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It's a pity that the critics gave 'Four Rooms' as hard a time as they
did back in 1995, because, for everything that can be said to be wrong
with it, it really does sparkle with creativity and a desire to stand
out from the rest of the crowd. And let's face it, there was enough
popular talent involved, including Alison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell,
Robert Rodriguez and, last but not least, Quentin Tarantino, for it to
have been hailed as an instant cult classic. Instead, it was bashed
into submission and retreated very quickly to the back of nearly
everyone's resume. With retrospect most of this reproach was probably
ill-deserved - 'Four Rooms' does have its blatant moments of weakness,
but then again so do a lot of the more half-baked cookie-cutter
comedies which have somehow garnered more admiration than this. On the
whole it's a very unusual and interesting combination - an offbeat,
frisky and strangely feel-good comedy with some sinister undertones and
lots of weird, intricate little details. Consisting of four 20-minute
segments, each assembled by a different director's hands, it takes us
through the various happenings inside separate rooms of the same hotel
on New Year's Eve, as experienced by Ted, the only bellhop still left
standing for the night shift. There is the slight feeling of
inconsistency in moving from one directing style to the next, and a
couple of attempts to interconnect the segments are a little
self-contradictory. Some of it works and some it doesn't, but the end
result is an episodic anthology that, if nothing too spectacular, still
proves itself to be very likable in the long run.
'The Missing Ingredient' and 'the Wrong Man' are often credited with constituting the weaker half of the film, and I can't really say I disagree. 'The Missing Ingredient' tries hard to be risqué, but falls pretty short - for a story concerning a coven of bare-breasted witches trying to extract an unwilling man's semen for use in a ritual, it's remarkably innocuous and fluffy, and the visual effects only add a layer of tackiness to boot. 'The Wrong Man' is a tad more snappy and sports some stylish direction (the shot where Sigfried grabs the ringing telephone is right-on), but is ultimately swallowed up in its frenzied editing. We can vaguely understand what's happening in this segment (if not, then Ted does drop a pretty big hint later on in the film), but it makes itself unnecessarily incoherent, with bizarre imagery that adds nothing but extra confusion (the baby flashback, anyone?). It's almost as though Alexandre Rockwell isn't sure whether he wants us to be in on the whole set-up with Sigfried and Angela, or confused and in the dark like Ted, and in the end tries to accommodate both perspectives, which doesn't really wash.
It's once we reach the second half that the true quality really starts to seep its way in, and the film suddenly becomes very rewarding. 'The Misbehaviours' is a spirited little contribution that combines a moderate dose of macabre darkness with its cartoon-like innocence. Antonio Banderas certainly hits a good spot as the no-nonsense father who appoints Ted to keep an eye on his two young children while he's out, whilst the children themselves are rebellious but not irritating, all making for a surprisingly sharp and sophisticated slice of knockabout. 'The Man from Hollywood', meanwhile, is equally brilliant - Tarantino's vibrant, well-scripted take on Roald Dahl's chilling short story, 'the Man from the South', which pits Ted in the same room as cocky Hollywood director Chester Rush (and it's always a treat to see Quentin himself tackle such a winking, self-depreciating role). It manages to be tense and enjoyable, with the usual smart direction that any Tarantino fan should be able to appreciate. Overall, there's enough vitality in these particular segments to just about redeem the shakiness of the first half.
Besides, we have Tim Roth playing our hapless protagonist throughout, and, yes, that is a lot. He proves himself to be very capable in a comic performance, bringing enough gentle magnetism to his character Ted the bellhop, through his good intentions, perseverance and various neurotic mannerisms, to get us genuinely attached to him. It is hard not to come away with the impression that all four directors had a slightly different take on Ted's disposition - he goes from being timid and impressionable to obtuse and jumpy, then highly-strung and a little devious, and finally composed and relatively rational - but Roth does well in single-handedly bridging these gaps and, with the many mishaps his character has to endure over the course of the night, ensures that all changes in temper seem understandable. He retains his good-natured lovability for the entire running time, and, for anyone who can really relate to poor Ted (like yours truly), he'll have you rooting for him to the very satisfying end.
To my knowledge, there was never any other film quite like 'Four Rooms' and, judging by just how unwelcome this one was made to feel when it arrived, there probably won't be another for quite some time. It remains an ambitious and not entirely successful little sleeper, but has a good deal going for it nonetheless, and I urge all fans of Tarantino, Rodriguez and Roth in particular not to be put off by the bad press and to give it a chance. Who knows? One day, it might just make a fresh start and find the cult audience that appreciates it yet.
