Saturday, July 31, 2010
That man was Tommy Wiseau, and the film, of course, "The Room".
Most find this film to be laughably terrible, but upon closer examination we must look beneath the exterior of bland sets, subpar scripts, less than amateurish acting, and both digital and 35mm cameras being used simultaneously for some inexplicable reason, to see the art the really exist.
Little is known of the one known as Wiseau. Shrouded in mystery, the details of life before "The Room" are scarce, and often time do not make any damn sense. He claims to have lived in New Orleans for a number of years, and to have lived in Paris "a long time ago". However, judging from his thick unidentifiable accent, I would say that "a long time ago" is about 1 year before the making of "The Room". Somehow, with nothing more than a jumbled mess of a script and a dream, Wiseau was able to round up $6 million to fund his vision.
***The following biography is based off of the limited material that is available about Tommy***
Born in some European village to Jean-Luc, a wineshop owner, and Olga, a seamstress, Wiseau grew up in a modest home. As a child he would see movies that took place in New Orleans, and vowed to someday live there and claim that he grew up there. His passion for film was amplified during the 1990's when he witnessed the works of the great Pauly Shore. Biodome pushed the envelope beyond anything that Wiseau had seen, and this was the final straw that encouraged him to fulfil his dream.
His desire to move to the US was fulfilled when he saw a mafia kingpin commit a murder in a certain European back alley that I will not name for the sake of Tommy's safety. As the prime witness to the case Tommy was placed in a witness protection program, given a new identity, and was awarded $6 million, which he promptly used to fund his cinematic treasure.
Born to a European Barroness, Tommy Wiseau enjoyed all the luxuries in life. As a youth he would often find himself in movie theaters, lost in the worlds that were created by the likes of The Two Coreys and the Olsen Twin Adventures. Being that his family was filthy rich, Tommy moved to the US, claimed that he has lived there a long time without providing any details into his actual past, and made a $6 million movie that could've realistically been produced for less and $1 million.
***Or (And this is what I believe)***
Tommy is acutally a character that was developed by a real person for some reason. And, much like Marilyn Manson or vitually every rap star out there, he never leaves this character when in public.
***The above three scenarios are difficult to verify, but they are all very possible. The Genius of Wiseau, as well as his life, are blanketed in mystery. Perhaps one day we can understand the origins of his genius.***
The innocencee of Johnny makes his inevitable demise a true cinematic tragedy. Never is a character flaw present in Johnny, and to lose such a person is a blow to humanity. In a word, Johnny is PERFECT. The loss we all feel inside as Johnny proclaims to the world "I'm fed up with this world" is undeniable.
We're sorry Johnny. We've collectively disappointed you, and we've lost innocense because of it.
The Devil in a Red Dress
The extent to Lisa innate evil can never be completely understood by any one individual. On the surface there appears to be no movtive for her seemingly unjustified hatred of Johnny. Upon further examination one could develop a sense that perhaps Lisa holds a jealousy for the pefection that is Johnny. The close proximity would create a hellish environment for a woman who could touch, sense and see the flawless Johnny, but could never strive to be his equal. In his innocence, there seems to be no sign of detection of this raging jealousy that his "future wife" holds for him. Ultimately, Lisa is able to use Johnny's belief that "love is blind" against him.
As he is consistantly being torn apart by her telling people that he his hits her, she takes pride in the injury that she has inflicted. She is never cognizant that the unnecessary revenge that she is taking on Johnny will never ease the pain of her inferiority complex. Sex, anger and revenge cannot fill the void of her empty heart.
Why does Lisa tell others, including Johnny apparently, that he hits her? Hell if I know. Bitch is evil.
Judas or Sampson?
Certain betrayals will be remembered throughout history. Cain's betrayal of Abel, Judas' betrayal of Jesus, Brutus' betrayal of Julius Ceasar and of course, Mark's betrayal of Johnny. Nobody can deny the pain that can be caused by the betrayal of a close friend or lover. Scholars have been dabating the topic in great detail to understand the psychological effects of having somebody close to you turn on you. The debate can finally be rested. Mr Wiseau captured not only the pain, but the psychology of betrayal as well in this extraordinary film.
Mark is the personification of both victim and betrayer. He repeated proclaims "Johnny's my best friend", even after banging Lisa multiple times. The seduction proves to be too powerful for Mark to resist. He knows that his actions are hurting Johnny, but he is powerless to resist the tactics of Lisa. Not since Sampson have we seen the true power feminine tactics overcome the power of masculinity. The demise of Johnny is never the intention of Mark, but he becomes nothing more than a puppet to the vixen that seduces him.
