Room 237

The Shining Triplets

On this week’s show, we launch a new feature called Convince Me, and in our inaugural edition, Geoff tries to convince me that The Shining deserves a remake (or re-adaptation if you’re nasty). We tie all of that up nicely with a pink bow by discussing the Torrance family conspiracy doc Room 237 with Nonfics editor-in-chief Chris Campbell (who also tells us a bit about the brand new site and how he plans to convert more people into documentary lovers). So come play with us. You should follow Chris (@thefilmcynic), Katy Perry (@katyperry),the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #35 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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discs prince of darkness carpenter

Welcome back to a slightly revamped version of This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Prince of Darkness Members of a college physics class take on an extra credit project after a local priest (Donald Pleasance) hips them to the presence of a strange, glowing container in the basement of an abandoned church. The students make some extraordinary discoveries including the fact that the goo inside may actually be a physical representation of Satan! Or something. John Carpenter‘s last great film was 1994’s In the Mouth of Madness, but seven years earlier he delivered this equally fun horror flick pitting several semi-familiar faces (including a Simon brother!) against a possessed mob of homeless people. One by one the grad students fall victim to the devil’s whims, and Carpenter embraces the silliness of it all while still managing to deliver some thrills including one of his best endings ever. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray offers a beautiful new transfer, and while the extras are slim it’s still a must own for genre fans. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interviews]

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apollo 11 shining code

If you’re up late tonight and looking for a movie to watch, Rodney Ascher‘s documentary Room 237 is the perfect thing to transition from Easter to April Fools’ Day. It’s about theories and analyses people have about Stanley Kubrick‘s movie The Shining (see our different reviews of the doc by Kevin Kelly, Brian Salisbury and Landon Palmer). Therefore it’s both about “Easter eggs,” as in things hidden in the movie and fools, pranks, hoaxes and all those kinds of things associated with the joker’s holiday on April 1st. I’d like to hope that IFC released the doc, which premiered over a year ago at Sundance, on this very weekend because of Easter and April Fools’ Day are back to back. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. But Room 237 makes us wonder if there’s such a thing. Room 237 hit theaters on Friday and had a decent debut weekend showing on only two screens. But it was also released the same day on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and cable On Demand outlets to rent for a relatively low cost. There’s no reason not to be seeing this movie-lovers’ treat. And if you don’t even like or care about The Shining, it’s still very interesting and fun and worth the look, because it’s about more than The Shining. It’s about ways of seeing and thinking and believing, and taking things too seriously and not, and Kubrick is simply a very good aid for illustrating and exploring all of that.

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New on VOD: Lincoln

The Video On Demand Power Ranker returns this week with a batch of new movies to watch. Sure, there are some holdovers on the list, such as (the still excellent) Life of Pi, but our brain-implanted super computer appears to be feeling that which is fresh this week. Will you go along for the journey? Don’t say no. It doesn’t like being told no.

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Room 237

In 2006, during the initial years of YouTube’s expanding popularity, this mash-up of The Shining went viral. By recasting the tone of Stanley Kubrick’s canonized 1980 horror film as a romantic comedy, complete with a Peter Gabriel song, the video’s act of both subverting and highlighting genre conventions made an incredibly effective case for how audiences can actively rework, rethink, or even contradict some of Hollywood’s most sacred texts. It’s this particular web 2.0-enabled democratic approach – not only to The Shining, but to movies in general – that lays the groundwork for Rodney Asher’s Room 237, a “subjective documentary” that investigates theories around the most notorious adaptation of any of Stephen King’s novels. Room 237 lends a microphone to five select uber-fans of The Shining. We never see these fans, and we only peripherally come to understand a bit about them (one is a history professor, another a father who sees his relationship with his son as similar to the one shared between Jack and Danny (!)). Instead, Room 237 devotes its entire running time to letting these individuals expound on their diverse theories about The Shining, while the film’s visual portion exercises these theories through visiting, revisiting, slowing down, and reversing clips from The Shining and Kubrick’s other works, filling out the gaps with clips from other films, both famous and obscure.

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Room 237 Teaser

This homage trailer from conspiracy documentary Room 237 is nothing short of amazing, but it’s probably also the only thing they could make to try to sell the movie. I get that there’s a lot of love for Rodney Ascher‘s flick — the critical quotes in this very ad are witness to that — but it’s not like there are images from the movie itself that could make their way into a piece of marketing. Especially not legally. That’s because the movie is comprised solely of shots from The Shining that are laboriously tortured with slow motion and freeze framing to give a bigger bullhorn to several theories regarding the hidden meaning of Stanley Kubrick‘s interpretation of Stephen King’s novel. Fans of the iconic Shining teaser trailer should get a kick out of this:

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Last night, at a special event in conjunction with the AFI FEST, the nominees for the 2013 Cinema Eye Honors were announced. And once again, the titles contending for the ten feature categories, all of which focus solely on nonfiction films (to make up for the Oscars’ minimal recognition), represent the year’s best in documentaries. As someone who professionally concentrates on docs elsewhere, I tend to feel kinda useless or redundant when Cinema Eye names its nominees, because now when someone asks me what’s great this year I can just point to their list of 31 features. Of course, some of these films are only up for specific honors, like those for original music score and graphic design, and may not be quite as necessary as the six up for the top award or the 10 nominated for the Audience Choice Prize (which sadly, for publicity-sake, lacks a Justin Bieber movie like last year). Also, I could name a bunch of exceptional docs that haven’t been recognized, such as This is Not a Film, The House I Live In, Under African Skies, Beware of Mr. Baker, Last Call at the Oasis, The Queen of Versailles, Girl Model (though its directors are up for Downeast) and The Invisible War. Still, I’m very excited that one of my top three nonfiction films of the year, The Imposter, is one of the most-nominated titles, while I’m even more ecstatic that the CEH could bring more attention to brilliant, lesser-known works like Only the […]

