Tag Archives: Stanley Kubrick

Lost In Space

Passengers

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from romantic comedies, it’s this: as long as two people are attractive enough and have no entanglements – no jobs, no family, no social obligations to speak of – then only the most ludicrously contrived and easily surmountable of obstacles can keep them apart.

What if we applied this concept to SciFi? Well, if you can cast the two most bankable actors in Hollywood, you might be onto something.

That something is Passengers.

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are the pair of stupidly good looking actors playing Aurora and Jim, two of the 5,000 some odd hibernating passengers on a flight to Homestead II – a colony planet about 120 years from Earth. One convenience leads to another and they both wake up a lifetime too early.

To writer Jon Spaihts’s credit, his screenplay opens up many a moral conundrum. Between his existential questions and the film’s needed action sequences, Passengers feels like a good fit for director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters, The Imitation Game).

And yet, there is no easy out these two won’t take.

Big fans of Kubrick (clearly), Tyldum and Spaihts borrow not only from the obvious source of 2001, but even more liberally from The Shining – as well as one certain foreign film that will go unnamed for fear of spoiling the early plot twist.

Intriguing? Not for long.

Passengers also nabs bits and pieces from Gravity, Titanic and Alien (none of the good parts from Alien – although since Spaihts wrote Prometheus, maybe some of this should have been expected).

So it looks good. And the characters are likeable – troublingly likeable, which ends up becoming the anchor this film can’t escape. Potentially fascinating questions are raised, then abandoned, as if it’s too dangerous to risk upsetting some focus group who came to see love at light speed.

Pratt has no problem with likability, but he again finds it hard to veer from his comfort zone of Chris Pratt. This is even more evident next to Lawrence, who can always find small ways to craft a new character, even when hamstrung by a less than challenging script such as this.

You’ll get some how-do-you-do’s to sustainability and corporate greed, but by then the course for Passengers has long been set.

Look at these two! Don’t you like them together?

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Fright Club: Best Horror/Non-Horror Double Features

There’s always reason to be proud when one of he most established and respected directors decides to dabble in horror, and likewise, when one of our own makes it big in the mainstream. It put us in the mood for some double features: great directors, one horror movie, one non-horror movie. And the possibilities are endless. How about Scorsese’s Cape Fear/Taxi Driver? Or something a little more contemporary – maybe Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room and Blue Ruin (if you’re feeling colorful)? Oh, what fun! Let’s get started!

5. Ben Wheatley: Kill List (2011)/ High Rise (2015)

Kill List
Never has the line “Thank you” had a weirder effect than in this genre bender. Without ever losing its gritty, indie sensibility, Ben Wheatley’s fascinating film begins a slide in Act 2 from crime drama toward macabre thriller. You spend the balance of the film’s brisk 95 minutes actively puzzling out clues, ambiguities and oddities.

For those looking for blood and guts and bullets, Kill List will only partially satisfy and may bewilder by the end. But audiences seeking a finely crafted, unusual horror film may find themselves saying thank you.

High-Rise
Set inside a skyscraper in a gloriously retro London, Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise is a dystopia full of misanthropic humor.

Laing (Tom Hiddleston) narrates his own story of life inside the “grand social experiment” – a high rise where the higher the floor, the higher the tenant’s social status. Performances range from slyly understated (Hiddleston, Elizabeth Moss) to powerful (Sienna Miller, Luke Evans) to alarmingly hammy (James Purefoy), but each contributes entertainingly to this particular brand of dystopia. Still, the wicked humor and wild chaos will certainly keep your attention.

4. Peter Jackson: Dead Alive (1992) / Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Dead Alive
This film is everything the early Peter Jackson did well. It’s a bright, silly, outrageous bloodbath. Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme), destiny, a Sumatran rat monkey, an overbearing mother, a prying uncle, and true love are bathed in gore in the Kiwi director’s last true horror flick – a film so gloriously over-the-top that nearly anything can be forgiven it.

Jackson includes truly memorable images, takes zombies in fresh directions, and crafts characters you can root for. But more than anything, he knows where to point his hoseful of gore, and he has a keen imagination when it comes to just how much damage a lawnmower can do.

 

Heavenly Creatures
Jackson’s first non-horror film still follows rather horrific circumstances – New Zealand’s infamous Parker-Hulme murder case. Even fans of the director’s work to this point couldn’t have suspected he (and writing partner/write Fran Walsh) had anything this elegant and fantastical in them.

