Subverting convention with chaos, director David O Russell (The Fighter) rehabilitates the romcom with Silver Linings Playbook, a gloriously volatile tale of a bipolar teacher (Bradley Cooper) attempting to fix his life and re-enter society after being incarcerated in a psychiatric institution.
An Oscar-winning Jennifer Lawrence is the confrontational basket-case who agrees to help him get his life back on track and Russell uses the familiar tropes of the genre to deliver a fascinating character-based comedy in which the ending might be predictable, but the force of the emotional punch it delivers is not. It’s mainstream filmmaking at its best and the fact that it also features Robert De Niro’s finest performance for well over a decade just makes it all the sweeter.
FOR anyone who has fallen under the spell of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, it’s easy to have some sympathy for the clutching-at-straws fans unearthed by director Rodney Ascher for this entertainingly loopy documentary exploring its enigmatic appeal. Assembling a gaggle of fanatics to expound on what it is about Kubrick’s film that has trapped them in its world, Room 237 throws up some marvellously out-there theories, ranging from its status as both a metaphor for the genocide of the American Indians (plausible) and a comment on the Holocaust (doubtful), to the more bizarre conspiracy theory that the film is really Kubrick coming clean about faking the moon landings. As outrageous as some of these theories are, though, they’re fuelled by Kubrick’s own obsessive nature, which has achieved its own near-mythic status. It’s fascinating viewing, but there is one major fault: the complete failure to acknowledge there are two cuts of The Shining in wide circulation. The American theatrical edition discussed in the film is some 31 minutes longer than the Kubrick-sanctioned European cut that British fans have spent years poring over. Shorn of much of the spectral activity present in the longer version, it’s the European cut that makes The Shining seem like such an unconventional horror film. That said, Room 237 is an entertaining tribute to the power of cinema to entice and enthral and, at the very least, will make you see the film in a whole new light, whichever version you see.