What It Is: A collaborative piece by directors Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Allison Anders and Alexandre Rockwell which follows a lone bellhop working a busy hotel on New Year’s Eve.
The movie is split into four vignettes (rooms) as the rookie bellhop (Tim Roth) is called to each room and discovers weirder and weirder things there. There is a coven of witches performing an ancient spell in one, a couple of bratty kids left to amuse themselves while their parents ring in the new year, a couple engaged in hyper realistic bedroom games and a group of Hollywood bigwigs whose egos end up being a godsend for the nameless bellhop.
Why You Probably Missed It: You’d expect that a movie with Robert Rodriquez and Quentin Tarantino’s names attached to it would be an instant hit, but you forget that Tarantino and Rodriguez weren’t the household names then that they are today. Rodriquez was mainly best known in Mexico thanks to his Spanish-language films and, while Tarantino was already a celebrated director, he hadn’t achieved the same level of acclaim he boasts today.
Allison Anders and Alexandre Rockwell were and still are mainly independent directors, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve still not heard their names.
Though the movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was released during Christmastime — a rough time for smaller movies thanks to the bigger, blockbuster films released then. After that, it sort of got swept under the rug and few people remember it today.
Why You Should See It: Believe me when I say this movie will keep you totally engrossed from beginning to end. Not only is Tim Roth amazing (in more than just this movie, IMO), but the rest of the cast includes fan and cult favourites including Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Beals, Madonna, Alicia Witt, Bruce Willis and Kathy Griffin.
The segments are also supposedly based on various short stories by Roald Dahl (author of Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Twits among other children’s classics). Few people know that he wrote more adult fiction than children’s fiction, and his adult fiction is absurd, bizarre, macabre and wonderful all at once. Keeping that in mind, imagine the warped, but creative mind of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez throwing their own spin on things.
Collaborative pieces can be trying and I’m generally not a fan of vignetted movies, but this movie is so seamless that you forget that it’s in segments. The four directors (who also wrote their own segments) are so in synch that the movie flows perfectly without a hitch and the ending is one that will make you jump in fright and then laugh your ass off.