Welcome to Dan Glaser’s Movie Podcast: The ONLY Podcast You Have To Read. In each episode I go with a different comedian to see a movie and then we head to the closest coffee shop to chat about it over the internet. Yes it is a podcast, you just have to read it instead of listen to it. As always, you can catch up on all the other episodes here. Even better, consider supporting the podcast by subscribing!
J.D. and I got together bright and early in the fashionable and trendy Regal Union Square where celebrities and civilians alike come to see and be seen. After watching Hotel Artemis with a total of 3 other people in the theater, we walked north to Brooklyn Roasting Company on 23rd St and 6th Ave to talk about what we learned. I got a large iced green tea and J.D. opted for a small iced green tea.
Dan: Hi J.D.! Thank you so much for joining me today on Dan Glaser's Movie Podcast: The ONLY Podcast You Have To Read. It's a beautiful day today here in 2018, 10 years prior to the start of the film we just saw, and before we get started I only have one question for you: “Do you want to get into heaven, or do you want to keep the Wolf King happy?”
J.D.: I have to mention right now that I was a little annoyed when you took out your phone during the movie. I thought you were just frustrated with the movie and responding to emails. Even thought it was a fairly empty theater, we were sitting up front and I didn't want to ruin anyone else's experience. But, now in hindsight I realized you were jotting down some key lines and I absolve you of the movie crime of having your phone out. It was worth it to remember that line.
Dan: Thanks J.D., I would never break that unwritten code under normal circumstances, but you know my rule, "If you steal from me, I return you to the ocean."
J.D.: (I actually laughed out loud) It's also worth mentioning that the emptiness of our theater changed throughout the movie. We had a couple walk-outs, and at least one walk-back-in.
Dan: Yeah I kept a running tally and I was trying to decide if a walk-back-in should count exactly as much as a walk-out, slightly more, or slightly less.
Like is two walk-outs and a walk-back-in equal to a total of one walk-out? Or slightly less, since the walk-back-in is a more powerful statement because of how insane it is? You don't casually walk-back-in to a movie about a Hotel For Dogs, Criminal Edition.
J.D.: Also, it didn't seem like a bathroom break. I legitimately believe this person left, changed their mind, and then returned. I think we started at six of us, ended with five, and had a few moments where there were only four of us.
I never saw Hotel for Dogs!
Dan: It's basically the same thing as what we just saw. Beat for beat. Okay, I think we should dive right into what happens in this movie. But before we do, I would like to hear your elevator pitch for Hotel Artemis. (This is a funny joke because there are a lot of elevators in this movie)
J.D.: Okay, I think I need to provide a little bit of my emotional context first. We saw this movie at 11:30am on a Friday. We had been planning to catch a movie together for several months but I had been in production on a show. You had been really good about being flexible with schedule and I was excited to see something with you. But, I'm now about a week out of being in production and as is always the case I've been having a bit of a tough time. After productions I usually get bowled over by waves of depression and anxiety-- and then a lot of other confusing feelings to garnish those. One of the side effects of this is that I normally have a hard time sleeping and so doing anything at 11:30am feels like a bit of a struggle. So, it was actually nice to have something to force me into a slightly more normal routine. That said, I don't think I was in the proper headspace to see this movie and as such I had a hard time really getting into it. So, take all of my thoughts with a massive personal grain of salt.
Dan: Dan Glaser's Movie Podcast is also famously a judgment free zone. The movie watching experience is by its nature always intensely personal, and personal context is at the center of that. On that note I think the only proper headspace to see this movie is if you were just at the end of a months long treatment program for fear of Art Deco Moulding and needed immersion therapy to complete it.
J.D.: That all said, here's my elevator pitch: It's an action melodrama about a bunch of characters at a hotel for criminals.
My follow up would be...
"Have you seen John Wick? You know the hotel? It's basically a movie about that place but it's more beaten down."
Dan: Wow, Hotel Artemis is melodrama and that is one of the big weird tonal choices that felt so discordant. I would also add that Hotel Artemis is not actually even a Hotel as we understand it today, for in the future (2028) Hotels are all actually Hospitals that you can run from an ipad.
J.D.: Yeah, it was interesting-- the title made me wish they played with the hotel concept a little bit more. I think I was also legitimately spoiled by John Wick, like I mentioned above, that features the exact same concept. After seeing John Wick I found myself really loving the hotel/hospital concept and thinking how cool it would be to see more about that world. So, when I heard the concept of Hotel Artemis I think I already had expectations from the John Wick hotel/hospital for criminals.
Dan: Ya. The idea of the criminal Safe Haven is a fun one, if a bit of a trope at this point, and John Wick's ‘Continental’ is certainly a cousin of the ‘Artemis’ if not it's direct parent. I seem to remember the John Wick hotel being a lot more tongue in cheek or at the very least more fun. Hotel Artemis can be accused of a lot of things but being too fun is not high on that list.
J.D.: Yeah, I think on this particular morning I could have used some more fun from this movie. Like you said, it had a lot going on and I felt myself having to change genre/tone gears a lot as an audience member. There was also a lot of very thick plot and intertwined character stories going on. So, it never felt like there was a moment to rest and just enjoy the universe of the movie.
