The Room

Enlisted show

This post is in partnership with Cadillac Cadillac and the Producers Guild of America recently launched Make Your Mark, a short film competition that challenges producers to create compelling content with limited resources. Contestants will make a short film over a single weekend in late June, and the 30-second Cadillac spot featuring the grand prize winner’s film will air during the 2015 Academy Awards. As such we’ll be speaking with last year’s winner Jason Shulz, who offers his experience and some helpful lessons for those filmmakers who want to hoist the trophy for themselves this year. Plus, in a segment that tears us apart, Geoff and I will chat about the pure, accidental brilliance of The Room and what it’s like to watch an unintentionally terrible movie while sitting next to its director. Last, but definitely not least, we’ll talk to Enlisted creator Kevin Biegel about why he’s fighting so hard to promote a show that’s already been cancelled. He’ll also offer some keen advice about breaking into TV writing that you won’t want to miss. You should follow Kevin Biegel (@kbiegel), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #62 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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The Disaster Artist

We’ve already determined that the cinematic marriage of James Franco and The Disaster Artist, actor Greg Sestero‘s account of whatever the hell happened during the making of Tommy Wiseau‘s infamously bad (and infamously beloved) The Room is a match made in weirdo heaven and, quite frankly, we didn’t expect that any other bit of news about the film would delight us more than that Franco teaming. Unless, of course, there was another Franco teaming involved. Yup, The Disaster Artist isn’t going to start just one Franco — it will now star two. 3News reports (via The Film Stage) that James Franco’s own baby brother (and current comedic rising star) Dave Franco will also star in the film, playing the Greg Sestero (and reportedly the true lead of the feature) to James’ Tommy Wiseau. Could this possibly get even more weirdly perfect?

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Claire Danes Cry Face

There’s a way to do sadness in film, and there’s a way to make sadness all about you. Many of our favorite films feature a heartbreaking scene or two that tug at the emotions ever so gently, but there are some that take that premise and run with it all the way to the cry bank by using the supreme talents of their actors and their abilities to tear-up like there’s no tomorrow. Can you scrunch up your face and look like death’s just arrived? Excellent, Claire Danes, we’ll see you tomorrow. From Danes to Brando, here are some truly impressive cry faces.

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Winters_Tale_19

I went to the movies on Friday night. Surrounded by friends in just the right mood, and a bit buzzed, I sat down to a 7:45pm screening of Winter’s Tale. And you know what? I had a fantastic time. It’s terrible, of course. Akiva Goldsman‘s directorial debut isn’t so much a train wreck as it is the colliding of planets, à la Melancholia. This apparently genuine attempt at epic, magical romance is the most spectacular disaster I have seen in a long, long time. Nothing works. The plot doesn’t make any sense, the actors all seem to be performing in different movies, and it is blissfully unaware of its own silliness. If I had to smack a label on it, I’d call it the perfect midnight movie. But what does that actually mean?

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Tommy Wiseau

While it may not sound like something worth bragging about, here it is: I was an early adopter of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. While the legendarily bad film is now, well, legendary in plenty of cinematic circles, for a long time, it was simply a strange footnote in local Los Angeles lore. Before Wiseau’s film started selling out midnight screenings at what was then the Laemmle Sunset 5 (and is now a swanky Sundance Cinemas), the multi-hyphenate promoted his ill-fated feature on a single billboard on Fountain Ave. in Hollywood. It was that billboard that a pair of my film school friends (not rejects, sadly) saw on a consistent basis, that billboard that intrigued them, and that billboard that inspired them to purchase the film on DVD sometime around 2003. The Room became an instant classic in our circle (turns out, you don’t need an entire theater of fans to make a so-bad-it’s-good screening work you just need Malibu rum and wise cracks), and when we found out that the film was playing on the big screen nearby, we simply had to go. Back then, The Room only pulled in enough of an audience to lock one theater a month, but Wiseau would show up at every screening to deliver an introduction and something vaguely approaching a Q&A (when one of my friends asked him where he was from, he snapped, “what do you mean? Where do you think? Maaahrrrs?” and another time he admirably told a blond pal he […]

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filmweb-570x300

This past summer marked the 10th anniversary of The Room’s opening at two theaters in Los Angeles. Since its cult reception began with a couple of college students during the last week of the film’s initial 2003 exhibition, The Room accelerated into a bona fide cultural phenomenon complete with Rocky Horror-like rituals, public script readings, a video game, and countless experiences of uncanny disbelief from everyone who has enjoyed the enviable experience of viewing this film for the very first time. There have been great bad movies before, and there will be more in the future. What separates The Room from the rest is that the context from which it was made seems like something that could only exists as a hypothetical: what if somebody with an enigmatic personality and no evident competence for filmmaking produced – and somehow completed – a feature film from his endless well of unspecified resources? Other great bad films emerged from conflicts between producers and talent, misguided attempts at earning a cheap dollar, or earnest efforts at a high-concept idea on a shoestring budget. What makes The Room unique is that it is unquestionably the singular vision of its maker, writer/director/producer/actor Tommy Wiseau. For all its obvious and beloved faults, The Room must be recognized as an ideal work of indie filmmaking passion. It is, in total, an uncompromising film characterized by its author’s total intent. So, accompanied by a large grain of salt, here is some free advice (for fans and filmmakers alike) […]

