Film Review: ALWAYS AT THE CARLYLE (USA 2018) ***

The iconic Carlyle hotel has been an international destination for a particular jet-set as well as a favorite haunt of the most discernible New Yorkers.

Director:

Matthew Miele

Writer:

Matthew Miele

Documentaries are made for varying reasons. They could be for education, to inform the world of some little known subject, to celebrate a famous person, to whistle blow or to honour a person in a biography.  ALWAYS AT THE CARLYLE, the new documentary written and directed by Matthew Miele celebrates a famous hotel – the famous hotel called the Carlyle.

The iconic Carlyle hotel has been an international destination for a particular jet-set as well as a favourite haunt of the most discernible New Yorkers.  This documentary celebrates glamour – the glamour of the hotel (the cost of a suite could go for as high as $22,000) and the glamour of the guests that have stayed there.  The list of guests includes stars Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, Anthony Bourdain, Naomi Campbell, George Clooney, Sofia Coppola, Alan Cumming and Jon Hamm as well as Presidents and dignitaries like John F. Kennedy and Ted Roosevelt.

The Carlyle Hotel enjoys the reputation popularized by recent movies like the JOHN WICK films and HOTEL ARTEMIS with Jodie Foster.  In these films, a hotel would service any client no matter what background with everyone treated fairly and equally despite any shadiness. At the Carlyle, the management declined to tap the rooms of any suspicious clientele as all hotel guests are treated with respect.  The example given is the request by the government agency to  tap the Iraqi delegation that stayed there during the Gulf War.  No was the answer.

Whatever happens at the Carlyle stays at the Carlyle.  That is the saying and understand of both the staff and guests of the plush expensive hotel.  Even the names of the celebrities are not disclosed by the staff.

Director Mile has assembled a varied cast of interviewees to shed light on the hotel.  Besides the stars mentioned, the hotel staff, many of whom have spent their entire lives working there.  These include Kim of Room Service, Ernesto the doorman, Helal the waiter and several of management from sales to decor designer.

The film reveals the uniqueness of the Carlyle, in the words of both sides, the clientele and staff.  The art decor, the personal friendliness, the class, the care taken and style are a few of the factors.  The staff also speak of their favourite encounters.  George Clooney (who also speaks to the camera in an interview) and John F. Kennedy top the list of the staff’s favourite guests.

What is a hotel without some wicked scandal?  The hotel staff is asked about Marilyn Monroe and Kennedy and about many young and super gorgeous twenty-somethings that enter the hotel doors.  Fortunately, the staff is discreet.

The film’s highlights are the performances that take place at the hotel’s cafe.  A seat is reputed to cost at least $150 with a minimum of a $75 order.  One of the most popular performers is Bobby Short who is shown performing in a brief clip.  His performance and the hotel are also featured in Woody Allen’s film HANNAH AND HER SISTERS.  Woody Allen is also featured playing the clarinet in the cafe.

ALWAYS AT THE CARLYLE is entertaining fluff.  The film celebrates celebrities.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chbAw9uNV8U

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Film Review: ISLE OF DOGS (USA 2017) ***** TOP 10

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Trailer

Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his dog.

Director:

Wes Anderson

Writers:

Wes Anderson (screenplay), Wes Anderson (story) | 3 more credits »

 

ISLE OF DOGS lies on many critics’ list as one of their most anticipated films of the year.  The reason is easy to see.  It has been 4 years since Anderson wowed both audiences and critics alike with the excellent THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL.  ISLE OF DOGS is also Anderson’s second animated feature after THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX and judging from that film, ISLE OF DOGS arrives with high expectations.  Fortunately, these are all met.  The film also won Anderson the Silver Bear Award for Best Director for ISLE OF DOGS which also opened the Berlin International Film Festival.

In a dystopian future Japan, dogs have been quarantined and banished to a remote island due to a “canine flu”.  Major Kobayashihas (Kunichi Nomura) who has won the election and has convinced all his voters that this is the best idea.  The all-important question is then posed; “Whatever happened to man’s best friend?”  

There is hope for the dogs.  A boy, ironically the major’s nephew, Atari (Koyu Rankin), ventures to the island to search for his dog, Spots (Liev Screiber).  There is at least one human being who still loves his pet dog.  Dogs Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex  (Edward Norton), Boss (Bill Murray), Duke (Jeff Goldblum), and King (Bob Balaban) help him search for Spots and evade the authorities.  Eventually Atari discovers his uncle’s plot to eliminate all dogs on the isle and with the help of the dogs led by Chief saves the dog world.  The film is enough to seriously have audiences consider getting themselves a pet dog after watching the moving saga.

The film is shot in both English and Japanese.  The dogs speak English which English audiences understand while the humans speak Japanese which the dogs (and audiences do not understand).  This is a brilliant concept which is even more brilliant when one considers the reverse effect when Japanese watch the film.

The ensemble voice cast is impressive but largely wasted as many of the voices cannot be recognized.  Even Yoko Ono is on the list, but very few know what she sounds like, less alone the more famous stars that include Ken Watanabe, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, just to name a few.

And the film is extremely funny with more than I can count, laugh-out loud moments.  Anderson’s humour is mostly tongue-in-cheek, which is not the characteristic humour (slapstick, sarcasm, dead-pan) found in many films.   Examples are the way Anderson shoots his animated feature as if all happening is live action.  The segment on the liver transplant is done in an overhead shot as if the operation is actually filmed live with live characters.  Dialogue like one dog saying: “The ones I want are never in heat!” or “I see cats with more balls than you guys,” also come across as very funny in their situations.  The most hilarious of these occur after the film’s climax where the mayoral elections are finally over with the commentator announcing in a sort of anti-climaxed statement: “Boy, What a night!”

On originality alone, ISLE OF DOGS scores 100% which makes it one of the first 10 best films of 2018.  Boy! What a movie!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt__kig8PVU

 

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Happy Birthday Director Wes Anderson

wesanderson.jpgHappy Birthday Director Wes Anderson

Born: Wesley Wales Anderson
May 1, 1969 in Houston, Texas, USA

Read reviews of the best of the director:

Bottle RocketBottle Rocket
1996
dir. Anderson
starring
Luke Wilson
Owen Wilson

RushmoreRushmore
1998
dir. Anderson
starring
Jason Schwartzman
Bill Murray

The Royal TenenbaumsThe Royal Tenenbaums
2001
dir. Anderson
starring
Gene Hackman
Ben Stiller
Gwyneth Paltrow
The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouThe Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
2004
dir. Anderson
starring
Bill Murray
Kate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERMOONRISE KINGDOM
dir. Wes Anderson
Cast:
Bill Murray
Bruce Willis

THE DARJEELING LIMITEDThe Darjeeling Limited
2007
dir. Anderson
starring
Owen Wilson
Adrien Brody
Jason Schwartzman

FANTASTIC MR. FOX Movie PosterFantastic Mr. Fox
dir. Anderson
Stars:
George Clooney
Meryl Streep
Bill Murray

MOVIE POSTERTHE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
2014
dir. Wes Anderson
Stars:
Saoirse Ronan
Lea Seydoux