Often times people discuss the sudden presence of Mark without his signature beard. It is referred to by many as a continuity error. However, we need to examine the subtle nature of Mark and Lisa's post-banging relationship. Could Mark be a modern day represenation of Sampson? His great strength is demonstrated when he accidently thrusts Mike into a group of trash cans, seeminly effortlessly. Like Sampson's head of hair, the loss of Mark's facial is a representation of his total loss of power to lisa. He is no longer able to make the correct decisions, though he is fully aware that his action will lead to the destruction of the innocence that is Johnny.
The Man (in a legal sense) With the Golden Football
He is faced with the ultimate decision when Chris-R holds a gun to his head. Should he wait 5 minutes and pay Chris-R, or should he stand up to the persecution that Chris-R represents. This was clearly a test that Johnny had set up, which Denny obviously passed. He agrees to stop doing drugs and focus on college. He doesn't allow the fact that he clearly doesn't have the ability to read distract him from his goal of becoming a doctor. God speed Denny...God Speed.
Complexities of Underwears
The range of emotion that Mike displays is undeniable. Because Johnny is the caring being that he is, he gives people free access to his home to do whatever they want. We are blessed with such a scene involving Mike and Michelle. The similarities of their names do, in fact, show the strength of the relationship that these two have. They are so comfortable with each other that they have no problems with banging on Johnny's couch, even with the constant threat of Johnny or Lisa coming home. They pull strength from each other as if they're are saying "hey, we like to bang regardless of who may enter, and we're ok with that".
One obstacle that Mike has a hard time overcoming, however, is the discovery of his underwear by the always gold digging Claudette. This affects him on such a level that he has to relay the story to Johnny even though we as the audience had just viewed it minutes earlier. Many believe this to be a flaw in the editing and script. However, I believe that this was clearly intentional, and that Mr. Wiseau was giving us all the clues necessary to show that this is a situation that Mike cannot move past. It ceaselessly plays over and over in his head. We can hear a plea for help as he says to Johnny "Claudette found me underwears". Again, Johnny, being the perfect being that he is, listens intently, and tries to comfort Mike. It apparently works as moments later Mike proudly proclaims that he must go see Michellle...to make out with her when Denny asks him to play catch.
Is Mike hiding his anguish behind a mask of masculinity as he comments on his sexual conquests? Further analysis is needed.
A Testament to Sacrifice
Stereotypes can often be difficult to break. Great directors since the beginning of cinema have been able to crush these stereotypes, and create new characters that the world had never seen. For instance, Leone gave new life to the entire Western genre in the 1960's. Likewise, Wiseau showed us a new type of gold digger in Claudette. We are used to seeing women in film that are with men for the sole task of taking their money. Perhaps the male directors are projecting their own fears of what women may do to them onto their films. Whatever the cause, it is obvious that all gold diggers care about is money.
Claudette challenges this notion, and faces it head on. For her, money is a goal, but not the only goal. We learn that she has breast cancer during a dramatic exchange between her and Lisa. An ordinary person would stop their conversation to discuss this traumatizing realization. However, Claudette, being the calculating person that she is, insist on discussing Lisa's possible marriage to Johnny. She knows that Lisa cannot support herself, and clearly says so at one point, so she moves on to care for her helpless daughter. It's as though she's saying "cancer? I don't have time for cancer! I must help my daughter rob a man blind."
The dedication, the drive, the irrational hatred of men all provide Claudette with purpose. There is no self pity. There is no shame. Mr. Wiseau was saying to his audience "Go out. Enjoy life. Do not let anything, even breast cancer, prevent you from achieving your goals".
And again we thank you Mr. Wiseau.
The People's Choice
There are times in our lives that rational decisions are beyond our grasps. The mind is like an egg in both its strenght as well as its fragility. And we as humans rely on others to protect our eggs. Lisa's friend makes every attempt to help Lisa see the error of her ways, sometimes at the expense of her own sanity. A lesser actress would never have been able to provide the subleties needed to portray the pain that Michelle has to continually endure.
Michelle hides her pain behind a mask of smiles and giggles as she walks in on Lisa and Mark banging hardcore on the couch. She knows deep down the pain that this will cause Johnny to experience. There is never a question about the ultimate sacrifices that will be made because of these two irresponsible people's decisions. As she tries to reason with Lisa, she is outwitted by the chubby vixen, and made to feel inferior for questioning Lisas motives.
Only with the support of Mike, who is dealing with his own "underwears" demon, can Michelle hope to come out alive. The pyschological toll of having to support Lisa when she is clearly doing wrong is taking a toll on the young Michelle by the film's end. Not since Arthur Fonzarelli has a secondary character captured the popular imagination that Michelle has with all of us. We all relate to her on a subconscious level, and we all want to see her succeed.
