Four Rooms

on December 22, 1995 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
Screened at Toronto. The most anticipated title at Toronto received its world premiere on the fest's final night still in workprint condition and engendered a reaction matching its uneven quality. A four-part anthology, "Four Rooms" is linked by Tim Roth's wonderfully over-the-top performance as a harassed and lunatic hotel bellhop who is bounced around and physically abused as much as any cartoon character. In the segment by Allison Anders, "The Missing Ingredient," Roth's sperm is the necessary completion to a plan by a coven of witches (Madonna, Lily Taylor, Valeria Golino, Ione Skye and Sammi Davis) to raise their Goddess -- a 1950s stripper -- from the dead.
   In Alexandre Rockwell's "The Wrong Man," Roth is caught up in a violent, kinky sex game between a husband (Dave Proval) and his bound-and-gagged wife (Jennifer Beals). In Robert Rod-riguez's "The Misbehavers," Roth is ordered to babysit the spoiled children of a gangster (Antonio Banderas) and warned not to let any harm come to them. In Quentin Tarantino's "The Man From Hollywood," Roth is the "impartial" observer of a macabre bet (based on an episode of TV's "Alfred Hitchcock Presents") that involves a hatchet, a block of wood and a ball of twine, with the bet hinging on whether a cigarette lighter will ignite 10 times consecutively.
   Becau se the filmmakers never consulted during scripting, "Four Rooms" is unsurprisingly inconsistent. Anders' segment proceeds nowhere and ends abruptly, and Rockwell's is dull, but parts three and four pay in spades. "The Misbehavers" is a Rube Goldbergian slapstick farce, enlivened by Antonio Banderas' nifty spin. "The Man From Hollywood" is the most stylistically innovative, shot by Tarantino in long takes, with his characters (Paul Calderon, Bruce Willis and Tarantino) dwarfed by theatrical sets, and ending with a smart punchline. As a whole, "Four Rooms" is only diverting, and pretty mindless, but at its best it's a lot of fun. Starring Valeria Golino, Lili Taylor, Jennifer Beals, Tim Roth, Antonio Banderas, Quentin Tarantino and Bruce Willis. Directed and written by Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Produced by Lawrence Bender. A Miramax release. Comedy. Rated R for pervasive strong language, sexuality and some drug use. Running time: 106 min.
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