And there was a Cinema 1544 100th Episode Celebration, and there was a BBQ, and there was much rejoicing (yay!) But before the food, there was…a film!
We began (after a few false starts on the DVD) with a short from Phong – Peter and the Wolf. No, not this one:
Rather, this one, directed by Suzie Templeton and released in 2006, winner of an Academy Award for short film.
But really, the fundamental story is the same. Peter goes out into the woods against his grandfather’s wishes, watches his friend the duck get eaten by a wolf, captures the wolf, impresses the girl and taunts the bully soldiers. Or something like that. The animation is pretty impressive, though.
Then, the single-most requested film on our extensive list of about 30 nominations – Four Rooms. Four Rooms is a film which basically falls into four parts, all of which take place in different rooms in a hotel, on New Year’s Eve, when the hotel is staffed only by a single, newly hired, kindly but somewhat dimwitted bellhop.
Each “room” is directed by a different director (Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez being the preeminent among them), and the film is mostly tied together by Tim Roth’s bellhop, though the characters from the second room keep reappearing. There’s not a lot of coherent plot, per se, it’s just an abandoned bellhop having an interesting evening.
The first room of the evening (a honeymoon suite) happens to be rented out by a coven of witches, who are attempting to cast a spell in order to reverse a curse, wrought in that very room some forty years before, that turned their leader into a carven idol.
(Note this is the room that does not belong. All of the other rooms are at least remotely plausible situations. This room is basically an excuse for various young and perky actresses to trounce around without their shirts on. I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m just pointing out that from a cinematic perspective, this segment is pretty weak.)
Anyhow, each of the witches has brought an ingredient to place into the cauldronesque bath in the honeymoon suite in order to do some sort of double, double, toil and trouble thing. And everybody seems to have done a good job in bringing their ingredient except for Ione Skye (who will soon stop wearing her diner tablecloth), who has a fellatious excuse for failing to provide the required man-seed. At the command of the other witches, she manages to coax the bellhop into providing some. Next room.
In this segment, the bellhop shows up to the wrong room with the wrong name (Theodore) and finds himself in the midst of some bizarre marital argument/sexual fantasy thing. The husband mistakes Ted for his wife’s lover (of the same name) and the bellhop is drawn into a situation he can’t easily escape, not even through the bathroom window. And once Ted appears to make peace with the husband (by standing up for himself in the face of a gun) the wife turns on him. He finally gets an opportunity to escape via the front door and takes it. Next room.
In the third segment, things really start to pick up. Antonio Banderas and his wife want to go out to a New Year’s party, and they don’t really want to bring the two kids along. So, for the hefty sum of $500, he hires Ted the Bellhop as their personal babysitter, a job Ted does his best to neglect. The kids are, in short, tiny little terrors, and while Ted is away (which is most of the time) they busy themselves being as naughty as one can imagine, and complaining about the smell of each other’s feet. Or so they think.
Auto-toesucking is only the beginning of it. But it culminates like this:
That would be Ted, with a needle of unknown provenance stuck in his thigh, grabbing onto the leg of a dead prostitute who has been stuffed in the mattress, while the room is on fire, there’s pornography playing on the TV, and he’s about to be hit on the head with an empty booze bottle by a 9 year old girl. And to top it off, there’s been a dartboard drawn onto the hotel’s precious artwork. Really, you could stop the movie right there. There’s nowhere to go but up.
And that’s what Ted tries to do, calling his boss in order to inform her that he’s quitting.
Instead of his boss, he finds a stoned Marisa Tomei, who points out that things aren’t really that bad, because he had sex with a hot witch. In a cauldron. When the phone is finally passed to the passed-out boss (who has no idea who Marisa even is – quite a party!) Ted is urged to not quit until he has taken care of the needs of the men in the penthouse. Important movie director types, it seems. They couldn’t possibly want much, right? Next room.
Well, how’s this for not much: a block of wood, three nails, a ball of twine, a bucket of ice, a doughnut (that’s for Quentin), a club sandwich (Bruce Willis’), and a hatchet. Oh, and they want Ted’s help, too.
You see, they’re drunk, and they want to reenact a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock Presents (starring Steve McQueen and Peter Lorre) wherein McQueen bets his pinky finger he can light his cigarette lighter ten times in a row. (I’ve tried it. It’s not actually even hard but I didn’t have any body parts on the line.) Third wheel Norman, in this spirit, bets Tarantino his finger against a sports car. But Tarantino doesn’t think he can actually carry out the chop, so he pays Ted $500 to do it, if necessary. Ted agrees. So Norman puts his finger on the chopping block and the tensions builds…one…two…three…four…five…
Ok, I’m lying. Norman fails on number one, and the chop comes down in about 0.24 seconds. Ted has scooped up the $600 (he earned $100 just for listening to Tarantino’s pitch on the hatchet job) and left the room somewhere under 0.93 seconds later, leaving the drunkards stumbling around trying to throw the finger in the bucket of ice and find an on-call surgeon on New Year’s Eve.
Still, not a bad evening for Ted all told – one witch and $1100.