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BRAVE / PRAXIS: Film Review: The Last Days of the San Jose

It was an enjoyable afternoon last Friday at the office as we gathered for our occasional lunch and a movie. On the marquee was a movie very few of us knew much about but were fairly familiar with the subject. The subject of the documentary, “The Last Days of the San Jose”, covers the months leading to the closing and renovation of the historic Austin motel, the San Jose, located on South Congress. Owner, Liz Lambert, gets behind the camera and follows the lives of various residents that have come in and out of her motel. The clientele, which included a wide range of disadvantaged families, aspiring musicians, and young couples, found month-to-month residence at the San Jose. Each individual carried their own stories, burdens, and aspirations, and was representative of the South Congress area prior to the hip and trendy demeanor as we currently know it.

Had the camera been placed in anyone else’s hands, the film could have been a somber and depressing look into the lives of the misfortunate. Instead, we were able to get a candid and sometimes humorous view into the lives of regular people with very real problems, and how even they can find the silver lining in the worst of situations. Lambert’s story was a surprise as there was a huge misconception that the very hip Hotel San Jose was bought out by wealthy developers. Instead, we come to find that she shares a strong connection with the residents of the San Jose and wants nothing more than to preserve this motel and revitalize it back into the spotlight. This documentary, being a small peephole into a historic building with a compelling story, is truly recommended to anyone interested in the rich history of Austin, Texas.

Images and additional information can be found at Hotel San Jose.