Room 237 Directed by: Rodney Ascher Starring: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns and John Fell Ryan
There are no talking heads in Room 237, at least not in the traditional documentary sense. Using footage from the movies, mostly Stanley Kubrick ones and mostly scenes from The Shining, Rodney Ascher creates an obsessive, absurd paean to the movies. He weaves together five intensely different theories about Kubrick’s 1980 horror staple, all of them bizarre sometimes to the point of ridiculousness.
We are given the names of these people at the beginning of the movie when they each speak for the first time, and then we don’t see them again until the credits. Ascher rotates between their explanations of what is really going on inside The Shining with the slyness if not the total condescension of a reality show host. One man believes there are hidden messages about the genocide of Native Americans, another sees a heavily layered Holocaust subtext. By far the most bizarre of these theories, though, is that of Jay Weidner, who believes that The Shining is Kubrick’s confession to helping the U.S. government fake the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
Instead of a “Scariest movies for Halloween” list, we decided to go with another semi-standard list for this time of year: the best psychotics. We aren’t limiting it to horror movies: it’s an even playing field for these murderers and madmen. Let their tricks treat for years to come. (Entries are placed in no particular order, but feel free to name ones you would’ve picked instead.)
Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)– For three movies, no matter your opinion of the sequel and prequel, Anthony Hopkins held your gaze as the calm, collected cannibal. When you first see him, he stands raised as if he were honoring royalty entering the room, a maddening stillness and calm smirk across his face. He always appears collected, which makes the madness behind his motives all the more chilling.
Jack Torrance (The Shining)- One of many iconic roles for Jack Nicholson and one of many masterpieces for Stanley Kubrick, this villain stands at the center of a chilling send-up of the American family. Dad gets cabin fever and starts chasing mom and son around with an axe. Watching this character descend into madness after seeing him semi-normal is what makes him so effective.
For our new Spotlight series, I decided to kick things off with one of the greats. While this segment of the site may not always focus on big names, they don’t get much bigger than Jack Nicholson. Exploring a career as acclaimed and a man as legendary as this is no easy task. What these pieces will consist of are commonalities in the career of the subject, as well as five key films to see their work in. As always, give us feedback about what you think!
Career: As previously mentioned, Nicholson’s career has been legendary for decades. One of the greats of both the old and especially the new American cinema, he has forged an identity on the screen that is both iconic and consistently shifting. A lot can be done with those eyebrows, and he finds something new every time. Whether he raises them in madness (The Shining) or in smug victory (As Good as It Gets), they are part of what defines him as an actor. Of course the other thing is that talent. He has given us some of the most legendary movie characters of all time and also influenced many other fine actors. His off-screen life is kept largely private, though he makes notorious awards show appearances and is a legendary playboy. It would be ignorant to keep him out of those shows, since he alone has won three Oscars and been nominated for 12. At the forefront of American screen legends, Jack is not afraid to take risks, and has made it a point to work with every director he’s wanted to work with and only rarely cashing in on his image (The Bucket List). Though there are far more than five great performances from him, here are the highlights that showcase a different side to Hollywood’s definitive wily renegade.