Saturday, January 08, 2011
#25: Four Rooms
It is a minor milestone of 25 movies today so I thought why not pick a favorite director movie. While that narrowed the choice to a few, I didn't take much time narrowing down to Quentin Tarantino because I had bought Four Rooms some time back and was yet to see it.
Four Rooms is a collection of four segments of stories that take place in an hotel. The segments are written and directed by Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez and QT. The stories have a common link and that's Ted the Bellboy played by Tim Roth who's summoned by guests in each of these four rooms at different times for certain errands. As often in movies that have a collection of stories, one ends up comparing the stories to each other to see which one really stood out. Four Rooms makes this choice simple for the viewer because the movie begins with the worst story and ends with the best. And in this, credit particularly needs to be reserved for old-time partners-in-movies Robert Rodriguez and Tarantino-who wrote and directed their segments titled The Misbehavers and The Man from Hollywood respectively.
Both these stories last for not more than 20-25 minutes each, begin with interesting premises, build up an interesting plot point and have an ending that will surely excite you. QT's story in particular is layered with multiple references to Hollywood, have the trademark long dialogues and signature camera-on-rotate shots that one is so used to as a fan but never, not for a single minute bored with. QT excels as director Chester Rush from Hollywood in this segment along with Bruce Willis who has a cameo. It's interesting to note that Bruce's name doesn't appear in the credits because he did his part for free and the Screen Actors Guild agreed not to sue him if his name didn't appear in credits (from the friendly trivia section of Imdb.com). Robert Rodriguez does well with a pair of kids in his stories and Antonio Banderas playing the role of a Mexican husband who takes his duties as a father of the kids and a husband really seriously.
Since Tim Roth is the one binding factor across all the segments, you might not want to miss his performance which is a complete contrast from some of the other characters he's played in Quentin Tarantino movies. The first two stories are mediocre compared to the last two. Though they try to be a bit whacky in their treatment, they end up being a bit flimsy. It's not difficult to see why Robert Rodriguez and Tarantino have better filmographies than Allison Anders and Alexandre Rockwell - it's almost like the difference between seasoned players and the rookies in a sporting season. Having said that, Four Rooms won't disappoint you. It's the kind of fare that might not be worth a second viewing but it's surely worth a first.