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Hôtel Monterey (1972)

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Hotel Monterey is a cheap hotel in New York reserved for the outcasts of American society. Chantal Akerman invites viewers to visit this unusual place as wall as the people who live there, from the reception up to the last story.

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Title: Hôtel Monterey (1972)

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Storyline

New York City's Monterey is a residence hotel; the residents we see are older, most live alone. The camera, usually stationery, begins with a look into the lobby. The film ends with a panorama from the hotel's rooftop. There's no soundtrack. The lobby is clean with granite floors. Men wear hats. People enter and exit an elevator. The camera looks out from within the elevator as doors open and close. People sit alone and motionless in their apartments. There are long shots of empty halls. Paint peels. The flooring on upper levels is linoleum. Hall lights are florescent. Doors open a crack then close. The film provides the feeling of what it's like to live there. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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11 July 1989 (USA)  »

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Doc more fleabag than subject.
24 April 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Clearly influenced by Warhol Zeitgeist (remember it's 1972), Chantal Ackerman's Hotel Monterey is a study in empty headed documentary, eschewing key elements in favor of some provocatively mundane images and scenes that are laboriously drawn on but say next to nothing beyond the obvious. How Akerman, who had made nothing but shorts up to this point, deemed this worth cutting upward to an hour is mystifying since it's clear it is going nowhere after fifteen. But plod on she does.

Located in lower Manhattan the dark semi polished Monterey is populated by dignified if somewhat down at the heels men and women. Tidy little old ladies throw butts on the floor while glum slow moving gentlemen eye the camera suspiciously as they meet in the halls and the elevator. Some folks pose and smile others peer through a crack of the door betrayed by a shaft of light. Welcome to the Hotel Monterey.

Ackerman strives for minimalism over realism with fractured imagery and long tedious shots and slow zooms of the bleak setting omitting sound and titles. No narration, no interviews, no music score and most importantly no ambient sound which amputates both mood and impact. She simply moves about the hotel filming surface and offering no depth or insight. This may have well been her intention but I see it as a missed opportunity at a more substantive documentary that would have been more informative and interesting by involving other senses instead of self indulgent MOS camera work of tawdry hallways that are not allowed to be heard. By the time you check out of Hotel Monterey you'll probably need a good night's sleep.


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