Good Cat in Screenland

color & b/w. 75+ min. Richard Cohen Films, www.richardcohenfilms.com. 2010. DVD $49; acad. libs. $119. Public performance. FILM HIST
The takeover of Los Angeles's historic Culver Hotel by a pair of Chinese entrepreneurs could have made for a great documentary, or at least for some good stories. Sadly, filmmaker Cohen, a former Culver tenant, is not much of a documentarian, much less a storyteller. The Culver, which housed in 1938 the actors who played the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, was renovated and relaunched ten years ago to some success, until its ownership by Abraham Hu and Joseph Guo was contested. Cohen includes multiple perspectives on the hotel and its significance, as well as the new owners' reminiscences of their time in China under Communist rule and during the Cultural Revolution, but he fails to arrange these pieces into a coherent whole. Enough superficial interest is generated to keep viewers wondering about the final disposition of the Culver, but Cohen cheats by ending the film with his eviction. More successful is the 12-minute extra Good Kitty in Screenland, a short collection of interviews with and stories from a colorful handful of the Culver's guests. Optional for Asian studies or show business collections.—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB
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