The chelsea hotel used to be the hippest place to live for new york artists. Painters writers and musicians from mark twain to jimi hendrix enlivened the hotels halls. Now even though the iron facade has become rusty a new... more » generation of dreamers inhabit the hotel. Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 07/20/2004 Starring: Rosario Dawson Kris Kristofferson Run time: 109 minutes Rating: R Director: Ethan Hawke« less
People need to know a bit about the film before trashing it.
Russell Brown | Minneapolis, MN USA | 11/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like most positive reviews, I'm a bit surprised at the bile being spent on this film when I think it's one of the finest films I've seen all year. When I was in NYC I had to go see the Hotel and someday I plan to spend some time there myself.
The movie is a bit of an experiement - some project group was giving 100K I think for a budget to shoot films on digital video - and so of course, it has some issues, but they work well for this movie - They give the environment some additional character - These people who bitch about lighting are the same ones who bitch about the lighting in Russian Ark and totally miss what is in many ways, a breakthrough in indepenedent Cinema. No longer are filmmakers required to budget for film (which is a major expense) - it can all be saved and edited digitally.
And that's not even going into the story - I fell in love with Rosario Dawson's Character, and totally understood Robert Sean Leonard's character as well (being a part time guitar player from MN myself who feels he's spinning his wheels) - And of course, this is an adaptation of a play, so you're not gonna have the grand sweeping car chases or explosions -
It's a terrible film for those who need their drama served up in portions of sex and violence, but as a study of the artistic condition, it blows me away.
And the music and poetry in the film rock too -
A creative 'moment to moment' collage
Darren | Jersey Shore, NJ USA | 01/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An assortment of highly talented actors paint the canvas of this very creative collage of artistic, tormented and lonely lives, set in NYC's Chelsea Hotel. Don't expect a plot of any narrative coherence but rather a series of vignettes rich in emotions depicting love, loneliness and the simplicity of daily human living.
The dialogue and simple emotional exchange between Kris Kristofferson and Tuesday Weld in one scene is superbly rich. There is also some excellent acting by Vince D'Onofrio and Uma Thurman.
The music by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco really sets the emotional mood for this 'moment to moment' film and some guitar playing and folky music by Robert Sean Leonard is a pleasant surprise. Other noteworthy surprises include a performance by jazz veteran, Little Jimmy Scott (which adds immensely to the collage of diverse personalities and also to the mood of the soundtrack) and a cameo from Issac Hayes in an elevator scene.
Director, Ethan Hawke does a fine job of painting from a diverse palette of actors whose emotions richly color these Chelsea Walls."
Poem as Film, Film as Poem
Wayne Klick | Albuquerque, NM USA | 03/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I think if Charles Bukowski, Dylan Thomas, and Fellini collaborated on a piece of writing, it's possible they would have come up with this screenplay. This movie is exciting because it's soooo different from anything I've ever seen. Deliciously non-linear. The substance abuse aspect is a little overdone but that's the destiny of "artist movies". I loved hearing the dialog, and Kristofferson's acting is the best I've ever seen by him. Anything so daring and so unconventional will naturally upset some people (like other reviewers here), but if you ask me that only validates the work. If ever I go to New York City, the Hotel Chelsea will be at the top of my list of places to visit. My favorite lines were by the crazy guy in the elevator, who after claiming to have had a conversation with Dylan Thomas said that ghosts naturally reside in places like the Chelsea because people will listen to them there. The DVD extras contain a couple of quirky interviews, one with director Ethan Hawke and the other with Robert Sean Leonard who plays a deeply troubled folksinger in the film."
Give it a try
Wayne Klick | 11/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not going to disagree with people who feel this film is pretentious. If it's not your kind of thing, I can see why you'd feel that way. But I think I can understand and appreciate what Ethan Hawke was trying to do here. The Chelsea hotel in NYC is unique--so many famous writers have lived and worked there that the place should be a literary landmark and tourist attraction. I guess to a certain extent it is, but it's also a squalid pit whose residents are a mixture of disenfranchised people and artists/writers trying to follow in the footsteps of previous Chelsea denizens. It's this contradictory atmosphere that Hawke is trying to capture, and I think he did a good job. True, there's not much of a plot. It's mainly just a glimpse at several people as they struggle with life and whether their creative impulses are fulfilling enough to sustain them in such a marginalized existence. I thought Robert Sean Leonard, Kris Kristofferson, and Rosario Dawson gave particularly moving performances. And there is a plot, in a way--watch the policemen at the beginning of the film; they'll be important at the end. There's no question that the screenplay (written by Nicole Burdette, not Hawke) is somewhat flat and inert, but the acting and directing rise above it. Months after I watched it, I keep thinking about this movie. I'm going to have to rent it again or maybe even buy it. If you don't like unconventional films, I think you can probably already tell that you're not going to like this one. If you like to see different, experimental movies, however, give this one a try and make up your own mind. At the very least, you'll be supporting independent film in this country, which needs all the help it can get."
Fine Indie Film
B. Unruh | San Antonio, TX United States | 08/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have no idea why the other reviews have railed upon this film so harshly. I found all aspects of this film up to par with other good indie films of this time. The acting was gritty and true to character (ie, Kris Kristofferson played a writer who could incessantly write about love but couldn't love anyone; a person who could blankly stare back at someone who loved him with cold eyes). The filming was all on digital cam so there's that grainy quality to it; plus lighting filters were used to distinguish the plot threads: pink for Sean Leonard and Zahn's characters, blue for Rosario Dawson's scenes, and a yellowish tint for Kristofferson's parts. The plot may seem scattered but so are the lives of these artists, the budget of this film may seem low but so are the artists it portrays, the acting seems less like acting and more like reality because for many artists these images are snapshots of their life. You feel tension between certain characters, deep love between others, and growing resentment in all for the cage their locked in for life: being an artist. If you don't subscribe to the starving, self-deprecating, helpless, lost artist cliche then maybe you aren't one so you just wouldn't understand. I applaud Ethan Hawke for what he tried to accomplish and ultimately did accomplish with this work. The best quote that sums up this movie is on the back of the box, "Like an extraordinary jazz solo the film transcends reality and becomes something special. It approaches art.""