Lost Moments #3: Tommy Wiseau in Portland

Here’s another Lost Moment. a blog post that’s been sitting as a draft for far too long.

I was in Portland for the May 2-4 weekend to attend their BarCamp, an “unconference” for techies, creatives and entrepreneurs. Once the conference ended, we made our way over to Hotel Deluxe’s 1940’s–movie-themed lobby bar for some post-conference drinks:

Hotel deluxe lobby

Afterwards, we went out for dinner. We walked to the restaurant on a route which took us past the Cinema 21 theatre, whose marquee proudly announced that The Room was playing that night and that its producer/writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau would be there in person:

Wiseau 1

For those of you who’ve never heard of the film The Room, it’s a modern-day Plan 9 from Outer Space. It’s a movie that defines “so bad it’s good”. Watching it, you have to be impressed that somehow this hot mess of a movie, with its confused story, stitled dialogue, acting straight out of a fifth grade pageant and sloppy directing ever got made. As a result, it’s become a cult classic, making the rounds at midnight showings at alternative and repertory theatres in the English-speaking world.

Here’s a scene from the movie in which Johnny (the protagonist, played by Tommy Wiseau) buys flowers for his girlfriend Lisa. It’s even a minute long, but it’s more than enough to give you an idea of just how badly put together The Room is:

Tommy has no talent for either writing or delivering lines. Here’s a gem from the “Coffee Shop Scene”:

Here’s the scene everyone talks about: the “Rooftop Scene”, a.k.a. the “Oh Hi, Mark” scene. Johnny’s girlfriend Lisa want to break up with him and secretly seeing his best friend Mark. The dialogue here is all wrong:

Here’s the movie’s “Stella!” moment: You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!

As you might expect, there’s a big confrontation near the end of the film, and it’s Wiseau-riffic:

Initially, Wiseau wanted the movie to be taken seriously, but after seeing both the bad reviews and the cult following that gathering around his film, he started billing The Room as a black comedy.

As we passed the theatre, we saw Tommy himself, tossing a football with some of the people waiting in line. There’s a lot of football-tossing in the movie; he uses it as a symbol of friendship — good buddies always toss a football around in The Room, even when they’re wearing tuxedos.

Wiseau 2

I walked up to Wiseau and shook his hand. “Nice black comedy, man,” I said.

“See?” said Tommy in his trademark stilted speech pattern. “Someone who un’erstan’s my fil-um! And hey, nice accordion, guy!”

Wiseau 3

Anyone want to have a viewing of The Room anytime soon? I’ll bring some stiff drinks.

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