The Room: When an Alien in Human Skin Makes a Movie

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The Room is the greatest mess in cinematic history. It is the Citizen Kane of bad movies. It is the answer to the question of what would happen if something went so far below a zero that it somehow became a 10.

Its awful. It makes no sense. Characters existing is the extent of their existence. It has character moments, arcs and plot that are dropped in the same scene they’re introduced. It is edited at random. In the language of cinema, nothing in The Room works.

This movie is unwatchably watchable. If you were to sit down and try to watch take this seriously, it would feel like you’re “being stabbed in the head.” But sitting down to watch this as a delusional vanity project gone awry and it becomes one of the best 90 minutes you’ll get out of a film.

Tommy Wiseau is the center of the film on screen, as really good guy Johnny, and off screen as well. This man directed, wrote, adapted, produced, starred in and funded the entire $6,000,000 film. Yes, this movie costs $6,000,000.

This entire film is a series of things just happening. Its almost more of a mockumentary around a guy and his life than it is a proper dramatic film.

This is the cinematic equivalent of giving any random person a budget and a script and a camera and a crew. It should make you appreciate how “good” even a regular bad movie is.

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Tommy cannot enunciate. Tommy cannot dress himself. He’s an alien in human skin.

The Room is what the result would be if an alien species studied late 90’s soap opera TV, had a computer program amalgamate a script and then was performed by the aliens in human skin like the first Men In Black movie.

It’s not difficult to find secondhand embarrassment for the actress portraying Johnny’s “future wife” Lisa. She’s given an awkward wardrobe, absurd “motivation” and has 4 or 5 sex scenes. The sex scenes are uncomfortable. They last the entire length of the bad and cheesy love songs. Johnny pounds away at her belly button, has a zombie orgasm and then shows the entire world his butt. Why? Because its “Hollywood”, I guess.

Time passes in the film without any establishment of time passing. Characters talk about meeting up tomorrow and are in the next scene. No establishing shots, no passage of time shot, no CHANGE OF OUTFITS! They just happen.

Set design is bizarre. Like a showroom apartment from a 2003 Ikea. There are candles and photographs of spoons everywhere.

The logic of the film is bizarre. The game of football is just awkwardly hot potato-ing a ball around. Marijuana is considered an aggressive “fly off the handle” drug. Attempted murder is quickly forgiven. Stumbling into a garbage can sends you to the hospital.

The dialogue of the movie is completely bizarre, which probably is why the characters are so completely bizarre with actions that are completely bizarre.

  • Claudette becomes the voice of the people at one point, literally saying “What are these characters doing here?”
  • Tommy Johnny responds to the story of a woman being hospitalized by the beating of a jealous ex-lover with “Ha ha ha what a story, Mark!”
  • Characters will bring up something in conversation and then say “I don’t want to talk about it” after them bringing it up.
  • Adultery is committed and forgiven immediately, but then unforgiven about 12 seconds later in the same scene.

Does any of this sound like it was written by a human?

  • “I did not hit her. I did not. Oh hi Mark.”
  • “Anyway how’s your sex life?”
  • “Anything for my princess ha ha ha!”
  • “Its not over everybody betray me I fed up with this world!”
  • “If a lot of people love each other the world would be a better place to live.”
  • “Cheep Cheep Cheep Cheep Cheep.”

The best performance in this entire movie comes from the least trained actor on set. Drug dealer Chris R, played by former Olympic bobsledder Dan Janjigian, is excellent. He’s legitimately intimidating and terrifying. There is more conviction in his lines than the rest of the entire film. But even a performance that good is still undermined by The Room as people just appear in the scene like its Looney Tunes while shouting awkward lines. Somehow the violent, giant, gun weilding Chris R is subdued awkwardly by Johnny and his best friend Mark while Lisa yell cries about drugs at a whimpering Denny, Johnny’s pseudo son.

There’s a sad truth in film though. While its a mess, its clearly written from some place of truth or experience in Tommy Wiseau’s heart. There’s something of a biopic going on here, where nice guy Johnny gets manipulated, lied to and taken advantage of by the people close to him. A lot of the dialogue sounds like something from a bitter ex-lover.

