215. Four Rooms

Movie: Four Rooms

Release Date: December 25, 1995

Director: Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino.

Starring: Tim Roth, Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Beals, Paul Calderon, Sammi Davis, Valerie Golino, Kathy Griffin, Madonna, David Proval, Ione Skye, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei, Tamlyn Tomita.

Tag Lines: “A new comedy compliments of the house.”

“Twelve outrageous guests. Four scandalous requests. And one lone bellhop, in his first day on the job, who’s in for the wildest New Year’s Eve of his life.”

Relevance: By 1995 I was already a huge Quentin Tarantino fan. ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ which he both wrote and directed, are two of my favorite movies of all time and will most definitely be a part of this project. As soon as I saw his name attached to ‘Four Rooms’ I was most assuredly interested. But then I saw Madonna’s name and I became ecstatic.

I have been a “true blue” Madonna fan since 1983. My first memory of her was the “Burning Up” video that had a pretty strong rotation on MTV. I used to bop around to that song in my living room all of the time. Then I saw her perform ‘Holiday’ on American Bandstand in January of 1984 and my interest was further peeked. “To rule the world.” That was her response to Dick Clark when he asked her what her dreams were for her life and career. I immediately fell in love. That summer when “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” became top ten hits for her in the United States, I was already a Madonna wannabe singing and dancing incessantly to her eponymous debut album.

If I were only able to put one label on Madonna, I would choose performance artist, which encompasses singer, dancer, actress, author, producer, director, et al. She has done and accomplished so much in her career and yet gets very little praise for it. She was a controversial figure and has been demonized and criticized more so than revered, but that only fueled my love for her. The more she pushed people’s buttons and provoked thought and discussion on taboo topics, the more I became obsessed.

Acting was one of those professions that she had been least successful with getting acceptance. She’s not Meryl Streep (but who really is except Meryl Streep), but I myself always thought she was a fine actress. Her taste in movie roles were always very unique, quirky and often not mainstream. Plus she was so famous, audiences were never able to overlook that. Her fame overshadowed her art a lot of the times, but mostly in film. With that said and probably with no surprise, her films are more than celebrated by me. In fact, Madonna has eight films on my list of most influential movies of all time, second only to Tom Hanks. ‘Four Rooms’ is her first.

This film had a very limited release in only a little over three hundred theaters and unfortunately never played anywhere near where I was living at the time. Thus I missed seeing it on the big screen. It was also not well received by critics and barely made any buzz at the box office. My hopes of seeing it was left to renting it at Blockbuster as soon as it became available. And that’s exactly what I did.

The independent anthology comedy film was everything I expected it to be: raw, odd, silly and bizarre. But it was also a really funny movie. Tim Roth was the real standout for me. His performance as the bellhop was pure comedic gold and the glue that holds the four stories (or “rooms”) together. The rest of the ensemble was interspersed throughout the film and well utilized, especially Marissa Tomei. She has a very humorous cameo that was definitely worth the watch. Madonna’s role was a very limited one and was only in the first “room.” She was absolutely fine and looked gorgeous in that super tight black dress.

‘Four Rooms,’ thanks to my Madonna collecting habit, is a movie I have owned both on VHS and DVD and is one that I have watched numerous times over the years. It may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoy its concept, writing and directing. For that, and Madonna, it is a movie that deservedly belongs on this cinematic list.

Today’s Thoughts: My husband and I started watching ‘Four Rooms’ today. The key word in that last sentence is “started.” Only ten minutes in, not even through the first “room” and my husband stood up and said, “Goodbye.” Like I already mentioned, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But that didn’t stop me from continuing. His loss.

Yes, the movie is odd. But I happen to like odd. Right from the “Pink Panther” like cartoon credits you know that you are in for something a little out of the ordinary. The stories that are told and the mayhem that the bellhop endures are bizarre, gritty and ridiculous, but I absolutely love them. Tim Roth is almost Mr. Beanesque and I can’t help but laugh at his facial expressions and tics as well as his physical comedy. It really is a fun role and he plays it so well. His phone conversation with Marisa Tomei and Kathy Griffin is still one of my favorite scenes. Ms. Tomei is superb in her brief cameo.

‘Four Rooms’ may have grabbed my attention thanks to Madonna and Quentin Tarantino but it has stayed around in my life so long for one simple reason. I really like it. I am sure there are more people out there who haven’t seen it compared to those who have, and I urge them to check it out. If anything you will get to learn a whole list of alternative words for “penis” via Jennifer Beals.

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu. Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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