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The Million Dollar Hotel, based on a story by Bono, directed by long-time U2 collaborator Wim Wenders and starring Mel Gibson, opens in New York and Los Angeles today, Friday.



The film has received a strong review in The New York Times - see below - and U2.Com, in association with milliondollarhotel.com and wim.wenders.com are running a competition for special prize packages.



You can win Million Dollar Hotel packages including soundtrack CD, the film book and signed movie posters by visiting

http://www.wim-wenders.com



Meanwhile, in The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell reports on the new film, which started life more than a decade ago when Bono had an idea on a rooftop in Los Angeles during the Joshua Tree tour.



'The Million Dollar Hotel': A Mel Gibson Adventure, Taken at a Stroll By ELVIS MITCHELL I figured I could learn a lot from him," Tom Tom (Jeremy Davies), the central figure and narrator of Wim Wenders's almost new movie, "Million Dollar Hotel," says of the F.B.I. agent, Skinner (Mel Gibson). The admiring and loony Tom Tom is tailing Skinner while Skinner investigates a murder in a Los Angeles flophouse. With a military brush cut and stiff suits that must be made from corrugated pinstripe, Skinner looks like an automaton parody of Mr. Gibson's action characters. Similarly, Mr. Gibson probably went into business with Mr. Wenders because he thought he might pick something up from this German director, a man who specializes in wanderers lost in a fog of longing. This may be why Mr. Gibson's company produced "Hotel," a mellow dream of a movie that's an acquired taste. It's attractive because of the oblique way that Mr. Wenders ambles through a murder mystery that's stronger on characterization than on plot. This may have sat uncomfortably with Mr. Gibson, who was quoted as dismissing "Hotel" as boring. He later amended this assessment and allowed that he was only joking. But even as a laugh, one of the world's biggest stars must understand that such a remark is not the kind of quotation that looks good in newspaper ads. "Hotel" wafts across the screen like ashes from a dying fire: it lacks the decisive logic and Point A to Point B payoff that is normally associated with Mel Gibson movies. Here, the dialogue goes from declamations to mutters, and words are murmured as asides so often that you're not even sure that you heard the narrator's name. (The screenwriter, Nicholas Klein, seems to have put together passages that echo the ebb and flow vocal styling of U2's Bono, who shares a story credit and was a co-producer of the film.) Mr. Gibson's frustration may also come from his character's having to observe the chaos instead of churning it up. Skinner is trying, in his way, to find the murderer of a flophouse inhabitant, who turns out to be the son of a very important man. The suspects are the hotel's residents, whose various forms of lowlife paranoia thwart Skinner's investigation. "Hotel" has Mr. Wenders's mottled benevolence; he has nothing but kindness in his soul, and his slightly faded fable is as full of freaks as the auditions for "Survivor: The Australian Outback." But instead of stranding his collection of outcasts in the outback, Mr. Wenders puts them all in a downtown Los Angeles haven for losers. They are all angry and crazy and a step away from being homeless; the group of downscale inhabitants includes Bud Cort, Jimmy Smits, Tom Bower, Tito Larriva, Richard Edson, Gloria Stuart and Amanda Plummer. (Donal Logue, Harris Yulin and Charlayne Woodard also turn up.) Mr. Wenders has a complicated love of L.A. He starts the film off with a helicopter shot of downtown Los Angeles's multimillion-dollar skyline. The cinematographer Phedeon Papamichael slowly brings the camera down to earth and to the crummy rooftop of the formerly grand Million Dollar Hotel, now a fleabag residence, a City of Angels landmark that looks like the site where Bono stood for U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" video. It's indicative of Mr. Wenders's perspective that he doesn't hose down the city's streets for the usual glossy, shiny look. He lovingly lingers over the baked, cracking pavement, blowing kisses to the city's flaws. Instead, he chooses to hose down the hotel's floors. To throw a scare into its uncooperative dwellers, Skinner floods the building's interior, and water cascades down the marble stairs. (It's as if Mr. Wenders is determined to give this modern, impersonal city the garish seediness of today's Berlin.) Like Brandon de Wilde in "Shane," the aimless Tom Tom, one of the hotel's citizens, needs a hero and finds one in the brusque Skinner. Tom Tom's hair is slicked back on top, with tufts sticking out of the sides like crab grass; he looks like a human version of Woodstock from the "Peanuts" comics. He waddles after Skinner like a baby duck. Compounding the birdy joke, Tom Tom's head pops into the frame while a man is seen watching a cockfight on television. Mr. Wenders tosses off other visual puns: a Beatles-obsessed suspect (Peter Stormare, using a Liverpudlian accent that sounds like a different member of the Fab Four with each syllable) who keeps Granny Smith apples on his windowsill. Mr. Wenders demonstrates his casual mastery by shifting to black and white, freezing the frame and resorting to jump cuts to show the disorder in Tom Tom's head. He focuses only when he beholds the lovely Eloise (Milla Jovovich), an introverted rosebud who wanders the hotel's halls clutching books like "One Hundred Years of Solitude" when she's not hidden away in a room that looks like a secondhand paperback store. Like many of Mr. Wenders's other films, "Hotel" has a score that's a music lover's jackpot; it was composed by Bono, Jon Hassell, Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, and also features covers of "Satellite of Love" by Bono and "Anarchy in the U.K." by Mr. Larriva, the kind of pedigree most filmmakers can only dream of.



Read the rest of the review at

http://www.nytimes.com/

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