So... I chose this because I thought it'd be interesting to talk about a movie with 4 directors. I don't know how interesting the conversation will be, but I'm glad I picked Four Rooms.
First off, the opening credits amuse me. While the quick bellhop snippet to start the movie doesn't really do much but make you wonder what you're about to get into, the animated adventures are fun.
I'm not even sure what the best way to go about reviewing Four Rooms is... so to be easy, I'll briefly talk about each story in order.
"The Missing Ingredient" gives us a coven of witches looking to perform breast filled ritual in the honeymoon sweet led by Valeria Golina, of Hot Shots fame. This, for me, is the weakest part of the movie, but I actually still enjoyed it. Most of the acting is pretty weak, but I do like Lili Taylor (as I just started a rewatch of Six Feet Under). Maybe it's the over the top dramatic reactions they all have before Ted is left with Eva to... 'make her smile.' Roth's mannerisms work for me, but I can see some people not liking how exaggerated he can be here. Still, the story and dialogue here are mediocre, but I think Roth and placing this story first keeps it from being as bad as it could have been. Madonna seemed unnecessary here... as in, she's not a strong actress here and probably cost too much.
After a quick call for ice, Theodore finds "The Wrong Man" with Angela and Sigfried. David Proval plays a good crazy and plays well with Roth and Beals here. I like this one... from Teddy's moment of courage and quick monologue about his name to his swift return to his nervous self. The music really gets into the act as he tries to make his way out the window, and I'm for it. The dynamic between Sigfriend and Angela works here, and it's great at freaking Ted out... which is when he's at his best. Also, I like the quick turn around to Sigfried's greeting to their game... "Let's not belabor the fact that you have no sense of timing. The fact is, you're here."
Champagne to 309... seems appropriate to celebrate the strongest story of the film. Banderas and Tomita's kids, "The Mishavers", are an absolute riot. We get a glimpse early of how they'll be when Juancho takes a few quick puffs of the cigarette while getting his scalp ripped back. Banderas is strong, but that's expected, right? The negotiation of the price is a fantastic bit... and the scene only gets better from there. It's usually hit or miss with child actors... and we get a couple of hits here. Lana McKissack's tone and expressions are fantastic throughout, and she works great with Danny Verduzco. Salma Hayek dancing on the TV is a welcome bonus! Again, the music is in strong support of the mood we get from these two. I'm a fan of Rodriguez (El Mariachi series, Planet Terror, Machete), but he's not one from which you usually expect a bunch of slap stick comedy with children... although, I haven't seen any of the Spy Kids. He does, however, direct it brilliantly. I found myself legit laughing multiple times all the way up to the ridiculously chaotic and perfect end to the scene.
Factoid, back in the day... Marissa Tomei was my (and tons of others', for sure) celeb crush. Thanks, Cousin Vinny. Rumor has it she likes short stocky balding men.
It's nice to see Angela again, sans Sigfried...and more so..Bruce Willis! You've got to like uncredited roles, especially when they're done for free and get you in trouble with the Guild! (That's an unsourced Wiki fact, so who knows if it's true, but it's fun). Tarantino is "The Man From Hollywood" as he directs and stars in the final segment. We get a pretty familiar feel for anybody who's seen a few of his flicks.. especially heavy on dialogue. While this isn't as strong as Rodriguez's contribution, I really enjoyed this as Ted's final room. We all know Tarantino isn't a strong actor.. but his playing a caricature here works fine here. The rest of the room plays into the bit well.. but the success rests mostly on the dialogue and setup for the chop. For me, the dialogue is a win and it's held up by the ad lib and money drunk type feel that Chester gives us. The one thing that bothered me about this was the choice of camera work to start the scene. It felt as if it was supposed to be first person from Ted's view...but it obviously wasn't as Chester kept looking back and forth to the camera and away.. which is supposed where Ted actually was. I don't know why, but that just got to me. It wasn't enough to take much away from the overall product, though.
Another unsourced Wiki fact is that Linklater was supposed to be a part of this. This sounds less likely than the Willis bit, but I think it would have been pretty interesting to see what kind of situation he threw at Ted!
Speaking of Ted... in the end, this is the Tim Roth show. You're either into his over the top mannerisms or you're not... and the movie will likely sink quickly for you if it's the latter, especially starting off with the weakest of segments. I could see some people being so low on the film so quick, that it's hard to come back from. With that, the 14% on RT doesn't surprise me. Without a cohesive plot, I can see it being easy to dislike Four Rooms. For me, however, a night in the life of Ted the Bellhop is pure entertainment. We get to see a lot of moods from Ted, and after all the shit he deals with, we get to send him off in a well deserved good mood. The body language and tone in his voice were the major keys for me in liking Roth's performance. He doesn't hold back and doesn't try to make any of us think he's supposed to be any less than all out and all over the place.
Overall, this lives by the cliches, it's not how you start, but how you finish. I think the order of rooms is instrumental to how I favor the movie.
It's probably been a decade since I've watched this... so when I put my initial grade on the spreadsheet a while ago, I was trying to recall how i felt after... and going into the movie this time, I really thought I was going to be lowering that grade. Despite the weak start, some iffy acting, and general scatteredness, here I am... still feeling absolutely positive about another viewing and can't shake the feeling of... A-