What is Hollywood, you ask, dear children? A quorum of whores babbling endlessly on about fucking while the bordello is razed for a penny arcade -- Paul Bern

Monday, August 30, 2010


“Clenching your fist for the ones, like us, who are oppressed by figures of beauty…” 
L. Cohen, Chelsea Hotel No. 2
Hey -- why the dickens do I have Hotel Chevalier (Wes Anderson, 2007) on my computer? Because it’s the Bugsy Malone of Fake Truffaut Movies™, of course! Well, that’s kind of a start. Because it proves without question, as it slithers so discretely past the Star Wars girl’s ass that les travelling are so, like, ah, une question de morale. That ass that sends Moustache Boy on a gazillion-thousand mile (No problem, I’ve verified the exact distance on google maps) orientalist funhouse quest back to mommy. Because Hotel Chevalier is transmedia that beautifully goes nowhere. Because it gives the eerie feeling of being an ad for itself. Because no one yet has had the moral courage to deal so incisively with the problems of rich people trapped with their iPods in a hotel room like Wes. 

And as we learned in Sofia’s oscarwinner, hotel rooms are a kinda sweet prison for the shambhalic, symbolic class, whose job is to just be nowhere and everywhere at once. Because the too-perfect Sarstedt song is a sonic analogue of the mise-en-scene – a travelling of a velvet list, where, rather than the shock of poetic invention, we instead find weak, blasé iconography and brand names (1), not least of which is, pardon my French, the cul sacré

What about the really cool Louis Vuitton-Bill Murray-Alienation synergy, dude? Alienation sells suitcases. And suitcases are the very symbol of displacement, of alienation. You don’t have to be Sherlock Barthes to figure that one out. Specular marketing; a more commercial version of the final shoot-out in The Lady from Shanghai; displacing the real object of desire into other mirror-images: “I’m looking at the marketer in the mirror and I’m telling him to buy”.  When we watch something like Hotel Chevalier we are suddenly allowed to be part of the melancholic entourage of the shipwrecked(2)  people of the hotel rooms (cf. Dylan & co. in don’t look back) and we remember that the lovely that Sarstedt wrote his song about died (this is too sublime to be anything but myth) in a hotel fire

The Hotel Room manifest as Debord’s crucial principle of separation - the basic means of state control over our oppressed artistic class – the gulag and juzgao of the spectacle. 

“After all the empty time, all the lost moments, there remain these endlessly traversed postcard landscapes; this distance organized between each and everyone. Childhood?  Why, it’s right here; we have never emerged from it.”                                  
 -- G. Debord. 

Ah, Childhood! What Hollywood most prizes is finding grown men (sorry, girls) who are hostages to their ruthless 12 year old selves. And so we must realize, aghast – that our author really means this, all of this, and that it’s not some absurd kitsch trifle but private, cryptic neo-realism! Wes Anderson’s The Scream. So that was the heavy and secret shit Henley and Frey were muttering about back in ’77 before they got drowned out by the politically naïve Clash. “…check out any time you like, but you can never leave…”  This is what it is like to live, be, get room service, even to die, nowhere. The price of entry to the Utopia of Celebrity, as El Señorito Cunanan found out, is a ghostly houseboat existence just within spitting distance -- the reverberant & blank wall of techno drifting over to tantalize -- from the real presences of SoBe. Again, the melancholy spirit of separation. 

And here’s a further minor key tragedy for power, coming soon to a very small screen near you, that the melancholic artist-as-culture-hero is no longer much wanted nor required to produce the spectacular – free at last! -- because the average person is too busy producing and curating their own homely corner of the spectacle to actually consume it properly. The next perfection of separation is when we all get to move with our camera phones into The Hotel (which we earnestly hope won’t be too soon besieged by jihadists! (4)) But maybe Wes and Sofia(3)  are onto a new genre: Hotel Regionalism. It’s a genre with spindly, restless legs in a bespoke suit – a genre that travels. Her next one, sadly, is to be a hotel picture too, I hear. (5)

And Hotel Chevalier remains, because, finally, I guess there really are some things that are more abject-ish than the tracking shot in Kapo. How much is this swell hotel room costing us, Wes? Only 750,000 million euros. (6)  The only bit of truth in this sick yellowy world.


1. From the beginning, Rock-et-Roll was always hawking shoes, who the hell knows why – but the whole thing went crazy by the mid-1960s, and even St. Lou was selling Dior by ‘67.

2. Los Naufragos de la Calle de La Providencia, the castaways of Providence Street, Alcoriza and Buñuel called them.

3. These people are my close friends so I feel comfortable using their christian names in a piece of serious criticism.

4. Let’s at least note the cynical perspicacity of the salafist jihadi Boxers in their choice of hotels as targets. They are noah’s arks, floating prisons for the technocratic, symbolic class. Merely signing the guest ledger is an admission of globalized guilt. Meanwhile, Hotel Chains needs must up-armor and make their prison architecture more explicit as a sort of enticement. Hotel managers: Watch 55 Days at Peking and teach the staff/guards to use Kalashnikovs.

5. I know, I know --  perhaps, there were masterpieces of mono no aware to be found in hotels once upon a time. Shimizu, Tati, Abel Ferrara. Non-transparent films shot as if through frosted glass that inscribe separation as loss, as the transience of stuff. The important thing is to choose well, that is, resonantly, in what you mean to mausolize -- to cast in amber in the film.

6. Price Includes VAT.

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