Set in the New York club scene of the late 1980's thru the 1990's, a tale which is based on the rise and fall of club-kid promoter Michael Alig, a party organizer, whose extravagant life was sent spiralling downward when he boasted on television that he had killed his friend, roommate, and drug dealer, Angel Melendez. Originally from Indiana, Alig moved to New York, and came to be an underground legend, known for his excessive drug use and outrageous behavior in the club world. At his peak, he had his own record label, and magazine, and hosted Disco 2000, one of the biggest club nights in New York in the '90s. He was doing a lot of drugs, and as his addiction got worse, his party themes became darker and more twisted. Alig's saga reached its tragic crescendo when he viciously murdered his drug dealer, Angel, by injecting him with Drano and throwing him in the East River. The power he wielded on the club scene made him feel untouchable, so he didn't hesitate to boast of the murder. The... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Club kids on the primrose path: The movie that '54" should have been
'I'm the lowest kind of celebrity, a playwright's wife,' Celeste Holm tells Anne Baxter in All About Eve. Fifty-plus years later, she might still make the snapshot page in Vanity Fair (once), but new kinds of celebrity have clambered up to push her further down the pecking order. There are the Elvis impersonators and celebrity look-alikes. There are the trash-talking competitors on the reality shows. And there are the Club Kids, urban counterparts to the beach bums of a generation or two ago who sought nothing more out of life than an Endless Summer. What the Club Kids want is an Endless Party, where they can flame out in a drug-enhanced limelight.
The Limelight was a fixture among New York City's young downtown hedonists in the last decades of the last century. It's the center of a very small universe for James St. James (Seth Green), a budding queen from across the Hudson who, equipped with little else than a trust fund and received notions of imperious glamor, sets out to be the social arbiter of the club scene. His misfortune (and ultimately opportunity) is meeting up with hick Michael Alig (Macaulay Culkin), just off the Big Dog from one of the square states, who will prove to be St. James' very own Eve Harrington.
Imagine Bob Hope and Bing Crosby gone gay, their bitchy dynamics holding these buddies together as they prance and stumble down the Rave Road. They live in cold-water walk-ups, spending what money they have on costumes and drugs (when they can't cadge them). As a living, they set themselves up as promoters and taste-makers for struggling entrepreneurs like Dylan McDermott, whose Limelight is barely breaking even. They dream up ever more outrageous parties to lure other kids from the bridges and tunnels and tenements once occupied by immigrants but now serving as digs for druggies and rodents. (Marilyn Manson as stoned drag queen Christina serves as 'driver' for one of the events, trying to maneuver a big rig in platform heels.) Along the way there are Alig's discarded or disengaged boyfriends (Wilmer Valderrama) and girlfriends (Chloe Sevigny), sexual preference always taking a back seat first to Ecstasy and K, then to crackpipes and snorted heroin.
Party Monster derives from St. James' memoir Disco Bloodbath as a result of his plunge into addiction, Alig ends up incarcerated for the murder of his dealer Angel (Wilson Cruz). And as St. James, Green delivers a pitch-perfect performance, blackly funny yet with intimations of the shallow life he knows he leads. It's Culkin's misfortune to have his co-star so expertly steal the movie, but, with his sullen, pouty mouth, his child-star successes well behind him yet not quite filled out enough for adult roles, he's plausible as a callow social-climber who's nothing but surfaces and attitude anyway. (And as his good-time-gal-pal mom, Diana Scarwid is, as always, memorable). Party Monster maintains a deft balance between its faintly horrifying humor and its somber notes. It's a story about kids old beyond their years who, as they proudly proclaim, are utterly superficial, but still not (quite) the 'monsters' they pretend to be. Party Monster a much more interesting and accomplished piece of work is the movie that '54" should have been, and maybe even thought it was.
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