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September 15, 2009

Chelsea on the Rocks

Chelseahotelstairs Abel Ferrara combines archival footage and reenacted scenes from ex-Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon’s last days at the Chelsea Hotel, with interviews of some of the famous hotel’s more colorful residents, in order to elucidate the passing of one of Manhattan’s last landmark havens for artists. Stanley Bard, the hotel’s beloved manager and caretaker for 45 years, was pushed out by a new management company intent on raising profits with a Chateau Marmont-styled renovation. The fascinating documentary is just one more reminder of the war on culture taking place on a vast scale all over the world. "Chelsea on the Rocks" is a precious cinematic document of a unique global community that gravitated around one hotel. Director Milos Forman puts in a welcome guest appearance to tell his story about coming to New York for the first time and taking up residence at the Chelsea without enough money to pay for it. Thanks to Stanley Bard's generosity, he remained anyway. There'll never be days like that again.
Not Rated. 89 mins. (B+) (Four Stars)

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