Chelsea Walls - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Chelsea Walls Reviews

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½ April 13, 2012
Very hard to watch. Certainly not pleasant, too disjointed. It was so irritating I left it 45" into it. I don't care about these characters.
½ January 22, 2011
Watched it and loved it for it's New York sensibility, the great shots of the Chelsea Hotel and a big heartthrob of mine, Vincent D'Onofrio. Great cast, self-indulgent, whiny characters.
½ July 14, 2010
It's something you have to be a certain frame of mind to want to watch as well as properly appreciate. There's no plot, really, just an intermingling of different people living in a hotel for artists and how their art and themselves interact with others. Certainly something that helps a great deal when you have writer's block
½ May 12, 2010
Ethan Hawke's reverent but crappy imitation of if John Cassavetes was doing Dylan Thomas. Speaking of Cassavetes, he was a director many thought was before his time (I personally wish he would have never had a time - then we wouldn't be saddled with his junk and junk like this). Actors/Actresses love the freedom with this style, so we get an A/B ensemble cast slumming and improvising . If it wasn't for some of the music (such as Little Jimmy Scott), I wouldn't have made it through this whole movie.
January 29, 2010
Own it, haven't watched it.
½ November 15, 2009
So bad I couldn't watch but the first 30 minutes of it.
½ October 10, 2009
This drab, lifeless piece of shit passes as a movie?! Not even five or so great actors and a long list of decent B actors could save this tankin' stinker.
½ August 19, 2009
Natasha Richardson?s face is the first we see in Chelsea Walls. She is standing in the apartment of Bud, an alcoholic writer played by Kris Kristofferson, who in this movie looks as though he could live forever and age to ridiculous extremes on the outside. He doesn?t want her to go. She goes. In her second and final scene in the film, she speaks to a psychiatrist about her love for him: ?It?s very painful to fall in love with someone in the confines of four walls, where you share everything; to be silent while they work for days sometimes; to be taken into it, into them, their body and spirit; to be worshipped and magnified, immortalized; and then to see that, to them ? to Bud ? it?s work.?

Bud drinks. He also writes, occasionally, and in one scene the words of his narration fall into the film like rain. The words are strong and calculated. This old writer has seen a lot and his words have become all he knows how to love. When Bud?s publisher shows up at the end of the film to collect his novel, he finds it strewn around his apartment like removed clothing. Bud is on the verge of tears. He has pulled another great love from his booze-soaked heart and let it out of his life.

The Chelsea represents the long-standing artistic Mecca of New York City. It has served as a temporary home to a laundry list of well-known musicians, writers and artists of all disciplines. Andy Warhol shot a series of films there in the 1960s. Mark Twain stayed there, and it?s where Nancy Spungeon was found dead. The many characters of Chelsea Walls have the fact that they are artists in common. Beyond this, they are lonely, unsure of the direction their lives are taking, uncertain as to whether or not the art they are producing is any good and finding the Chelsea a despicable place to live. They often pay more attention to their own destitution than to the romanticized lifestyle they are living (and no wonder ? rates at the Chelsea currently start at $109 US a night).

We are not allowed too deeply into these characters? lives. One seems to haunt the elevators and abandoned rooms of the hotel with poetry book in hand, preaching at no one. Another dances by with no context given. The movie is full of suggestions about how these characters think and feel, but first-time director Ethan Hawke only gives us bits and pieces at a time. Like an Impressionist painting, examining the individual elements up close will not provide the picture as a whole. Viewed from a step back, the film is a complete story of the muse.

It is the muse that draws these artists to the Chelsea. Perhaps it is also the undeniable Cool Factor of sleeping in the same building where Keruoac wrote ?On the Road,? and perhaps there is no difference in the way these characters behave from the artist who believes that only the Chelsea could produce the greatness needed within them to create.

Grace (Uma Thurman) is a waitress at the hotel, apparently killing time writing while her boyfriend is off becoming a movie star. Frank (Vincent D?Onofrio) is a painter and can?t tell Grace how much he loves her. Ross (Steve Zahn) and Terry (Robert Sean Leonard) are musicians who arrive at the hotel from Minnesota and record songs in the bathroom. While Ross is intent on living the experience to the fullest, Terry broods that his constant attention towards music has denied him a love life. He is Bud before the fifty years of self-abuse. There is also a jazz singer played by Jimmy Scott, who has what seem like centuries of the wear and tear of life etched into his face.

Ethan Hawke shows a courageous tendency to capture unconventionally the need of artists to answer to the muse in their lives. For the most part, these are complicated, modest people with gently inferred pasts who seem more like pure products of a poor artistic culture than clichťs. Traded in for narrative are poetic expressions of emotion, including a real showstopper delivered by Rosario Dawson and Mark Webber. He appears at her room after what we assume is a long absence. They are lovers. A man on crutches shows up, seemingly a part of a former life that could drive a wedge between them. He is told to leave. The lovers spend time together writing. She tenderly shaves his face. They have a conversation on the telephone discussing a fistfight. Ultimately, he leaves with the crippled man and his associates in a car, refusing money from the woman he loves. All impressions, but what we remember most is the beauty of their language.

