MOVIE: ALWAYS AT THE CARLYLE
STARRING: GEORGE CLOONEY; SOFIA COPPOLA; ANJELICA HUSTON; ANTHONY BOURDAIN
DIRECTED BY: MATTHEW MIELE
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Always at the Carlyle is half informative documentary, about one of the oldest and most famous hotels in all of New York city. The other half is a 92 minute self-serving advertisement for why you should stay at The Carlyle hotel. For just the low-low price of a thousand dollars a night too! And that's if you stay in one of the smaller rooms. From presidents Harry Truman to George W. Bush, to actors like George Clooney, or musicians like Billy Joel, The Carlyle is the swankiest place one could rest their head. Chalk full with a rich history of high-class characters gracing their rooms and elegant service, there's a reason it's a famous place to stay. In director Matthew Miele's documentary, we get a peak at what makes this hotel special, through talking head interviews with various staff members, celebrities who frequently stay, and unknown stories of past and present. Always at the Carlyle is a brisk escape to the lap of luxury, but also feels a bit outdated and out of touch with reality today.
Let's just state the obvious, it's quite hilarious to see personalities such as Piers Morgan or Condoleezza Rice talk about a hotel that caters to every celebrities needs in a luxurious hotel. After all, aren't the “social elites” the very people these characters hate? It's clear that everyone wants the fancy, finer things in life, just like the rest of us. Along with other various celebrity interviews, director Matthew Miele conducts a bundle of conversations with concierge's, bellboys, phone operators, waiters, and bartenders that cater to these celebrities every need, from laundry to room-service, and more. The separation between the wealthy and the employees feels contradictory in the directors narrative goal.
It just so happens, it is the stories we get from these staff members that peaked my interest most. Multiple characters profess their appreciation for Jack Nicholson, or talk about the planning process of Prince William and Kate Middelton's visit before their world famous wedding. Everything that goes into maintaining this hotel, keeping a pristine, and intimate experience for visitors, is because of a world-class staff that embodies the very reason why New York is still the greatest town in America.
Alongside the hotel is the famous Cafe Carlyle, a bar that features some of the greatest live jazz music experience that a fan could get. This is one of the cooler parts of Always at the Carlyle, as we see a brief look at the career and music stylings of Bobby Short, whose voice and talents made a massive impact on the hotel. There are not many places that fans could go for a romantic evening with music from Jeff Goldbloom one day and hear the crooning voice of Linda Lavin the next. Sadly, Woody Allen still has made an impact on the Carlyle, as he plays with his jazz band on a weekly basis, which is another part of this documentary that did not age well.
Giving credit to this documentary, I was certainly sold on making it a place to see the next time I am in New York. The Carlyle is a gorgeous hotel, with monogramed pillows, beautiful décor, and a strong chance you will catch a glimpse of some of the biggest celebrities today. Always at the Carlyle undoubtedly captures the spirit of why this hotel has been around for so long, unfortunately for some of the people watching the documentary, this will be the closest they ever get to staying for a night.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady