This is a movie I ran across on TMC thursday night. It's a well made documentary about people living in The Century Plaza.
The people living there are mostly down on their luck. I can't believe how candid some of them are - just like there wasn't a camera present. It makes you appreciate how well you have it in life. The movie has some very good special effects (time lapse) and is well edited. I liked it.
Rico the cat ties everything together as he takes you around in the hotel. He is almost a dead ringer for our Bob (the cat).
Anyway, it's worth looking for if you have cable.
The Century Plaza
Kevin Crust calls it "expressionistic and compassionate." - LOS ANGELES TIMES
When most people walk their familiar paths each day, they travel from point A to point B, never connecting with those around them. The buildings and landmarks they pass are the only constants. Everything else is a blur. Arthur Libin said it well, "The homeless have always been pretty much irrelevant; they are like characters in play." A character is something you see on television, read in a book, watch on a stage. We like to experience characters because it is easy: they evoke an emotion, and then we go home and forget about them.
My hope is that my film lingers just a few moments longer. Long enough for people to look at their own world and check out a perspective not often seen on our familiar paths.
Built at the turn of the twentieth century, the Century Plaza was at one time as elegant as it was esteemed. Indeed, businessmen, and those simply passing through the city, made a point to patronize this five-story complex sandwiched in the heart of industrial Portland. Sadly, as the century gave way to the development of high-rise and commercial lodging, the Plaza began a downward spiral into the shadow of its towering competition. By the 1960¹s, the future of the plaza appeared as bleak as that of the nomads and vagabonds who had come to inhabit it: A decaying remnant of the past in which to conceal the likewise inferior members of society.
Through Rico the cat, the only enduring resident of the hotel, the untold stories of this nebulous culture slowly unfold as he wanders his urban enclave.
Bob, a convicted pedophiliac on parole, resides in a cramped room of the plaza. Struggling fruitlessly to find more suitable housing, his throne is a dirty mattress and his only source of entertainment a television alight with 1970¹s technology. A rusted sink substitutes for a toilet in the corner; his four walls represent more an early prison than home. On the other side of the chicken-wire laced window, and not ten feet away, squats a family of three; Manuel, Chaz, and Devon. Devon is a five year-old boy who spends his time playing alone, while his father Manuel recovers from ear surgery. Should an argument erupt between the two, Bob will inadvertently hear every word, as conversations criss-cross in the light well between apartments. Privacy is a commodity not afforded to these tenants.
Other residents of the Century Plaza include a prostitute, a stripper, an alcoholic, a poet, and a recluse. For some, it is a meeting place, a safe haven for the exchange or abuse of illicit drugs; for others it signifies a luxurious break from the streets and a heated room and bed. Quality is of little importance. Although the conditions may seem appalling to the general population, the patrons are concerned with more important matters than their standard of living. The plaza affords refuge and survival.
Stories unravel by those gripped with mental illness, drug addiction, and disease. Through spontaneous conversations, their captivating tales and diverse personalities will draw your attention, and engross you in their private world. Their contentment with simple pleasures is remarkably humbling. The Century Plaza shows us that there are myriad ways to be, and personalities that are, homeless. Homelessness is not a title and should not be treated as one. Similar to the word homosexual, or Christian, homeless is thrown around as if it encompassed everyone who identifies with the title. The Century Plaza illustrates how truly complex such a title can be.