Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Entertainment

April 3, 2013

‘Room 237’ for Kubrick, ‘Shining’ fans only

Greensburg — We spurn Hollywood’s latest big releases and instead watched the documentary Room 237 (NR), which is currently available from several on-demand cable/ satellite providers. T

he film explores five wildly different theories behind the meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining. Rodney Ascher directs.

Andy: The premise of Room 237 — the idea that Stanley Kubrick was not actually adapting Stephen King’s novel, but only using it as a vehicle to communicate a multi-layered allegory — is great fun for literary criticism nerds and fans of The Shining. At the same time, if you do not fall into one of or both of those categories, Room 237 will come across as some combination of boring and depressingly paranoid. As somebody who falls into both of those categories, I found the movie to be great fun, even if it is flawed.

Ryan: I think it should also be said of what Room 237 isn’t: This is not a documentary on the making of The Shining, nor is it a documentary on the meaning of The Shining as viewed through the scope of it being horror film. Room 237 is an exercise in extreme critical thought that at times tows the line between deep critical thinking and conspiratorial gibberish. If one is a fan of film criticism, then Room 237 offers some fascinating ideas in what Kubrick really meant to express with his adaptation of The Shining (as theorized by these five Shining-enthusiasts). But it’s also true that one has to take much of what the film says with a grain of salt. One of the arguments in the film is that The Shining is Kubrick’s apology for faking the Apollo 11 moon landing footage back in 1969. Most reasonable people would find fault in that conspiracy (and I did as well) but it is fascinating to witness the passion and certainty of the narrator when he’s making his case. You might not buy what these people are selling but you are still fascinated by their thought processes.

Andy: The theories expressed in the documentary range from very believable (it’s really about the Holocaust, or genocide of Native Americans), to downright nutty (it’s a confession about Kubrick faking the moon landing). What’s noteworthy is that all of these critics seem to fully believe that they have cracked the secret code of the movie. The takeaway as an impartial viewer becomes a certainty that there is a purposeful, rich subtext to the film that lends itself to all sorts of meanings depending on the viewer. In other words, this documentary convinces me of nothing beyond the fact that The Shining is a much richer piece of art than I had originally thought, and I already was fond of the movie.

Ryan: From a technical aspect, Room 237’s composition is also a mixed bag. The film crosscuts scenes not just from The Shining but from other Kubrick films as well (and also from some other random films too). Sometimes this is effective — as it shows Kubrick’s film genius — but it’s also distracting when other random films by other directors are just arbitrarily spliced into the documentary’s narrative.  You also never see these theorists on camera, thus adding a layer of mystery to the whole production, which I guess in the long run, might actually help the film out. But consequently one never sees these people challenged with regard to their theories. I would have liked to have seen the narrator or filmmaker offer some resistance to these out-of-the-norm hypotheses.

Andy: For all of the insight, wackiness, and deeply interesting subject matter in Room 237, it must be noted that the construction of the documentary is quite odd. As Ryan mentions, the film never shows the critics who are voicing over the explanations of their theories, instead illustrating points with clips from The Shining (which is very effective), other Kubrick films (which does not always work well) and other random films (which is sometimes just silly). It also gets pretty confusing pretty quickly if you are not familiar with The Shining, or you are not in tune with the odd documentary style. The subject is interesting enough that the film works, but there are clear shortcomings.

Not many directors could have inspired such an uncanny documentary. Let’s face it. Stanley Kubrick is a cinematic genius and one of the greatest directors of all-time, but he was also a very private and reclusive individual. When one couples all of that together in this media age, some people are going to come up with some pretty wild ideas. Room 237 labors along at times, but it’s a hard film to forget.  Final grade:  B-.

 

1
Text Only
Entertainment
  • :Sex Tape" movie poster Movie preview: “Sex Tape”

    Plot: Though they’re still very much in love, ten years and two kids have cooled the passion for Jay and Annie. To spice up their relationship, they decide to make a home video of themselves.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • "Planes: Fire and Rescue" movie poster Movie preview: “Planes: Fire and Rescue”

    Plot: When world-famous air racer Dusty learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • "The Purge: Anarchy" movie poster Movie preview: “The Purge: Anarchy”

    Plot: A defenseless young couple find themselves stranded in the city on the one night of the year that all crime, including murder, is legal, in this self-contained sequel to the 2013 sleeper hit.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 'Apes' sequel best summer blockbuster thus far I promise Andy will be returning soon, but anyhow, I’ll be taking a solo look at one of the more anticipated blockbusters of the summer, Dawn of the Planet of Apes (PG-13).Taking place 10 years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, “Daw

    July 17, 2014

  • New arrivals at library Translation to XTAGS failed

    July 17, 2014

  • New arrivals at library New items at the Greensburg-Decatur County Library can be found and reserved at greensburglibrary.org/books.BiographiesThe Phantom of Fifth Avenue by Meryl GordonKitty Genovese by Kevin CookSidelined by Chuck PaganoFantasyThe High Druid’s Blade by Te

    July 12, 2014

  • "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes" movie poster Movie preview: “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”

    Plot: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • "Snowpiercer" movie poster Movie preview: “Snowpiercer”

    Plot: In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off all life on the planet, the few left alive have boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels non-stop around the globe while a class system evolves.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent-gb071014 Movie Boys review pic 'Tammy' one of the worst films of the year With Andy expected back next week, I’ll be taking a solo look this week at Melissa McCarthy’s latest vehicle, Tammy (R). In the movie, McCarthy plays a down-on-her-luck middle-aged person who goes on a road trip of sorts with her grandma (Susan Saran

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent-gb071014-special reflections pic 1 Art on the Square Gallery featuring 'Special Reflections' this month GREENSBURG – For the month of July, Art on the Square Gallery, 114 E. Washington Street, Greensburg, is pleased to present a show of photography and art work done by clients at Developmental Services, Inc. “Special Reflections” features oil paintings

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos