Review by Jonathan Lees (@jonNothin)

Director: Rodney Ascher
Running time: 102 minutes
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Score: 9/10

The best documentaries focused on particular pieces of cinema generally inspire continued discussions and further research into their respective subjects; typically, viewers stumble out of the theater bleary-eyed and thirsting to search for deeper meanings in the narratives. Room 237 not only succeeds in that way but also inspires a maddening new approach to re-watching great works by known provocateurs.

Ditching the conventional "talking head" narrative used in routine documentaries, director Rodney Ascher reveals the theories and heady mysteries believed by five subjects who are all obsessed with Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece The Shining. Ascher visually supports their words with exhaustively researched and expertly displayed clips of every Kubrick film, as well as behind-the-scenes moments captured on camera during the making of The Shining. It's as if Ascher's subjects found a rare director's notebook and uncovered the little strands of seemingly incongruous elements, from the research, notes, and inspirations that are the foundations of a feature film.

Even if the theories presented are ludicrous, or just seemingly "hot set" continuity errors, they are no less interesting and formulate a real-time debate. For example, would you believe that a background prop such as a Calumet can turned ever so slightly could signify the white man's genocide of the Native American people? Do you think that The Shining contained a formal apology of Kubrick's possible involvement of the staging of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon? Kubrick was a career photographer first and his power over the meticulously constructed image whether to document or disturb coupled with his possibly psychotic obsessions with detail are hard to argue' thus, it's easy to fathom that he was a man who would reverse an entire set dressing, such as a rug, to illustrate a character being trapped by his surroundings.

Few films have ever single-handedly elevated the legend of its already revered, and occasionally reviled, subject as well as Room 237. Here, the filmmaker is removed. It's truly a story told by its subjects, and, more than any director's commentary or behind-the-scenes piece, the rich layers of a work first seen as a cerebral ghost story get cut open and dissected, unveiling the visual sublimation of a haunted director's own mind; a Winchester House of the imagination.

Review by Jonathan Lees (@jonNothin)