Four Rooms

The theory behind this 1995 release was that if Quentin Tarantino, Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, and Robert Rodriguezfour American independents who became stars at Sundancegot together to create separate sketches, each taking place in a separate room of the same LA hotel and linked only by a bellboy dispensing room service (Tim Roth), something wonderful would happen. Instead, each writer-director wound up making an allegorical sketch about the unlimited power of being a writer-director. The results are mainly awful, and even Roth got saddled with a mannered part that he can’t comfortably play. (An earlier cut of this movie suggested it may once have had something to do with Jerry Lewis in The Bellboy.) Rodriguez’s sketch, about a couple of mischievous kids left alone for an evening by Antonio Banderas, is passable, and Anders’s at least has some star power (Valeria Golino, Madonna, Lili Taylor, and Ione Skye as a coven of witches). But the Rockwell and Tarantino contributions are strident embarrassments, each reeking with grandiloquent self-hatred parading as comedy. The first is basically about tying up and humiliating Rockwell’s wife, Jennifer Beals; the second, adapting an old Alfred Hitchcock TV script, is about Tarantino playing a nouveau riche asshole director eager to show off his bankroll. (Other members of the director’s entourage are played by Paul Calderon and Bruce Willis.) There’s a lot of instructive material in the Tarantino episode about what often happens to American artists who become overnight successes, but don’t count on it being pleasant. (JR)

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