex, but this is a convenient moment to mention him. He's a serial killer. You know the type: though physically he escaped a cycle of abuse at the hands of his childhood uncle, psychologically he still cowers in that closet until it comes his turn; still hears the pathetic excuses of the aunt who defended his tormentor; paradoxically, still longs for the slightest sign of affection from a strong male authority figure. Now all grown up – physically – he is torn by conflicting desires, of giving kisses to Lisa, of watching Johnny sleep, of clumsily crawling between them when he hears the sound of “fighting” in their bedroom, only to find they are at this point still only hitting each other with pillows. How long can he go on like this, how long, before the need to strike back at Uncle Someone, Uncle Anyone, grows too much to bear and the cycle begins anew?

Get the picture? It's that simple: everyone's a serial killer. It's that simple: everyone's a serial killer. Don't believe me? Meet Peter. He's a serial killer. You know the type: bespectacled psychiatrist, nice suit and tie, harmless looking, trust him with your every secret. He'll be picking you out of his teeth by the third session. That not enough? What about Lisa's mother, Claudette?

Oh hi.

Meet Claudette. She taught Lisa everything she knows, both about not being able to support herself by conventional means and about murdering wealthy men to secure their inheritances. As she tells Lisa, she hasn't been happy since she married her first husband, and didn't even want to marry her second – Lisa's father. He was awful, that's why she “divorced” him – but Claudette has problems too. Now property values are rising her brother wants half of her house, but not being married to him she doesn't know what to do about it. Also, her good friend Annette wants to buy a house, but she doesn't have enough money, the house and money crises are just becoming overwhelming. All she knows is that Lisa absolutely must marry Johnny, whether she loves him or not – because you'll get nothing when they're in the ground if you don't have no gold on your god-damned finger.

Talk about gold, this is television gold. Would you watch it? Of course you would, serial killers and serial killers, circling each other, serial killers. But I know what you're thinking – they can't all be serial killers, can they? What about Mike and Michelle? He's a fucking ditz and she's got a big mouth, they can't be serial killers, the worst they could do is badly cover up an accidental hit-and-run. What about Chris-R? He's a gun-toting drug dealer, not a serial killer, if he shot all his customers he'd never make any money. What about Steven, or the coffee shop couple? What about the Flowers Lady? What about her dog?

Hi doggy.

Don't ask stupid questions. No, they didn't kill anybody. They did not. They aren't serial killers. They are the victims, and they don't even know it yet. The only real question left to ask is, which one'll get them?

Oh. Hi.


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Old 3rd Jan 2011, 18:21   #5
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Default Re: The Room

Suddenly it makes so much more sense! What about the title? Can you explain the title? A guy I know speculates that it's called The Room because the ending takes place in a room.
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Old 3rd Jan 2011, 21:40   #6
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Default Re: The Room

Quote:
Originally Posted by bill View Post
[Editor's note: I do not know if the cult of The Room has expanded into the UK, or anywhere outside of the US, yet, but if it has I implore all interested parties -- which really should be all of you -- to see this film in any way you can. I will warn you here that there are HEAVY SPOILERS in the last two paragraphs of this review, but nothing -- absolutely nothing -- that you might read about The Room can possibly prepare you for the experience of seeing it for yourself. Godspeed you all...]
I'm highly intrigued by what you all have written here but I can't seem to find the film in the UK. Might have to import it...
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Old 3rd Jan 2011, 22:19   #7
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Default Re: The Room

Quote:
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I can't seem to find the film in the UK. Might have to import it...
Er, yes. I had to "import" it too.

The title. Muses. The title...
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Old 3rd Jan 2011, 22:27   #8
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Default Re: The Room

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I'm highly intrigued by what you all have written here but I can't seem to find the film in the UK. Might have to import it...
Ang, before you go and order the film you might want to watch the trailer and the Roof Scene.

I know some people give the film while others give it . I don't think it warrants any star rating between these 2.
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Old 4th Jan 2011, 0:24   #9
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Ang, before you go and order the film you might want to watch the trailer and the Roof Scene.
In truth you only need the first seven seconds of that second link.

As for the trailer... well, you do get to see some of the good bits, but the most interesting aspect is the chain of unattributed quotes it ends with:

"...WITH THE PASSION OF TENNESEE WILLIAMS"

"THE BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR"

"..(sic) A QUIRKY"(sic)
NEW COMEDY"

"IT'S A RIOT!"

The notion that this is "a black comedy", and thus its stunning content is all intentional, is troubling. Troubling, because it is almost plausible.
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Old 4th Jan 2011, 0:45   #10
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Default Re: The Room

Plausible, maybe, but not true. I can't provide sources, because I would honestly have no idea where to begin, but it's well documented that the idea to market The Room as a black comedy began long after it was originally released in one theater in Los Angeles and developed a cult reputation among comedians, who passed the word along, and brought friends to see it, and so on. It was absolutely not Wiseau's intention to make a comedy.
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