I'm sad to say "Four rooms" is just another excellent movie that's been
criticized way too much. This rather a splendid and incredibly funny little
film starts from quite amusing title sequence and gets better with every
segment. As almost all of us can say the first one called "The Missing
Ingredient" is more or less a disappointment and if you watch "Four rooms"
for the first time I can practically swear that the film is only getting
started. Second segment "The Wrong man" is already much better. David Proval
who played Richie Aprile in the television series "The Sopranos" is just
bloody terrific. "The Misbehavers" (segment number three starring Antonio
Banderas and directed by Robert Rodriguez) provides some of the most
irresistible stuff of the movie.
And what's nicest, they save the best as last. Final segment "The Man from the Hollywood" is already a bit of a masterpiece and once again it shows so clearly how ingenious writer/actor/director Quentin Tarantino is. Oscar from "Pulp Fiction" alone tells that he has an unbelievable talent to create amazing dialogue that truly entertains. I adore this fourth part of the film very much, sometimes I've been watching only it. I know many people are thinking Tim Roth is ridiculously overacting his role of the bellhop but I can't and simply won't agree on that one. In my opinion he makes a stylish and heart-warming tribute to Jerry Lewis and in the same time proofs he's a talented, clever and downright hilarious comedian who doesn't overact even half as much as for example Jim Carrey. "Four rooms" is an underrated future's cult classic.
I really don't understand why this movie got such bad reviews! Overall, this is a creative and refreshing movie. It is not Pulp Fiction but it is still a good performance. Tim Roth, especially, is the best thing in the film. Out of the four I like Robert Rodguize's misbehavior the best. The missing ingredient was indeed a bit cheesy but the rest are still above average performance. If you are interested in this movie but discouraged by the movie critics, I ensure you that you won't regret seeing it.
It's impossible to analyze this film without breaking it down into its
segments for separate comment. It would also be improper, since it was
intended to be anything less than an anthology from four notable
filmmakers: Alexandre Rockwell, Alison Anders, Robert Rodriguez, and
The first episode is exactly the sort of thing that someone in a high school drama production would want to do, but can't get away with in a high school drama production. It's juvenile, unfunny, and lifeless, but it has the (pointless) nudity and lines of dialogue like:
Witch #1: "I am your mother."
Witch #2: "Then why are we sleeping together?"
that sound like the screenwriter is giggling and thinking, "I can't believe I'm getting away with this! I'm so clever!"
Nothing is at stake in the first episode; it's generally expected that a story must have conflict in order to BE a story. This has none. Just some half-baked jokes and a pair of topless women (If I wanted that, I'd skip renting a movie and go out instead.)
Second episode is a hair better, but you'll find yourself crying "Why doesn't Ted the Bellboy do [insert plot resolution here] and get the bloody hell out of there!" When it finally does end, you're disheartened to find that it had no reason to exist. Two snips with a pair of scissors, a bit of tape, and we wouldn't know the difference. Roll opening credits, go straight to the Rodriguez segment.
Third episode has some structural support to keep it from caving in on itself. The surprise in the middle (I won't give it away, don't worry) is horrifying enough to give the segment some heft. Rodriguez and his d.p., Guillermo Navarro, move it along dexterously and (as usual) have a good handle on visual comedy.
The last segment is the best. I think it's safe to say that Quentin Tarantino has, officially, never disappointed me as a director or screenwriter. My heart leapt as soon as I heard his trademark dialogue coming from the lips of Marisa Tomei as "Four Rooms" segued from "The Misbehavers" to "The Man From Hollywood." I wasn't sure if his take on Ted the Bellhop's misadventures was going to be any good, but I knew that if he wrote it and helmed it, it wasn't going to be all bad.
What a pleasant surprise (still just talking about the fourth segment here). This part of the movie, with its ridiculous premise (lifted form an old Hitchcock episode, which it acknowledges out loud), moves along speedily, and the actors take to it as naturally as any other movies by Q.T. Basically playing himself, Tarantino is hilarious. If anything, he knows A) how people really act when they're drunk (i.e. not like Dudley Moore caricatures) B) why people think he's so obnoxious, like a real-life, fast-talking Jar Jar Binks and C) how to put some bang in his visual storytelling. It's low-rent Tarantino, don't get me wrong, but it's also the best part of "Four Rooms."
All in all, the first film I've ever seen that starts out with a loathsome, horrifying badness, gets incrementally better with each passing fifteen minutes, and ends as good as one would like. Just don't make me watch it again.
"Four Rooms" is far more entertaining than you would expect from its
generally negative reviews. Which is not to say that any of it is a
masterpiece but if you enjoyed "Love American Style" on television and
are not put off by a raunchy take on that anthology concept you should
make an effort to view this film. Each story is taking place in a
different room of a hotel the same night. It was made between the time
Tarantino made "Pulp Fiction" and worked on "Dusk Till Dawn" with
Rodriquez. Many in the large cast are Tarantino and Rodriquez regulars.
