Astoria Indies, the "new home of indie film in Queens." They have recently started screening independent films on Thursday nights at Astoria's Bohemian Hall, home of the famous "beer garden." Last night's cinematic masterpiece was The Room, starring, executive produced, written, and directed by the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau.
For those who are unfamiliar with The Room, it has generated a cult following since it's 2003 release mainly because it is unbelievably bad in every possible way. From the stilted dialogue, to the amateurish acting, to the poor lens focus, to the odd line pacing the film has something for everyone. It definitely falls under the category of "so bad it's good." For his part, Wiseau insists that the film is a black comedy, and that he meant to provoke extreme reactions from viewers.
Fans of the film attend late night screenings where they delight in audience participation similar to what you would expect at a showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. This mainly entails yelling and throwing things at the screen. Here in New York City, Saturation Films is responsible for putting together monthly screenings of the movie on the last Friday of every month. The showings regularly sell out, but I was fortunate enough to attend one about eight months ago. The experience is best described as cathartic. There is nothing like yelling at a screen with hundreds of strangers and playing off each other's creative energy.
Most of those who attended the Astoria Indies screening had never been to an audience participation screening of The Room. I decided to go at it full force, throwing out all of the audience lines I remembered from the screening I attended, the ones I had read about in various articles, and making up some of my own along the way. A handful of others in the room joined me in mercilessly attacking the film. One of the people I was with pointed out that a couple seated in front of us kept looking back at me and glaring. I assume they were in attendance simply expecting an evening's diversion with some nice independent cinema. I feel somewhat bad about this, and hope I didn't ruin their time. But the fact is, that being an ass is simply what one does when watching The Room. And I could have assured them that the film is no less bearable without people yelling at the screen.
Anyhow, I want to tip my hat to Astoria Indies for introducing this movie to some new people and for generally bringing underrated independent film to Queens. At a previous showing, they featured the darkly hilarious Visioneers. I will definitely attend future Astoria Indies events, and I promise not to yell at the screen. As much.