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One of the key signs of a classic is that there are agreed to be more than one level of meaning, so that that the work in question declines to give up its secrets at a single viewing. Rodney Ascher’s documentary on Kubrick’s famous horror film The Shining proceeds from this assumption. He has managed to find five contrasting commentators who each of them give us their subtly different “take” on the movie. We are invited to weigh up these different readings, and to decide, in each case, whether they are reasonable, or far-fetched.
Room 237 is not, however, your usual documentary collection of “talking heads”. The arguments come to us instead in concrete visual form as part of an endlessly playful meditation on the movie. Extracts from other famous films add their own extra layer of comment. Ascher has an exceptionally wide knowledge of cinema history, and it is fascinating to see the way he uses passages from these movies to cement Kubrick’s connection with the great European tradition of the uncanny and the sublime.
Rodney Ascher is an US american director/editor. He is the winner of the 2012 Fantastic Fest Award for Best Director, Documentary and the 2012 IDA Creative Achievement Award for Best Editing. Working with producer Vernon Chatman, he edited Andy Kaufman’s forthcoming comedy album Andy and His Grandmother. Previous work includes numerous independent shorts (including the infamous The S From Hell) as well as TV commercials, internet quickies, and music videos (in his most recent he killed Matt & Kim and Soulja Boy and Andrew WK). Not so recently, he curated PHOTO-FICTIONS, a show of narrative photography at the Show Cave Night Gallery.