Here are a few of the reasons to watch each of the four stories:
"The Missing Ingredient" - Madona has simply never looked better and her "come get me" dress will burn your eyeballs. Alicia Witt plays her stock alienated teen and delivers sarcasm as only she can.
"The Wrong Man" Alexander Rockwell directed this segment shortly after directing "In the Soup" so he already knew how to get the most out of Jennifer Beals. Her diatribe about Ted's sex organ is a cinema classic.
"The Misbehavers" Rodriquez directs his favorite actor Antonio Banderas in something that is a throwback to classic Laurel and Hardy. Not only do his two kids misbehave when left alone in their hotel room, but their misbehavior is so comprehensive that the closing shot reveals a room of total anarchy. It is wonderful slapstick on a huge scale, with comic timing worthy of the Laural and Hardy and the Marx Brothers.
"The Man From Hollywood" This has the best script with Tarantino reserving the best stuff for his own character. He even reprises the "tasty beverage" line from "Pulp Fiction. Beals has already found her way to this room by the time bellboy Roth arrives and she delivers more good lines. I was impressed that Tarantino built up his suspense "before" the contest began and then did not try to extend the suspense but ended things on the first attempt.
The best bit in the whole film might be Roth's phone call to his boss. Marisa Tomei answers the phone in a room full of comatose post-New Years Eve partygoers. She then does a version of her "My Cousin Vinnie" expert witness routine, this time concerning types of handguns. In the foreground the entire time are the only other conscious (but totally stoned) inhabitants of the room. They are playing against each other in a video game. One just stares in stunned fascination at the screen, holding the controller but not using it as the other player maniacally manipulates his controller throughout the entire phone conversation.
Four Rooms was concocted like one of those many, many collaborative
efforts from directors in the 60's and 70's (i.e. The Witches,
Ro.Go.PaG, Boccaccio '70, etc), except this would revolve around a
bell-hop on New Years Eve. It disqualifies itself as being any kind of
masterpiece or classic in independent film-making, and sometimes the
filmmakers (Alison Anders, Robert Rodriguez, and Alexandre Rockwell,
and Quentin Tarantino, the last two also serving as executive producer)
look like they're relishing too much in their (limited) clout and
exuberance to concentrate. As was with many others who viewed the film,
I found that the first two segments were the lesser ones, and the last
two were the best ones. It all comes down, in this case, to which two
were funnier. So, let's break each one down:
Allison Anders' film is a quirky, quasi-lesbian take on a coven of witches, featuring the likes of Madonna and Lily Taylor, are the first to shake up (perhaps for the better in this one) Ted the bell-hop. Ted, by the way, is played with a continuous, nervous-type of fervor that goes from being innocuous, to annoying, and then acceptable again. It's also interesting to see how his character goes through different motions when under each director (for example, in Rodriguez's film he's more of a cartoon-type of character, and in Tarantino's film he hearkens slightly to his previous collaborations with the director, quieter, on edge in a particular way). Some of the laughs are surrounded by a kind of attitude put forth by the director that seems a little off. Maybe I'm the wrong audience for it, though- the women in the audience may appreciate it, or rather amused by it, more than I. I give it a B-
Alexandre Rockwell's The Wrong Man is my least favorite of the bunch, as Ted gets stuck with a couple of crazed fetishists (David Proval and Jennifer Beals). The problem here lies with two things- the fact that the comedic timing/chemistry is a little iffy/off with the three actors, and that the writing doesn't come off like it's naturally funny. When Beals' character Angela runs off about Ted's private parts, this could be funny, but it's more 'ho-ho' than 'ha-ha' to me. Some of the tension from Roth brings some laughs, but not enough to compensate the uncomfortable atmosphere around the whole segment. I give it a C-
The third segment, The Misbehaviors, displays how clever and quick Rodriguez can be with physical comedy (slapstick) as well as in getting laughs from kids (as he did here and there in his Spy Kids movies). It is also a boost that the whole segment comes off as though it's like a live-action Looney Tunes short- it's so ridiculous that in some scenes I burst out laughing (i.e. Ted's reaction to the corpse). The set-up with the parents was also amusing in how Banderas and Tamlyn Tomita act towards the kids. Then the pay-off knocks it out of the park. Grade: A
Then we come to the closure, featuring the indie wunderkind at the time, Tarantino, as he takes on two sources of inspiration- Rohald Dahl's "Man from the South" short story, later translated through Alfred Hitchcock's television show. It's a smart, hip little piece of Hollywood satire from Tarantino, as he himself plays an overly obnoxious Hollywood filmmaker, with two guys by his side (Paul Calderon and Bruce Willis), as they take a gamble right after the stroke of midnight. It took me a couple of time to watch this to really get into it, but when I did it was even more promising. The camera-work in the scene (via 'Dogs' and 'Pulp' cinematographer Andrzej Sekula) is deliberately paced, and it's perfectly leisurely for the pace of the last segment. That much, if not all, of the dialog is funny it's because of the skill and chemistry between the four of them. Plus, a little prologue with Marisa Tomei and Kathy Griffin gives the indication of what insanity is in store. Grade- A.
