As a few may know, I'm a something of a fan of Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING. Okay, I can lip-sync the entire film, and even though I don't often cite it among my three or four all-time favorite films, I've probably seen it more times than almost of those cinematic masterpieces combined.
So several months ago, when I first heard about a documentary that would delve into a fistful of creepy and creative conspiracy theories relating to that classic chiller, I was intrigued. There aren't many non-fiction films that become "must-see" for me, but this was certainly one of them.
But after finally getting the opportunity to soak it all in, I have to say...I was mildly disappointed by ROOM 237. Not one of the premises posed really grabbed me. It wasn't simply a matter of being far-fetched (such as connecting the film to the faking of the moon landing); it was more a general feeling of "Is that all you've got?" I found myself mumbling "Really?" and sighing far more than anything approximating a positive reaction.
After a while, I grew weary of both the well spoken intellectuals and wing nuts that must have been conceived on a grassy knoll, and the clips from a thousand films stitched together to form the visual narrative annoyed me more than entertained me. Sometimes talking heads are preferable to using footage that isn't half as clever as the filmmakers seemed to believe it was.
I also realized I could easily concoct one on the spot that would be just as plausible as any featured in this film.
Like how about...THE SHINING is really all an analogy for the hardships of Jackie Robinson and the Dodger organization abandoning Brooklyn for Los Angeles. I can give just as many reasons to support that as the Holocaust theory. The preponderance of the number 42, the uprooting of a family to a strange and alien place, and then there's what happens to the Scatman...
Sounds ridiculous? Of course it is...but it's not any more loopy or loony than the theories espoused throughout ROOM 237. And I only plucked this out of my posterior five minutes ago!
However, I will say I enjoyed all the continuity errors, gaffes and Easter Eggs uncovered throughout this film. Besides that, my favorite part had to be superimposing the film over itself: playing THE SHINING backwards and forwards together was pretty goddamned awesome, resulting in some amazing juxtapositions. I do wonder if one only uses ONE soundtrack, or has them BOTH playing over each other.
Many a diehard fan of Kubrick will be willing to sit through all sorts of nonsense for an examination of this film as well as references to all his other films. And for those hardcore cineastes -- by all means check out (or should I say "check into") ROOM 237. But despite my love of the man's work, I just can't quite give this my seal of approval. I guess I just didn't take "a shine" to this flick.
And yes, that previous sentence is worse than anything in ROOM 237.