Dan: I know you wondered about the provenance of this movie; was it a book? A graphic novel? A doodle on a cocktail napkin? What if Hotel Artemis actually came before John Wick?
You know, every culture throughout history has its own version of the Hotel Artemis myth.
J.D.: Yeah, the Hotel Artemyth is a fantastic groundwork for storytelling. Joseph Campbell does a great breakdown of it in Hotel with A Thousand Characters. I don't think Hotel Artemis came before John Wick. I was wondering if it was a a book or a graphic novel before being a movie because there were so many storylines to follow. It felt like something that came from a medium with more time to explore multiple storylines. I could see a book with this story being really interesting because you can dive extremely deep into each character and their backstories.
Dan: I agree. In fact, I was actually impressed at how much was going on in this movie. I wouldn't say it was all handled perfectly, but there were plenty of characters with clear, if not illogical, wants and plenty of threads laid out in the First Act. We’ll get into the script in more detail but the groundwork was there, and for such a simple movie that is a big part of setting the stage to then explore and have fun with throughout the Second Act.
J.D.: Yeah, there was a lot. As it was, I think the movie had a few more storylines than I was ready to commit my emotions to. I think there was like four or five scenes in a row where a character revealed a meaningful backstory and gave a fourth wall speech about it. Again, not totally what I was in the mood for this morning. So, it made me a little frustrated when the music would cue and I'd have to learn another dramatic backstory.
Dan: Also insane for there not to be more than 4 patients though. J.D. how is there not just a revolving door of kooky criminals waiting to get their butts x-rayed and stuff?
J.D.: Yeah, legitimately! I feel like the fun of this movie could have been the revolving door stuff. Seeing criminals and ne'er-do-wells building the universe of the bizarre riot-fueled city.
Dan: Ok we've danced around enough let's just, as they say in the business, "inject these nanites" and get to work. We'll start at the beginning.
J.D.: I legitimately don't remember the beginning of the movie. I've used the world legitimately a few times already. I'll stop using it as long as readers agree to understand that the things I'm saying are legitimate.
Dan: The movie opens with what I will rudely refer to as "The Purge" style News footage exposition. We learn from the TV that there are lots of Bad Riots in L.A. and it is the year 2028. These riots are So Bad that every character refers to how bad the riots are once per 5 minutes from this point on. Also I think everyone trusts you J.D. You have one of those faces. I'd hate to see something happen to it…
J.D.: Right. And then we see our hero and his brother robbing a bank with two "hired" guys. The hired guys mess things up and everyone gets shot. This leads our hero to call in a reservation at the Hotel Artemis.
Dan: The opening bank heist is used to show us a few things:
1) Our hero (Sterling K. Brown) is calm, cool, collected, and resourceful whereas his hothead younger brother (Brian Tyree Henry) is a hothead and younger.
2) Younger brother steals a McGuffin pen.
This fucking pen.
J.D.: Yeah, it's a McGuffin that gets lost in the shuffle throughout the movie. It is really only ever explained to us that people want it, and never really shown.
Dan: Also, we called Sterling the hero but what exactly does he do in this movie? Internally and externally, the script doesn't really give him a chance to do much. That said, I thought we was LEGITIMATELY good on screen.
Some of the acting in this movie is Good!
J.D.: Yeah, the cast is great. I think the performances sometimes don't feel like they are part of the same universe as each other. But, the performances seen individually are all fantastic. (Legitimately) everyone is fantastic in this movie.
Dan: Another thing I appreciate is that, as you say, once the heist goes south we get to go straight to Hotel Artemis, aka CityMD: Bad Boy Edition. Just for context, in Truth or Dare, the movie takes twenty minutes or more before the Sexy Teens play Truth or Dare.
J.D.: "It's just another Wednesday."
Dan: Oh yeah. We get to meet Nurse (Jodie Foster) who has a bunch of catch phrases, or at the very least, says the same thing a lot.
J.D.: She puts on a record in a very Wes Anderson-y way, which is the first of a few stylistic shifts where the movie goes from eerie underscore to nostalgic pop-rock.
Dan: Yeah, it is also our first shot of the interior of the Artemis and here is what we learn:
The Hotel itself is or was built or at least appointed to resemble a 1930s era art deco skyscraper. For you GAMERS out there, think Bioshock but with nanites instead of plasmids. There is also "technology."
Hotel Artemis is a 1930s hotelspital with vacation themed rooms and extremely generic "technology."
J.D.: Dan, I have to say. This movie is so thick with plot and story that I'm actually a bit weary of the fact that we're going to need to explain it all. I don't think there's a scene in this movie where a character isn't introducing a new motive or backstory. I mean every character has their own thing and there are a lot of characters. I don't know that I could distill the story down to a singular arc. Like, think about it? There's a lot to explain. It's daunting!
Dan: Ok J.D., you know me, always the older brother with the plan. I say we attack this like the movie does: first, we introduce each character, what their deal is, and what they want. Then we can talk about how none of it matters and explain who kills who. Then we can talk about how abruptly it all ends.
J.D.: Well, for example-- a great post-future action movie: The Raid: Redemption. "The bad guy is on the top floor. The hero has to get him. So, he has to make it to the top floor."
I legitimately don't know how I would describe Hotel Artemis. John Wick? “John Wick decides to un-retire from being an assassin to kill the people who killed his dog.”
Dan: The Raid: Redemption is to Hotel Artemis as John Wick is to Hotel Artemis. Here is how that analogy makes sense.
The Raid: Redemption is an extremely "simple" structure for an action movie. Bad guy upstairs, fight your way up. It is tonally, and stylistically singularly focused and extremely adeptly executed. Hotel Artemis is the beginning of that description without the end. It is a simple structure for an action movie.
John Wick is an extremely stylized action movie with a basic plot, very good action sequences, and fun stock characters. Hotel Artemis has stylized costumes and set pieces, a basic plot, very few serviceable action sequences, and not enough fun stock characters. There are shadows of these movies that came before.
J.D.: It almost feels like every storyline in the movie could have been it's own movie.
Dan: I get what you are saying: you wanted 10 hours of hotel Artemis.
You can check in any time you want, but you can only leave after 10 hours.
J.D.: Haha. I don't know if I would have watched every movie... but, I legitimately think I would have been more engaged if it was just the Jodie Foster / Dark Wolf (was that his name?) plot. Or just the thief brothers, or just the assassin/Charlie Day stuff. Or even just the riot vs. Hotel Artemis. My god, Dan, I'm still leaving out like three or four other arcs! This movie had so many things going on!
Dan: You are thinking of the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) and his "try-hard" son, Zachary Quinto (who is definitely in a different movie from everyone else).
Okay let's take a quick step back. The Hotel Artemis is a sci-fi hospital on top of a skyscraper. They take care of criminals because...nobody else will? You have to be a member to get in, and there are no weapons allowed. You also are not allowed to kill anyone while you are there. Jodie Foster is the Nurse in charge which feels like a very reductive and sexist name seeing as she is basically the chief of medicine and surgery for this no doubt state of the art facility.
The beauty of this Podcast is that I can get up to wait in line for the bathroom and no one will ever know.
J.D.: I let a stranger take your computer and backpack.
Dan: The third rule of Hotel Artemis is finders keepers.
J.D.: Her "Orderly" is Dave Bautista-- aka: Everest. He protects the rules of the Hotel and also serves as Jodie Foster's confidant and protector since there are riots drifting through Los Angeles like a hurricane. Sterling K. Brown is a regular at the hospital and has brought his brother, who is on death's door from his bullet wounds. His brother is also revealed to be a drug addict, but Sterling will do anything to save him. The brother also foolishly stole a pen from their last robbery which is revealed to be a pen-sized safe for the most expensive jewels in the world which are owned by the mob boss of the city.
Dan: Okay I want to play a fun game. Without looking anything up, let's go back and forth and each introduce a character, what their deal is, and what they want. Our main brothers from the bank heist basically check into the Artemis and then we slowly meet everyone.
One thing to note is that every character in this movie goes by a nickname only. When you check in to the Hotel Artemis you are assigned a location themed room and that is your name while you stay. In the Nice (the city, not the way you would describe a 69) room, a femme fatale style assassin continually checks in with her eyeball camera to talk to her contractor. She is always negotiating a higher price at all times and through this we learn that she is a Professional. Her want is to kill her target, a Big Deal who is or will soon be nearby. Nice is played by Sofia Boutella.
J.D.: Charlie Day (Acapulco?): He's an arms dealer who I honestly thought until the movie started was played by Paul F. Tompkins. He's aggressive and is particularly peeved at the assassin because he thinks that she believes she is better than him. He spends the whole movie trying to out-status her. But, ultimately he just wants to escape the Hotel Artemis alive once shit hits the fan and is trying to meet his escape helicopter to take him to some island retreat ("Yeah, even Acapulco!" he says in jest).
Dan: Zachary Quinto plays...a criminal. I do not know his name. He calls Jodie Foster on her ipad and is rude to her and she keeps hanging up on him. Eventually he says that his dad, The Wolf King, needs a room in the Hotel Artemis, which gets her attention. Zachary is petulant and over eager to please his dad and his main want is exactly that. On a more concrete level his immediate goal is to make sure that no one takes the last room in the Hotel Artemis while his dad is en route. He also has a moustache.
J.D.: Then there is Jenny Slate. I think Dan made an audible noise when she was revealed. I think it didn't help that she is such a known comedian and her first appearance is sprawled out on a security camera yelling for help. For whatever reason it played funny, even though it didn't seem like that was the intent. She's a future-cop in plain-clothes who was injured by the riot and ends up at the back door of Hotel Artemis. The only reason Jodie Foster takes her (a cop!) in to the hotel for criminals is because it's revealed she used to jump on trampolines with Jodie Foster's son... the son who it is hinted at in dramatic flashbacks died as a child.
Dan: They also make a point to explain that she is not a normal cop, she is a community liaison?
J.D.: I missed that part.
Dan: Yeah, Dave Bautista was like, “Her badge says community liaison.” God we haven't even addressed the riot subplot, other than how everyone talks about it.
J.D.: I reached my capacity for new story elements at a certain point, so I think that one just overflowed onto the theater floor for me.