So, is this film a success? For it's time, I'm not sure. With the power of four million off the success of each director's previous efforts (Tarantino with 'Dogs', Rodriguez with El Mariachi, Anders with Gas, Food, and Lodging, and Rockwell with In the Soup, all from the 92 Sundance place), they did whatever they wanted, and it's not the success it could've been. On the other hand, when one looks at the films in perspective, it could've been a lot worse, and it wasn't. At the least, it works as one of the quintessential party movies for fans of the 90's "new-wave" crop.
I really don't understand why this film hasn't got a better rating. I mean, it's got everything: Women, cars, weapons, alcohol and Tarantino. It's just style itsself which made this film. Seriously, Tim Roth is so damn good in this film, his acting, his expressions and his behavior, all is perfect. You can have a good laugh about without even following the storyline (which is worth doing that, but anyway). The film is profound and the and the different parts of it are linked. Great film.
Four Rooms, the 4 part directed, 4 part written mix-matched movie turns out to be an awesome combination. With Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino working on this film, you seem to expect a trigger-happy film festival with plenty of bombs and explosives to spare. But what the final product turns out to be is a laugh-out-loud comedy which follows a bellhop's mishaps one night as he scrambles to keep his hotel in order. Tim Roth is always a great performer and in this movie there is no difference. Kudos indeed.
Four Rooms (1995/Allison Anders; Alexandre Rockwell; Robert Rodriguez;
**1/2 out of ****
Welcome to the Mon Signor Hotel! Once a major hang out spot for movie stars of the 30's, 40's and first part of the 50's, it is now an out of date fire hazard, and it is falling apart! But on New Years Eve, a new bellhop will have the craziest night of his life in this very hotel.
When I was thinking of Tarantino flicks to purchase, "Four Rooms" came to my mind. At first I was hesitant, and for good reason. After all, I had read nothing but bad reviews for this film. But what I found in it was a bizarre little comedy that wasn't so bad after all.
"Four Rooms" is an anthology film with four 'episodes' about a fading hotel on News Years Eve, and with a quirky bellhop named Ted (Tim Roth) and his misadventures on this one crazy night. The first episode entitled "The Missing Ingredient" is about a group of witches staying in the hotel who need some sperm in order to complete a spell. And guess who knocks on the door...Ted the bellhop! The next episode, "The Wrong Man" is a shorter episode about Ted getting mistaken for another man. This is certainly the strangest of the episodes. Then next comes the hilarious "The Misbehavers". Ted is asked to babysit two kids of a Mexican gangster (Antonio Banderas in a parody of himself), and how everything possible can go wrong. And the final episode, "The Man From Hollywood" (the best) is directed by Quentin Tarantino. It is about a cocky Hollywood new-comer (Tarantino also in a parody of himself) who rents out the Penthouse for New Years Eve, and then plays a dangerous game that ends the film in a very funny way.
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with this film. After reading all the bad reviews, I was afraid I wouldn't like this it, but it wasn't as bad as they said. Rent it if your curious or bored, but don't buy it expecting it to be like other Tarantino films. Not bad, not great, just average.
As though Mr. Bean wasn't tiresome enough, this film puts Tim Roth into a
role with the same sort of inane physical comedy, and it is painful to
watch. All his foppish affectations are utterly unfunny, but at least it
helps keep the movie consistent.
The only bright spot is the third segment, directed by Robert Rodriguez, so if you stay awake that long, check it out. Antonio Banderas is surprisingly good, and the whole segment has a great way of piling on the complications to create a chaotic ending.
The fourth segment will make you puke, watching Tarantino thinking he can act. the worst thing about that is that he's also the director, so he gives himself plenty of screen time. Notice during his monologue to Tim Roth, the camera never once leaves his face! Obviously, he's got rather a high opinion of his execrable acting abilities. Lucky for him he's a director, otherwise he'd never appear on film. Oh, how I wish it were so.
Then there's the plot. Stolen from a Hitchcock story which was stolen from a Roald Dahl story. They do acknowledge the Hitchcock thing, but it's merely a not-so-clever ploy to try and disguise the fact that he didn't even come up with a story, but used some previously reheated leftovers from 30 years ago. There are no twists whatsoever on the Hitchcock theme that Tarantino describes. So, bad enough you have to endure his "acting," but you don't even get a good tale out of it.
So all in all, a terrible film. Fast forward to the third story, and you can safely skip the rest.
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