Picks and Pans Review: The Best Hotel on Skid Row

updated 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

HBO (Tues., Dec. 4, 9:30 P.M. ET)

B+

Welcome to bleak house. This gritty documentary focuses on the residents of a single-room-occupancy establishment on Skid Row in Los Angeles. It's a haven for the addicted, the broken-down and the just plain eccentric. People don't check out; they're evicted when they can no longer afford the $8.20 per diem.

Mostly we watch people engaged in poverty's primary activity: killing time, with the blunt weapons of television and alcohol.

Two intriguing facets of the hotel's tatterdemalions are their varied histories and notable lack of self-pity. The film, narrated by author Charles Bukowski, is very sobering, as sad and lingering as a melancholy jazz ballad.

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