The Cannes Film Festival Premiers “Chelsea on the Rocks”

The Cannes Film Festival Premiers “Chelsea on the Rocks”

Noted in The Huffington Post

Chelsea on the Rocks, the new documentary about New York City’s Chelsea Hotel, premiered last Friday at the Cannes Film Festival. Director Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant) threaded together archival footage and interviews with many of the artists, writers and actors who have lived there, in typical documentary fashion.

He also hired actors to play Janis Joplin and Sid Vicious, both of whom battled drugs and demons during their stays there. Leonard Cohen wrote a song about a sexual encounter with Joplin on an unmade bed there. And the Chelsea is where Vicious’ girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, died of a stab wound. The Chelsea has been a mecca for bohemia for decades, attracting brilliant, often desperate and doomed artists. Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Andy Warhol, Arthur Miller and Arthur C. Clarke are just a few of the greats who spent time there.

Actor Dennis Hopper, who stayed there early in his career, told reporters at the Cannes festival, “We were all living on the edge, the edge of what, I’m not sure, but we were living on the edge of it. A number of us fell in the hole, and some of us stood on the rim, and some of us got out of there,” he said. “But it was a really special, exciting time, and I’ll always cherish it.”

Ferrara’s film includes interviews with actor Ethan Hawke, who sings a song he wrote during a stay at the hotel, Hopper, director Milos Forman and cartoonist R. Crumb. Another important figure is Stanley Bard, who ran the hotel for nearly five decades, helping many artists along the way. Bard was pushed aside last year in a management change that has left residents worried that the Chelsea Hotel is destined to quickly become just another standard Manhattan boutique hotel. Bard’s departure, and fears for the hotel’s soul, are the backdrop for the documentary.

Chelsea On The Rocks: A Documentary by Abel Ferrara

Rufus Wainright Sings Chelsea Hotel#2

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Photos of the Day: Pretty in Pastels

Photos of the Day: Pretty in Pastels

Photography by: Joseph Bleu

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Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright: Songs of Measured Lament

Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright: Songs of Measured Lament

Jeff Buckley was born in California in 1966 and died at the young age of 31 in a tragic drowning accident in Memphis, Tennessee. He had emerged in New York City’s Lower East Side avant-garde club scene during the early-1990’s as one of the most remarkable musical artists of his generation, acclaimed by audiences, critics,and fellow musicians alike. Buckley performed a version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on his 1994 debut album Grace. By 1997, Buckley had moved from New York City and settled in Memphis, where he continued to work on what would have been his newest album. His last public show was a solo performance at a small club named Barrister’s in Memphis on May 26, 1997. Buckley died three days later, drowning in Memphis in the Wolf River on May 29, 1997.

Everybody Here Wants You: A Documentary of Buckley’s Life

Jeff Buckley: Halleluja

Rufus Wainwright met Jeff Buckley in the 1990s when Wainwright was an up-and-coming act. By then, Buckley had already released his first album (Grace), and was well on his way to stardom. Wainwright is said to have felt somewhat exasperated that Buckley often played at Sin-é, a café on New York’s Lower East Side, while he had been rejected three times by the club. The two met several months before Buckley’s drowning, during a show that Wainwright was playing. Buckley supposedly helped out with some technical problems, and the two talked over beers for a few hours.

In Wainwright’s 2004 album Want Two, his song Memphis Skyline was written as a tribute to Buckley, a loving elegy for another beautiful boy blessed with more than mere attitude and exhibitionism. “Always hated him for the way he looked/in the gaslight of the morning,” Rufus sings about Buckley, for whom this is a sweetly homoerotic tribute: “So kiss me, my darling, stay with me till morning…” That song also mentions Hallelujah, the Leonard Cohen song that Buckley had notably covered, and which Wainwright later did likewise.

Rufus Wainwright: Hallelujah

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