Today, as part of the CineVegas Film Festival, my boyfriend and I watched the documentary titled Chelsea on the Rocks from filmmaker Abel Ferrara. We both loved it before we even saw it because it is based on the famous Hotel Chelsea in New York City. Also, the movie was shown at Cannes, so I figured it was worthy of watching. In my opinion, there could have been some improvements (such as labeling who the speakers were, cutting out some recreated scenes), but the information from the interviews in the film cannot be found elsewhere, so that makes it a winner in my eyes.
Some background on the Hotel Chelsea from its own website: “The hotel has always been a center of artistic and bohemian activity and it houses artwork created by many of the artists who have visited. The hotel was the first building to be listed by New York City as a cultural preservation site and historic building of note. The twelve-story red-brick building that now houses the Hotel Chelsea was built in 1883 as a private apartment cooperative that opened in 1884; it was the tallest building in New York until 1899. At the time Chelsea, and particularly the street on which the hotel was located, was the center of New York’s Theater District. However, within a few years the combination of economic worries and the relocation of the theaters bankrupted the Chelsea cooperative. In 1905, the building was purchased and opened as a hotel.
Owing to its long list of famous guests and residents, the hotel has an ornate history, both as a birth place of creative modern art and home of bad behavior.”
The documentary focused on telling stories of past and current residents, who are now facing eviction from new management and the hotel being turned into a boutique hotel (which is pretty much what has happened since the filming last fall). I had heard a lot about this debate of the hotel not being a haven for creative people anymore, and I enjoyed the movie because it gave me enough information to form my own opinion about what I think is best. Most surprising was how nice the hotel looked. The Victorian Gothic architecture creates a unique atmosphere, which I cannot wait to visit-which I am glad I have waited because now knowing so much of the pop culture history that has taken place there, I can appreciate it more.
Photos from hotelchelsea.com