When The Party’s Over

Chloë Sevigny as ‘Gitsie’ in “Party Monster”I’m not a big fan of biopics, or “true crime” dramas either, but Party Monster (2003) does feature a number of actors I admire… and it only cost me a quid… so what the heck, right? For those who don’t know, this movie is a biographical comedy-drama, adapted from the memoirs of James St. James, which documents the rise and fall of his friend, the infamous New York party promoter Michael Alig… who is currently incarcerated for the drug-fuelled murder of fellow “Club Kid”, Angel Melendez. Since it was based on real events, it would be silly of me to complain about the “plot”… but I would have much preferred a film about these same characters that didn’t end in a grisly bloodbath, because it’s a little hard for me to reconcile the playful, light-hearted tone of the forth-wall-breaking narration, with the dark depths to which the protagonist sinks. If it were a fictional “black comedy”, I wouldn’t mind so much… but these were actual people who actually died, so it just seems to be in rather bad taste to me.

In the movie, Alig is played by Macaulay Culkin… who a lot of people might make fun of, but the dude dated Mila Kunis for a substantial period of time, so I have nothing but respect and envy for him. St. James is played by Seth Green, who I’ve always had a soft-spot for… and it would be nice to see him getting more meaty starring roles like this one, although I doubt he needs the work right now, what with his Family Guy  and Robot Chicken commitments. At first it was kinda hard to tell if the two of them were delivering “bad” performances, or if that was just an unfortunate side-effect of them playing people who are themselves delivering highly mannered, affected performances… but on the rare occasions when their veneers do crack a little, it’s easy to see the true talent of the actors shining through. Melendez is played by Wilson Cruz, of being-adorable-in-My-So-Called-Life fame, but he doesn’t really get a great deal to do here. In the first half of the movie he’s mostly just pouting like a sad puppy, and then in the second half he’s mostly just angrily demanding money. He does look rather fabulous in his angel-winged costumes though, so I suppose that’s some consolation.

Mia Kirshner as ‘Natasha’ in “Party Monster”As for the female cast members… well, they get an even smaller bite of the pie. At one point Alig strikes up a “romance” with a girl named ‘Gitsie’, played by Chloë Sevigny… who is very cute and charming throughout, even if her character confesses she’s only allowed to speak when Alig wants her to! I haven’t read the book this was all based on, but a note on the movie’s IMDb page claims that the extent of their relationship was exaggerated, and that Alig never dated any women… but, as I say, I can’t really comment. When Gitsie moved in with Alig, she brought along her friend ‘Brooke’, played by Natasha Lyonne… and I’m all for seeing Lyonne appear in as many movies as possible, but I’m not quite sure why they cast her in this particular role, only to bury her under an unconvincing fat-suit, thick glasses, and weird braided-wig-thingy. Why not just cast a plumper actress? Tch! Meanwhile, my fave cast member/character combo was Mia Kirshner as ‘Natasha’, the cynical wife of the club-owner who foolishly allows Alig to keep hosting parties at their venue, regardless of how much money they actually bring in. Again, I don’t know how things played out in reality, but within the universe of this movie it was refreshing to see someone resist Alig’s supposed charms, and even take him down a peg or two with a few harsh home-truths! I think Kirshner is a fantastic actress, and I’m a little disappointed to see her playing so many small supporting roles… especially since I can’t afford the complete L Word boxset yet! Ah well, maybe some day…

Oh, I almost forgot to mention Marilyn Manson’s bizarre turn as ‘Christina’, a singer Alig aims to turn into a club-land “superstar”. He gets third billing on the DVD cover, after Culkin and Green (no mention of Sevigny), and a “special appearance by” credit on the back. I’ve always enjoyed his music, and thought that he had a pretty good sense of humour… at least in the early days… and he certainly steals a lot of scenes here with his shameless schtick. His casting also led to the amusing anecdote about how Culkin had to teach him how to smoke, because he was so inexperienced with cigarettes! Poor lamb…

About Dee CrowSeer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action. He/him.
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