Certainly, spellbinding performances from young Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey didn’t hurt. Jackson and Walsh received their first Oscar noms for the screenplay in a film that eschews the trial, barely witnesses the crime, and focuses instead on the intense friendship that went horrifyingly wrong. It respects its source material and every person involved in the historical event, but it also understands the delirium of adolescence in a way few films do. Hobbits be damned, this is Jackson’s masterpiece.

3. David Cronenberg: Scanners (1981) / Eastern Promises (2007)

Scanners
The film that made Cronenberg an international name in the genre is about mind control – a very sloppy version of it – and that societal fear of being dominated by a stronger being. At its heart, this is another government conspiracy film wherein an agency foolishly believes they can harness an uncontrollable element for military purposes. Scanners is hardly the best of these (Alien is, FYI). But it’s gory fun nonetheless. What makes the effort undeniably Cronenberg (besides the exploding heads) is that connection between human tissue and technology.

The acting is silly, the technology is comically dated, and the computer nerd toward the end of the film inexplicably boasts a band aid on his face. But Michael Ironside is on fire and the movie ratchets up tension by keeping you wondering when the next head will explode.

Eastern Promises
In 2005, Cronenberg produced his most acclaimed and most mainstream film to date, A History of Violence. That success spawned more than an interest in non-genre fare, but also a fruitful collaboration with the underappreciated and versatile actor Viggo Mortensen.

Two years later, Mortensen would join an impeccable cast including Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Naomi Watts in what would be the Canadian auteur’s finest film. Eastern promises is Cronenberg’s characteristically off kilter, visceral take on the mafia movie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWC-ECjNqxo

2. Stanley Kubrick: The Shining (1980)/ 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The Shining
A study in atmospheric tension, Kubrick’s vision of the Torrance family collapse at the Overlook Hotel is both visually and aurally meticulous. It opens with that stunning helicopter shot, following Jack Torrance’s little yellow Beetle up the mountainside, the ominous score announcing a foreboding that the film never shakes.

What image stays with you most? The two creepy little girls? The blood pouring out of the elevator? The impressive afro in the velvet painting above Scatman Crothers’s bed? That freaky guy in the bear suit? Whatever the answer, thanks be to Kubrick’s deviant yet tidy imagination.

2001: A Space Odyssey

After a less than enthusiastic reception from both audiences and critics in 1968, 2001 persevered, establishing its legend as perhaps the most magnificent science fiction film ever made.

Kubrick and legendary sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke adapt Clarke’s short story with ambitious vision, epic scope, precise execution. More than a film, 2001 transcends the screen to become a mind-bending look at “first contact” that elicits levels of awe and wonder reserved for timeless pieces of art.

Very simply. 2001 is essential cinema of the highest order.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8TABIFAN4o

1. William Friedkin: The Exorcist (1973)/ Killer Joe (2011)

The Exorcist
Thanks to an intricate and nuanced screenplay adapted by William Peter Blatty from his own novel, the film boasts any number of flawed characters struggling to find faith and to do what’s right in this impossible situation.

Friedkin balanced every scene to expose its divinity and warts, and to quietly build tension. When he was good and ready, he let that tension burst into explosions of terrifying mayhem that became a blueprint for dozens of films throughout the Seventies and marked a lasting icon for the genre. Even after all this time, The Exorcist is a flat-out masterpiece.

Killer Joe
Following a long, fairly quiet period, in 2011 Friedkin returned with something bold and nasty:Killer Joe. Matthew McConaughey plays the titular killer, a predator in a cowboy hat making deals with some Texas white trash. The deal goes haywire, and some crazy, mean, vividly depicted shit befalls those unthinking trailer folk.

Subdued, charming, merciless, weird, and oh-so-Southern, Joe scares the living hell out of any thinking person. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really describe the Smiths – an exquisitely cast Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Hayden Church, and a flawless Gina Gershon. This is an ugly and unsettlingly funny film about compromises, bad ideas, and bruised women. And it is the best thing Friedkin has done since The Exorcist.

