Finished with my jury responsibilities, I managed to check out some features. A favorite of mine was Chelsea on the Rocks, by Abel Ferrara (director of Bad Lieutenant and a terrific little mob flick called The Funeral). It's a documentary about the infamous Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, but it's far from traditional. There are lots of odd transitions and edits, the interviews are beyond casual (Ferrara says something along the lines of "No shit!" every ten seconds while listening to the stories of those living in the building), and there are some utterly ridiculous and unnecessary re-enactments of notorious events in the hotel's past (actors play Sid and Nancy, Janis Joplin, and assorted hangers-on). Truth be told, the whole thing was kind of a mess. But watching it felt a lot like spending a night in the hotel, and it's a ride I'm glad I took. I didn't learn a thing, but it brought me inside a place full of fascinating characters, a place I walked past countless times in Manhattan without a second thought. I'm back home in Los Angeles, and if I accomplished nothing else with these CineVegas reports, I hope I convinced some of you to hit the fest next year. I mean, they have after-parties at strip clubs, for crying out loud! Oh, and the movies are good, too. Check out the website here, the festival will definitely return next year and if you're feeling super-spontaneous, you could even fly out for the last few nights of CineVegas 2008. They've got some major events planned for the rest of the week, including tributes to Viggo Mortensen, Rosario Dawson, Don Cheadle, and character actor extraordinaire Sam Rockwell (bummed that I had to leave before the screening of his new one, Choke). They're also giving a lifetime achievement award to Anjelica Huston and something called a "Vegas Icon" award to James Cann. Wish I could have stayed for all the fun, but I've got some detoxing to do and I may need surgery to fix the mangled hook that is my video poker finger!
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