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VODetails: 'Room 237'

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by Matt Singer
March 29, 2013 10:07 AM
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"The Shining."
"The Shining."
More and more films premiere on Video on Demand -- if they don't simply bypass a theatrical release altogether. Because VOD reviews are often scarce and hard to find, Criticwire created VODetails, a recurring column to help you figure out whether a new VOD release is worth your hard-earned dollar. This time we're looking at "Room 237," a documentary about Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" -- not a spinoff of the popular late '60s television show "Room 222."

Director: Rodney Ascher

Criticwire Average: B+ (74 critics)

Official Synopsis: "After the box office failure of 'Barry Lyndon,' Stanley Kubrick decided to embark on a project that might have more commercial appeal. 'The Shining,' Stephen King’s biggest critical and commercial success yet, seemed like a perfect vehicle. After an arduous production, Kubrick’s film received a wide release in the summer of 1980; the reviews were mixed, but the box office, after a slow start, eventually picked up. End of story? Hardly. In the 30 years since the film’s release, a considerable cult of 'Shining' devotees has emerged, fans who claim to have decoded the film’s secret messages addressing everything from the genocide of Native Americans to a range of government conspiracies. Rodney Ascher’s wry and provocative 'Room 237' fuses fact and fiction through interviews with cultists and scholars, creating a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of Kubrick’s still-controversial classic."

Trailer:


Reviews:

Scott Tobias, NPR:

"Stands as a thrilling testament to the fact that art is -- and should be -- open to interpretation."

Mary Pols, Time:

"A love story about movies and their meanings."

Manohla Dargis, New York Times:

"An ode to movie love at its most deliriously unfettered."

Tim Grierson, Deadspin:

"Will make you love 'The Shining' all over again."

Christopher Campbell, Movies.com:

"Like 'Slacker' mixed with any DVD commentary by a film critic."

Brian OrndorfBlu-ray.com:

"A fascinating study of 'The Shining' and all the real and imagined secrets these interviewees have spent the greater part of the their lives obsessing over."

Matt Singer, ScreenCrush:

"More about the interpretation of all movies than just the interpretation of 'The Shining.'"

Kevin Kelly, Film School Rejects:

"I imagine double features of this movie followed by 'The Shining' itself will become popular late-night showings."

Jonathan Rosenbaum, JonathanRosenbaum.com:

"At once entertaining and reprehensible."

Armond White, CityArts:

"An embarrassment to the intellectually ambitious Kubrick."

"Room 237" is now playing in limited release and available on VOD and iTunes.

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