This week on The Collision, we examine film criticism: its purpose, relevancy, strengths, weaknesses, and how it benefits our understanding of film, but can also lead us away from movies towards hollow consumer reports. This all ties in with the release of Rodney Ascher’s documentary Room 237. As always, we finish up with our recommendations.
Click here to listen to the new episode of The Collision, click here for the previous episode (“Terrorism, 9/11, and Olympus Has Fallen”), click here to add the podcast to your RSS, and click here to find us on iTunes. To keep up to date with The Collision, you can follow us on Twitter at @MattGoldberg, @AdamChitwood, and @DrClawMD (Dave Trumbore). Hit the jump to check out the trailers for this week’s recommendations.
[This is a re-post of my review from the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Room 237 opens today in limited release and is also available on VOD.]
Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining is about characters who are drawn into madness by their surroundings. Rodney Ascher‘s Room 237 is about film critics who are drawn into madness by The Shining. Films that offer up numerous interpretations are like crack to film critics. Movies that are so broad that any interpretation is valid are like bad crack, but a film like The Shining, a film helmed by a notoriously meticulous director and filled with unexplained mysteries and symbolism, is the best kind of film critic crack there is. Room 237 is both a celebration and pointed critique of film criticism. The movie shows how people can think big and expand their minds by thinking deeply and passionately. It also shows how our minds can run away from us and how we’ll twist a movie apart in order to fit our theory rather, and fail to realize that our argument is crazier than Jack Torrance.
It’s been over three decades since Stanley Kubrick released his classic horror film, The Shining, and viewers are still struggling to decipher its hidden meanings. In an entertaining deconstruction of one of the greatest horror movies of all time, Room 237 interviews five fans and scholars who each have wildly different theories. All are convinced they have decoded secret messages covering topics as disparate as Native Americans, Marshall McCluhan, genocide, government conspiracy, numerology, synchronicity, World War II and more.
At the recent press day, director Rodney Ascher and producer Tim Kirk talked about why The Shining continues to fascinate people, how Kubrick seemed to put everything in for a reason, how they see it as a puzzle that’s missing a few pieces, why they focused on the reactions of the audience and the way they put the pieces together rather than doing a behind-the-scenes style documentary, how they were surprised to find more connections than contradictions after combing through many hours of footage, the two big interviews that got away, why they’re interested in Stephen King’s reaction, and why there’s so much more that could be said including their own theories about The Shining. Hit the jump to read more.
We’ve got some new posters to share this morning. Briefly:
- After Earth – Jaden Smith has a little Jaden Smith in him in the new international poster for M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming sci-fi thriller, which also stars Will Smith. The film opens on June 7th.
- Grown Ups 2 – The first poster for this Adam Sandler sequel is appropriately lousy, as the person tasked with creating the one-sheet apparently only just learned Photoshop. The film opens on July 12th.
- Room 237 – The new poster for this documentary about the many theories surrounding Kubrick’s The Shining takes a cue from its subject. The film opens in limited release and VOD on March 29th.
- Tyler Perry’s Temptation – The latest Tyler Perry film takes the rather racy route in its new poster. The film stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Vanessa Williams, and Kim Kardashian and opens on March 29th.
- 42 – A few new posters for the upcoming Jackie Robinson biopic play up the film’s romance angle and highlight the pic’s cast. The film stars Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford and opens on April 12th.
Hit the jump for the posters and synopses.
One of my favorite films of Sundance 2012 was Rodney Ascher‘s documentary Room 237. The film examines Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining from the perspective of different critics as they try to tease out the subtext and hidden meanings from the 1980 horror movie. As I said in my review, Room 237 “shows how our minds can run away from us and how we’ll twist a movie apart in order to fit our theory, and not realize that our argument is crazier than Jack Torrance.” A new trailer for the film has been released, and sadly doesn’t show any of that. Instead, distributor IFC Midnight has chosen to make their trailer a play on the original trailer for The Shining, which is cute, but I don’t know how well it sells the movie.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer. Room 237 hits theaters and VOD on March 29th.