 

 

Fright Club: Best Stephen King Movies

We greet an honest to god expert for this week’s podcast, as Dr. Neil McRobert (you may know him better as NakMak!) joins us to talk about Stephen King films. Neil’s doctoral thesis concerned itself in part with King’s writings, and yet, somehow Hope decided she was still the more appropriate choice to determine the rankings of King films. Listen in and let us know who does a better job with the list. The whole conversation goes on HERE.

5. Dolores Claiborne (1995)

Taylor Hackford helms this generational saga of women in a man’s world. Not truly a horror film, it follows the tale of stern Mainer Dolores (the magnificent –as-always Kathy Bates), who’s been accused of murdering her contemptible boss, Vera Donovan (an outstanding Judy Parfitt). Dolores’s estranged daughter (Jennifer Jason Leigh) returns to the Maine island of her birth to support her mom from being railroaded, as the entire town believes Dolores has already gotten away with murder once.

The film is an achievement in casting above all things. Bates is brilliant, and so is David Strathairn, playing against type as abusive white trash husband and father. Tony Gilroy’s screenplay is delicately faithful to King’s novel, a character-driven drama that boasts some excellent lines – most of them landing in Parfitt’s mouth. Luckily she’s up to the challenge and makes it look easier than it should to be a bitch.

4. Misery (1990)

Kathy Bates had been knocking around Hollywood for decades, but no one really knew who she was until she landed Misery. Her sadistic nurturer Annie Wilkes – rabid romance novel fan, part time nurse, full time wacko – ranks among the most memorable crazy ladies of modern cinema.

James Caan plays novelist Paul Sheldon, who kills off popular character Misery Chastain, then celebrates with a road trip that goes awry when he crashes his car, only to be saved by his brawniest and most fervent fan, Annie. Well, she’s more a fan of Misery Chastain’s than she is Paul Sheldon’s, and once she realizes what he’s done, she refuses to allow him out of her house until she brings Misery back to literary life.

Caan seethes, and you know there’s an ass kicking somewhere deep in his mangled body just waiting to get out. But it’s Bates we remember. She nails the bumpkin who oscillates between humble fan, terrifying master, and put-upon martyr. Indeed, both physically and emotionally, she so thoroughly animates this nutjob that she secured an Oscar.

3. The Mist (2007)

Frank Darabont really loves him some Stephen King, having adapted and directed the writer’s work almost exclusively for the duration of his career. While The Shawshank Redemption may be Darabont’s most fondly remembered effort, The Mist is an underappreciated creature feature.

David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son head to town for some groceries. Meanwhile, a tear in the space/time continuum opens a doorway to alien monsters. So he, his boy, and a dozen or so other shoppers are all trapped inside this glass-fronted store just waiting for rescue or death.

Marcia Gay Harden is characteristically brilliant as the religious zealot who turns survival inside the store into something less likely than survival out with the monsters, but the whole cast offers surprisingly restrained but emotional turns.

The FX look good, too, but it’s the provocative ending that guarantees this one will sear itself into your memory.

2. Carrie (1976)

The seminal film about teen angst and high school carnage has to be Brian De Palma’s 1976 landmark adaptation of King’s first full length novel, the tale of an unpopular teenager who marks the arrival of her period by suddenly embracing her psychic powers.

Sissy Spacek is the perfect balance of freckle-faced vulnerability and awed vengeance. Her simpleton characterization would have been overdone were it not for Piper Laurie’s glorious evil zeal as her religious wacko mother. It’s easy to believe this particular mother could have successfully smothered a daughter into Carrie’s stupor.

One ugly trick involving a bucket of cow’s blood, and Carrie’s psycho switch is flipped. Spacek’s blood drenched Gloria Swanson on the stage conducting the carnage is perfectly over-the-top. And after all the mean kids get their comeuppance, Carrie returns home to the real horror show.

1. The Shining (1980)

It’s isolated, it’s haunted, you’re trapped, but somehow nothing feels derivative and you’re never able to predict what happens next. It’s Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece rendition of Stephen King’s The Shining.

Though critics were mixed at the time of the film’s release, and both Kubrick and co-star Shelley Duvall were nominated for Razzies, much of the world’s negative response had to do with a needless affection for the source material, which Kubrick and co-scriptor Diane Johnson use as little more than an outline.

A study in atmospheric tension, Kubrick’s vision of the Torrance family collapse at the Overlook Hotel is both visually and aurally meticulous. It opens with that stunning helicopter shot, following Jack Torrence’s little yellow Beetle up the mountainside, the ominous score announcing a foreboding the film never shakes.

