Chelsea Walls

The Chelsea Hotel in New York City has long been known as an artist's enclave-at o­ne time, playwright Arthur Miller took up residence there, as did Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols. (In fact, it's at The Chelsea that Vicious stabbed his lover Nancy to death, in the 70s). In his directorial debut, actor Ethan Hawke explores the lives of a fictional group of present-day Chelsea residents. While their life goals differ-from aspiring songwriters, poets and a boozing novelist-those who make The Chelsea their home have o­ne thing in common: they are looking to imbue their lives with the spirit and success of artistic residents past. While all movies necessarily invite audiences to be voyeurs in their subjects' life, Hawke presents these inhabitants-played by Uma Thurman, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Sean Leonard, among others-in an even more intimate light by the very nature of his filming process. Forced by the hotels' outdated wiring system to use Digital Video instead of film cameras, the result is a film that enhances the darkness, brooding, isolation and, ultimately, desperation of his characters. In the end, Chelsea Walls is experimental film-making at its best-intelligent, visually stunning, and evocative of both contemporary ideals and the lingering ghosts of cinema past.

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