Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Four Rooms is an anthology comedy film about a bellboy who works on his first day during New Year’s Eve where he would encounter all sorts of strange things in four different rooms. With segments written and directed by Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino, the film explores a crazy day in the life of a new bellhop named Ted that is played by Tim Roth. Also starring Antonio Banderas, Madonna, Valeria Golino, Jennifer Beals, Ione Skye, Lili Taylor, Alicia Witt, Tamlyn Tomita, Paul Calderon, Sammi Davis, Marisa Tomei, and Bruce Willis. Four Rooms is a whimsical yet chaotic anthology-comedy from Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino.
It’s New Year’s Eve as a bellhop named Ted is working in his first day at the Hotel Mon Signor. For his first assignment in The Missing Ingredient (Allison Anders), a coven of witches take the honeymoon suite to create a potion in hopes of freeing a woman (Amanda deCadenet) who had been a statue for 40 years. When one of the young witches in Eva (Ione Skye) is unable to get one special ingredient, Ted is called upon to help Eva get the ingredient. Later that night, Ted is asked to bring ice to a room where a party’s going on. In The Wrong Man (Alexandre Rockwell), Ted enters a room where a man (David Proval) holds his wife Angela (Jennifer Beals) hostage to confront her about a possible affair where Ted is mistaken to be Angela’s lover.
Following that troubled encounter, Ted is then called to do his next job in The Misbehaviors (Robert Rodriguez) where he’s asked by a man (Antonio Banderas) to watch for his kids (Danny Verduzco and Lana McKissack) for the night as the man and his wife (Tamlyn Tomita) go to a New Year’s party. Ted is getting calls from the kids about strange demands while the kids later complain about a strange smell in the room where they discover the source of the smell. Following that incident, Ted tries to reach his boss Betty (Kathy Griffin) about the things he’s been dealing with as he has to finish one more assignment for the night. In The Man from Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino), Ted brings some things to filmmaker Chester Rush (Quentin Tarantino) for a party that includes Angela, a friend named Norman (Paul Calderon), and Leo (Bruce Willis) about a bet based on a episode from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour that involves Chester’s car and Norman’s pinky where Ted has to play a key role in the bet.
The film is essentially a collection of stories about a crazy first day for a bellhop who encounters four very strange events as they all become more out of control as time goes on. All of it is largely told from the perspective of this young bellhop who has no idea what’s in store for him in the course of a crazy day. Particularly as it’s on New Year’s Eve where everybody is partying and there’s brief inserts that help sets up each story. There, this young man named Ted would be involved crazy events involving a coven of witches, a fighting couple, misbehaving kids, and a filmmaker with a crazy proposition all of which would tempt Ted with money.
In the first segment by Allison Anders, Ted plays to the service of a group of very strange yet eccentric witches who are creating a potion to revive someone yet there’s a lot trouble ensues. Anders’ direction is very playful as she also employs some fun editing schemes by Margaret Goodspeed and Rodrigo Garcia’s bright and colorful cinematography. It’s a segment that doesn’t take itself seriously as it opens the film in a nice start. The weakest segment belongs to Alexandre Rockwell where it has an interesting premise but ends up dragging the film where it involves a lot of strange moments and hijinks that don’t work such as a scene where Ted is stuck between a bathroom window. With editing by Elena Maganini and photography by Phil Parmet, it’s the one segment that doesn’t really get the chance to stand out due to its weak script and lackluster direction.
Robert Rodriguez’s segment is clearly the best one due to the shenanigans of the children where they smoke, drink, and watch all sorts of things where Rodriguez really captures the energy of kids misbehaving. With Rodriguez serving as his own editor and Guillermo Navarro providing some amazing camera work, it’s a segment that really captures the antics of children in all of its insanity that is followed by a very funny insert involving a stoned woman (Marisa Tomei) and a sleepy hotel owner. This would then lead to the final segment from Quentin Tarantino that is the most stylistic segment of the film. Largely due to the few long-takes Tarantino uses for the scene along with some amazing compositions courtesy of cinematographer Andrzej Sekula along with the methodical editing of Sally Menke. Tarantino’s segment ends the film on a high note as the overall work is a very funny and off-the-wall anthology comedy.
Production designer Gary Frutkoff, along with set decorator Sara Andrews and art director Mayne Berke, does superb work with the set pieces to give each room a distinctive look and feel for each segment. Costume designers Susan L. Bertram and Mary Claire Hannan do excellent work in the costumes from the dresses the witches wear to the party clothes the other characters wear along with Ted‘s uniform. Sound designer Lance Brown, along with sound editors Bruce Fortune and Victor Iorillo, does terrific work with the sound to capture the craziness that goes on in each room. The music by Combustible Edison is wonderful for its playful score that adds to the humor of the film as the rest of the soundtrack features a couple of stuff by Esquivel that plays to some of the craziness of the film.
The casting by Russell Gray is brilliant for the ensemble that is created for this anthology film. For The Missing Ingredient, there’s fantastic performances from Madonna, Valeria Golino, Sammi Davis, and Lili Taylor as the four eccentric and experienced witches along with a quirky one from Alicia Witt as the daughter of one of the witches. Amanda deCadenet is terrific in her appearance as the goddess Diana while Ione Skye is superb as the young witch Eva. From The Wrong Man, there’s a funny appearance from producer Lawrence Bender as a drunk yuppie along with Paul Skemp in a small role as a partygoer. David Proval is pretty good as the angry husband Siegfried while Jennifer Beals is excellent as Siegfried’s wife Angela who also appears in The Man from Hollywood.
From The Misbehaviors, there’s an appearance from Salma Hayek as the dancing woman on the TV while Tamlyn Tomita is very good as the wife. Antonio Banderas is amazing as the very intimidating husband while Danny Verduzco and Lana McKissack are wonderful as the two troublesome kids. From the insert between the last two segments, Marisa Tomei is hilarious as the stoned partygoer while Kathy Griffin is pretty good as Ted’s boss Betty. From The Man from Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino is very funny as the talkative Chester Rush while Paul Calderon is solid in a small role as Norman. Bruce Willis is also very funny in an un-credited performance as Chester’s friend Leo. Finally, there’s Tim Roth in a marvelous performance as Ted the bellhop where Roth gets to show a lot of wit and physicality into his role as a bellhop working on his first day on the job where Roth really gets the chance to be funny.
While it is a flawed film, Four Rooms is still a very entertaining anthology comedy from Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Allison Anders, and Alexandre Rockwell. While the film features some great segments from Tarantino and Rodriguez along with a good one from Anders. Only the Rockwell segment is the one that drags the film as a whole though things do pick up after that segment. In the end, Four Rooms is a stellar anthology comedy that features a crazy story in the day of a young bellhop.
© thevoid99 2012