Hotel Monterey

Hotel Monterey

Recently, I’ve had a weird habit of starting a revered filmmaker’s catalog with a lesser known title of theirs. That train keeps rolling right along with Hotel Monterey, Chantal Akerman’s hourlong silent tribute to the glum New York establishment of the same name. The occupants wander in front of her camera like inquisitive animals, or creepy sentinels when she frames them for portraiture. The images — a blurry “EXIT” sign at the end of the hall, or foreboding elevator doors in the dead of night — conjure a certain dread as a result of the all-consuming silence. Still, there is an ambiguity in her (mostly static) compositions. One can extract the nocturnal cool of Edward Hopper’s paintings as easily as the sickly, unwelcoming palette of Fight Club or Barton Fink. Eventually we make our way out of the hotel and onto the roof, an escape that suggests the cold and loneliness of this place is only temporary.

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