Projections - Movie Reviews

The Million Dollar Hotel

The Million Dollar Hotel

The talents of German film maker Wim Wenders, Mel Gibson, and U2's Bono would seem to yield a fascinating post modern yarn in The Million Dollar Hotel which takes place in a lowly part of downtown LA.  What results, however, is a well crafted film that looks aloof from its unsympathetic, weird characters and a banal tale which puts a whodunit around unconditional love.  Wenders attempts to incorporate themes of his cult hit Wings of Desire here but his association with Bono and friend Nicholas Klein whose screenplay came from a "leap of faith" proves ill fated.

Supported by a long flashback, The Million Dollar Hotel devolves from ambiguity to a gritty metaphysical noir as Wenders bizarrely leaves America obliquely castigated and only impresses with a technical panache imparted with his European directorial hand.

Gibson, whose Icon Entertainment co-produced for foreign sales with Wenders' Road Movies productions, is the ramrod special agent of the FBI named Skinner who is retained and prodded by a media magnate (Harris Yulin) whose son, junkie Izzy (an un-billed Tim Roth) has fallen from the titular, ironic home for oddballs.  Wanders lets the skillful lensing from Phedon Papamichael provide a striking aerial shot gracefully reaching the sign on the hotel's roof, "Popular Prices, Fire Proof."

The winding, un-involving plot gets off to a running start with weirdo Tom Tom (Jeremy Davies) shown waving to someone off camera prior to hitting pavement.  But The Million Dollar Hotel gets more quizzical providing the extensive backdrop before the outlandish freak now knows that life is the best.  The mildly engaging premise surrounding Izzy's death begins to become a mystifying investigation of the crazy denizens who occupy the grungy hotel.  Turns out that Skinner had been born with three arms, one in his vertebrae.  His messed up state is further amplified by Tom Tom's quirky, but super smart love interest Eloise (Milla Jovavich).

Within the spying by Skinner and the slowly blossoming, if platonic love affair between Tom Tom and Eloise, Wenders introduces us to a fifth Beatle, done with humor by Peter Stormare.

But the only reason to check into Wenders' mixed up movie is the impressive wide screen shots accompanied by an estimable score from Bono and his musical cohorts.  Maybe the film makers should have waited for a futuristic, big budgeted "Billion Dollar Hotel" to come to fruition with Gibson empowering a new age Blade Runner with a reinvigorated Mad Max reincarnate.

The Million Dollar Hotel

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