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The Room Movie

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Sharknado

Last week, my partner hosted a screening of Miami Connection, Drafthouse Films’ release of the heretofore largely unseen low-budget Tae Kwon Do musical from 1987, for a small group of friends. Ever the meticulous party-planner, she made the viewing interactive by constructing, amongst a litany of other viewing activities, a series of Bingo cards that our friends could play while watching the film. At first, I was a bit worried that this might make the viewing of a ridiculous ‘80s cult film all too predetermined, forcing our friends to anticipate amazing lines like “I thought we are all orphans” or the transcendent pro-friendship tunes of Dragon Sound ahead of time rather than experiencing these moments organically, as she and I did the first time we saw Miami Connection. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. The interactive viewing was a great success for our dear Miami Connection virgins, and everyone went home whistling “Against the Ninja” whether they wanted to or not. But I’m not interested in talking about a party that went well (okay, maybe a little bit). I’m interested in what something like Miami Connection Bingo cards represent for people seeing the film for the first time: the simultaneous, seemingly paradoxical engagement with cult film initiation and cult film participation.

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As movie-goers, we are all familiar with that excruciating moment when you are watching a movie and the action is so horribly uncomfortable that you actually feel the need to cover your own face. It’s this nonsensically powerful moment when you actually feel embarrassed for a fictional character because of some terribly awkward scenario that you’d rather watch a murder than bare witness to. It’s like a horror movie almost – it’s that same turtle reaction where you just want to shrink away. And like horror, it’s either done really well or it’s abused, which is why I want to share with you the films I think did it the very best. Oh, and if you are wondering why I only picked 9 – it’s the most awkward number I could think of.

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Last weekend, a film called The Worst Movie Ever! (complete with an exclamation mark in the title) played two midnight showings at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in Los Angeles and made only $11. That means that one person attended only one of the screenings, which means that if the filmmaker’s mother came out to support him, he wasn’t there to hold her hand. It’s difficult to say with certainty, but the whole thing seems fishy. If you were four-walling your own movie, wouldn’t you want to be there? Wouldn’t the actors and people who worked on the thing show up for support even if it meant paying for their own ticket? Is it just blind luck that advertising brought in only one person interested in seeing it (thus making it the lowest-grossing opening weekend ever)? For any other movie, these questions might not even pop up. When the infamous Zyzzyx Road scored $20 during its one-weekend-long domestic run, it became a humorous anecdote in movie history, but there was nothing suspicious about it. In that case, producer Leo Grillo only opened the film in order to fulfill a domestic run needed to sell it to foreign markets. In the case of the self-proclaimed The Worst Movie Ever!, writer/director/producer/star Glenn Berggoetz has clearly made a film so intentionally bad that a newsworthy, historically low weekend take can only benefit it. And it has.

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. Hey jerks my question is what movie do you recommend the most to friends and strangers. I’ve been asking people I know the same thing lately and I have been really really surprised by some of the answers. Thanks. – Carlos P.

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And obviously, that’s not the strangest thing about Tommy Wiseau. Since you’re reading Film School Rejects, we can assume a few things. Primarily, you’re really attractive and have lots of friends, and less important, you’re well versed in movie news, no matter how weird it is. In that case, this means you probably already know of Tommy Wiseau, someone who has managed to be called a master of all crafts (acting, directing, and writing) based solely on the drama dark comedy satire movie, The Room. If you haven’t heard of it, take a moment to YouTube it. I’ll wait. You’re back? Excellent. You’ve now had a taste of Tommy Wiseau and hopefully you’re hungry for more. Combine that hunger with a little bit of insomnia and you can watch Wiseau get blood dripped all over him as he runs acting train all over you face tonight on Comedy Central at 3am. If you can’t stay up that late, well….

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Culture Warrior

The Room is different from other bad movies. Anybody who has seen it knows this. Its success is so potent, and the film is so rewatchable and addictive because it resides in an exclusive liminal space between the token wonderfully bad genre movies (e.g., Plan 9, Hobgolbins, Troll 2, and everything in between) and infuriatingly incompetent beyond-amateur crap like Manos: The Hands of Fate or Birdemic. The Room is so incredibly unique in part because, at a $6 million investment from the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau that covered everything from production to advertising, this is bad filmmaking on a relatively “large” scale. With The Room, Wiseau found himself in the impossible position of being able to – as the film’s sole source of funding – exercise total creative control while simultaneously displaying unwieldy incompetence regarding the entire filmmaking process.

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Culture Warrior

I argued in a Culture Warrior article last year that bad films give audiences a degree of power and authority over the enormous and intricate machinations of filmmaking – in other words, that in an industry so large, with so many levels of production and with such a complex process from inception to completion, for a work of incompetence to somehow arise is an instance of seemingly impossible serendipity. Bad films are more believably possible – and come about, arguably, more often – through the process of independent filmmaking, a venue where resources may be limited but accountability may be absent altogether. Thus, a masterpiece of incompetence like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is likely if not inevitable when there are significant sources of funding provided by a first-time feature director who doesn’t know the first thing about narrative storytelling, much less the difference between 35mm and HD cameras – or Troll 2, in which a language barrier also provided a barrier to competent filmmaking.

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If there’s one thing I love more than seeing a great movie for the first time, it’s sharing a movie that I find great with someone whom has never seen it before. It might be part of something essential in human nature: a desire to share an experience that one finds profound with those whose opinion you trust and value. Whether it be something intensely moving, shockingly original, incredibly interesting, intellectually challenging, or unprecedentedly hilarious, introducing a valuable cinematic experience to a friend can induce the most rewarding of feelings for the cinephile.

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