The Million Dollar Hotel

Lord knows there are reasons enough to dismiss Wim Wenders's extravagant, shaggy-dog whodunit: It's too long, the willful eccentricity is grating and the hackneyed moral — real life is better than TV — is so silly it's best taken ironically. But the film, much of it shot digitally, is also astonishingly beautiful. The action...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Lord knows there are reasons enough to dismiss Wim Wenders's extravagant,

shaggy-dog whodunit: It's too long, the willful eccentricity is grating and

the hackneyed moral — real life is better than TV — is so silly it's

best taken ironically. But the film, much of it shot digitally, is also

astonishingly beautiful. The action takes place in and around L.A.'s Million

Dollar Hotel (actually the Frontier, where U2's "Where the Streets Have No

Name" video was shot), a crumbling SRO from whose roof a junkie named Izzy has

fallen — or been pushed — to his death. But Izzy was no ordinary

deadbeat: His father is powerful media mogul Stanley Goldkiss (Harris Yulin),

who'd like to make sure his son's death doesn't go down as suicide. Enter

Detective Skinner (Mel Gibson), a fast-talking FBI agent in a body brace, who

takes the hotel by storm but meets with nothing but resistance from a hotel

full of uncooperative misfits. They include a Native American artist who

paints with tar (Jimmy Smits), a head-case with a "Fifth Beatle" complex

(Peter Stormare), and a foul-mouthed prostitute (Amanda Plummer) who claims to have been Izzy's fiance. At the center of Skinner's investigation is Tom Tom

(Jeremy Davies), a childlike skate-punk too deep in the throes of puppy love

with a beautiful psychiatric outpatient (Milla Jovovich) to notice he's being

framed for murder. Shot by Phedeon Papmichael in twilight tones of deep blue,

the film lurches along to its own uncertain rhythms: Woozy slow-motion

alternates with speedy jump-cuts and long, rapturous shots of Los Angeles.

Gibson, who was first in line to bad-mouth his own movie to the press, gives

one of his best performances, and the evocative songs are by the film's

"co-story creator," U2's Bono. The impressive supporting cast includes Bud

Cort, Tim Roth and Gloria Stuart, who, after nearly 70 years in the business,

gets to say the f-word.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Lord knows there are reasons enough to dismiss Wim Wenders's extravagant, shaggy-dog whodunit: It's too long, the willful eccentricity is grating and the hackneyed moral — real life is better than TV — is so silly it's best taken ironi… (more)

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