ROOM 237 (unrated)

Room 237 (unrated)


Movie Info

Rating: * * * 

With: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan, Jay Weidner, Buffy Visick.

Director: Rodney Ascher.

Producer: Tim Kirk.

An IFC Films release. Running time: 102 minutes. No offensive material. In Miami-Dade only: O Cinema Wynwood

One person believes The Shining was Stanley Kubrick’s commentary on the Holocaust. Another points out clues that reveal the film is really about the genocide of Native Americans.

Someone else claims the movie was the late filmmaker’s way of letting us know the Apollo 11 moon landing was faked, and he directed it. Yet another fan believes the film was carefully designed to be projected backwards, which would reveal hidden clues.

In Room 237, director Rodney Ascher never shows us the faces of the people analyzing The Shining. There are none of the usual talking heads you’d expect in this sort of deconstruction: Instead, he uses clips from the movie, as well as some of Kubrick’s other films, with just the occasional bit of animation or dramatic re-enactment to stress a particular point.

Ascher treats all these insane theories seriously, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Room 237 isn’t a work of cinematic criticism, although it does prove you can find meaning in anything if you stare at it long enough. The film’s true subject is obsession — a love of movies, specifically — and he has found the perfect subject in The Shining, a picture few people liked upon its release in 1980 but that has since worked itself onto a permanent perch in popular culture.

Our familiarity with The Shining — with Jack Nicholson’s iconic over-the-top performance; with the geometric patterns of the Overlook Hotel’s rug; with that axe bursting through a bathroom door, a terrified Shelley Duvall screaming inside — makes Room 237 intriguing even if you don’t buy any of the theories being floated. Ascher uses slow motion and freeze-frame to reveal details you probably haven’t noticed before, like a poster of a minotaur in the Overlook’s game room that pairs up nicely with the climactic chase through the maze. He traces Danny’s rides through the hallways of the hotel to show how Kubrick toyed with the building’s architecture, always keeping us off balance about what was lurking around that next corner.

One speaker in the movie asserts Kubrick was a “bored genius” when he made The Shining (he had a reported IQ of 200) and amused himself by inserting little Easter eggs throughout the movie (the magazine Nicholson is reading while waiting for a tour of the hotel? Playgirl). You don’t have to buy any of the nutty theories in Room 237 to appreciate what Ascher has accomplished: He makes us reconsider a widely seen film from a new and strange perspective that leads to even greater mystery and fascination. Why does that typewriter keep changing color, anyway?

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Magic in the Moonlight’:</span> Colin Firth is a stage magician trying to disprove the abilities of an acclaimed psychic (Emma Stone).

    Magic in the Moonlight (PG-13)

    The inherent problem in cranking out a movie (sometimes two!) every year, as Woody Allen has been doing for the last 34 years, is that some of them are inevitably going to be dogs. Does someone have a gun to the filmmaker’s head that forces him to proceed with half-baked, joyless comedies such as Magic in the Moonlight instead of tossing bad ideas out and starting fresh? This is, at best, a 20-minute TV episode extended to feature length, and the stretch marks show. Boy, do they show. That’s practically all you can see, really.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Guardians of the Galaxy’:</span> Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Chris Pratt form an unlikely team of space-jockey superheroes.

    Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)

    Watching the zippy, ebullient Guardians of the Galaxy, you wonder “Why can’t all comic-book movies be this much fun?”

Dad (Ethan Hawke, right) plays around with his son (Ellar Coltrane) in a scene from “Boyhood.”

    Boyhood (R)

    Contrary to most dramas, which tend to dwell on traumatic or seismic events, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood argues that life is a compilation of small, everyday moments, an accumulation of the feelings and thoughts and emotions we start to gather from the time we are children. Shot over the span of 12 years, with the cast getting together for a few days annually to shoot some scenes, the movie charts the growth of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the ages of 5 to 18. Mason has an older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter) and he has two loving parents, Mom (Patricia Arquette) and Dad (Ethan Hawke), who are divorced and live apart. Their relationship can be contentious at times, but they both care deeply for their kids.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category