Jack Torrance, the writer depicted by Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” goes insane while stranded in a snowbound hotel with his family during the winter.
Some of the people who study Jack and his movie may be more obsessive than Jack himself. Room 237, Rodney Ascher’s excellent documentary, contains a wealth of information regarding the “Shining” fan community’s many hypotheses about what the film’s true meaning is.
1. Taxi Driver (1976)
When Robert De Niro takes on the role of a New York City cab driver who gets obsessed with eradicating the filth and corruption he sees around him (one day there will be a genuine rain), Martin Scorsese’s devastating classic finds him at his finest. Of course, this is a classic.
2. The Conversation (1974)
What Francis Ford Coppola did when he wasn’t working on “The Godfather: Part II” in his spare time. In the same year, both were nominated for best picture. Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who believes something he overheard would lead to a murder, is played by Gene Hackman in this film. One of the best examinations of paranoia ever put on film, he gets obsessed with finding out what is happening.
3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
At some point in the movie, we’ll understand Richard Dreyfuss’ fascination with the inexplicable will go too far and we’ll have to stop watching him. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s surreal tale of Earth’s first contact with extraterrestrial life is worth seeing more than once. And once you’ve memorized those five musical notes, they’ll be with you for the rest of your life.
4. Fatal Attraction (1987)
Obsession? Uh, I don’t know. Glenn Close and Michael Douglas have a one-night stand, and that’s all he wants. A tad… more? That’s what she wants. She becomes berserk, desperate to acquire him. If you think about it, cooking a rabbit is like boiling nuts. That’s what most people would do, as well.
5. Misery (1990)
That Kathy Bates plays a lady obsessed with James Caan, a writer she holds captive when he smashes his car near her house, is that it’s both hilarious and horrifying at the same time. Occasionally, both at the same time. That’s a tricky trick, but Bates pulled it off with seeming ease, earning him an Oscar for his efforts. If you’re curious, she doesn’t break his foot in the novel. She yanks the cord. The point is this:
6. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Whether or not Indiana Jones is obsessed with artifacts, the Nazis’ preoccupation with locating the Ark of the Covenant is the main focus of Steven Spielberg’s homage to Saturday afternoon serials (see: title). Obsession like this can lead to melting of the face.
7. The Cable Guy (1996)
Who was more obsessed, Jim Carrey’s cable repairman or his fans, who were put off by Carrey’s distasteful portrayal in this film? It’s not a terrific film, but it was one of Carrey’s earliest attempts to branch out from his trademark rubber-faced psychotic humor.
8. Single White Female (1992)
For rent, Bridget Fonda posts an ad on Craigslist. Leigh answers to Leigh’s comment in full. It was a terrible error. For Leigh’s character, it’s not enough just to be like Fonda’s character. She wants nothing more than to be her. Creepy but not too out of the ordinary. There aren’t many people who can match Leigh’s talent for this sort of stuff. Then why aren’t we seeing her as much as we used to?
9. Black Swan (2010)
It doesn’t matter if she dies or lives, Natalie Portman plays a young woman named Nina in “Swan Lake.” Sorry about that. The film, directed by Darren Aronofsky, illustrates the obsessive commitment of many artists, and Natalie Portman was awarded the Academy Award for best actress. Mila Kunis can also pull off insane well. If she is, that is. In other words, whether any of the craziness is actually true. This picture has a lot of unsolved questions, which is a good thing.
10. American Beauty (1999)
Having a crush on a teen girl is never a good idea for an older man. In Sam Mendes’ Oscar-winning film, Lester Burnham, Kevin Spacey’s character, hadn’t read “Lolita?” Anyhow, Spacey does an excellent job of portraying a dad struggling to hold his life together (including one of his daughter’s classmates) by latching on to the worst things possible. Furthermore, Annette Bening is an excellent choice for his unfaithful, shallow wife, as is her co-star. You could say this isn’t your typical love story.