The Romanians: LUXURY HOTEL
For filmmakers, the advantages of living through a real-life dystopia include the highly cinematic locations the regimes leave behind. Of course, for Dan Pita, there was no up-side when he was banned from filmmaking, because his 1983 film Sand Cliffs sufficiently perturbed Ceausescu. About a decade later, he filmed this weird surreal dystopian parable in the dictator’s former palace (now the parliament building). Once again, a sinister and capricious “boss” rules over the exploited workers in Pita’s Luxury Hotel, which screens during Film Forum’s new retrospective, The Romanians:30 Years of Cinema Revolution.
The world of Luxury Hotel shares common elements with Late August at the Hotel Ozone and Snowpiercer, but it is superior to both of those films. Frankly, its vision of class conflict within the paranoid surveillance state is not particularly ground-breaking, but the visuals are quite striking. The decaying but still ostentatious palace is indeed quite a sight to behold, which Pita and his cinematographer, Calin Ghibu, fully capitalize on. You truly couldn’t create sets like this.
Luxury Hotel could have probably only been produced during the immediate post-Ceausescu aftermath, when the palace was available, in all its faded grandeur. It is definitely spectacle, but serious, distinctively pointed spectacle. Highly recommended for fans of dystopian social satire, Luxury Hotel screens tomorrow (11/16) and Thursday (11/21), as part of the Romanians series, now underway at Film Forum.