Monday, 31 August 2015

The Room (3 Stars)

I don't know what I should judge this film on: the story, the acting or the party atmosphere in the cinema when it was shown. If I gave it five stars I would be unjustly praising it, if I gave it one star I would be denying the film its cult value, so my three star rating can be interpreted as an I-don't-know-what-to-rate-it rating.

Made in 2003, "The Room" is considered by many to be the worst film ever made, replacing "Plan 9 from Outer Space", which had held the title for decades. As is typical for special film showings at the Electric, a friendly young man went on stage to introduce the film before it started, after which it commenced without any ads or trailers.

The film's plot: Johnny and Lisa live together in an apartment in San Francisco. The apartment is small but luxurious. They've been together for five years and intend to marry soon. Unknown to Johnny, Lisa is having an affair with his best friend Mark. She confesses to her mother that she loves Mark and finds Johnny boring. Lisa's mother encourages her to stay with Johnny for financial security, but due to Johnny not getting an expected promotion she doesn't feel so secure. When Lisa's friend Michelle tells her that Mark doesn't earn much, Lisa says she will stay with Mark to get as much as she can, after which she'll look for a richer man.

With a plot like that anyone else would have made an average, completely forgettable film, but in the hands of Tommy Wiseau, who wrote, directed and produced the film, it became something extraordinary. This was Tommy's first film, and he financed the $6 million budget himself. Not counting the actors, he had a crew of 400 people working on the film, which is as many as are used in typical Hollywood blockbusters. What stands out is the unbelievable style of the story. There are countless sub-plots introduced throughout the film which are never resolved. For instance, in an early scene Lisa's mother says that she's just been diagnosed with cancer, but this is never mentioned again. Then there are strange scenes where Johnny and his friends gather on the roof of the building to throw a football to one another. That's hardly the best place to throw a football, is it?

One of the film's stranger features is that Tommy Wiseau, who plays the lead role of Johnny, speaks with a thick eastern European accent, maybe Hungarian or Romanian. When watching the film I thought that this was his real accent, but I've found a few interviews with him on YouTube, and he has a normal American accent. The reason for this accent can be found in interviews about the film. It was intended that Johnny should be a vampire. This part of the film was omitted when Tommy realised his budget wasn't enough to show his car flying -- do vampires have flying cars? -- but the accent remained.

The audience loved the film. Every time Johnny's friend Denny visited him, which was frequent, the audience shouted "Hi Denny" and "Bye Denny". When Lisa's mother visited, voices in the audience shouted, "What about your cancer?" I got into the act as well. Whenever Johnny delivered particularly emotional lines I shouted, "Give him an Oscar". But the film's highlight was that whenever a painting with a spoon was shown the audience threw plastic spoons at the screen.

On another topic, compare Cineworld's film tickets with the Electric's tickets. At Cineworld the ticket shows the cinema's name, the film's name, the screen, the seat number and various other relevant information. The Electric's ticket just says "Admit One". That's it. That's old school!

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