Dan: They keep giving us more details about it. Some company cut off clean water access. The riots are always "moving" like they are on some parade route. There are these like maps of riot zones and the cops seem like a) they are hunting down and shooting rioters, but also, b) enforcing this parade route?
None of the characters have a POV about these riots either. Other than that they are annoying.
J.D.: Yeah, and sometimes when they show the riots it's like fire bombs and machine guns-- and other times it feels more like protests. It's unclear exactly what's going on. All we know if that you don't want to get caught in the riot.
Dan, there's so much to explain in this movie.
Dan: Right. The riots are like a slightly inconvenient cicada emergence. Honestly I love it. Gimme more stuff in every movie.
J.D.: We haven't even brought up that Jodie Foster has an anxiety disorder that means she hasn't left the Hotel Artemis for years.
Dan: Add a subplot where a different out of town developer wants to buy the Artemis.
J.D.: Dan and I are both laughing at the insanity of trying to describe all of the plot in this movie. Almost every line in this movie is a new THING.
Dan: Maybe have the mayor threaten to nuke L.A. unless someone turns over Charlie Day.
Okay, let's just talk about the Wolf King quickly then we can move on.
J.D.: Fine, let's talk about the Wolf King.
Dan: There is a lot of setup to tell us that this crime boss, the Wolf King, is on his way. He owns the Hotel Artemis, he owns the yellow Diamonds in the fucking pen, he is the Big Dude.
I truly forgot Jeff Goldblum was in this movie so I was left wondering about who was going to play him. The movie clearly knows Goldblum is a big get. And his reveal is milked for all it is worth. He basically just plays himself and his main want is...to get his bloody head fixed.
J.D.: What this movie needed was more reveals.
Dan: Well you are in luck. About 5 minutes after Jeff Goldblum is revealed, he accidentally reveals that he knew Jodie Foster's son!
J.D.: Wait you forgot the reveal that Quinto is the youngest son and that his dad doesn't like him much, and might not hand the business down to him. But, dad gives him a ring that has some meaning before he goes into the Artemis.
Let's see how many reveals we can name. Spoiler Alert.
Dan: Here are three other reveals off the top of my head.
1) It is revealed that Waikiki (Sterling K Brown) secretly stole Charlie Day's wallet and playing card thing!
2) Much later it is revealed that the playing card is actually...a computer chip!
3) Much later it is revealed that the computer chip...is...3D printing plans for a 3D printed gun! And somehow also bullets!
That's 3 reveals about one meaningless plot point.
J.D.: 1) It's revealed Sterling K. Brown left crime, but came back
2) It's revealed that his brother is a drug addict, and will die eventually according to Jodie Foster who had a dog that got hit by a semi-truck.
Dan: Oh yeah that was a good story. It started with, "I had a dog. He was a good dog but he always played in traffic." The implication of that phrasing being that playing in traffic is something reserved for BAD dogs.
J.D.: 3) It is revealed that the brother took drugs in Hotel Artemis to help with the pain which is what causes SKB to give up on him.
Dan: 4) Much later it is revealed that Jeff Goldblum not only KNEW Jodie's son but he had him killed! Because the kid stole his car, and I quote "You know my rule. You steal from me, I give you back to the ocean."
J.D.: Haha, yeah it was known in the universe of this film that the crime lord of Los Angeles takes anyone who steals from him and drowns them in the ocean.
Dan: Literally the Ocean.
J.D.: Somehow it still surprises Jodie Foster that her son who steals stuff washed up on the beach having drowned and never pieced together that it was Goldblum.
Dan: 5) It is revealed that Nice (the assassin lady in red) actually lured the Wolf King to the Artemis because he is her target!
This game is getting boring so here are some more rapid fire reveals: Waikiki and Nice have a sexual history, the ring that Wolf King gives Zachary Quinto is actually a bomb, Jodie Foster is secretly a robot.
That last one is not true but you believed me I think.
J.D. just asked me if that was true.
J.D.: Please please believe me when I tell you there were so many things going on in this movie that I had to take a mental break at a certain point.
Dan: Technology is a very funny part of this movie. While Jodie is treating Charlie Day's broken eye socket, she tells him she has injected nanites into the site and they are doing their job, and he interupts her to say, "Yeah duh. I know how nanites work."
J.D.: Hahaha. The TV's are also very pixelated. They look like cut-scenes from late 90s CD ROM games.
Dan: We talked a little about this on the walk over, but the user interfaces in this movie were interesting. There is a weird tendency in sci-fi to completely reinvent the way we interact with our devices and our environment. Rather than evolve and think through the iterations of how we get from A (where we are today) to B to C, a lot of properties just decide that something would Look Cool and give us the insane see through ipads on Westworld with thousands of modal dialogue boxes and sliders. Hotel Artemis is definitely that style of future.
J.D.: Yeah it's not clear what time the technology is from. The hotel has this 1920s aesthetic, the lighting and nanobots stuff are very vaporwave future-y, a bunch of the number read-outs are like early 80s calculators, they cut to an "anxiety tape" that is clear early 2000s internet aesthetic, and there's also 3D printing, and futuristic 3D model stuff for the medical world.