What image stays with you most? The two creepy little girls? The blood pouring out of the elevator? The impressive afro in the velvet painting above Scatman Crothers’s bed? That guy in the bear suit – what was going on there? Whatever the answer, thanks be to Kubrick’s deviant yet tidy imagination.

Next week we will look at the best Canada has to offer the genre.

The following week, we are thrilled to tackle our sophomore effort at live recording the Fright Club podcast! We will unspool The Orphanage (2007) at Gateway Film Center on November 11, counting down the best Spanish language horror at 7:30, just prior to the 8pm screening.

In the meantime, help us prep for upcoming podcasts. What filmmaker, actor or actress deserves an entire podcast? Let us know on Twitter @maddwolf, on facebook @maddwolfcolumbus, or leave us a comment here.

Fright Club: Best Eighties Horror

We’re back to the decade countdown, this week looking at the best horror had to offer in the Eighties. This is the decade that spawned more horror franchises and iconic villains than any other – Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead and Hellraiser to begin with. Somewhere in a haze of Aquanet that era also churned out more bad horror than any decade should, but here we will focus on the five best from the Duran Duran Decade.

5. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Director John Landis blends horror, humor, and a little romance with cutting edge (at the time) special effects to tell the tale of a handsome American tourist David (David Naughton) doomed to turn into a Pepper – I mean a werewolf – at the next full moon.

Two college kids (Naughton and Griffin Dunne), riding in the back of a pickup full of sheep, backpacking across the moors, talk about girls and look for a place to duck out of the rain.

Aah, a pub – The Slaughtered Lamb – that’ll do!

The scene in the pub is awesome, as is the scene that follows, where the boys are stalked across the foggy moors. Creepy foreboding leading to real terror, this first act grabs you and the stage is set for a sly and scary escapade. The wolf looks cool, the sound design is fantastically horrifying, and Landis’s brightly subversive humor has never had a better showcase.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uw6QPThCqE

4. Poltergeist (1982)

This aggressive take on the haunted house tale wraps director Tobe Hooper’s potent horrors inside producer Steven Spielberg’s brightly lit suburbia. In both of Spielberg’s ’82 films, the charade of suburban peace is disrupted by a supernatural presence. In E.T., though, there’s less face tearing.

Part of Poltergeist’s success emerged from pairing universal childhood fears – clowns, thunderstorms, that creepy tree – with the adult terror of helplessness in the face of your own child’s peril. JoBeth Williams’s performance of vulnerable optimism gives the film a heartbeat, and the unreasonably adorable Heather O’Rourke creeps us out while tugging our heartstrings.

Splashy effects, excellent casting, Spielberg’s heart and Hooper’s gut combine to create a flick that holds up. Solid performances and the pacing of a blockbuster provide the film a respectable thrill, but Hooper’s disturbing imagination guarantees some lingering jitters.

3. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Director John McNaughton’s unforgivingly realistic picture of American serial killer Henry Lee Lucas offers a uniquely unemotional telling – no swelling strings to warn us danger is afoot and no hero to speak of to balance the ugliness. We follow him through his humdrum days of stalking and then dispatching his prey, until he finds his own unwholesome kind of family in the form of buddy Otis and his sister Becky. What’s diabolically fascinating is the workaday, white trash camaraderie of the psychopath relationship in this film, and the grey areas where one crazy killer feels the other has crossed some line of decency.

McNaughton confuses viewers because the characters you identify with are evil, and even when you think you might be seeing this to understand the origins of the ugliness, he pulls the rug out from under you again by creating an untrustworthy narrative voice. His film is so nonjudgmental, so flatly unemotional, that it’s honestly hard to watch. It’s brilliant nonetheless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU3P6WXzvXU

2. The Thing (1981)

John Carpenter’s remake of the 1951 SciFi flick The Thing from Another World is both reverent and barrier-breaking, limiting the original’s Cold War paranoia, and concocting a thoroughly spectacular tale of icy isolation, contamination and mutation.