Almost the entire male cast is portrayed as sexual vultures. Lisa is a petulant whore. Mark wants to, and does, bang Lisa. Denny wants to bang Lisa. Peter talks about how great Lisa is. Some no-name at the party has one line in the movie and it is “Lisa is so hot” while making a horny face.

Writing this may have been cathartic and even necessary for Tommy, but then turning this play into a film became an ego stroke. Some characters exist only to show that Tommy Johnny is a great guy.

Note: Due to Johnny clearly being a proxy for Tommy, I left in all the places I wrote Tommy.

One of these characters is Mike (pictured) aka Me Underpants Guy, who needs a private place to fool around with his girlfriend. So of course great guy Johnny allows them to use his couch whenever they want.

One of the nonsense characters is Denny, the orphan who was too old to adopt so Tommy Johnny just pays for his entire life as a pseudo father. All he does is be sexually creepy and weird, but Johnny loves him anyway because Johnny is so great.

One of these characters is Claudette, the future mother in law, who essentially repeats how Johnny is rich, nice, caring and an amazing man that all women would love to have.

One of these characters is the Flower Shop Owner, who exists to tell Tommy Johnny how he’s a great customer and great boyfriend.

Most of the characters essentially exist to say “Johnny, you are so great. You’re the best person” in a variety of ways.

Even Mark, the antagonist of the film and Johnny’s “best friend” who is banging Johnny’s “future wife” which frays and destroys the relationships in the plot of movie, will regularly talk about how great of a dude Johnny, his best friend, is. He will say this two seconds after putting his shirt on after having awkward staircase coitus with Lisa.

In years since, Tommy Wiseau has said he was making a dark comedy or a satire of a drama. Absolute crap. He went for a serious American drama and failed so miserably he made a comedy of errors so great he crafted one of the greatest comedy films of all time. The film grossed $1800 in its theatrical release. Marketing of the movie was a billboard in LA, that stayed up for 5 years, and Tommy Wiseau throwing pamphlets at people prior to the films premiere.

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The film is a complete mess. It takes itself seriously. It wants to hit heavy but is undermined in wild swings of tone. Random thrown in scenes interrupt any pacing you may find. Its a movie that doesn’t know what a movie is. Writing, dialogue, acting, screenplay, editing is atrocious.

The movie climaxes in a suicide after Tommy humps Lisa’s clothing following a lackadaisical condo trashing after Tommy shove fights Mark and tells Lisa she’s a bitch. That literally all happens inside 10 minutes.

It was written as a stage play and could not get distribution as a book. Logically when you encounter those obstacles you turn it into a self financed film. The production crew was replaced twice during filming.

So how did this movie become a big deal? Well, The Room was played on loop for April Fools 2009 by Adult Swim. That was the movie’s big break. Beyond that it had a small cult following in LA among film industry people.

How did I find this movie? I wanted to watch Room, the Brie Larson film that won an Academy Award. I didn’t think twice when I saw a theatrical showing of The Room, so I mosied on down to the historic Garneau Theatre. Imagine my surprise when I got this film, complete with fans throwing plastic spoons and singing along to the love songs. My brain couldn’t compute. It was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. And it was great. Everyone should see this movie once. Twice if you’re feeling cute.

 

If you liked this, please go like my page on Facebook. I’ll be reviewing The Disaster Artist both as a book and a film next.

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Venom – Trailer 2 Reaction: This movie looks terrible.

By no means is a trailer indicative of the final product. Its an ad. Venom could be good, but impressions from the teaser, first trailer and second trailer leave me expecting an awful mess. I’d love to be wrong, but… jeez it looks like Sony went and Sony’d all over a Spider-Man movie again.

Forgive if I ramble, but it looks cheap and schlocky. Maybe its the suit. Maybe its because it gives me edge-lord “I’m So HaRdCoRe” vibes. Maybe its because it looks like its a Zack Snyder movie with that washed out visual palette.

There are some promising badass things: ripping the face is badass, the axe hands are badass, the big tongue is badass, having all the Hybrid symbiotes on their own is badass.