I wished it had a more cohesive style to it. But, maybe that was the intent.
Dan: The anxiety tape video on her ipad was wild. It really was like a pre youtube era RealPlayer video.
The anxiety tape she listened to was on her weird cassette player, NOT her ipad. But the anxiety tape video WAS on her ipad? I can't believe it but I found something about this movie to complain about.
Okay, we got distracted. Maybe that was the intent?
J.D.: Yeah, she had a cassette player, a record player, and an ipad.
Dan: Eventually the Wolf King shows up and here is how that affects everyone:
J.D.: I'm exhausted from this.
Dan: 1) Nurse Jodie is freaking out because she let a cop into the building, against Dave Bautista's protests, and Wolf King will not like that.
2) Waikiki is freaking out because he...has the pen full of diamonds...? How hard would it have been to like, add a line of dialogue that explains that the pen has a homing beacon or something? Like, how would Wolf King ever even find out that they have it?
I think a big flaw of this script was that Waikiki's motivations are never really coherent. I realize the pen exists to give him a Reason to care about what is happening, but uh, I didn't really see why he was so afraid of being found out?
When I remake this movie I am making it so the pen actually contains dinosaur embryos. And Wolf King needs them for a ...new real estate venture on an island in the Caribbean…
J.D.: I mean, Dan. There's so much more to explain. It's literally a mountain of plot. I'm losing my mind. And then there's the stuff that is sort of unexplainable. The ending? I mean. I don't know dude. But, the plot is really tough to get through. It was just thing after thing. And there's so much good about this movie and so many cool ideas. But, sitting here in this coffee shop trying to figure out the linear plot again it driving me insane. Why did Hotel Artemis do this to us?
Dan, you're having to plug in your laptop now because you've run out of battery spending an actual hour trying to summarize what happened in this movie.
Dan: Honest opinion time: I first felt this way many years ago, when Cloud Atlas came out.
In back to back nights I saw Argo and then Cloud Atlas.
I left Argo feeling like I had just watched a capital M ‘Movie’. Executed adequately on all fronts. Safely and neatly.
I left Cloud Atlas thinking, damn. They swung and missed but they did something weird and dense.
My point is, I applaud Hotel Artemis for cramming so much weird crap into this movie even though it didn’t really work..
J.D.: Totally, so full of really interesting ideas and characters. But, full of them. Overflowing with them.
Dan: I would rather see 100 Hotel Artemises swing and miss than [Insert Good Boring Movie Here]
J.D.: 1000% agree.
Dan: But to be fair to [Good Boring Movie], Hotel Artemis doesn't even really do anything new. It takes a stock idea and doesn't explore it in an interesting way.
The biggest innovation of Hotel Artemis is showing how you can have different elevators in the same movie.
The second biggest innovation of Hotel Artemis is showing how even cops can wear denim.
J.D.: I think that's why I feel sort of crazy. It starts with such a clean idea. Such amazing performances. Set design that is absolutely stellar. All I want as an audience member is to live in the world and see the fun of that universe. But, it felt like a burdensome amount of plot.
Dan: J.D. DON’T LOOK NOW BUT THE WOMAN ON THE TABLE BY THE WINDOW HAS A HUNDRED LAPTOP CHARGERS.
J.D.: Also, she seems like a normal person-- like she has a plan for all of them. Also, she just pulled a motherboard out of her bag, I think.
J.D.: Haha, and now a full sized inkjet printer.
Dan: Bet you didn't see that coming. She just took out a printer/scanner. Keep in mind we are at a coffee shop.
J.D.: The girl next to us is taking photos of this woman.
Dan: I think in the future, that will all be replaced by nanites. And we wouldn't even think twice.
J.D.: Coffee Shop Artemis.
Dan: It will be considered normal to set up your own Kinko's at the neighborhood Java Jimmy's.
J.D.: This woman has literally just created a business inside a business.
Dan: She is like a Pizza Hut Express inside a Target.
J.D.: If any of you have some old photos you need scanned and printed just bring them by this coffee shop along with the laptop you want them digitized to. But, conveniently, you do NOT need to bring a power cord. Kinko Hut Express provides free power cords.
Dan: We have a stamp card, on your 8th coffee or Poster Printed you get a free poster of a Latte.
J.D.: Two cops just walked by and nodded-- confirmed: this operation is LEGAL.
Dan: But yes, I think you put that very well. The plotlines were not poorly thought out, or even ill-conceived, they just took up so much time. No characters were allowed to exist other than as vessels for exposition. And we were yanked along at the same pace. This was a rapid fire movie that felt slow.
J.D.: I'll double down I what I said before. I would be interested to see each of those individual stories as their own anthology-esque episodes of the Hotel Artemis series. Imagine Hotel Artemis as a limited television series! It would be really good, I think.
Dan: Rio De Janeiro: A Hotel Artemis Tale. The story of a world renowned pickpocket on the run from the one person he couldn't steal from. His own mother, The First Female Pope.
J.D.: Yes, exactly.
Dan: Jodie and Bautista are the framing device. Every episode is a single guest's story.
J.D.: Yeah. For real. That would be great. You get your celebrity of the week with the guests. Have a couple recurring side tenants.