This is an amped up body snatcher movie benefitting from some of Carpenter’s most cinema-fluent and crafty direction: wide shots when we need to see the vastness of the unruly wilds; tight shots to remind us of the close quarters with parasitic death inside. In an isolated wasteland with barely enough interior room to hold all the facial hair, folks are getting jumpy. The story remains taut beginning to end, and there’s rarely any telling just who is and who is not infected by the last reel. You’re as baffled and confined as the scientists. It’s horror movie magic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7t-919Ec9U

1. The Shining (1980)

A study in atmospheric tension, Kubrick’s vision of the Torrance family collapse at the Overlook Hotel is both visually and aurally meticulous. It opens with that stunning helicopter shot, following Jack Torrence’s little yellow Beetle up the mountainside, the ominous score announcing a foreboding that the film never shakes.

Let’s not forget Jack. Nicholson outdoes himself. His veiled contempt early on blossoms into homicidal mania, and there’s something so wonderful about watching Nicholson slowly lose his mind. Between writer’s block, isolation, ghosts, alcohol withdrawal, midlife crisis, and “a momentary loss of muscular coordination,” the playfully sadistic creature lurking inside this husband and father emerges.

What image stays with you most? The two creepy little girls? The blood pouring out of the elevator? The impressive afro in the velvet painting above Scatman Crothers’s bed? That guy in the bear suit – what was going on there? Whatever the answer, thanks be to Kubrick’s deviant yet tidy imagination.

Check out the whole conversation on our FRIGHT CLUB PODCAST.

Stocking Stuffer Countdown

It is officially the season. For anyone looking to stuff stockings, we’ve hand-crafted our own wish list.

5. Studio Ghibli BluRay Combo Packs

Three lovely Hayao Miyazaki films – The Wind Rises, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Princess Mononoke – are newly available on BluRay. The trio hit upon Miyazaki’s playful, serious and personal sides, and they look glorious in HD.

4. Earth, Wind & Fire: Holiday

Whether you pop an old school CD into a stocking or download the holiday happiness for your own festivities, this is an excellent way to funk up your yule.

3. Simpsons: Season 17

The return of Sideshow Bob, Patty and Selma kidnap MacGyver, Homer swaps Marge on a reality show, Lisa tries to “My Fair Lady” Groundskeeper Willie – do we really need to go on? Hours of lunacy, and for George, an excellent way to kill time during the Maddens’ post-turkey naps.

2. Stanley Kubrick: A Masterpiece Collection

Ten disks containing many of Kubrick’s greatest films from 1962 to 1999 –Dr. Strangelove, 2001, Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and others – as well as a few documentaries on the filmmaker, his influence on other directors, and the influence of his film A Clockwork Orange.

1. Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series BluRays

Painstakingly remastered and insanely hilarious, this complete set of the best kids’ show of all time will absolutely make someone – maybe your entire holiday gathering – happy. Full of glee, even.

Scary-Movie-a-Day for October, Day 9: The Shining!

 

Day 9:  The Shining

 

It’s isolated, it’s haunted, you’re trapped, but somehow nothing feels derivative and you’re never able to predict what happens next. It’s Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece rendition of Stephen King’s The Shining.

Though critics were mixed at the time of the film’s release, and both Kubrick and co-star Shelley Duvall were nominated for Razzies, much of the world’s negative response had to do with a needless affection for the source material. Kubrick and co-scriptor Diane Johnson use King’s novel as little more than an outline, and the film is better for it.

A study in atmospheric tension, Kubrick’s vision of the Torrance family collapse at the Overlook Hotel is both visually and aurally meticulous. It opens with that stunning helicopter shot, following Jack Torrance’s little yellow Beetle up the mountainside, the ominous score announcing a foreboding that  the film never shakes.

The hypnotic, innocent sound of Danny Torrance’s Big Wheel against the weirdly phallic patterns of the hotel carpet tells so much – about the size of the place, about the monotony of the existence, about hidden perversity. The sound is so lulling that its abrupt ceasing becomes a signal of spookiness afoot.

Duvall terrifies in that she is so visibly terrified. She may be “somewhat more resourceful” than Mr. Grady and his cohorts imagined, but she is a bit of a simpleton. Her gangly, Joey Ramone looks – so boney and homely – are shot to elongate what’s already too long, making her seem like a vision of death.

Let’s not forget Jack.

Nicholson outdoes himself. His early, veiled contempt blossoms into pure homicidal mania, and there’s something so wonderful about watching Nicholson slowly lose his mind. Between writer’s block, isolation, ghosts, alcohol withdrawal, midlife crisis, and “a momentary loss of muscular coordination,” the playfully sadistic creature lurking inside this husband and father emerges.

