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Hotel
cast: Rhys Ifans, David Schwimmer, Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, and Burt Reynolds

director: Mike Figgis

111 minutes (18) 2001
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
CDA DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
In a Venice hotel, director Trent Stoken (Rhys Ifans) is about to shoot a Dogme-style film version of John Webster's Jacobean play The Duchess Of Malfi. However, behind the scenes is a hotbed of intrigue, both sexual and nightmarish...
   Mike Figgis' previous film, Timecode, featured four 90-minute single digital-video takes running simultaneously. With Hotel he returns to shooting on DV. Apart from the scenes from The Duchess Of Malfi, Figgis had his very starry cast improvise their roles. Needless to say Hotel is very hit and miss, with a plot that barely makes sense. When it comes to devising a film via improvisation, this is further evidence that Mike Leigh can sleep easily at night; here, for every moment that's funny, or even striking, there are several that are tediously self-indulgent. You have to commend Figgis for taking risks that few directors of his standing would dare, but when they don't come off, the film falls flat on its face. It's a curiosity, worth a look, but hardly recommendable.
   This DVD is a two-disc set. The first disc contains the film, an anamorphic transfer in the 1.85:1 ratio. However, for much of the time, Figgis masks off the top and bottom of the frame to produce a 2.35:1 shape. At other times, he splits the screen into four, as he did with Timecode. The soundtrack is Dolby digital 5.1 and disc extras include trailers, a 24-minute making-of documentary, 27 web shorts, and a stills gallery.
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