Dan: I mean the soundtrack alone, J.D. Dust off that vinyl collection.
J.D.: It's like a futuristic crime Fawlty Towers.
Dan: Not just side tennants, you get all your classic archetypes. Some kind of informant, a classic noir stoolie guy. Someone has to sell her all her medical kit right? Maybe a dirty cop or two.
J.D.: Imagine if Alvin and the Chipmunks stayed at Hotel Artemis. They would give Everest a run for his money!
Dan: I can hear Dave now..."Orderlllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!"
J.D.: "Nanites! But we just had lunch!"
Dan: Wow what if Dunder Mifflin had a sales conference in LA...and all the haciendas were booked…
J.D.: Jim pulling pranks on Bautista…
Dan: Uh yeah sorry Dwight, I don't think Nurse Jodie has time for your outbursts. How about a butt full of elephant tranquilizers…
J.D.: A spin off about the nanites. Like the Fraggles we see into their world. A lot of them having to repair a bullet wound together and like bumping into each other and then one of them is like, "It's a living!"
Dan: Anyway the point is: I'll have a treatment on your desk by Monday. I know a lady who can get it printed before we even stand up from this table.
J.D.: Your treatment better not be any of my ideas. If you steal from me…
... I return you to the ocean. Wait.
Nevermind, don't wait. I was going to go into how the last time humans were "from the ocean" was long ago and we were fish back then and not really humans. But, I'm exhausted by all of the things in this movie that I can't go down that rabbit hole.
Dan: I was thinking about that too. In the theatre and now, after every time we say that line.
J.D.: Does.... does Wolf King not know how babies happen?
Dan: My thought was: maybe they cut a scene earlier wherein Wolf King says to one of his dumdum henchmen, "you know, humans actually distant cousins with creatures that swim in the sea. You seem more related than most."
This movie does the thing where they have a line in the script and then immediately after or even a few minutes later, the same or another character will say the line back again or a slight twist on it. This happens...often!
J.D.: Haha, it happened enough times that the power of it diminished greatly.
Dan: Here is one line that had all the power that was required: "I have a GUN."
God, there is so much in this movie.
J.D.: "Getting out is harder than getting in."
Dan: Remember when they 3D printed a new liver and the 3 ink containers said, "tissue", "bone", "plasma"?
J.D.: Do you remember when the 3D printer was so powerful that it crushed the skull of Charlie Day?
Dan: Yeah they gave him a really intense death that, again, felt tonally distinct from everything else that happens.
J.D.: They also showed so much close up footage of the surgeries that was not required, in my opinion.
Dan: This legit could have been PG-13 other than that 3D printed skull death scene, right?
J.D.: I had the same thought-- it was R, and the "R" elements weren't really required.
Dan: But yes, they do 3D print a gun inside Charlie Day's head.
J.D.: The more you try to bullet point what happens in this movie, the more insane I feel. I legitimately think there is a ton of good in this, but trying to explain everything that happened does feel crazy.
Dan: I think it would have been fun if the bad guys (note: everyone is a bad guy, or maybe not, I don't even know) came in after this and Sterling had to shoot bullets out of Charlie's mouth.
J.D.: “I AM a gun.”
Dan: “But doctor…”
To be fair, I am having a lot more fun talking about this movie now than I did during it. I spent most of the film just absorbing what was going on. Okay, let's wrap this summary up. So once we learn who everyone is. The entire second act is everyone maneuvering for when the Wolf King shows up. Charlie Day just wants to leave so he calls his Uber for Helicopters.
Remember that thread? He spends the entire middle of this movie on the phone with the Helicopter company.
J.D.: I mean, Dan. At this point I just can't ride this ride any longer. Let's cut to the quick. Jodie almost kills Wolf King as child-vengeance but doesn’t. Nice (the assassin) does, and records it in her eye camera. Quinto gets mad and uses his magic ring to blow up the gates of the hotel and then everyone fights. Jodie and Sterling escape outside even though Jodie doesn't want to go outside because anxiety.
Dan: Yep that's about it. After they escape she just goes back, somewhere?
J.D.: And then something happens in the end that I don't know if I fully understand.
Dan: Also Sterling has a car hidden in a parking lot but there are famously riots everywhere. Where is he going to drive?
J.D.: And Jodie doesn't even go back to Artemis? She wanders into the streets.
Dan: I thought she did? Maybe she becomes a riot doctor. And just lives in the riots now. Traveling along their prescribed path through LA until they return as we all do, to the ocean.
Also I have to mention. In this movie Jenny Slate just wants to uh, get healed and to remind Jodie Foster of her dead son. She gets wheelchaired away secretly because if people found out that Artemis had a cop inside, the whole thing would come crumbling down. Note that they at no point tried to disguise that she was a cop. They didn't give her a change of clothes or even come up with an alter ego or cover story for this person. Every other guest seems to be pseudo-anonymous so why would they care if some random hurt lady shows up?
J.D.: Well after all this the full pages credits hit, and our entire theater waited with bated breath to see if there was anything after the credits. A hint to what's to come in the HACU.
