Alan Govenar (shown at left) and with some smart animation by Blas Garcia and Alan Hatchett (who also edited the film), and some even funnier drawings from Elliot Rudie (like the one of Burroughs, below), the documentary is a lot of fun and remarkably alive. This is due in no small measure to the wonderful photography by Scottish shutterbug Harold Chapman (who lived in the hotel during this time and to a large extent narrates the movie) -- bringing back the shadow side of the "city of lights" from a half-century past. Chapman's moody, lovely, on-the-fly photos capture the people and the time with artful, seemingly artless ease, and one of the most interesting (even to a non-photographer like TrustMovies) sections of the film involves Chapman's explanation of how, first step to last, he created what he calls, quite charmingly and rightly, his highly original kind of "dustbin photography."
Naked Lunch (or, as we learn, due to a Freudian typo, "Naked Lust") and lots more. I usually resent "re-enactments" in documentaries (unless like James Marsh, one does them so well that they fool me). Here, the re-enactments are done with enough wit and charm -- plus black-and-white photography and actors who look like their subjects -- that these engage us surprisingly well. One, in which Burroughs (shown below) and his associates put on a "magic" act, using light and film to make the writer disappear, is a real delight.
The Beat Hotel, 82 minutes, from First Run Features, opened theatrically yesterday here in New York City at the Cinema Village. To view all currently scheduled upcoming playdates, with cities and theaters, click here. Knowing FRF, you'll also be able to catch up with the film on DVD, eventually.