“Citizen Kane of Bad Movies” reinventing cult cinema

By Sam Dallas

If only cult director Ed Wood was alive today.

He’d have stiff competition from American/European “so bad it’s good” filmmaker and actor Tommy Wiseau.

Wiseau has been a household name the past few months in Australia – especially at INSIDEFILM as we’ve seen it four times alone on the big screen – with his masterpiece (or disasterpiece) The Room.

“We had no idea whether the picture would work or not – will it work here in Australia?” said Kristian Connelly, general manager of Cinema Nova, which brought the film to Australia.

“And we were stunned because we found a group of fans who were big supporters and helped us launch it and after that it just snowballed.

“It has certainly relaunched cult cinema.”

Connelly said more than 3000 fans had seen the film at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova since February and about 6000 had nation-wide.

The film is still screening Friday and Saturday night’s in Melbourne, Saturday night in Sydney and it has also screened in Hobart, Perth and Adelaide.

But all good (or bad) things must unfortunately come to an end, with the Sydney run finishing this Saturday at Paddington’s Chauvel Cinema.

Originally starting its Sydney campaign in April (after a special Popcorn Taxi event in February), the “Citizen Kane of Bad Movies” was extended due to popular demand: clearly word-of-mouth worked to great effect.

Audience interaction is certainly one of the drawcards – on top of Wiseau’s amazing acting – with members collecting plastic spoons on the way in and launching them at the screen during certain scenes, as well as shouting dialogue at various points in the 2003 love-triangle drama.

“I like the main guy, Tommy, he’s weird,” Chauvel Cinema general manager Sam Fielder said of the man who not only entirely funded the movie himself ($US6 million), but also directed, acted and produced.

“Some of the screenings we had, in the middle of the season, were crazy – the crowd was unbelievable.”

Some crowds, which INSIDEFILM witnessed first-hand, had people dressing up as the characters (who drove up from Canberra especially) as well as audience members throwing around a gridiron ball like in the film.

“I can’t really put my finger on it…I’ve seen it two or three times but it gets better; it gets funnier [with each viewing],” Fielder said.

The story itself is about a love-triangle between Wiseau’s character Johnny, his “future wife” Lisa (Juliette Danielle) and best friend Mark (Greg Sestero).

Talking with Wiseau on a weekly basis, Connelly said they were currently in talks to screen the movie in Canberra and Brisbane.

With “amazing” dialogue/acting and several awkward sex-scenes, this has been a hit for Wiseau, who has said in interviews he’d like to come to Australia to do his muchly-talked about Q+A’s.

The San Francisco-based film, which won the audience award at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, still has midnight screenings all over the US, Canada and the UK and Wiseau says he plans to turn it into a Broadway musical. One can hope.

But as the legendary filmmaker says: “you can laugh, you can cry, you can express yourself…but please just don’t hurt each other”.

The Room will have its last screening at the Chauvel Cinema, corner of Oxford Street and Oatley Road, Paddington, this Saturday night at 10pm. For bookings, click here. It will continue to play at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova, 380 Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria, every Friday and Saturday night.