Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week we have a look at the Jeff bridges F/X show “The Old Man,” the Netflix animated movie “The Sea Beast” and the impressionistic documentary “Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel,” now playing in theatres.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the Taika Waititi directed take on the Marvel Space Viking, the beautifully animated Netflix flick “The Sea Beast,” the surreal “Stanleyville” and the contemplative doc “Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel.”
Richard joins CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to talk about “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the Taika Waititi directed take on the Marvel Space Viking, the beautifully animated Netflix flick “The Sea Beast,” the surreal “Stanleyville” and the contemplative doc “Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the legacy of James Caan and new movies coming to theatres including the further adventures of everyone’s favourite Space Viking in “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the animated Netflix flick “The Sea Beast” and the contemplative doc “Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel.”
The Hotel Chelsea, on west 23rd Street, tucked between Seventh and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan’s Chelsea, is the stuff of legend. Playwright Arthur Miller lived here for six years and said, “This hotel does not belong to America; there are no vacuum cleaners, no rules and no shame.”
An elderly tenant, seen in the new documentary “Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel,” now playing in theatres, says, “It’s a fantasy land where people go to get away from reality.”
Opened in 1884, for more than a century it was a stand-alone example of bohemianism, immortalized in songs by Bob Dylan (“Sara”), Jefferson Airplane (“Third Week in the Chelsea”) and most famously, Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel #2.” It’s featured in films like Andy Warhol’s “Chelsea Girls” and the sensual “9½ Weeks.
Punk goddess Patti Smith lived there with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Abstract painter Mark Rothko had a studio in the dining room. Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick almost accidentally burned it down and Nancy Spungen died there, allegedly (but probably not) at the hand of her boyfriend, Sex Pistol’s bass player Sid Vicious. Arthur C. Clarke wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey” while in residence and Jack Kerouac had a one-night stand there with Gore Vidal.
It is legendary, but the days of wild abandon, avant garde art and artists who traded apartments for paintings are long gone, a victim of changing times and gentrification. “Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel” is a document of the dying days of a cultural legend and the birth of another boho-chic New York City hotel.
Directed by Belgian filmmakers Amélie van Elmbt and Maya Duverdiert, this is a fly-on-the-wall, impressionistic film that ignores the Chelsea’s rock n’ roll legacy, the scandals and notable sex acts. Instead, it contemplatively documents the (mostly) elderly residents of the Chelsea, who, in the words of Dylan Thomas, another former resident, refuse to “go gentle into that good night.”
A look at the hotel through the eyes of the people who lived there, who created their art there and raised their families there, paints a different picture of the storied building than we usually see. Strip away the sensationalism and a melancholy portrait of a bygone era emerges, framed by architect Philip Hubert’s ornate Victorian Gothic stained glass and wrought iron stairway designs. As construction of the Chelsea Mach 2 tears away at the memories of the remaining residents, they recollect the heart and soul of a place that, for decades, gave shelter to dreamers of all sorts.
Those days are gone now. The few remaining old timers, those who didn’t take the buyouts offered by developers, now must use service elevators to avoid upsetting the upscale, paying hotel guests. However, in this film at least, they keep the bohemian flame alive, even as the winds of change are try to extinguish it.
During her short life Edie Sedgwick was a complex character who was many things to many people. She was an heiress, a drug addict, Vogue’s “Youthquaker” of 1965, one of Andy Warhol’s Superstars, the Queen of underground art scene and a relative of one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence. She was the darling of hip New York society who battled mental illness. She was a poor little rich girl who lived at the seedy Chelsea Hotel. In death she became a legend.
A new film, Factory Girl, attempts to present Sedgwick in all her multifaceted glory, but only manages to skim the surface. Director George Hickenlooper is clearly in love with the topic and the times and it shows. The movie made me want to time travel back to 1966 New York to check out the art scene and go to at least one of the parties shown in the movie. He has recreated Warhol’s famous tinfoil-wall papered factory with great care and taken pains to get the small stuff right. It’s the larger details that the movie has trouble with.
The basic problem here is that the two main characters—Edie and Andy—are presented as one dimensional people, so self-obsessed and emotionally detached that it’s hard for the audience to care one way or another about them. By the time Edie’s life starts to spin out of control it’s too late for her and the audience. Never given the chance to connect with her on a level other than the superficial her downfall seems somehow inevitable and contrived.
Superficially though, the main actors nail it. They look great, Guy Pierce mimics Warhol’s frail, pale-skinned cool to a tee, while Sienna Miller (who’s actually much prettier than Edie was) brings the glamour and enchantment to Edie that made the real-life Edie so interesting. Too bad they didn’t dig a little deeper.
Factory Girl is all surface and no heart, but it’s a pretty good surface.