Movie Review: 'Room 237' -- 3 stars
One of the great pleasures of moviegoing is to watch an interesting flick with friends and discuss it afterward. Certain movies linger and expand in the mind and simply demand dissection.
The documentary "Room 237" is the cinematic version of one of those post-movie sessions. The subject in this case is "The Shining," Stanley Kubrick's haunting horror masterpiece about a writer (Jack Nicholson) who loses his grip on sanity over the course of a long, dead winter spent looking after a hotel with his wife (Shelly Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd).
Using footage from the movie as evidence, documentarian Rodney Ascher spotlights different speakers who express theories about the meaning of Kubrick's enigmatic work.
These range from intriguing possibilities (the film as a coded depiction of Native American travails) to conspiratorial madness, as when one interviewee maintains that the film is Kubrick's acknowledgment that he helped fake the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Ascher's speakers extract their explanations from the smallest, most obscure details -- a can of baking soda here, a phallic symbol there. It's quite possible that none of their ideas are correct and that Kubrick would have laughed at the venture. But like any great puzzle, "The Shining" is a lot of fun to try and solve.