‘The Motel Life’ filmmakers Alan and Gabe Polsky find inspiration in their Chicago roots
By CINDY PEARLMAN For Sun-Times Media November 11, 2013 5:02PM
Stephen Dorff (left) and Emile Hirsch in "The Motel Life"
Updated: April 14, 2014 4:48PM
LOS ANGELES — On blindingly sunny days in LaLa Land, two film moguls lament the idea of an endless summer.
That would be Glencoe natives Alan and Gabe Polsky, who directed and distributed “The Motel Life,” now showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
“We could tell you that we miss Chicago — a lot — because we do,” says Alan Polsky. “We miss the people, the culture and the comedy scene. That’s a given.”
“But,” adds his brother Gabe, “what we really miss is that something raw about the arts community in Chicago. It’s just a little rawer than anywhere else. It’s grassroots. It’s real.”
Echoes Alan, “In L.A., everyone is trying to get somewhere. Chicago is more about the purity.”
The brother have taken their ideals on the road with “The Motel Life,” a gritty drama based on a Willy Vlautin novel and set in the bars, strip clubs and gun shops near Reno.
Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff play brothers heeding their dead mother’s request that they always stay together. That’s not easy when one kills a boy on a bike and they must run from the law.
“This was more than just a great story with very unique characters that you keep thinking about after you leave the theater,” says Alan. “It was a unique world about a dilapidated, forgotten, gambling town.”
The Polskys grew up in Glencoe, where they graduated from New Trier High school. “We grew up exposed to the arts. Our mother had an art gallery in the city,” Alan says of the Maya Polsky Gallery on West Superior.
Together, they produced Werner Herzog’s “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.”
They do try to remember their hometown when they’re shooting. “Pat Foley, the Blackhawks announcer, did our Tyson fight in the movie,” Gabe says. “We always try to get a little Chicago in there, and we love the Blackhawks.”
One of their goals is to direct a movie in Chicago. Says Alan, “The story would have to fit the locale, but that would be ideal for us.”
“Maybe after this article runs in the Sun-Times, someone will send us a great script or book,” Alan jokes.
Or is that a suggestion?
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