Over the course of two decades, director Abel Ferrara has made a more diverse selection of films than his roots as the king of New York exploitation movies might have suggested, including two that easily rank among this decade's best (Bad Lieutenant and The Funeral). But he's never made a film quite like New Rose Hotel, and with any luck he never will again. Perhaps frustrated with having at least one major movie still unreleased in America (the intriguing-looking The Blackout), Ferrara took on a project that must have been a relatively easy sell, a William Gibson adaptation starring Ferrara regular Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, and European sex symbol Asia Argento. Dafoe and Walken play financial pirates who, in a slightly futuristic-looking (and slightly low-budget) world, plot to lure a Japanese scientist away from his corporation by hiring Argento to seduce him. Dafoe's growing affection for Argento complicates matters, provoking extensive discussions between Dafoe and Argento, Dafoe and Walken, and ultimately Dafoe and himself. An exhaustingly talky, virtually plotless film whose only virtue—aside from the negligible presence of its stars—comes from some interesting uses of video footage, it's difficult to see what Ferrara hoped to accomplish here. Making matters worse is New Rose Hotel's conclusion, which finds Dafoe spending 20 minutes flashing back extensively to earlier scenes, reflecting more than anyone ever should on the most dispensable effort of Ferrara's career.
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