Tom Bissell

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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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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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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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