Few display the trait of the feeling of superiority without consequence the way the psychologists do. Peter geniunly cares for the well-being of his friends, but hides this behind a mask of intellectual power and arrogance. We find ourselves wanting to reach out to him to hug him so that he knows that it is sometimes ok to not be a hotshot doctor. If only we could tell him "Peter, it's not your success that we want to be friends with, it's you as a person that we enjoy. Please put down your defenses and share a friendship with us." Johnny states our exact feelings with the line "Peter, stop playing psychiatrist with us all the time."
We bear witness, during a game of football in tuxedos, to Peter falling after missing a catch. This no doubt represents Peter's fall from grace at the expense of missing the football, or as we had mentioned earlier, missing out on the brotherhoood that the football represents. He abruptly stops and says that he's finished. Does he really mean that he's finished with the friendship? Could his vision of how others view him be so sensitive that a single fall would cause him such great embarassment that he would end the friendship?
I am still working to understand the genius of Wiseau.
Innocence and Roses
We've examined the complexities of each of the main characters within The Room. Only a man who is passionate about his favorite hobby, the study of psychology, would be capable of creating such complete characters on emotionally deep level such as this. Never can we not see a little bit of ourselves in each character as they struggle to overcome their individual obstacles, aided only with their personal egos and the assistance of Johnny.
Now it is time to dissect and analyze the plot and narrative structure so that we can display the ability that Tommy Wiseau possesses to provide us with standard subject matter in an unorthodox manner. Never, for one second, should we assume that any part of this film has not been thought out and scrutinized before it made it in the final film. At times The Room appears amateurish, but this notion is common mostly to those untrained in the art of film analysis and appreciation.
A prominent feature of our hero is the appearance of consistently closed eyes. Could Johnny be so disgusted with those around him that he must shield his eyes from the inferior beings? The obvious answer is that Johnny's superiority cannot be analyzed by the average man. A similar scenario would be like an ant trying to determine why we wear shoes. The ant would not be able to understand because it is not capable of understanding. Upon reviewing Johnny, we must understand that we, in fact, are the ants.
Next consider the dreamlike atmosphere of what appears to be cheap, stagnate sets with limited camera movements. The characters enter and exit stage left and stage right, not unlike a stage play. Most writers would choose to adapt this play into a form suitable for film. Mr. Wiseau had the foresight to ignore conventional screenplay structure and focus more on the psychological nature of relationships. The obvious and unnecessary blue screen effect on the various "roof" shots throughout the film are not examples of the director being cheap. In fact, it probably would've been cheaper to film these scenes on an actual roof. Tommy Wiseau was providing us with the clues we needed to fully understand the film. The blue screen dreamlike scenes informed us on a subconscious level that we were in a world unlike our own.
Even the passionless sex scenes provide small details that assist in allowing us to understand what we are seeing. Many believe that these scenes are too long, and in no way contribute to the plot. I challenge this notion whole heartedly. Clearly Tommy Wiseau is using Tarkovsky's Sculpting in Time principle. He is allowing the audience to feel the effort that is involved in possible conception. Johnny is in need of an heir. Earlier we had discussed Denny's role as the link between Johnny and the rest of the world. However, before Denny passed the Chris-R drug test that Johnny had set up, there was a need to ensure a heir to carry on the tradition of Johnny. He has one purpose, to spread love and understanding to all, and he would do everything in his power to achieve this goal.
All of these elements combined allow us to see the secret of The Room. From dreamlike rooftops, stagnate interiors, the appearance of characters on drugs, and even smug psychiatrists. The obvious secret is the world that we are viewing, the world in which these characters live is part of a group schizophrenic hallucination. Mr. Wiseau's complete understanding of the complexities of the human brain allowed him to create breathing, loving characters. They have seen the outside. The crime, and the ugliness. Johnny provided the light for them to escape into a world of love and compassion. Until Lisa interferes with her fleshly desires, this world is alive. After her spite consumes her the innocence is lost and the world is doomed to fail. The Hallucination crumbles with the destruction of innocence. The ultimate sacrifice is made, their lives are forever changed.
No doubt, there are many out there who try to create films that touch our hearts on a subconscious level. Human nature is difficult to capture, and all but the most talented of directors fail in their attempts. All of the "short commings" that individuals list do nothing more than display their ignorance on the study of film and psychology. It is apparent that every detail of this film was considered and ridiculed. Wiseau's attention to detail is astonishing, as are his abilities to write, direct, produce, and executive produce.
Or, it could be really be as bad as it appears.
Purchase The Room Today!
The Blazing Soundtrack To Room