14 March 2012

A Gun, A Whore, A Coven, A Bet

Like most people, I too have occasionally pondered humanity’s most important question; “what did people do before the invention of films and video games?”
Until recently I'd just assumed that the answer was ‘take children to feed the Elephant Man’, ‘start World Wars’ and ‘wank off to pictures of ladies’ ankles’.

Although that is all true, according to some post-porn internet research, I've discovered that another thing we partook in was ‘murdering the living fuck out of each other’.

In 1888, the American serial killer H. H. Holmes got so bored with waiting for the first film to be released that he decided to build himself a huge hotel of death… it contained rooms fitted with gas lines, sound proofed vaults and a chute that went straight down to the basement where he could relax and strip the flesh from his clients’ bones. He was basically a victorian 'Basil Fawlty' but instead of doing impressions of Germans, he claimed to be possessed by Satan.

Even if it came with free Wi-Fi and an en-suite drug dealer, H. H. Holmes’ hotel must have been less than relaxing for some of the guests. However, I can't imagine that the pain from having him carve you up would be anymore awful than the 1995 film Four Rooms. To call that film a mess would be an understatement along the same lines as referring to the holocaust as being a little bit of a tits-up. Four Rooms is like a drunk fat man trying to photocopy his arse, going through the glass, getting the scanner up his hole and slicing his balls off. It's a fuck-up so bad that, as you watch it unfold, you just wonder how something so simple can go so horribly wrong.

The movie itself is split into four segments with each quarter focusing on the antics of the same bellhop and the situations he finds himself in. The individual stories are all helmed by different directors, two of which I'd never heard of and two of which are Rodriguez and Tarantino. Apparently it was originally going to be called Five Rooms until Richard Linklater saw the festering iceberg of shit approaching, came to his senses and quickly jumped ship. Considering the two unknowns haven't directed anything noteworthy since, I can only assume it's because their careers were infected and killed by the high levels of cancerous awfulness present in this movie.

The first story tells of a coven of witches led by Madonna who are intent on casting a spell that will bring their God back to life. Like your average Madonna concert, the spell involves stupid chanting, a mouthful of spunk and a group of slappers dancing like piss-heads trying desperately to hold in a shit. Characteristically, our ‘Madge’ decides that there just isn't enough jizz for her liking and so the ropey tart demands that one of the witches should shag Tim Roth.

This section looks like a cross between the T.V. show Bewitched and a pornographic film that's been directed by a lobotomised Teletubby just before he slips into a six month coma. The acting is generally awful, the story is just confusingly crude and the jokes simply aren't funny. The feeling you get whilst watching this pile of crap is the same as when you temporarily sober up with the noose around your neck and your cock in your hands. You just wonder exactly what the fuck is going on.

There's no denying that the first quarter of Four Rooms is piss awful but it is however just a warm up to ease you into the overflowing pool of shit and manky, floating sweetcorn that is part two. The story this time round is that Tim Roth has walked into the wrong hotel room and finds himself roped into some weird role playing sex game between its two occupants. It's a story so dumb that watching it, you can only assume that it was written by the banjo-playing boy from Deliverance. There are plenty of shitty twists throughout, but they make so little sense that eventually you start to suspect that you're misunderstanding them. You're not, they actually are as stupid as fuck. The story here is just so baggy and dull that I can only assume someone let a toddler waffle on about a plot-heavy porno he'd seen, wrote down what he garbled and then filmed it with no intervention for style/class/direction/sanity.

About half way through, Roth realises he's in the middle of a sex game but for some reason continues to play along. If he just left the fucking room like any other human would, then this section wouldn't be quite so long and tedious. This is the short film equivalent of the British Royal Family in that it's completely remedial, unnecessary and shouldn't have lasted half the time that was allowed.

At the start of the third section we hear some Mexican music play, which basically means this must be Rodriquez's effort. In case you weren't sure if that was the case then the arrival of Antonio Banderas pretty much confirms it. With the exception of Sin City, I've never been a huge fan of his. A guess there are a few reasons for this but the main one has to be, well, you know... Spy Kids.

Here however, Rodriquez is the cherry-like glittered turd mounted proudly on top of this festering cake of shite. In any other situation, this story would be a bit crap, but here it is thing of comic perfection. Without going into the plot, it's a bit like a Looney Tunes cartoon but not quite that good. If there's one thing of note in this entire film, it's Banderas who temporarily reminds us that he was once much more than just a man with the voice of 'Puss In Boots'.

Unfortunately though, this section was simply the calm before the storm. To throw in a torture analogy, Part 3 was the teasing gasp of air before they plunge you head first back into the freezing barrel of piss and diarrhea. At the point you assume things are getting better, the piercing and familiar sound of a motor-mouthed narcissist returns us to the mess that is Four Rooms...

To call Tarantino's section a ‘twenty-five minute presentation of self-indulgence’, ‘a one-way ego-trip to the moon’ and ‘the worst example of someone believing their own hype’ would be massively unfair of me. It's actually only twenty-minutes long.

Not only does he cast himself as the hotel’s most important client but he's also the main actor in his section. For every word Tim Roth speaks, Tarantino just has to say five hundred. In fact, there's even a single shot in this film which stays on Tarantino's face for what feels like five whole minutes. He doesn't cut away from himself once. Throughout, you can't help but wonder what's bigger, his enormous chin or his massive, arrogant, egotistically inflated head?

Rodriquez's section was noticeably his own because of its mildly Spanish feel. Tarantino's is obviously his because it contains every single cliché that makes his films what they are. He's cast himself, it's overloaded with pop-culture references, everyone talks like a nerd on speed and it's wrapped in a blanket of misplaced confidence. If Jackie Brown is a stone-cold-classic then this is at the bottom of the very deep well of crap along with Death Proof and the 'Austin Powers' scene in Inglorious Basterds.

Beyond the setting, there is one thing running through the movie that connects it all together and that is Tim Roth's character. I don't want to be mean about Roth because generally I really like him. However, with his retarded 'Mr Bean' impression of a performance, it's hard to find something nice to say. For a start he's not playing a character, he's playing about nine different schizophrenic characters. His personality changes with each story with the only similarity being the post-buggery 'Jack Sparrow' swagger. I don't blame Roth though as clearly this is a man being directed by too many people without any focus or singular idea. Four Rooms is a perfect example of too many chefs spoiling the broth. It just so happens that from tasting the broth you'd assume it wasn't made by chefs but three untrained, arrogant brats and an unusually lucky Mexican.

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