There’s a bit of silliness to a “Top 10″ list. It’s similar to giving letter grades to movies. We’re grading art, and trying to standardize a subjective appraisal. But perhaps the grade can be instructive. I always hope that my grade will guide you to read the full review, and then to the movie whether I liked it or not. I think people should see as many movies as possible, but I know that’s not realistic. Tickets cost too much, audiences are increasingly rude (I can’t remember the last time I went to a non-press or non-Drafthouse screening, and someone didn’t take out his or her cell phone), and the amount of entertainment options can be overwhelming. That’s where I think a Top 10 list matters. If you see only ten movies this year, these are the ones you should check out. I found them moving, funny, thoughtful, and enduring. I hope you’ll feel the same way.
Hit the jump for my Top 10 films of 2012. Please note that to make the list, the film had to receive a theatrical release in 2012. Click on the respective links for my Best of 2012, Top 10 Trailers, Dave’s Top 10 Films, and Adam’s Top 10 Films.
One of the best films I’ve seen this year is Room 237, and the first trailer has now gone online. Rodney Ascher‘s documentary uses Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining as the basis for a series of critiques where various critics try to untangle the film’s subtext by pointing out various “clues” littered around the picture. Some of the observations are fascinating while others are laughably pretentious. But Room 237 is more than just a movie about the The Shining. It’s about the art of criticism and how critics struggle to find subtext to support a thesis. The Shining provides an excellent basis for this exploration because of Kubrick’s reputation for meticulousness and the film’s established popularity so that there’s at least an agreement on the picture’s lasting influence.
The trailer doesn’t really explain any of this, and instead relies on review blurbs. I wonder if the trailer can’t use any footage from The Shining due to copyright claims, but the film gets away with it under Fair Use. In any event, hit the jump to check out the trailer for Room 237.
We’ve got quite a bit to get to in today’s Limited Paper, folks, and with Fantastic Fest 2012 still in full-swing, we don’t have a lot of time to get through it. In today’s writeup, we chat with frequent Mondo artist Tom Whalen (who has a brand-new, 80’s-themed gallery show co-headlined by Dave Perillo opening this Friday); we tell you when you can expect to learn and see more of Tyler Stout’s line of Mondo t-shirts (yup: incoming Stout interview!); and we take a look at all the Fantastic Fest posters Mondo is preparing to drop online tomorrow afternoon.
Yes, today’s Limited Paper is a spring-loaded, jam-packed, all-singing, all-dancing, primed-to-explode-directly-into-your-terrified-face extravaganza of awesome. See it all after the jump, folks.
Last week, we reported the line-up for the 2012 New York Film Festival, which included Life of Pi, Amour, and Flight. Today, they’ve added some more noteworthy movies including Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy and The Shining documentary Room 237 (click here for my review of Room 237). They’ve also added some special screenings including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a 25th Anniversary showing of The Princess Bride, and a must-see showing of the new, 8K restoration of David Lean‘s Lawrence of Arabia. The Lawrence restoration will be available nationwide on October 4th.
Hit the jump to check out the additions to the line-up. The 2012 New York Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 14th.
Last week, the Toronto International Film Festival announced their 2012 line-up for the Special Presentations and Galas programs. They’ve now announced their other line-ups including Midnight Madness and Documentaries as well as TIFF Kids, Vanguard, and Cinematheque. The Kids program only has four films, but two of them are Hotel Transylvania and Finding Nemo 3D. Vanguard, which is “international works that defy convention and ride on the pulse of cutting-edge cinema, includes the British remake of Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Pusher, the great Shining documentary Room 237, Michel Gondry‘s The We and the I, and Sightseers, the new film from Kill List director Ben Wheatley. Finally, Cinematheque is for the classic films and it includes the digital 3D presentation of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Dial M for Murder, and a 4K restoration of Roman Polanski‘s Tess.
Hit the jump for all the line-ups. The 2012 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6 – 16th.
