It took a lot of convincing to get my good friend Jonno to The Room at the Cremorne Orpheum last Friday night. Perhaps there is something unappealing about the prospect of watching what is widely regarded as the worst film of all time in a packed cinema, yelling indiscriminately at confusing plot twists and characters, all the while throwing, and being hit by, a barrage of plastic spoons.
Sounds like an epic night to me.
Rhys and Celeste were happy to attend on the back of recommendations from Christina and Josh (who, like me, had both previously witnessed the absolute catastrophe that is The Room). But Jonno had different plans for his Friday night. He had just bought Final Fantasy 1,300 or whatever they’re up to now. He was exhausted, tired from a heavy week at work and wanted to bury himself in his new game at home to shut out the noise of the world.
He made the right choice in the end and I forced him to join us for December’s screening of The Room.
The Room is in many respects the perfect event for Viva. It’s a new experience, it’s infectiously fun and it can be enjoyed with a group of friends who will all share the commonality of embarking on one of the weirdest evenings of their lives. You are embracing a crazy slice of life sitting in that theatre. That’s a big part of what Viva is about.
I love the Orpheum. It’s a beautiful place to be – it’s part art gallery, part museum, part theatre, and those moments before a film begins allow you to take in the stunning art deco statues and engravings that line the insides of this great institution. Those moments also allow you to gather an arsenal of spoons and digest the guide to experiencing The Room, a two page leaflet that suggests audience engagement at various parts of the film. The engagement is fairly passive and ranges from greeting characters who appear on screen (“HI DENNY!”), to throwing spoons and yelling “SPOON” whenever you see a spoon on screen (there are a lot of spoons in this film), to chanting “Go Go Go Go Go” during one of the films several panning shots of the Golden Gate bridge.
So what is The Room? Well, on it’s calm surface it’s a 2003 American independent romantic drama film starring Tommy Wiseau (he’s the poster boy for the film, and stars as “Johnny”, the film’s “chief protagonist”), who also wrote, directed, and produced the feature. But it’s really so much more (and less…) than that. I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises of The Room, so I will refrain of explaining the plot (assuming that’s even possible) or the themes the film “explores” (read “completely butchers”) or any more of the “rules” to watching it.
What I will say is that The Room is the closest thing I’ve experienced in Sydney to attending a film in India, where the audience is actively engaged in jeering the villains, celebrating the heroes and disregarding any theatre etiquette. It’s rowdy, it’s boisterous, it’s cathartic (you never get to yell stuff out in cinemas, and it’s thrillingly obnoxious to do so) and you become a part of this family of poor, sorry people that have been exposed to the tragedy (in every sense of that word) that is The Room. You’ll be quoting the lines with your friends for months to come and you’ll desperately want to share it with more friends.
The film finished to widespread cheering and applause, and on the way out we spotted a signed frame from Greg Sestero (who stars as “Mark” in The Room – “HE’S YOUR BEST FRIEND?!?!”), although I’m not entirely convinced it’s really him – but that makes it even cooler.
The evening continued with some much needed further drinking at Neutral Bay’s SoCal, a Southern Californian themed restaurant and bar, which I was relieved to find still served corn chips and guac ($10) and chorizo or chicken quesadillas ($20) at 11pm. The bar itself plays great music (I recall hearing D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” here for the first time) and boasts a vegetation laden open air sitting space with a US beachside feel.
I watched Jonno down a few espresso martinis (he obviously still had a big night of video games ahead of himself), while a slightly inebriated Kiwi patron rapped lyrics to us over the top of our conversation. A strange end to a strange night for all of us, but it felt good to have more friends in on the bizarre experience that is The Room at the Cremorne Orpheum.
You can catch The Room at the Cremorne Orpheum usually at about 9pm on the first Friday of every month. Tickets go for $15.00. Get a big group of friends together for the next session on Viva! Bring spoons, have a few drinks, and prepare for disaster. You won’t regret it.