There really aren’t that many good movies. Last year I was blown away by The Social Network and Black Swan. That’s two movies plus one other (which we’ll get to in a moment) out of maybe thirty that I saw in the theaters that I would want to see again in five years. Ten percent is kind of weak. As a moviegoer now that I’ve seen every movie directed by Woody Allen and Pedro Almodovar and all the flicks Paul Newman starred in plus most of the other accepted masterpieces where do I go for an enjoyable afternoon of memorable cinema?
The answer lies in the other movie of the past year that I really enjoyed, Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables. It is an action movie with no fear of the ridiculous. Silly one-liners that fall flat, gunshots that cause a villain’s head to explode like an overripe tomato, and casting of actors who must have been related to the film’s financiers. It is a movie I will always remember and think fondly of much more than mediocrity like The Town or Inception. The Expendables swung for the fences and struck out in such spectacular fashion that the unpire decided to count it as a home run.
The cult following of bad movies bas been around for a long time. Ed Wood and midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show have been celebrated my entire life, but it is only now that I fully appreciate a truly bad movie. One that an audience does not laugh with, but rather at.
Odds are a movie I enjoy due to its brilliance will not affect me the way movies I saw earlier in my life like Fight Club, Midnight Cowboy, or Il Postino did. But a truly awful movie will fascinate me in ways competence can’t. The central question lies in the intention of the filmmakers. Is it possible they meant to make something, so terrible it was brilliant?
I have read interviews with the two greatest auteurs of bad movies where they staked such a claim. Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has a massive following. Billboards around Los Angeles brag that it is LA’s longest running movie. It is truly a movie that must be seen to be believed. It stars Tommy Wiseau as a man with a European accent that is impossible to classify.
Many directors say the most important thing an actor can do is listen. In The Room no one cares what anyone has to say. It is as though the stars of six different movies ended up on the same set with all of them thinking the movie centers around them. Plot lines are brought up and then abandoned. Confessions are made, diagnosis of breast cancer are declared, footballs are thrown and none of it matters except that it makes you laugh, not chuckle, but full out laugh until you pull a muscle.
This generation’s Scorcese to Wiseau’s Coppola is the pop star R. Kelly. His classic R & B opera Trapped In The Closet is probably the only movie that can keep up with The Room. It features actors you have seen in major movies and television shows. But do not worry their professionalism will not get in the way, as every line by every character is sung by R. Kelly in a variety of pitches. As an added bonus every line rhymes. But what truly takes Trapped In The Closet over the top is that on the DVD you can have R. Kelly’s commentary on.
This feature allows you to watch R. Kelly in a theater admiring his handiwork. He extolls his own brilliance, lights up a cigar, and smirks back at the camera (and in effect the audience) when a moment he’s proud of comes on to the screen. Moments such as these make me feel better about the world, our culture, and the general state of things than a thousand King’s Speeches.
I am now scrounging around film festivals and the internet searching for a young (or old) Wiseau or R. Kelly that can cure us from the bane of mediocrity.