Dan: This was weird! After 2-3 seconds of credits, we see a hallway tracking shot of the Artemis lobby. Lights flicker (we didn’t talk about how often the power goes out in this movie; there is a subplot with generators and rerouting power and jumpstarting things. Power goes out at least 3 times, maybe 4?) and we continue to move through the halls.
J.D.: At that point our 11:30 am audience was 4 strong, I believe.
Dan: Then, out of nowhere, a creature / person / blur runs across the screen. And that's our sting!
J.D.: Also, Bautista fights a bunch of people at different times. And it's revealed that he is Artemis It was his hotel all along.
Dan: Is that real?
J.D.: This isn't true. I'm losing my mind.
Dan: I was trying to figure out why it was called Hotel Artemis. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt?...and maybe fertility I think? Harvest?
I think the answer is that it sounds cool. And that is A-Okay! Artemis is a very cool name.
J.D.: Dan, you've also lost steam haha.
Dan: It's a cool name.
There should be a spaceship called The Artemis.
There should be a plague virus called The Artemis Strain
There should be an unexplained psychological phenomenon called Artemis Syndrome.
There should be a Hospital for Freaks and Bad Boys called Hotel Artemis.
J.D.: Can you print this part of our chat out for us?
Sorry, I meant to send that to the woman running the Kinko Hut two seats over
Dan: Sorry the Staples to Go Lady literally just left her supplies out and went home.
There is just a table full of electronics and electronics accessories now. I guess we are the managers now?
J.D.: I'll be in charge of the power cords.
Dan: I'll handle all the bags.
Okay, so this insane movie ends and we are left wanting...more? Less? What did we want? What do we want as it relates to this building? This immortal Hotel.
J.D.: I want the same amount, just spread out over a longer amount of time where I can take breaks and digest exactly what's going on.
Dan: I think if you start to examine the details of this movie the mind slowly unravels, deconstructing itself at an rate inverse to how deeply into the maze you crawl.
Relax said the orderly,
We are programmed to treat pain,
You can check in any time you want,
But you can never be sane.
J.D.: Yeah, I didn't feel this insane walking out of the movie. Legitimately after the movie I felt a little overwhelmed and definitely felt like there was too much going on. But, in trying to describe what happened it does make me feel a little lost. I think it's hard for me to pinpoint that singular story arc that could ground me. So, I just had to sort of narratively rock climb from hand-hold to hand-hold until we got to the end. I didn't dislike any singular moment of the movie and so much of it was well done and interesting. It just changed so frequently that I couldn't lock in on this particular day. One of the feelings I like the most in a movie experience is the feeling of getting lost in the movie. Your mind wanders within the confines of the creative world. You get to feel your own artistic fibers connecting with the tone of the movie. You calibrate to the exact vibrations the movie is putting out and you feel like you make a connection to that world.
I didn't really get that from this movie. Every gear-shift in the movie sort of kicked me out of that trance. The different performances, the different music, the different story aesthetics.
Each would have gotten me immersed if we had stayed with them, I think. But, I didn't feel like I got a chance to settle into any of it. Every time I did, suddenly there was something new. Maybe that's just where I am this morning and it wasn't about the movie. But, it felt off!
Dan: That's a good point, specifically how it is hard to pinpoint the grounding story arc. This movie is NOT an anthology of disparate but connected journeys. It could have been, but that's a hard thing to do and I do not believe they tried for that particular structure. Conversely, however, they do frame the Sterling K Brown scenes as the center point, we open with him and his brother after all, but it never really drives things forward. More time, energy and depth are allocated to Jodie Foster's Nurse, which makes a lot of sense as she is the heart and soul of this Hotel. Does she get over the death of her son? Does she deal with her "anxiety?" Kind of! I don't know. We learn that she has devoted her life to helping the "waifs and addicts" and her stint at Hotel Artemis is an extension of that trend but I am unclear what her specific journey in this movie was.
J.D.: It's funny because there's a part of me that believes I would have gotten more from these multiple characters if I knew less about them. I think that's one of the things I liked so much about this concept in the John Wick movies. It wasn't really explored that deeply. You saw interesting characters in the background and it was understood that there was a whole universe to unveil. But, it was left unsaid a lot of the time and it let my mind wander.
Dan: Yeah show me a bustling Lobby with crazy costumes and weapons. I want to see a conference call with the other Safe Zone Hospitals around the world.
Also, point of order. We might be on one of those Good Samaritan TV Shows where an unreal situation is staged and they wait to see how passersby react. Like, will these two guys steal the 12 year old laptops and Epson Bubble Jet printer left out for 30 minutes? Would you, the viewer at home, patronize this pop-up business center or ignore it?
J.D.: Would you call the cops? Tell a barista? If we're on TV we should start doing some audition material. If they're rolling, maybe this is our chance to make it big.
Dan: Okay, before we get to the final questions, I'll ask if there is anything specific or general that we missed, or that you want to talk about?
J.D.: Not really. I wouldn't have seen this movie if not for this podcast. I think Spike Jonze once wrote about being inspired more by things he hasn't seen than things he has. Fittingly, I only know he's talked about this because a friend once described it to me. So, maybe my interpretation of Spike Jonze's thoughts is just a projection. But, I legitimately think I might have liked this movie more (and been more intrigued by it) had I not seen it. It's such an interesting idea with such great performances and some amazing craft elements. But, it felt like an overload of information and I wish a little more of it had been left to my imagination. That's just me. That's just today.
