Dec 21, 2016

[Movies] Four Rooms (1995)

While Netflix has proven to be more and more of a contender in the original programming department, I do appreciate how the iFlix content library has more titles and a greater range of options. And given how Tobie and I haven't had cable TV in years, I find myself going back into the habit of using iFlix for scratching that desire to watch a movie at random more and more.

Our latest venture ended up being Four Rooms, a somewhat older gem that I was too young to appreciate or really know about at the time of its release. Its main claim to fame is how it's not really just one movie but actually four different stories told by four different directors contained in a single movie.

They tie everything together with the setting (the hotel) and the lead character of sorts, but everything else is sort of out the window. But how this all comes together made for a clever, unique movie experience the likes of which I've yet to see in more recent movie releases.

Synopsis: Four Rooms is an America anthology comedy movie written and directed by Alison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino. The four stories depicted in the movie as rooms are all loosely based on the adult short fiction work of Roald Dahl.

The movie takes place at a hotel known as the Hotel Mon Signor in Los Angeles. Ted (Tim Roth) is the bellhop at the hotel and his encounters with the guests of various rooms represent the four stories of the movie. The Honeymoon Suite has a coven of witches trying to bring back their goddess. Room 404 has a tense hostage situation involving Sigfried (David Porval) and his wife Angela (Jennifer Beals). Room 309 has a husband (Antonio Banderas) and his wife (Tamlyn Tomita) leaving their kids under the care of Ted while the enjoy their evening. And the Penthouse contains the Man from Hollywood and a rather risky bet.

Ted has a bit of his own story between the room sessions that acts as a framing device for things. But it's not all that involving - you're really here to see what goes one behind those closed doors.

What I Liked: Tim Roth was scary brilliant in this movie and totally different from his later TV roles like how he was on Lie to Me. I did not expect him to be all that crazy funny in the physical comedy department. Plus even his mannerism and demeanor as the bellhop was funny as heck as well. So yeah, huzzah for acting range indeed.

Of the four stories I'll admit that I enjoyed the first one with the witches the most. It was definitely more peculiar but the overall impact was pretty brilliant and Roth played off the witches quite well there. The Man from Hollywood wasn't too bad either, but I'll admit that my appreciation for the story had more to do with being familiar with the original Roald Dahl short story that this segment had been based on.

What Could Have Been Better: Not all four stories were equally enjoyable. The second piece involving the husband holding his wife hostage because reasons. It just didn't grip me and I never felt all that involved. The third story with the kids also felt like it had odd pacing and it didn't quite go as far as expected. But at least the twist at the end was quite rewarding.

The premise of the hotel has a framing device worked well enough I suppose but there was still that feeling of disconnection as things didn't quite flow all that well from one room-based story to another. And maybe this is also why not many folks have attempted similar anthology movies.

TL;DR: I think I appreciate Four Rooms more as an experimental endeavor than for its subject matter precisely. Like in any short story anthology, each tale is sort of hit or miss and some you will like and some you won't - you may not agree with which stories rose to the top for you. Thus the movie gets a decent rating of 3.5 hijinks that Ted gets into out of a possible 5.

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