I’m crossing my fingers I’ll be able to attend Fantastic Fest this year, because it’s one of the most exciting film festivals around. We previously reported that this year’s opening night flick would be the stop-motion animated adaptation of Frankenweenie, and now the full line-up is starting to be announced. Fantastic Fest usually announces its line-up in waves, and wave one has already got some big highlights for genre fans. There’s the hard R-rated Dredd, Quentin Dupieux‘s hilariously bizarre Wrong, and the excellent documentary Room 237, which is about The Shining. Oh, and they’ll also be showing The Shining (a movie that doesn’t need a prequel). Room 237 and The Shining would be a kick-ass double-feature, and I hope those movies will be played together (although I’m not sure which one I would choose to go first; probably Room 237 since it would cause the audience to start combing through the screening of The Shining).
Hit the jump for the first wave of announcements. Fantastic Fest 2012 runs from September 20 – 27th.
The 2012 Sundance Film Festival just ended and the Berlin Film Festival is about to get underway, so don’t expect the acquisition stories to slow down. As such, we’ve got two fresh acquisitions to share with you today. First up, IFC Films has picked up the Sundance documentary Room 237. The film examines the numerous theories surrounding the “real meaning” of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The doc was a big hit at the fest (you can read Matt’s review here), but many questioned the logistics of releasing it theatrically due to the fact that it’s comprised of footage from The Shining, which could possibly lead to legal entanglements. IFC’s acquisition is great news and I’m glad to see that us common folk will get a chance to check out the flick sometime soon.
Deadline reports that the film may screen in the New Directors/New Film series in New York, and it’s a likely bet for the Cannes Film Festival. IFC plans on releasing the pic domestically later this year through a day-and-date theatrical and VOD release. If you haven’t surmised from our previous acquisition stories, VOD is all the rage at the moment and is a likely staple in the future of film distribution. Hit the jump for acquisition news concerning Rob Reiner’s The Magic of Belle Isle.
Like I did last year, I had a great time at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s tough to complain about weather conditions or getting around when you have the privilege to watch and discover new movies all day. Even better, plenty of Sundance 2012 films turned out to be pretty damn good. For me, there weren’t any quite as excellent as Martha Marcy May Marlene or Project Nim from last year, but those movies set an incredibly high bar. Many of my peers felt they saw something truly special with Beasts of the Southern Wild and I can understand the love even if it didn’t hit me with as much emotional impact. Most of my peers also loved Liberal Arts and Sleepwalk With Me, and I’m sorry I missed those. But all in all, the festival ran as smoothly as last year, the volunteers (especially those in the press tent) were awesome, and it’s always a joy to hang out with people from other movie websites.
Hit the jump for my festival scorecard where you can see an organized list of my ratings for the movies I saw (although I highly encourage you to read the full review rather than just glance at a letter). While this is my wrap-up, Steve will be posting his Sundance interviews throughout the week so keep an eye out for those.
Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining is about characters who are drawn into madness by their surroundings. Rodney Ascher‘s Room 237 is about film critics who are drawn into madness by The Shining. Films that offer up numerous interpretations are like crack to film critics. Movies that are so broad that any interpretation is valid are like bad crack, but a film like The Shining, a film helmed by a notoriously meticulous director and filled with unexplained mysteries and symbolism, is the best kind of film critic crack there is. Room 237 is both a celebration and pointed critique of film criticism. The movie shows how people can think big and expand their minds by thinking deeply and passionately. It also shows how our minds can run away from us and how we’ll twist a movie apart in order to fit our theory rather and not realize that our argument is crazier than Jack Torrance.
Yesterday, Sundance announced the line-ups for the in-competition categories. Today, we’re moving into the out-of-competition films and just because they’re not competing for an award, doesn’t mean they won’t be great. Sundance has announced their line-ups for the Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, Next <=>, and New Frontier categories. There are a lot of exciting films in these categories, but I’m over the moon that Sundance will be getting The Raid. The movie got massive love coming out of TIFF this year, Sony Pictures Classics picked up the distribution rights, and I’m going to make sure there’s a spot for it in my Sundance schedule. Other noteworthy movies include Monsieur Lazhar, Wuthering Heights, and Black Rock (a horror film from The Freebie director Katie Aselton and her husband/Cyrus co-writer-director Mark Duplass).
Hit the jump for the line-ups. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 19 – 29th.