review for Hotel on AllMovie

Hotel (2001)
by Michael Hastings review

Not unlike Steven Soderbergh's 2002 debacle Full Frontal, director Mike Figgis' follow-up to his entertaining DV curio Timecode is a plodding, convoluted, and aimless experiment in overshooting, under-planning, and amateur-hour improv that does more to extinguish the DIY-movie movement than ignite it. When the film focuses on its central conceit of an arrogant hipster film crew (led by the brilliant Rhys Ifans) attempting to shoot an updated The Dutchess of Amalfi, Hotel seems as if it's going to be a trenchant satire of the DV movement itself, in particular Lars von Trier's (admittedly) overblown Dogme movement. But Figgis loses this thread early in the film, dropping Ifans' character into a coma and opting instead to dabble in supernatural shocks, lame black comedy, and absurdist sex. By the time Burt Reynolds and Lucy Liu show up -- for little or no apparent reason -- Figgis himself has given up, indulging in interminable, unintelligible mirror-image shots of his actors, the Venice scenery, and nothing in particular. Where Timecode was tethered by a plot outline and a 97-minute, real-time shooting constraint, Hotel has no such limitations, and the result is 110 minutes of digital thumb-twiddling.