New Rose Hotel (1998)

Rating: D

Dir: Abel Ferrara
Star: Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, Asia Argento

Filming a story that takes ten minutes to read is a questionable endeavour and, sure enough, Ferrara pads out the second half with lengthy, largely pointless flashbacks (albeit slightly different from the scenes as originally shown, a nod to the vagaries of memory). The story takes place in hotel bars and rooms, with Walken as freelance corporate spy Fox, who hatches a plan to use hooker Sandi (Argento) to lure a company genius into defecting. Of course, it goes horribly wrong – hey, anyone expecting a happy ending is watching the wrong director – partner X (Dafoe) falling in love with Sandi. The problem is that while Walken is his usual fabulous self, lighting up the screen whenever he speaks, Ferrara has taken an idea without any fat at all, and hacked out chunks, such as the idea that Sandi’s behaviour is perhaps revenge-motivated.

As a result, when the story-line pokes its head up, you desperately want it to stick around, but it’s usually only a few sentences before the plot vanishes in favour of moodily-lit atmospherics or another scene of Argento and Dafoe screwing. The genius is played – mostly on video screens – by Yoshitaka Amano, the artist heavily involved in such legends as Vampire Hunter D and the Final Fantasy series of games; a nice touch, but one that is probably lost, most likely in yet another flashback. This is a fabulous 20-minute short. Pity it’s 87 minutes long. With the emphasis on “long”.