Review: “Room 237”

On my DVD shelf sit two movies that I consider among the best I’ve ever seen: Pi and JFK. Both movies deal with lead characters obsessed with their current problems and slowly (but surely) becoming paranoid, seeing conspiracy in everything. Both are less about “the truth” or “the answer” and more about how one can lose oneself in the pursuit of their obsessions. Growing up with OCD, I certainly understand.

Room 237 joins in on the action, except it switches dramatized people and fictional characters for real ones — making what is shown more interesting and (believe it or not) more frustrating to watch. Not really a documentary and not really a “movie”, Room 237 is more like an essay in a style similar to F for Fake. Made up of a series of interviews from film buffs and scholars, we get a frame by frame deconstruction of the messages and meanings behind Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

The level of obsession and heightened attention to detail is extraordinary. It reminds of the the early cuts of the 9/11 conspiracy hit Loose Change, or even the lectures by “Truthers” posted on youtube. The smallest and most mundane moments are picked up on and used as evidence of a larger story. The disappearing chair, the window that shouldn’t exist, the light coming out of the plane before hitting the towe…wait — wrong movie.

A zenith of reaching is hit when it is suggested that Kubrick helped fake the moon landing, and used The Shining as his way of telling the public. Yes, the kid where’s an Apollo 11 sweater, and there are some coincidences here and there, but it’s still too vague of a conclusion to come to. It’s very laughable, but only after some groaning.

I suppose these conversations are just a testament to Kubrick’s timeless and universal production, and shouldn’t be seen as anything harmful. Indeed, there is a charm to all of this; the affection people have for art and their joyful obsession for it. But, well, hearing it for over 90 minutes just kinda pisses me off. It’s like going to a party with a friend, separating, and getting into a drawn out discussion with a weirdo stranger. You’ll be thinking “Where’s my ride?” very soon.

It’s not an examination or explanation of film obsession and human psyche, but just an example of its existence. A nature documentary on silly movie buffs? Certainly, the species isn’t going extinct anytime soon. I know these people are around; just go to the IMDB message boards. It’s cool that a movie can be shown as a rubix cube and all, but watching people try to solve a rubix cube isn’t very fun. It’s actually a little depressing, and a bit condescending to the rest of us puzzle solvers.

Not on my DVD shelf is Wag the Dog, another movie I highly recommend. I can remember getting into an argument with my cousin over the image of a briefcase, on a table, under a light. He claimed it represented the fate of Dustin Hoffman’s character, while I stated that it represented a briefcase. I enjoy picking out hidden elements in movies, but I really don’t enjoy making myself sound stupid.

2/5 *s


Originally published at billreviewsfilm.blogspot.com on April 12, 2013.