We love seeing movies in hotel screening rooms. Big screen, plushy seats, popcorn, perks – you can’t sip champagne in a flute at the multiplex. So why do most hotels restrict their screening rooms to private parties?
This summer W New York Downtown, the gleaming glass pillar across from Freedom Tower, bucks the trend and presents Grand Classics: “New York in Film” Summer Screenings, two curated movie nights for anyone who buys a ticket.
On June 27, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi dissected his pick Sweet Charity,
Shirley MacLaine’s 1969 turn as a hostess in a seedy New York dance hall. And on July 27, director Spike Lee hosts a New York-inspired movie he loves, to be announced. The $30 admission, donated to the host’s charity of choice, includes cocktails, spiced popcorn and a dizzying array of candies.
W partnered with Grand Classics, an organization that invites directors, actors and fashion figures to choose movies that inspire them and screens them in stylish settings. The idea, conceived after September 11, was to bring people together and celebrate the power of movies. Grand Classics have since popped up in London, Los Angeles, Aspen, Miami and Istanbul, among other places. In New York they usually pop up at Soho House.
But W Downtown seemed the ideal spot to celebrate the program’s 10th anniversary. Perched on the 31st floor, the Residential Lounge, normally open only to W condo residents like Jeremy Lin, offers sweeping views of the Hudson, the Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower. It’s a glorious I Love New York setting for drinks before the event begins, as we discovered during a preview. You sit in white leather slipper chairs that feel like big marshmallows. And a jaw-drop view is always welcome if the action on the big screen lags.
Before the movie began, we had Film Choice 101, a chat between Mizrahi and fashion writer Derek Blasberg. The gist: the movie shows a side of New York that’s gone, a place where grit and glamour nudged each other. “I grew up thinking this was fabulous, the contrast between high and low, the democracy of it and the danger,” Mizrahi said.
He recalled seeing the movie as a kid in spite of its less than G-rated content. “If it was a musical, your mom took you.”
He revealed his favorite Charity fashion moments (Edith Head designed the costumes). “You think you’ve seen a trench coat before? Wait. You think you’ve seen a tattoo? Wait.” (Since we’re taking fashion, Mizrahi wore a slouchy black jacket, loose white pants and black slides that showed off his silver-painted toenails.)
As for MacLaine, “Terms of Endearment is not her best movie. She acts her head off in this one.”
And she did – for two and a half hours (yikes). Movies were longer back then. There was even an intermission. But the film, directed by Bob Fosse, has a cool retro quality – Mad Men meets Hair. We’ll give it three spiced popcorn bags, but the setting scores a five.
W New York Downtown, 123 Washington Street (entrance at Albany Street); 646 826-8600. Tickets for tonight’s screening can be purchased at http://www.whotelsnewyork.com/calendar