1 item from 2001
17 September 2001 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Having enjoyed success with the experimental "Timecode", director Mike Figgis remains in digital mode with "Hotel", another heavily improvised, stripped-down production that constitutes the filmmaking world according to Dogme.
Well, he nails the first three letters, anyway.
An achingly pretentious slab of total nonsense, the picture parades an international cast through their off-the-cuff paces to pointless effect. Given that Toronto festival audiences began checking out a half-hour into the screening, it could be a challenge finding an accommodating distributor.
Figgis, who penned the mere suggestion of a script, sets the scene at the art deco Hotel Hungaria in Venice, Italy, where missing guests often turn up on the menu.
Convening at the site is a film crew readying a Dogme production of John Webster's Jacobean tragedy "The Duchess of Malfi", but they're not a bunch of happy campers. The despondent producer (David Schwimmer) is engaged in a power struggle with the hotshot director (Rhys Ifans), while the cast, including Saffron Burrows and Valeria Golino, is unhappy about the constantly shrinking script.
Meanwhile, an annoying TV reporter, Charlee Boux (Salma Hayek), has arrived on the set to do a behind-the-scenes report on the production -- just before the director ends up in a coma as the result of an assassination attempt.
And did we mention the hotel was crawling with a growing gang of sexual vampires?
Figgis packages the haphazard material with many of the visual techniques he used in "Timecode", including multiple split screens and hand-held digital camerawork, but dispenses with that film's real-time element. He also throws in a lot of gratuitous nudity.
Figgis counts on his cast -- also including Julian Sands, Burt Reynolds, Lucy Liu, Danny Huston and, in a more-or-less isolated opening sequence, John Malkovich -- to fill in the spoken blanks, but their improvisational skills fall short of phenomenal.
The last scene has a miraculously recovered Ifans relating his coma experience to interviewer Liu, explaining how he'd leave his body and eavesdrop on other people and providing details of a phone conversation Liu had in the privacy of her hotel room.
An initially perplexed Liu asks if it's some kind of parlor trick. "Yes", Ifans responds cryptically. "It's a trick".
And it's a nasty one played on the innocent viewer.
Director-screenwriter Mike Figgis
Producers Mike Figgis, Annie Stewart, Etchie Stroh
Executive producer Andrea Calderwood
Director of photography Patrick Alexander Stewart
Production designer Franco Fumagalli
Music Mike Figgis, Anthony Marinelli
Duchess of Malfi Saffron Burrows
Trent Rhys Ifans
Italian Actress Valeria Golino
Jonathan David Schwimmer
Tour Guide Julian Sands
Kawika Lucy Liu
The Flamenco Manager Burt Reynolds
Charlee Boux Salma Hayek
Running time -- 107 minutes
No MPAA rating
1 item from 2001
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