Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Room 237 (2013): Choose Your Own Conspiracy Theory

When I read the synopsis for Room 237 I didn't fully expect to take in what I actually took in. What I mean is, when someone tells you that a movie is documentary about various theories surrounding Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, you expect a narrative followed by a short expose about a couple different interpretation of the Kubrick horror art picture. There would be interviews with cast and crew, a few laughs and overall you'd get the feeling that you'd "figured it all out" by the end of the whole damn thing.  What you do not expect is the absolute jaw dropping number of eccentric theories propagated by a single movie based on a lil' horror novel written by Stephen King. Let me make this absolutely clear right off the bat... you get a heap... a pile... a buffet of different theories surrounding Kubrick's intentions and imagery used in his creation of The Shining as told by everyone under the sun. It's important to know that because the whole thing may seem a bit daunting at first, and you'll need to prepare your brain to endure and enjoy something like this. Of course the best part of any mystery is figuring it out in the end... and you can't... and you won't... and that's why you're going to love Room 237.

First off, don't go in expecting a movie about Kubrick's The Shining, Kubrick's life... don't come expecting a documentary with form and substance. This isn't a Jack Nicholson tells all kind of a doc.  It's truly just a reel of theories carefully edited using film footage that spans genres and concepts and rarely if ever uses a straight forward documentary/narrative. This may be unappealing to a horror fan looking for the latest rumor or riff on a cast member of new quote to feast upon. Second, do not watch this movie with a stale brain. Be lively. Have coffee, will travel. Watch this movie with the intention to have a thought or two a bout it. It's not background material. It's I shouldn't have had that Jolt with dinner material.

Synopsis from the website to hear how the pro's write it up:

A subjective documentary that explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining (1980). The film may be over 30 years old but it continues to inspire debate, speculation, and mystery. Five very different points of view are illuminated through voice over, film clips, animation and dramatic reenactments. Together they’ll draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out.


Theories range from Kubrick centric romps in which one theorist believes that Kubrick is providing an apology and confession for assisting in faking the Apollo moon landing while another claims that The Shining is really the tale of westward expansion. I really don't want to go into it too much. It'd be the equivalent of spoiling the movie. The surprises that emerge from the brains of babes might shock you or maybe you've heard it all before but hearing these wild eyed pontificators crowning new inferences does get the mind a-stirring.

I recommend this movie to the Kubrick enthusiast and to fans of the film version of The Shining (Kubrick's version). I recommend this to folks who side with Stephen King on his stance that the film isn't really his book at all. There's ammo in those frames. If you've seen The Shining 100 times than chances are good that this will help refresh an old favorite. If you chase The Shining with something like the Insane Clown Possee's video collection, well... I give up and this probably ain't for you. The whole thing is really more like Jack Torrance sitting at the bar, talking to a ghostly bartender who can't possibly be there and much less an axe in the chest of Scatman Caruthers. If that means something to you then maybe I've helped.

Look for a screening in your area and keep an eye on IFC for this one. You can check out the website for Room 237 HERE.


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