As New York’s The Roxy Hotel unveils a new look, we pore over the best cinematic moments that take place in hotels
A hotel meet cute is a story Hollywood falls over itself to tell. There are too many films that take place in and around hotels – Psycho, Trainspotting, Somewhere, Charade, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – that prove it’s a narrative constant. Many unforgettable moments came to pass in the romantic climes of a cushy hotel room. Like when Ilsa says to Rick, “Kiss me, kiss me as if it were the last time,” in Casablanca. Or – equally romantic – when Fabienne discovers she wants a ‘sexy’ pot belly while curled up on a bed in Pulp Fiction. The Roxy Hotel in New York has undergone a refurbishment by designer Briana Stanley and this includes its 100-seat cinema. To celebrate, we’re singling out five films that have helped to create the legacy of using a hotel as narrative device.
LOST IN TRANSLATION (2001)
Hotel bars are great places to be lonely. Just ask Charlotte, who meets flagging star Bob Harris in Sofia Coppola’s 2001 hit Lost in Translation. Charlotte treks to Tokyo with her photographer boyfriend, and, salty at having to spend so much time on her own in a foreign metropolis, finds comfort in the surrounds of her hotel room. When she does venture to the hotel’s bar, an unlikely friendship with Bob over a glass of Suntory (she takes vodka tonic) begins to blossom. The pair bond over their crippling loneliness, which is heartwarming.
HOTEL CHEVALIER (2007)
This Wes Anderson short film is only 13 minutes long, but what he does with those 13 minutes is nothing short of rousing. Hearing that his ex-lover is landing in Paris, a man (Jason Schwartzman) frantically cleans up the hotel room he has been living in for over a month and puts on “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)”. Once she arrives, their relationship falls back into place. It leaves you with more questions than answers, but Hotel Chevalier dissects a complicated relationship in the most deluxe of settings. Costumed in head-to-toe Marc Jacobs and backdropped by canary yellow everything, it’s a treat to watch how even a short film that opened The Darjeeling Limited can be just as potent an entry in the Anderson cache.
THE SHINING (1980)
Jack Torrance is quickly losing his mind, holed up in the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 cabin fever classic. When he swings by the hotel bar for a bottle of bourbon, Jack has just been accused of striking his son Danny by his wife. He takes a seat at the bar and breaks the fourth wall, gazing directly into camera, addressing the bartender, Lloyd. It’s a tense staredown between viewer and character, telegraphing the unease that makes this film so riveting. These few brief moments are some of Jack Nicholson’s finest acting.
THE DOOM GENERATION (1995)
The visual bombardment of the black and white checkered motel room in Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation – which follows Amy Blue, Jordan White and Xavier as they tear through middle America holding up quickemarts and committing crimes – is a set designer’s dream. Jordan and Amy have sex while X is feet away in the bathtub. Watching the news, he discovers that he’s off the hook for killing a convenience store clerk since the clerk’s wife has gone crazy, disemboweling her children and committing suicide. This transgressive cult flick is still edgy, and a paragon of what really goes on in seedy motels.
In Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood, a gang of girls coerce a hesitant girl at their school to join after one of the gang’s previous members drops out due to pregnancy. Later in the film, the four of them rent a hotel room to have a party after looting some shops. Drenched in a blue hue, the girls dance and lip sync to Rihanna’s “Diamonds”. It’s up there as one of the best uses of a popular track in a film. Rather than take you out of the scene, it draws you closer as you experience how this crew of light-fingered girls finds camaraderie in one another. The French film is a seriously powerful look at life in les banlieues – a sort of spiritual sequel to La Haine.