Sure, he resembles Phil Hartman’s Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer and speaks in the kind of scattershot English that Frankenstein’s monster croaked out. But a monster he is not.
He’s just a terrible actor and a worse writer who, 10 years ago, crafted The Room, the story of a love triangle between one scheming woman and two best friends—one a handsome jock, the other a banker who looks like a 45-year-old roadie, speaks in an unplaceable accent and favors suits even Hammer would consider too loose.
So how does The Room live among midnight-movie classics like Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Troll 2 and Pink Flamingos?
We’ll have the chance to ask the singular Wiseau that very question when he hits Cinema 21 on Friday and Saturday for The Room’s 10-year anniversary—though it’s almost certain even he doesn’t know the answer. From its sub-Skinemax opening sex scene to Wiseau’s final monologue of sputtered consonants, The Room is so bad that Wiseau has been declared the Ed Wood of romantic dramas, a title that insults Wood’s legacy. After all, Plan 9 at least featured a fading star in Bela Lugosi and some hackneyed yet inventive special effects that paved the way for everything from Night of the Lepus to Sharknado. The Room, conversely, exists in a creative vacuum. People go to The Room not to worship an outsider artist but to laugh at the incompetence of a man who thought he was making something special.
But here’s the thing: The Room is no worse than most ultra-indie movies. Ninety-nine percent of them are twice as self-serious as The Room, equally incompetent and nowhere near as hilarious. If the directors of those films were to endure such ridicule, they’d crumble. Wiseau, though, has harnessed that mean-spirited rubbernecking into cult status. He’s translated most filmmakers’ nightmares into a dream…or at least into free hotel rooms whenever he wants to show up at a screening. He plays village idiot to people who wouldn’t have the balls even to attempt their dream projects, standing proudly in front of his creation as it’s eviscerated.
No, Wiseau isn’t a midnight-movie monster. He’s a goddamn saint in a baggy suit. Cinema 21. 10:45 pm Friday-Saturday, Dec. 6-7.
- Whether you—like most cinephiles—melt at the very mention of Christopher Marker or—like me—wince at the pretentiousness, a meticulous restoration of the 1963 “direct cinema” (read: boring) documentary Le Joli Mai by the film’s original cinematographer is cause for excitement…even if you’re (read: I’m) rolling your (read: my) eyes. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Thursday, Dec. 5.
- Every time Tim Burton and Johnny Depp team up to take a big, steaming crap on something like Alice in Wonderland, take a deep breath and remember that their first collaboration was the beautiful, heartbreaking and hilarious Edward Scissorhands. Then wonder what the fuck happened. Hollywood Theatre. Dec. 6-9, 11-12.
- In Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Steve Martin plays an insufferable, self-important dickhead. John Candy plays a lovable idiot. They’re stuck together for the holidays. I can’t think of a more apt analogy for most Christmas dinners. Laurelhurst Theater. Dec. 6-12.
- The Cascade AIDS Project takes over the Clinton with a series of eye-opening documentaries such as United in Anger and Miss HIV. But, in an effort not to be depressing, it caps things off with a sing-along to Rent, a feel-good musical about…oh, wait. Clinton Street Theater. Dec. 6-8.
- Before she got (in this writer’s opinion) befuddling praise for Lost in Translation and stumbled in Marie Antoinette, Sofia Coppola made her best film, an adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides. 5th Avenue Cinema. Dec. 6-8.
- Because you won’t be able to watch TV this month without thinking, “God, the Christmas shit I watched as a kid was so much better than this,” Animated Christmas 2 is back with a collection of rare 16 mm and VHS cartoons that will prove your childhood taste was crappier than you remember. Hollywood Theatre. 2:30 pm Saturday, Dec. 7.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger’s contribution to Christmas cinema, Jingle All the Way, teaches the valuable lesson that, no matter what obstacles or Sinbads you face, you should go to any extreme to get your stupid kid some stupid toy. Hecklevision, do your damage. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Saturday, Dec. 7.
- Hollywood Theatre programmer Dan Halsted seems to be in a pissing contest of one-upmanship with himself in order to make each entry in the Kung Fu Theater series weirder. Kid With the Golden Arms continues that tradition with metal-limbed melees set in what is described as an “18th-century disco” and looks like it was shot from Timothy Leary’s POV. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, Dec. 10.