What image stays with you most? The two creepy little girls? The blood pouring out of the elevator? The impressive afro in the velvet painting above Scatman Crothers’s bed? That freaky guy in the bear suit? Whatever the answer, thanks be to Kubrick’s deviant yet tidy imagination.

And, if you’re in the mood for a double feature, check out last year’s Room 237. As it explores various interpretations of Kubrick’s vision that vary in wackiness, it cements the effect The Shining still has on pop culture.

Speaking of.. if you’ve never seen The Simpsons take on it, The Shinning, you gotta remedy that.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOh8vWjHA9Q

Original Title: Lord This Movie Sucks

 

By Hope Madden

Rob Zombie returns to film after a blessed hiatus with the hot mess Lords of Salem. In it, Zombie’s talentless wife Sheri Moon Zombie plays a radio DJ haunted by Salem’s past.

Try to ignore the ludicrous radio station situation: Boston’s most popular DJs are actually based at a Salem station. Sure, they’re patterned after a  hyperbolic morning show – sound effects and all – even though they appear to be a nighttime program. They also play no music save snippets of hardcore weirdness, but I’m sure that’s the kind of thing a major market really goes for.

What can’t be ignored is Zombie’s mishmash of horror gimmicks, recalling Kubrick and Argento as well as the slew of witch films popular in the late Sixties and early Seventies. This is not a knock, really. It’s Zombie’s overt fandom that has defined his directorial style since his first film. But don’t recall Kubrick unless your film can stand up to the comparison. Lords of Salem cannot.

Overly designed sets and loads of disturbing nudity hope to draw your attention away from weak dialogue, weaker plotting, ridiculous acting and general pointlessness. More than anything, though, the film is dull – just a whole lot of nothing really happening.  A lot to look at, but no action at all.

Just Sheri Moon Zombie and her acting prowess. Yeah, that’s really scarier than anything the film does intentionally.

 

Verdict-1-5-Stars

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEV-I_JWwqU

Kubrick Obsessed Invite You to Come Play with Them

by Hope Madden

As evidenced by the phenomenal attention to detail shown in The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror V, Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent film The Shining inspires close examination. Director Rodney Ascher assembled some of the most inspired – obsessed, even – for his documentary on the Kubrick ghost story, Room 237.

If you’re going to make a movie about Kubrick, it better look good, and this one does. Ascher never puts the commentators on screen, preferring instead to replay fascinating scenes from The Shining, or pad with genius cut-ins from other films – some Kubrick, some not. His endlessly fascinating clip choices keep his doc engaging, while appealing to the movie nerd in us all.

Off screen, we hear the thoughts of ABC News’s Bill Blakemore, Albion College historian Geoffrey Cocks, playwright/artist/author Juli Kearns, recording artist John Fell Ryan, and “authority on the hermetic and alchemical traditions” Jay Weidner. Each has his or her own theory to spin. For instance, 2+3+7=moon. And while these theories are all a bit wild, most carry just enough evidence to keep you intrigued.

It would be too simplistic to take Room 237 as a deconstruction of The Shining, and those hoping to uncover Kubrick’s deeper meaning may be disappointed.

But what the film does, it does well. It explores one of cinema’s most exquisite films, using it to encourage the spectator’s active participation in viewing. In doing so, it positions film as an art equal to literature or painting in terms of thematic dissection.

It also opens our eyes to the abject nuttiness of Kubrickian “scholars” – and a documentary always gets extra points if it introduces an audience to an entirely new concept, like that of the Kubrickian scholar.

More than anything, though, Room 237 is a documentation of obsession, and a fascinating one at that. It bares more insight into the act of obsessing than it does on Kubrick’s work itself, but it helps that these people spend all their time analyzing such a great movie. If they were this excited about tessellations or ringworm, well, the movie would have lacked that certain panache.

To be fair, Kubrick invites obsession. It’s hard to watch any of his films, The Shining in particular, without feeling submerged in images and symbolism just out of your reach. It’s the kind of richly textured experience ideal for a ghost story.

Or a film that confesses the creation of another film in which the moon landing was faked.

Unless it’s a film about the slaughter of the American Indians. And Jews.

Or a minotaur.

Verdict-3-5-Stars