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In New York's storied Chelsea Hotel, a novelist, a dancer, a painter, a poet, an aged jazz singer, and a young troubadour sort out their personal and artistic lives within walls haunted by the likes of Dylan Thomas, O. Henry, and Sarah Bernhardt. A boozy novelist balances wife, mistress, and stories. A dancer who's a waitress in the basement club chooses between a Hollywood jerk and a local painter. A youth from Minnesota who composes and sings may be the next Bob Dylan. A poet decides to give her feckless boyfriend another chance, even as her eyes tell us she knows what's ahead. An old jazz artist wants to place a bet and share his love for Lady Day. These walls do seem to talk. Written by
You're Bob Dylan? By any chance can I kiss your boot?
Hey! You're from Minnesota, aren't ya? You must be him! Huh?
Seriously dude, fuck off.
Bob! Bob! Bob! Bob! Hey, listen to this, you're not going to believe this, man. I am down in the lobby, right? Right?
There's this guy, puttin' up a paintin'. So, I'm like, helpin' 'em with the ladder and shit. He tells me, he lives here, in a room just like this one... but he's got it all for free. Yup, all he's gotta do is give a paintin'...
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I connect with what this thing is supposed to be, but the substance of these artists is poor. Nothing we see from them rises above the level of teenage poetry. The Chelsea Hotel is still a mecca for poets and artists, even if today it's more a mecca for kids of Kerouac. This movie shows the Chelsea as a mecca for 21st century sulking hipsters who learned hippy-dom from Woodstock DVDs. I don't think that's accurate. If you take away the artist premise and the reputation of the Chelsea as a setting, and replace it with a college dorm full of political science majors, you'd have an equally fascinating film.
But I find the building, the inside of that building, to be beautiful.
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