But there are some dumbass things: indistinguishable character design is dumbass, the goofy Venom face worming itself off the body to have a chat is dumbass, the “ima eat u” monologue is dumbass.

I just look at this and wonder if anyone is excited to watch this CGI fight at night between a black symbiote with no distinguishable markings versus a dark grey symbiote with no distinguishable markings? If it wasn’t for someone telling me who was who in this still I would not have known.

I feel as if the film going to suffer from what plagued Suicide Squad: combat and plot better off meant for an R rating but neutered for PG-13, and then a #bigdumb CGI ending because that’s in the recipe book for comic movies.

It just feels off.

The concept is interesting enough. Maybe it is Actually Good. Or maybe its such a bad schlocky mess it takes the needle so far below zero it comes back around to a ten.

I’m not too familiar with director Reuben Fleischer. His IMDB isn’t inspiring but there have been a lot of directors with meh previous work who have come into big budget action flicks and done well. The cinematographer worked on Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream and Pi so you can expect some interesting and weird camera work that could be hella neat.

But like, come on. Its Sony. The studio that couldn’t keep Adam Sandler happy enough to be his exclusive studio. The studio that bungled Venom once before. The studio that bungled Spider-Man so badly, twice, that they just gave most of the property back to a rival studio just to have the public not hate Spider-Man anymore. The studio that made Ghosbusters 2016 and banked on it being the start of a cinematic universe.

Or maybe its good and writing this was a waste of everyone’s time. Guess we’ll figure out on October 5th.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Exists and That is Fine

Now that The Last Jedi has happened, can we all agree at this point there are two good Star Wars movies? A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. That’s it, right? Return of the Jedi is fine, prequels are bad, The Force Awakens is likeable and Rogue One smells.

I never saw this movie when it came out. I wasn’t excited to see it at launch and I figured I’d wait for Netflix.

Even once it was on Netflix I kept deciding to waste 2-3-4 hours on reruns of The Office, Brooklyn 99, Oceans Eleven and Blue Mountain State.

That isn’t because I cared about all the man-baby crying or accusations of SJW-ing all over it. It isn’t because the films are inherently political in a political climate that’s toxic as hell. I stayed away from as much TLJ related content as I was able because I had no desire to consume it. I didn’t care. I enjoyed The Force Awakens enough. I initially enjoyed Rogue One, although my opinion on it soured over time to the point I realised I actually dislike it and what Star Wars is as a property.

The series has always been political even when its hokey. Underneath the space monks versus space nazis, there is the political inspiration/allegory for the Vietnam War – hippies/rebels against Nixon/empire. There are essays about the prequels/Anikin being an allegory about the Bush administration. The story is always the band of misfits and rebels and good guy collective trying to stop fascist tyranny. A lot of movies have political or societal messages depending how far you want to scratch into it, and it never bothers me.

What bores me is that Star Wars is limited by the exact things that made it seem limitless because without established Star Wars elements to carry the world and narrative such as light sabres, the Millennium Falcon, TIE fighters and X-Wings, and the dueling sides of The Force, what even is this galaxy far far away? Why is the world of Star Wars essentially the same as it was 40 years ago? You never really see The Empire or The First Order tormenting regular people. You don’t get the impression that the every day person is bothered by them.

There are similar story elements from the old films to the new. They make sure to always get their name drops in. They make sure to use things people know even when it fails to be organic. They repeat visuals you’re familiar with.

For an adventure series set across multiple galaxies, they can’t get away from red light sabre vs blue light sabre plus destroy the big evil super weapon.

Darth Vader still basically is the driving force behind everything. From episodes 4-6 to the central figure of 1-3 to revered in 7 to a pointless and gratuitous part in Rogue One.

Star Wars can’t stop squeezing the dead corpse of Star Wars. As a property, its afraid to be new.

Why did I go into this giant preamble? I guess to say that Star Wars is just whatever.

I understand why some people are so mad about this film and I get why some people love it. It starts doing what I wanted to see, kind of. Its a swing at doing Star Wars its own way. It just didn’t exactly do it well.

