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Tim Roth is at the heart of this quirky film, as Ted the Bellboy, working his first night at Hotel Mon Signor, on New Years Eve. However, the guests in four different rooms mean that his first night is eventful, exciting, scary and sexy.

The film is cut into four separate tales, a couple of which do interlock slightly – each segment has a different director and a different cast.

In the first tale, ‘The Missing Ingredient’, a coven of witches meet in the honeymoon suite, to resurrect their dead leader Diana. Ted is called upon to make a most unexpected contribution to the ceremony.

The second tale, ‘The Wrong Man’ Ted arrives at a hotel room having received a request for some ice. When he gets there, he finds a woman tied up and gagged, and her furious husband apparently convinced that she has had an affair with Ted. And that’s before things get even stranger.

The third segment, ‘The Misbehavers’ – and for me, the funniest – features a couple who go out for the evening and leave their children in their room, with instructions to Ted to keep an eye on them and make sure that they don’t misbehave. Predictably things go awry, to disturbing and hilarious effect.

Finally, there is ‘The Man from Hollywood’, where Ted is called to the Presidential Suite and meets a Hollywood producer named Chester Rush, and various members of his entourage. Rush and one of his friends, named Norman, have made a bet – if Norman wins, Rush will give him his car. If Norman loses the bet, he will also lose part of his anatomy (no, it’s not what you’re thinking).

This film was widely panned by both critics and audiences, and I do feel that it is a bit of a shame, because it actually has a lot to offer. It’s unfortunate that the first story is easily the weakest of the four. Featuring Madonna, Alicia Witt, Ione Skye and Sammi Davis, it perhaps asks the audience to suspend their disbelief a little too early into the movie – nonetheless, there were still moments which made me laugh out loud.

The second segment had a couple of genuinely hilarious moments, as the arguing couple, played by Jennifer Beals (who would later feature as the ex-wife of Roth’s character Cal Lightman, in tv show Lie To Me) and David Proval draw Ted into their own drama.

The Misbehavers was worth the proverbial ticket price alone. Banderas hams it up as the strict father, but the real kudos in this scene must go to Roth, as well as Lana McKissack and Danny Verduzco as the two children. There is one really surprising moment, and Ted’s reaction to it is so funny that when I think about it now, I still get the giggles.

Finally, The Man from Hollywood features Quentin Tarantino as the titular character, along with an uncredited Bruce Willis as one of his entourage. There is an homage to an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode (The Man from the South, although Chester Rush wrongly mentions a different episode) which in turn was based on a Roald Dahl short story. The ending of this managed to mix predictability and surprise to such a degree that it was disturbingly funny.

Roth shines throughout – but then again Tim Roth makes literally anything worth watching – and I adored his quirky mannerisms as Ted’s patience and credulity is stretched further and further. The supporting cast vary widely in terms of acting – neither Madonna nor Tarantino will ever be brilliant actors, but they work well enough here; Banderas by contrast is terrific.

Overall, I would say that this is a thoroughly enjoyable film – the disjointedness may put some people off, and certainly the various quirks will not be to everyone’s taste. It’s an interesting attempt at something a bit different, and for me anyway, it largely worked.

I think I’d be careful about who I recommended this too, but it’s a film that I personally will watch again.

Year of release: 1995

Directors: Allison Anders (The Missing Ingredient), Alexandre Rockwell (The Wrong Man), Robert Rodriguez (The Misbehavers), Quentin Tarantino (The Man from Hollywood)

Producers: Lawrence Bender, Quentin Tarantino, Alexandre Rockwell, Paul Hellerman, Scott Lambert, Heidi Vogel

Writers: Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino

Main cast: Tim Roth, Madonna, Ione Skye, Valeria Golino, Lili Taylor, Alicia Witt, Jennifer Beals, David Proval, Antonio Banderas, Lana McKissack, Danny Verduzco, Paul Calderon, Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Willis,

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This 1958 movie centres on the lives of a group of permanent residents at a Bournemouth hotel.  It’s out of season and they are the only people stopping there.  Inevitably, their lives become intertwined.  Wendy Hiller (who won an Oscar for her role) is Pat Cooper, the manageress of the hotel who presides over events with patience and good sense.  David Niven (who also won as Oscar for his performance despite appearing on screen for total of less than 16 minutes) is Major Angus Pollock, a man who is about to see his life unravel – an event which divides the other residents into those who want to see him ejected from the establishment, and those who are more sympathetic.  Rita Hayworth is absolutely stunning as lonely fashion model Ann Shankland, who comes to the hotel to see her former husband John Malcolm (Burt Lancaster, who also co-produced the film), although John is now engaged to Pat Cooper.

This really is a rather lovely film; its charm sort of crept up on me and I realised that I was really enjoyed watched the tangled webs which these characters wove.  The cast was uniformly excellent, with not a poor performance among them.

The film is based on two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan, but here the two stories are interwoven, to excellent effect (the title is taken from the separate tables where the guests sit in the dining room).  It does feel a little bit like watching a play, especially as every scene is based at the hotel.  The whole gamut of human emotion is displayed here, from despair to joy, anger to love, friendship and disdain.  I especially warmed to the characters of Pat Kerr and Sybil Railton-Bell (Deborah Kerr), a young woman who is downtrodden and dominated by her mother.

There were some great scenes, but my favourite was unquestionably the final scene, which appropriately took place in the dining room, featuring the separate tables of the title.  There are no spoilers here, so I won’t reveal more, except to say that it was very satisfying ending to a very entertaining film, and highly recommended.

Year of release: 1958

Director: Delbert Mann

Writers: Terence Rattigan (play), John Gay, John Michael Hayes (uncredited)

Main cast: Rita Hayworth, Burt Lancaster, David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Wendy Hiller

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When Jack Torrance is offered the job of caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, high in the Colorado mountains, over the winter period when the hotel is closed, he thinks it might be just what he and his family need.  Jack and his wife Wendy have been experiencing problems in their marriage, due to his alcoholism and temper – which caused him to lose his previous job as a teacher – and their 5 year old son Danny is caught in the middle.

When they meet the hotel cook Dick Hallorann, Dick immediately recognises that like him, Danny has ‘the shine’ – a gift (or curse) that enables him to see what people are thinking and witness events that happened years earlier, or haven’t happened at all yet.

Stuck in the hotel with nobody but each other for company, the huge snowdrifts prevent anybody from getting in or out of The Overlook grounds.  But they soon find that there is a malevolent force at work – one that wants to hurt the family and won’t let them escape.  Will they get out with their sanity – or their lives?…

There’s no doubt that Stephen King can tell a good story.  He draws the reader in from the first page, and makes them always eager to know what’s going to happen next.  For the most part, there are only the three main characters in the book (except for the hotel itself, which does have a sinister and ominous presence).  This adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere, which keeps building throughout.

Jack and Wendy’s characters were well developed; Jack is a man struggling with his own demons, a recovering alcoholic and a man who struggles with his temper, albeit he loves his family very much.  Wendy is caught in a trap between the man she loves and doing what she thinks is right for her family and her anguish is well depicted.  Danny was less well drawn, although this did not detract from the story.

I didn’t find the book scary, but it was an absorbing read.  I couldn’t help feeling that if it had been perhaps 75 pages shorter, it might have been a ‘tighter’ read, but overall this was an enjoyable book.  If it was an author I was trying for the first time (it isn’t), I would be encouraged to read another book by them.  I would recommend this book, but only to fans of the author or the genre.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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