Hotel Gramercy Park

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*** (Three stars)
This behind-the-scenes documentary weaves together an array of personal stories, many involving grief-stricken episodes, all set in the location of the film’s title: Hotel Gramercy Park. Director Douglas Keeve is able to gain privileged access to celebrity occupants and longtime residents of the hotel, yielding tales of both good times and personal tragedy. The imagery itself is generally dull and uninspired, and the film would be next to intolerable if it weren’t for taut editing and several compelling biographical anecdotes. It delves into the history of the hotel, from its ownership by the Weisberg family for more then 50 years to its sale (and reinvention) by hotelier Ian Schrager. Refreshingly, the film gives face time to construction workers who labored on the property, in addition to famous names like Carl Lagerfeld, who couldn’t be more enthusiastic to occupy a Gramercy room. It also recaps more familiar facts, like Paris Hilton’s seminotorious ban from the premises and Julian Schnabel’s hand in the interior decorating. The youngest Weisberg son, Jonathan, acts as an unofficial narrator, and helps move this film beyond the realm of stale history and toward a more intriguing meditation on home and family.—Jay Muhlin, digital imaging assistant

[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.]
 

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