The film is messy. Characterisation and traits can be inconsistent. There are pacing issues, tone issues, plot issues. Its probably a half hour too long. The execution wasn’t perfect. In trying to make the twists and turns, it doesn’t always go forward or even sideways. Sometimes it makes the left or right to satisfy and surprise, other times it does enough turns that its back where it started.

They could really make use of a Star Wars bible in the writers room to keep things in line.

Its a film of B-plots. The A-plot is a little more of a B+. Part of the mess comes from pacing of the B-plots and one of them being literally a “these characters need stuff to do” plot.

The comedy in the film doesn’t fit the tone of the overall film. Its really trying to get into that Guardians of the Galaxy vibe where you need a joke to undercut the tension a bit too frequently. It works there because those characters are likeable dicks by design, but these Star Wars characters are not.

The acting is good. Daisy Ridley is really charming and charismatic. Mark Hamill is excellent. There isn’t anyone who is bad. BB8 is a likeable robot, something this franchise has struggled with lately. Adam Driver is excellent. Finn and Rose are pretty much pointless, but their actors sure try to make you care about being pointless.

With quality performances and enough paint, you can hide a lot of the cracks.

I didn’t yell and throw my hands up until 2:05 of the 2:31 run time, but that moment was worth the reaction.

I was expecting something awful like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or I was expecting another safe play like The Force Awakens with enough jazz to be enjoyable but forgettable.

This was more X-Men: ApocalypseSporadically interesting but far from perfect and has its share of wasted potential. A lot of stuff happens, but it kind of doesn’t matter. In a way it has Rogue One disease where you can skip to the third act and not really miss anything, walk away feeling good until you decide to think it over again.

I did not manage to avoid a bunch of chatter of how the movie is #ActuallyGood because it SuBvErTs YoUr ExPeCtAtIoNs, as people were putting it. Subverting expectations is a fine thing. There are movies that do it well. There are movies that do it poorly. Playing to expectations isn’t a bad thing either. That can be satisfying as often as its terrible. But in the end it still has to be satisfying or its just a wet fart.

At times this worked and that’s where the interest was. At times it didn’t because for all the ways it tried to be original there was nonsense mixed in and it still ended with red light sabre Sith and a military against inexperienced blue light sabre Jedi and the rebels. That honestly can’t be a spoiler. Don’t @ me.

Failure can be interesting and a great story device unless you make that failure meaningless.

I’ll be honest, a pinch of me wanted to hate this so I could hang up on Star Wars as a franchise, and the rest of me expected to be completely indifferent.

I don’t know where you take it from here that makes it something new, but if this movie was testing the waters for trying to be “new” then I hope they jump in next time. The time for teasing is over.

Rating: Netflix it when you’ve got an evening and a PB&J. I enjoyed it for the effort in doing what I have wanted Star Wars to do. I didn’t enjoy it for when it fell back into Star Wars. It’s dumb but at least it tried.

Arrival Is Really Good. Yup.

Arrival 4.7/5

Fun fact: The Arrival is the name I gave my finishing move in wrestling – a corkscrew elbow drop from the top rope.

This movie is good.

It was properly disoreintating when it needed to be. Really great camera work and shot composition. Its very a tight story that never loses focus, mostly likely because its tight and personal. You never really leave your main characters, and its mainly told from Amy Adams direct perspective.

Denis Villeneuve strikes me as a very deliberate film maker. Every shot has a purpose. I’ve seen a few of his movies now (Sicario, Arrival, Prisoners) and you should be hopeful that the Bladerunner remake-sequel-reboot will turn out excellently. There’s no fat in his films.

The sort of undersaturated look isn’t distracting like it can be in other films. Its just enough to set the atmosphere without something in your brain saying “its grey and brown” the whole time like two films in particular from this year.

I liked how the team that was put together made sense. Amy Adam is a language expert. Jeremy Renner is a scientist physicist man! That makes sense! Not like Armageddon or other movies where they take shlubs and use them to help with aliens/space stuff.

I liked how it wasn’t like other “Aliens are here” movies where they show up over top of Washington or New York or Los Angeles or London. They’re randomly placed. The main one is just in… Montana? And they aren’t just blowing stuff up so that the protagonists can rally because “AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!”

