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While a British film crew are shooting a version of The Duchess Of Malfi in Venice, they in turn are being filmed by a sleasy documentary primadonna while the strange staff share meals which consist of human meat. Then there is the hit man, the call girl and the Hollywood producer all managing to become part of the madness... Written by
John Webster's play "The Duchess of Malfi" was first performed in 1614 at the Globe Theatre in London, and first published in 1623. The onscreen credits simply list the title followed by the author's name, and omit the word "play". See more »
Having enjoyed Mike Figgis' earlier efforts, "Loss of Sexual Innocence", "Timecode", and "Leaving Las Vegas", I entered the Varsity theatre at the Toronto International Film Festival in high spirits, also excited by the opportunity to hear Figgis introduce his film and take part in a question-answer program afterwards.
After sitting through literally 2 and 1/2 hours of assaulting pretentious montages and amateurish camera work (not to mention editing), I was even more appalled by Figgis' own take on his work.
The man brags openly about not having any script, storyline or characters to speak of. He then goes on to talk about how he is the "actor's director", giving his cast the "freedom" to indulge themselves and improvise. What I'm thinking was how could you do this to your producers, to your cast?!--people who put their reputations on the line and end up looking utterly ridiculous (the only one to emerge from this wreck unscathed is John Malkovich, obviously smart enough to pull-out from the project just in time, only to appear in the opening 2 scenes)!
My question for him would have been something along the lines of "why did you want to make this film?".
For that matter Figgis didn't even seem to know what his film was about. I've never before seen such a soulless, self-indulgent piece.
Making a good, meaningful film should be a labor of love for the director. When you ask an actor to put their names and invest their abilities on your project you must show them the same respect.
In the end, when I think of `Hotel', I think of Figgis standing before a microphone making a complete ass of himself, going on about the brilliance of his work. But others not fortunate enough to have that experience will more likely remember David Schwimer barking like a dog at the camera or Burt Reynolds entering and smiling for the camera and then having literally nothing to say for an entire scene, never to appear in the movie again.
If it were up to me the film would end with a still, black-and-white head shot of its "director" Mike Figgis, superimposed above all the credits.
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