The film is based on a play by Nicole Burdette, who also wrote the screenplay. I have no idea how the staging of these stories would take place live. Film affords the opportunity to check in on each room, sometimes with abrupt intercuts, and lend each one a different tone or hue, always keeping them in the field of comparison. The achievement of this is a mood that can perhaps only be fully attuned to at 3 o?clock in the morning after a long night of drinking and worrying about the one you love not loving you back. While not always cogent, the impression is successful. Any artist should feel this film in their blood.

I?m slowly growing a new respect for Jeff Tweedy?s music. I took in ?I Am Trying to Break Your Heart? last weekend, a documentary on the making of Wilco?s ?Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,? and found myself fascinated by it. Here, Tweedy provides an ongoing, atmospheric score that resonates. At the film?s center, Ross and Terry perform a song written by Tweedy entitled ?The Lonely 1? and Hawke leaves it in the film complete with mistakes. To have perfected it would have been to miss the point entirely. The root of an artist?s identity comes out in the art, truthful and without pretense. The rest is getting there.

This is a film of moments. It gives them away and asks for a thought or two before moving on to the next. I?ll offer one more: Bud talks to one of his women on the phone. It is late. Too tired to type but just awake enough to drink, he needs the conversation. As Jimmy Scott croons in the Chelsea bar about jealousy, Bud details an experience of running into a woman with her little girl on the elevator:

?The little girl had these huge brown eyes and curls all over her head. She beamed at me and then hugged my leg. I just look at her and smiled. Grinned, really. No teeth. Teeth scare kids, I think. It was so strange. As I got out, her mother said, ?She?s going to fall in love with men who look like you and not know why, but I will.? And then the elevator door closed. It was oddly beautiful. I?ve had a couple of drinks, so it?s all dreamy, but I couldn?t help wondering about you as a little girl in an elevator with your mother. I wonder if you ever saw a man like me.?
July 30, 2009
The actors were great, but they couldn't save the film. I was so bored that I fell asleep.
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2009
Ethan Hawke's passionate directorial debut paints a mosaic of love, dreams, regrets and plenty of other things that we all experience as people. Hawke's unorthodox approach not only to storytelling, but also to film as a narrative medium, is refreshing and suitably out of the box. Aiding the effectiveness of this unique picture's beauty is a highly talented and convincing cast of actors. This is not a film that everyone will enjoy, but it's something I loved watching and it definitely appealed to me on a personal level.
January 7, 2009
Nothing but pretentious babble.
December 5, 2008
as most indie films about artists soul searching go, it's too pretentious and artificially artistic (though ironically, that's what chelsea and the meat packing district is like now in nyc). took the standard cantebury tales mobile and wasted it on a place as historically significant as the chelsea hotel.
June 14, 2008
gotta have an odd taste in movies to watch this one, but it's one that I love.
½ June 10, 2008
strange bohemian artsy approach about to people living at the Chelsea Hotel..
A Swing and a Miss

Million Dollar Hotel is similar and much better..
June 4, 2008
Taas yksi näyttelijä ryhtynyt indieohjaajaksi. Sinänsä ihan hyvä aihe ja toteutus, mutta ei kovin omaperäinen. Olinko havaitsevinani hieman WKW-vaikutteita... No en kuitenkaan ihan saanut jutusta kiinni, tarinat olivat vähän turhan irrallisia.
May 25, 2008
A curiosity. Barton Fink East (without the box)

I spent the movie trying to figure out the sexuality of the old jazz singer which I learned was Jimmy Scott. His story is more interesting than the movie:

"Little Jimmy Scott", he was one of ten siblings born to Arthur and Justine Scott. All ten sang in church with their musician mother. Both Jimmy and his brother Kenny suddenly stopped growing while in their early teens. It was later discovered that they both suffered from a rare and inherited condition known as Kallmann's Syndrome which causes hormone imbalances that render its sufferers into a perpetual state of pre-puberty. Also learned he was screwed by a record co.

He sings the John Lennon song Jealous Guy in the hotel's bar. Worth watching for that - not much else.
May 8, 2008
This only just scrapes two stars because of some of the cast and a few soulful moments but on the whole this is pretentious wank. So many rediculous lines.
April 6, 2008
Poetic to all end. Dialog, some what seemingly regular..but it's like a glass cup, You can see it holds more..cast, Pretty great..Just plain good..I can relate.
½ March 31, 2008
strange bohemian artsy approach about to people living at the Chelsea Hotel..
A Swing and a Miss

Million Dollar Hotel is similar and much better..
½ March 11, 2008
Great artistic film about 5 couples living in the Hotel Chelsea. Unless you are interested in the history/architecture of the hotel or have a few hours to spare this movie isn't for you.
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