The aliens are more a plot element than a character. You do meet the aliens and get to learn about them. But because the aliens are here, you get to see how persons and society and countries react. You have your “JUST BLOW THEM UP” crowd, and your militarized vs more intuitive governments. Your TV people yelling because they’re on opposite sides of the split screen.

Honestly, this is probably the most Star Trek a movie has been in ages. Slow and political and think-first. Problem solving! With words and thinking and talking!

Its probably right at the top of my movies of the year with Captain America: Civil War and Hell Or Highwater. Star Trek: Beyond was pretty good too. I still need to see Hacksaw Ridge.

Space is neat.

Star Wars: A Rogue One Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 4/5

The movie started off a little choppy and rough. There isn’t an opening crawl so you get right into it and learn the exposition as you go. Not necessarily a bad thing, but Star Wars is usually pretty spoon fed. You start off this film kinda not knowing what’s up exactly and who is who and why is what.

Then as it goes you start to pick up steam and things start to fall in place better. Works through a couple lulls and I even had an eye-roll at one point.

But once it gets to the end it goes and goes and goes great. Its fabulous. Radical. LIT AF FAM!!!1!!

Its a very WW2 style story for chunks and is shot in a similar manner to classic war films. The classic WW2 style shots and battles that are less fantastical than your usual Star Wars fare. There is some excellent cinematography for scene transitions that really add to the pacing.

I was a bit of a curmudgeon sitting down in the theater before the movie. I’d been making the joke about “We know how it ends” since the couple TV spots and trailers I saw had them saying things like “We need to stop The Empire” and “We can’t let them build the Death Star!” Pretty sure Episode IV happened. But the way it got there and the way the story was told works.

In a The Hobbit-ish way, it shows you some things you’d always heard about in Lord of the Rings, but never seen. So seeing those things is great, and its even better when it handles the tone so well.

The characters aren’t terribly fleshed out, but that’s pretty well a norm for Star Wars. As much as people laud the original trilogy, I don’t think George Lucas is a skilled enough writer to really have done everything character wise that the last 30-40 years have claimed. I think a lot of fandom and nostalgia gets in the way and has added to the mythos. (Like, Darth Vader wasn’t space Satan. He was an asshole general who wore a cool suit. He was the Witch King, not Sauron. But pop culture sure treats him like he’s the greatest thing since electricity.)

Back to Rogue One… They’re archetypes of your misfit gang of heroes. They’re not your usual Star Wars characters. They’re… dirtier(?). Also, I don’t really think much of the cast is terribly charismatic or really brought anything extra to the roles, and maybe they appear shallower and less interesting for it. There is perfectly fine and good acting, but that extra layer of spice or chemistry or whatever just wasn’t quite there.

There is a bit of a test I have for movie characters which falls into a “How willing am I to buy a Funko Pop or SH Figuarts or other such figure of these characters?” and while I enjoyed the movie, no one stuck with me.

Mads Mikkelson is radical. He just has a great face. I’m so excited for Death Stranding.

There’s gonna be stuff you don’t want to think too hard about. There’s nostalgia and some fan service. The story isn’t much and its kind of a moving target as they go. I feel like Gareth Edwards, director, knew how he wanted to end the movie and kinda filled in the rest with Good Enough Stuff.

Star Wars as a property has a thing where once you get too far from Storm Troopers and TIE fighters and X-Wings and the Empire and the Rebels there hasn’t been enough to establish what else makes up Star Wars. So while this is “new” its also familiar. Mileage may vary on viewers craving new-ness.

Whether I like this more than Episode VII is yet to be determined. I want to say yes, but a lot of that is recency bias. Also, its fair to question how much of Star Wars this got right versus Star Wars fandom.

I can’t say enough good things about once you get to the end of the movie. Well executed action all through the final act whether its from the ground or the space. It has been so long since one of these big CGI, action franchise movies made the decisions this movie made.  It does things totally different than any of the other seven films in the series. I like that.

And seriously, the ending of the movie was excellent.