What looks at first like it might be a 92-minute commercial for a venerable luxury hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side turns out to be something quite different — something not entirely opposite, but certainly something more melancholy and elegiac than a simple celebration of refined indulgence. Documentarian Matthew Miele makes the most of the establishment’s virtues, visual and otherwise, but he makes it clear from the outset that there’s a difference between his subject and his object: here you have a hotel famous for its famous clientele, and the film opens with a string of employees saying that they won’t talk about the guests. (There are, however, plenty of notable guests on hand who are willing to talk about the hotel.) It’s telling that the one current celebrity who does get dished on is Donald Trump, and it turns out our nation’s Man of the Hour is not impressed with the operation. So what will the staff talk about? Mostly, the past. Because while the place still looks great, something ineffable — to use the word chosen by the Carlyle’s splendid, stuttering concierge — has departed, and no amount of monogrammed pillowcases can cover the loss. (2018) — Matthew Lickona
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