Dan: Hmmm. I know we talked about this a little earlier, but one thing that I have been thinking about since I started seeing just about every movie that comes out, is how often I used to overlook the hundreds of other moving pieces required to make a film work. Watching Not Great Stuff has allowed me time to focus on things beyond the writing. I am still bad at forgiving bad writing, but I think it's worthwhile to understand what is done well. In Hotel Artemis, for example, the acting is good! Chop up this script a bit, slow it down, spread it out, whatever you want, and there is something here. The set design, as discussed is extremely specific (disjointed yes, but specific, for sure) and well executed. Costuming too! All good things! When I am enjoying a movie, I rarely think about all of this, I am taken for that ride and am happy to process and digest things afterwards. When I am NOT enjoying a movie, I do tend to take a step back, even in the moment, and start to wonder what the creators intended. I will try to consider the film on their terms, and while that may not change how I feel about it personally, it helps me evaluate decisions I might not initially agree with or understand.
Is there a context in which I can examine this piece of art in a way that it can be considered a success? Next step: is it a reasonable context or am I grasping at straws?
That is all to say, if Hotel Artemis is trying to be an action-adjacent melodrama, it succeeds. As a sizzle reel for a prestige cable limited series: it succeeds.
J.D.: Yeah, I think it succeeds at a lot! As you said earlier, I would rather have a movie like Hotel Artemis that swings for some really interesting things than another [insert creatively devoid cookie cutter movie here].
Dan: Wow thank you for the delicious segue! I'd like to ask you the first of my world famous closing questions: What were your 3 favorite things about Hotel Artemis?
J.D.: I loved the set design, I loved the performances, and I loved the premise.
Dan: Wow 2 Ps and a D.
J.D.: Definitely a PPD success.
Dan: For me,
1) I liked Sterling K Brown a lot in this movie. He looked comfortable, felt very natural, delivered good lines and bad lines like a star. Good audition for bigger stuff and I hope he gets it all!
2) I thought that this movie did a great job of shitting all over Los Angeles. The cops are bad. The poor people are bad. The rich people are bad. Sorry Randy Newman but Drew Pearce (the writer / director) does not Love L.A.
3) I LEGITIMATELY think that the premise is so fun. God do I just want a cattle call of Crime Freaks coming and going. Keep it tight and give me deeper characters or a broader pool of shallow ones. Or blow it out and show me the whole criminal civil services support network! Where do the Bad Guys take out insurance? Is there a supermarket for Crooks? What about a laundromat? Where do the Bad Boys go on dates? Is there an approved hangout space? Show me Cafe Demeter!
Okay next question: if you could change one thing about this movie, what would it be?
J.D.: If I could change one thing, I would... cut Nice, Acapulco, and Jenny Slate from the story. I would keep the story to Sterling K. Brown and his brother dealing with the impending danger of the Wolf King. Predator and Prey trapped in a safe house together recovering from the same wounds. I just felt like there were too many characters and reveals for me. Today I was in the mood for a movie that played a little bit more in its universe.
Dan: For me, I would cut Nurse, Everest, Sterling K Brown, Wolf King, Acapulco, and Nice. Just show me Jenny Slate doing some community liaising. Hand out protest signs, coordinate riot routes, things like that!
J.D.: That, or I would change the title to "The Artemis Approximation."
Dan: Wow step all over my next question.
J.D.: DELETE DELETE
Dan: Okay last question! If you could change the title of this film, what would you call it?
J.D.: "The Hospital Artemis" -- it's not a hotel, it's a hospital. It didn't even really looked like a hospitalized old hotel. When I walk into a movie I need to know whether it takes place in a hospital or a hotel. That's why I love the Grand Budapest Hotel and Eli Roth's Hostel. Makes it clear from the get go what we're dealing with.
Dan: See also: Skyscraper. Tower Heist. Lay it all out there.
I would call this movie: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nanites or Hello, Nurse!
J.D.: That or I'd call it "Bad Boy Ouchie Zone 2: Riot Time in the Big City"
Dan: "This time, the booboos go boom boom!"
J.D.: "Hello, Nurse!" is great. Maybe "Wolf King 1: The Beginning". I like ending a movie title with "1" because it makes your intentions clear... there's more of these bad boys coming.
Dan: Hotel Artemis is great! You're great! Thank you so much for joining me on this Podcast! It was great! Any last words for our listeners before we go outside for the first time in 22 years?
J.D.: This was a six hour experience!
Dan: That's half a season of Hotel Artemis Tales!
J.D.: Thank you for reading this!
Dan: Thanks from me as well! And remember, like Nurse says, "things are going to hell in a handbasket full of blood and shit!"
J.D.: If you steal from me…
Dan: ...I'll see you at Ocean's 8!
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J.D. Amato is a director/producer who has made television shows in the past, but who has also made it clear he doesn’t really know exactly what he wants to do in the future. In lieu of social media or a plug, he wanted to share this like to a YouTube video of, “Rain falling on the roof of George Lehrer’s RV”