Tommy Wiseau

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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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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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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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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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