demarcation between unconventional online commentary and outright crackpottery
is thin and porous. Five enthusiastic
experts on Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining swerve
back and forth over that line like a politician at a sobriety check in a
documentary examination of the film and those who over-analyze it. People truly say the darnedest things about
the 1980 horror classic in Rodney Ascher’s Room
screens as part of the 50th New York Film Festival’s Cinema Reflected sidebar.
never see Ascher’s five experts, but seriously, that is probably just as
well. Several claimed to have been
initially underwhelmed by the film on their first viewing, but started teasing
out strange hidden meanings in the years that followed. Yes, Kubrick was known for his painstaking
attention to detail, but some of Room’s disembodied
voices often seem to be obsessing over continuity errors healthy viewers would
never notice. At one point, Ascher holds
a freeze frame, double-dog daring viewers to see the subliminal portrait of
Kubrick the auteur supposedly imbedded in the opening credit sequence.
commentators are truly masters of the logical quantum leap, arguing amongst
other things, The Shining is an
allegory for the Native American genocide due to the presence of Calumet baking
soda. Yes, the Overlook Hotel is well
appointed with Native American themed paintings and such, but that is not
unusual for a mountain lodge in Colorado.
Indeed, we know full well it was built atop a Native burial ground,
generating all kinds of bad karma, in a manner predating Poltergeist. Nonetheless, perhaps
Occam’s razor suggests the spirits are just restless.
some of the mysterious analysts make some intriguing points. Most notably, Juli Kearns mapped out every
shot, proving the physical impossibility of the Overlook as the audience sees
it. In effect, the hotel is just as much
a labyrinth as the notorious shrubbery outside, but a malevolent, ever shifting
Room 237 is an amusing
but affectionate tribute to cult film geekery.
Ascher’s approach is simultaneously subversive and nostalgic, similar in
tone to The S from Hell, his short
film homage to Screen Gems’ hideous logo.
His strategy to eschew talking heads also works rather well, relying
instead on the visuals of The Shining, as
well as other related films, such as the master’s Eyes Wide Shut.
One would not exactly call Room 237 convincing per se, but it is quite provocative and engaging,
in a scruffily eccentric kind of way. Somewhat
tricky to classify, it debuted at Sundance as part of their vaguely
experimental New Frontiers track, was
acquired by IFC for its Midnight line, but quite logically screens during NYFF
as part of the Cinema Reflected sidebar. Recommended for all serious cult film fans,
it plays this Thursday (10/4) and next Monday (10/8) as the 50th New
York Film Festival continues.
Labels: Documentary, Horror Movies, NYFF '12, Stanley Kubrick