Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Big Jokes

Last night's tweets;

I held distant doors open for babies.
So my journey was kind of not in vain.
County's covered with miles of maybes.
My skull filled with a single useless brain.

Writing at strange coffee shops seems to help me get started on a new script sometimes, but last night I ended up just buying coffee. I had too many things I wanted to do with Chapter 33--every time I started to address one item, another part of me would freak out that I was maybe forgetting two of the others. The fact that I was weirdly groggy yesterday certainly didn't help.

Of course, when I wrote the script to-day, it came out having almost nothing to do with any of the items on my agenda. But it's a necessary series of events that I think will strengthen the narrative.

One of the things I really admire about Inglourious Basterds is its ability to switch easily between parody and drama without dissonance. Last night I was thinking about the very thin line between comedy and tragedy as I watched the Rifftrax of The Room, a fascinating independent film from 2003. I don't think I could get through it without the Rifftrax, but I can understand why it gets midnight showings and why people see it again and again. It's not just bad, it's bad in a way no other movie is bad.

The film's auteur--writer, producer, director, and star, Tommy Wiseau--has spent some time trying to convince people that the movie was intended to be a comedy all along, but it's the unmistakably earnest quality that makes it so fascinating. Funded entirely by Wiseau, six million dollars out of his own pocket, the movie feels a bit like the faux suicide note of a self absorbed teenager, depicting Wiseau's character Johnny as a "wonderful man" whose girlfriend and best friend cheat on him with each other for vague and sometimes contradictory reasons. The plot is sort of astonishingly plain with characterisations that seem to come from someone who doesn't actually credit people other than himself with having a soul. As the love triangle drama the movie tries to be, it fails, but as an exploration of its director's own personality, it's actually quite illuminating. This movie is a singular artefact; it's what happens when someone who's not an artist has the absolute confidence he is one and the money to execute his project. Wiseau's a genuine, modern day Ed Wood. Almost a Werner Herzog character.

And so, ironically, it is a valuable piece of art. I suppose it's in line with Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame idea--that any human being, regardless of whether or not he or she is an artist, is capable of submitting a valuable artistic contribution to the public discourse.

Apparently Tommy Wiseau guest starred on an episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, clips from which I watched to-day while I ate breakfast, and that sort of deadpan comedy seems to suit him well. Tim and Eric seems to find comedy in the realisation that what unites most of humanity is a fundamental creepiness and inadequacy. Which is I guess why it's funny in short doses but becomes increasingly depressing the more I watch it. I needed a chaser, which for me turned out to be YouTube footage of Tori Amos performing "Leather" live in 1994. Early Tori Amos is a cure somehow for the weight left on me by a Tim and Eric sketch that seemed to be about the common ugliness of affection. I guess, when you think about it, the two items were almost about the same thing, but it's comforting I can tell Amos feels about as unhappy about it as me. It's the fact that she seems to feel there can be something better, I think.

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