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Kicking off this week with its Opening Night Gala for Hitchcock, Hollywood’s own AFI FEST effectively wraps up the year’s film festival-going season (a season that lasts approximately eleven months). Such calendar placement means that AFI FEST comes late enough in the year to serve as a last hurrah for titles that have been playing the festival circuit as far back as January (at Sundance) or as far away as France, Berlin, and Venice, and is the perfect opportunity for Southern California-based film geeks (or those willing to put some miles on their passport) to catch up on films they’ve been anticipating for months. Of course, of the 136 films playing at this year’s festival, we’ve managed to catch nearly a fifth of them at other fests, and we’re quite pleased to use this opportunity to remind you as such. Confused over what to see at the festival? Be confused no more! After the break, jog your memories of our always-extensive festival coverage with reviews for twenty-eight films set to play at this week’s AFI FEST that we’ve already seen (and, you know, reviewed). It’s like getting your festival coverage whole days early!

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As has become par for the course over the past few years, Hollywood’s own AFI FEST has brought out the big guns for its star-studded Galas screenings, with the festival set to open with Hitchcock and close with Lincoln – and yet, as exciting as both of those titles are (seriously, Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock? Steven Spielberg directing Daniel Day-Lewis as ol’ Honest Abe? it’s all a bit too good), the five films I am most anticipating will arrive smack in the middle of the festival. Some of these titles come with significantly less fanfare than either of the fest’s big guns, and some are just as primed for awards season domination, but all five of them are at the top of my movie-going list. After the break, take a look inside my AFI FEST-addled brain to get a sense on five films I think (hope?) are the true winners of this year’s festival.

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Room 237 Teaser

There are a ton of horror classics that get revisited by movie fans around this time of year, but perhaps none are more dense, rich, respected, and downright creepifying as Stanley Kubrick’s unique take on Stephen King’s story of old hotels, hauntings, and Jack Nicholson going crazy, The Shining. Apart from being one of the greatest horror films of all time, The Shining is often just considered one of the greatest films of all time, period. And that’s why it’s developed an over thirty-year history of ongoing post-film discussion. The Shining’s legions of fans are devoted, so much so that many of them spend countless hours poring over ever little detail of the film, trying to suss out and decode what every little splatter of blood, every surreal image, every number on a hotel room door means in the greater scheme of things. The cult surrounding this film is so interesting that director Rodney Ascher and producer Tim Kirk decided to make a documentary about it. Their film is called Room 237, and they describe it by saying, “Room 237 is a subjective documentary feature which explores numerous theories about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and its hidden meanings. This guided tour through the most compelling attempts to decode this endlessly fascinating film will draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out. Discover why many have been trapped in the Overlook for 30 years.”

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There is something of a perfect storm of artistry in 1980’s The Shining that more than accounts for that film’s widely held distinction as a classic. The novel was written by Stephen King, a guy even your great-grandmother’s skittish bridge partners recognize as a master of literary horror. The inevitable film adaptation was then directed by certified mad genius Stanley Kubrick. Anyone who’s seen the film, and there are probably a few, knows that eerie supernatural atmosphere and strikingly offsetting imagery abound. What may not be so ingrained in the collective consciousness is the legion of conspiracy theories surrounding The Shining. Rodney Ascher‘s documentary Room 237 seeks to shed light on these various conspiracies with the help of a host of unseen interviewees whose explanations are then diagrammed using footage of the celebrated horror film and other inserted images. On the surface, hearing the name and digesting the premise of this doc, Room 237 offers extraordinary promise to genre fans. The idea of actual mysterious, ominous context to our favorite horror films somewhat legitimizes our fandom and presents the possibility of mining new scares out of movies we’ve undoubtedly watched enough times to have memorized  forwards and backwards. In fact, Room 237 actually suggests a new, hidden meaning to The Shining exists in viewing it backwards and forwards simultaneously; one transparently laid over the other. This feat may be difficult to accomplish, but it exists in a realm of intrigue along with the age-old theory of listening to Dark Side […]

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Now that Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master is in slightly wider release than it was in its opening weekend, perhaps it is time to discuss this period drama, which is perplexing both critics and regular moviegoers alike. More than the fact that a lot of people are now able to finally see the film, the interesting thing is that many have now watched it two or three times (at least) in an attempt to get more out of the thing. Countless reviews have pointed out that The Master is difficult to fully understand on a single viewing, and audiences of all levels of intellect are coming out declaring that they need to see it again. Plenty are doing so, but are they any closer to finding answers? No film requires or should require multiple viewings, and pretty much any film watched more than once can deliver previously unseen pieces and welcome new considerations. But The Master, whether constructed out of certain meaning or, as might be hinted through a significant line from the film, Anderson just made it all up as he went along without too much thought, is the sort of glorious cinema that we look at as a fun puzzle. We can imagine that one day a documentary similar to Room 237 will present obsessive PTA fans over-analyzing everything from the commanding performances to the film’s subtler nooks and crannies.

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If you’re the sort of person who loves conspiracy theories, hidden meanings, codes, ciphers, clues, and other mysteries that bear unraveling, then Room 237 is right up your alley. Director Rodney Ascher has put together a fascinating movie that will most likely change the way you watch Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining forever, or will at least make you search out some of the things that are discussed in this documentary. Ascher, the director of the hilarious (and creepy) short from The S From Hell about the Screen Gems logo that was shown at Sundance 2010, is behind this clever documentary that mostly uses footage from Stanley Kubrick’s films (including The Shining, of course) to tell the stories of several different interview subjects: who each have a different view of the secret meanings of The Shining.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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