Room 237 Screen 21 articles

Room 237


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  • Room 237 isn’t so much about the theories as about our relationship with cinema itself, and the way the medium offers endless possibilities to the viewer depending on what you choose as your focal point. I do wish that director Rodney Ascher had structured the film so that each interviewee... got his/her own discrete section, rather than juggling their respective theories as they relate to various nebulous topics.

  • Alternating between the extravagant commentaries of five analysts of Kubrick’s The Shining, it refuses to make any distinctions between interpretations that are semi-plausible or psychotic, conceivable or ridiculous, implying that they’re all just “film criticism” and because everyone is a film critic nowadays, they all deserve to be treated with equal amounts of respect and/or mockery -– that is, uncritically and derisively, with irony as the perpetual escape hatch.

  • Ascher allows each voice to speak openly for itself, presenting each theory as equally viable and absurd, rarely suggesting whether he believes it’s one or the other—this may be a subtle and rather savvy way of undermining our desire for a strong directorial presence, but in practice it serves only to underline his ambivalence about the readings themselves.

  • "Room 237" isn't film criticism, it isn't coherent analysis, but listening to fanatics go on and on about their fixations can be kind of fun. For a while, at least.

  • Ascher's not doing his interviewees any favors, maybe deliberately, cutting their not especially distinctive voices together in a way that makes their different theories basically interchangeable—& I avoided reading too much about the film before seeing but did anyone discern a structure?—while also undermining them subtly by keeping in their digressions and sourcing their claims poorly.

  • [Ascher's Room 237 and "The S from Hell"] announce Rodney Ascher not just as a highly unconventional documentarian but as a penetrating thinker and dedicated chronicler of the what Freud called "the psychopathologies of everyday life." ...Ascher's inquiry into the question of audience response, subjectivity and meaning is not only sincere but radically democratic.

  • It's almost impossible to believe that Kubrick would have gone to such lengths to encode his film with such miscellaneous secrets and subtexts (and even less so that he actually produced the film to coordinate reversals and overlays to such a degree), but together it adds further intrigue to a work that already held the ability to awe and unsettle.

  • Alternately beguiling and bonkers, it's a tribute to both Kubrick's masterpiece and the crazy thrill of losing one's self in a critical maze of themes, subtexts and signifiers.

  • Authorial intent is both Room 237's reason for being (Kubrick surely must have planned everything!) and anathema to its aims. A reminder that when we go to the movie theater we're doing as much projecting as the projector.

  • These clips from other films suggest how a lifetime of casually watching movies (on TV, in theaters, in passing) help shape our minds. Meanwhile, Ascher acts as the sixth conspiracy theorist, stringing together Kubrick’s movies and offering ways to look at his work as a whole. “Room 237″ demonstrates by example that overinterpretation, even if misguided, is more fun than passively taking movies in.

  • The manipulation of the film material, the juggling of meanings, the associations connecting truth, memory, and film in Room 237 add up to something very enjoyable, as a kind of a fresh pleasure in film viewing, which is not exactly the same as the essay-film format, nor the usual patchwork in the found-footage genre. Made with no clear tradition behind it, Room 237 invites us to a dance with a cinema that is daring and free.

  • Steadily, Room 237 becomes a rare kind of bird: a critical analysis that leans not on unquestionable authority but creative speculation. (Sometimes, these interpretive stabs feel like cries of loneliness.) The film plays like a game and occasionally blows your mind, as when one fan casually maps out the topography of the ground floor, revealing hallways that don’t make sense and windows that yield impossible sunlight.

  • Everything is movies here - early mention of an underground car park illustrated with an otherwise-irrelevant clip from All the President's Men - evoking a world where movies have usurped reality (there are no talking heads) just as The Shining has displaced reality in these people's lives, not least in terms of the prosaic reality of what the film is ostensibly 'about'.

  • Although it's not strictly an experimental film, Rodney Ascher's Room 237 is another work that aims to mesmerize us. Again and again, we are shown the opening images of The Shining (1980): the '70s Warners logo, followed by the narrowing path through the mountains as the credits come up. This sequence is an induction phase; each time it plays, we get a sense of "We're going in."

  • Room 237 isn't some quirky study of a group of people hung up on a certain movie, but a movie about the power that certain movies possess: a real, troubling, dominating power not just to inspire, entertain, or annoy, but to corrupt the minds and muddle the thoughts of its viewers. It's this uncanny, irreconcilable power that animates the doc. Cinema's the corpse in the bathtub, the skeletons in the ballroom, the elevator full of blood, the guy in a dog costume blowing a ghost in a tuxedo.

  • Rodney Ascher’s extraordinary, copyright-defying documentary “Room 237”... as an introductory primer to the madness and genius of the various “Shining” theories. It does so in hypnotic fashion, stitching together dozens of clips from that film along with Kubrick’s other features... and an eclectic range of cinematic touchstones stretching from F.W. Murnau’s 1926 “Faust” to “All the President’s Men” to the 1982 “Creepshow,” a collaboration between King and director George A. Romero.

  • Part of what makes “Room 237” fascinating to watch and think about (beyond other people’s loopiness) is that it shows how works of art become encrusted with their reception. It’s a process that has only been accelerated by the Internet, where millions of loony and lovely interpretations bloom.

  • This wildly entertaining doc stands as a tribute to the cult of Kubrick, a filmmaker so lionized that even his continuity errors are assumed to be choices. Yet you don’t have to believe the crackpot ideas posited by Room 237 to be exhilarated by the way Ascher goes about examining them. His real subject is not The Shining but a belief in the power of any director to invest every frame of his work with meaning. Bring on the subtextual dissections of Pet Sematary.

  • ...What (most of the) narrators have in common is a sort of Talmudic faith in the omniscient intentionality of Kubrick—every continuity error, every prop, is analyzed. We don't have to share their Kubrick-deism to be fascinated by the documentary. What ROOM 237 is about, ultimately, is the interaction between audience and art.

  • Room 237 adroitly blends several documentary genres. It recalls Cinemania and Ringers in its investigation of fan cultures. But instead of focusing on the personalities and lifestyles of the fans, Ascher concentrates on their readings of the movie. We never see the commentators. In this respect, it evokes the newly emerged genre of video essays as practiced by Kevin B. Lee and Matt Zoller Seitz.

  • Rodney Ascher’s obsessive exploration of a collection of obsessive interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’sThe Shining is full of wit and knowledge, sharply executed and deliriously insightful into the ways we process images and construct meaning in movies. Ascher never makes fun of his entertaining collection of crackpots, but his commitment to them and their analyses is complete. Frame-by-frame, backwards and forwards, the film is deconstructed...

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