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Movie Mom

Harper’s: The Worst Movie Ever?

posted by Nell Minow

There are a lot of contenders for the title of Worst Movie Ever. But clearly one of the most popular is the 2003 film, “The Room,” written by, directed by, and starring Tommy Wiseau, now a cult favorite at midnight screenings. Audience members line up to see it, many of them carrying plastic spoons.
Harper’s has a superb piece by Tom Bissell about “The Room,” unfortunately behind a firewall and accessible to subscribers only. But this is worth buying the issue or checking it out at the library because it is not only hilarious and oddly heart-warming in its dissection of the film and its weirdly compelling appeal, it is very sharp about the way that “The Room” mangles the very essence of film narrative from a combination of hubris and incompetence.

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[Wiseau] tried to make a conventional film and wound up with something so inexplicable and casually surreal that no practicing surrealist could ever convincingly ape its form, except by exact imitation. It is the movie that an alien who has never seen a movie might make after having had movies thoroughly explained to him….Wiseau understands the placement and required tone of certain conventions but not at all their underlying meaning. What makes him interesting is the degree to which his art becomes a fun-house mirror version, an inadvertent exposé, of a traditional film.

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