And for his directorial debut, Ethan Hawke runs smack dab into the Walls of indulgence. Commandeering the once low-budget Chelsa Hotel as his playground--which has housed such prominent creative types as Andy Warhol, Dylan Thomas and Sid Vicious--Hawk guides viewers through the cockroach-infested halls, peeking in on five different stories over the course of a single day.
Filmed on crappy digital video, Hawke's lofty goal of painting the personalities of the poetry-spewing inhabitants gives ways to wannabe Beatnik meandering. He catches the depression of the place but not the spirit. The ensemble cast, led by Kris Kristofferson, Uma Thurman and Rosario Dawson, do what they can with the somber material. But with the exception of the excellent Dylanesque soundtrack by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, this two hours of constant disappointment and despair is enough to make even the most upbeat moviegoer ask for Prozac with their popcorn.