The Curator of Schlock #323: Hotel

The Curator of Schlock #323 by Jeff Shuster


I am so confused.

Okay. Things have gotten a bit strange around this old manor house somewhere in the state of Florida.

schlock mansion

Celestial went missing for a couple of days and then shows up in the middle of the night, pale as can be. Now she sleeps all day and only comes out at dusk. Her eating habits are peculiar too. Celestial keeps drinking some kind special V-8 toast Jervis procures from a health store. Oh, well. Jervis is making shrimp scampi tonight. It will be in a lemon-butter sauce. He said the grocers were all out of garlic.

Tonight’s movie is 2001’s Hotel from director Mike Figgis. What’s Hotel about? I don’t know that it’s about anything. The movie begins at a hotel in Venice, Italy. The actor John Malcovich enters the hotel and registers under the name Omar Johnson, but we all know it’s John Malcovich. He partakes in a shared meal with creepy hotel staff and the hotel tour guide played by creepy Julian Sands. The tour guide asks John Malcovich, “What’s the difference between a duck?” A plate of fresh meat is shared between them and from the cured legs and hands hanging in the kitchen, I can only come to the realization that it’s human meat. I don’t know if the hotel staff are vampires or cannibals or some other creature of the night. I don’t know that it matters much as the movie isn’t really focused on this.

Hotel is centered around a crew of filmmakers shooting an adaptation of John Webster’s The Duchess ofMalfi, dogme 95 style. Apparently, this was a revolutionary style of movie making championed by Lars von Trier back in 1995. It involves handheld camera work, no sets, no lighting, etc. So the director of this Duchess of Malfi adaption, an intense Welsh man named Trent Stoken (Rhys Ifans), insists on shooting the Duchess of Malfi in modern day Venice with all the tourists and pigeons flying about while the cast delivers Elizabethan English in period clothing. And it’s all shot on digital video which has not stood the test of time and looks ghastly on any modern television. But maybe that’s the whole point. The entire production reeks of Pretention, by Dior.

David Schwimmer plays Jonathan Danderfine, one of the producers The Duchess of Malfi (retitled Malfi), who has the creepy hotel staff attempt an assassination on Stoken with a silencer pistol. The assassination attempt puts Stoken in a vegetative coma allowing Danderfine to take over the directing of Malfi and put his artistic spin on it. I also think he has the hots for Saffron Burrows, who plays the titular Duchess of Malfi. Much of this is being seen through the lens of a documentary being shot about the making of Malfi, which is where Salma Hayek enters in the fray.Hayek plays Charlee Boux, an extremely obnoxious MTV-style journalist from Mexico whose catchphrase is “Hello!” because I think she hosts a show in Mexico called Hello. She keeps asking to speak to the writer of Malfi, John Webster, not knowing he’s been dead for over 400 years.

Later, Charlee Boux gets into a nasty fight with Danderfine’s good friend Kawika (Lucy Liu). If you ever wanted to see Salma Hayek and Lucy Liu get into a vicious cat fight, then this in the movie for you. Did I mention that Burt Reynolds makes an appearance?

I probably should have led with that.

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

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