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Party Monster

Fox // R // February 10, 2004
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jason Gann | posted March 2, 2004 | E-mail the Author

The Cast: Macaulay Culkin (Michael Alig), Seth Green (James
St. James), Chloe Sevigny (Gitsie), Marilyn Manson (Christina), Dylan McDermott
(Peter Gatien), Wilson
Cruz (Angel), Wilmer Valderrama (Keoki), Justin Hagan (Freez), Natasha Lyonne
(Brooke)


Money! Success! Fame! And glamour!


The
Movie:
Based
on "Disco Bloodbath", a book based on a true story of convicted murderer
Michael Alig. Party Monster chronicles
Michael's rise to the top of the club kid underground and his subsequent downfall
as a drug addicted
murderer by mixing truth and some very odd fiction. As the story moves along,
you get a sense that the filmmakers want Michael's character to receive a small
amount
of sympathy
or at least empathy from the
viewer, but his bratty actions don't allow for that to happen. The reality
of the story outweighs all of the funny and surreal moments that fill this
movie,
but luckily never gets preachy so it's still enjoy as an entertainment
piece.


Outside of the interesting story, the cast is one of the main reasons to watch
this film. Macaulay Culkin's performance of Michael Alig is questionable at
first,
but
he pulls
it off without
a hitch and hits the mark pretty well. As good as Mac was, his performance
is out shined by Seth Green's hilarious portrayal of Alig's friend/mentor/rival
and Disco Bloodbath author, James St.
James.
The more
and more I watch Seth act, the more and more I like him. With such a large
cast and the main focus being on Michael, a few of the other characters, including
Wilson Cruz's crucial role as Angel, are underdeveloped. Even with that complaint
the ensemble does a terrific job with their roles, playing the over the top
moments
just
as
well
as some the more subdued or sinister moments of the film.


Throughout
the entire movie costumes play a huge part in recreating the club kid scene.
The outrageous
colors and ridiculous themes of these outfits serve to pull the actual person
from the real world into their cartoonish drug filled fantasy land.


While the technical aspects for the movie are great, the use of handheld cameras
in some of the slower or less manic scenes stick out like a sore thumb. When
used in the large party scenes or ones that depict drug induced effects, the
handheld footage captures the chaotic nature of that particular scene perfectly.


The DVD:



The
Picture:
Available in 1.33:1 full frame and 1.85:1
anamorphic widescreen, Party Monster's transfer is very nice. Some grain
is present in the film, but for the most part is clear and crisp. Compression
artifacts do show up from time to time, but aren't something that takes much
away from the image. Vivid colors are key elements
to the story and tone of the movie and are well represented in this transfer.


The Sound: The audio is a decent two channel Dolby presentation,
but a surround mix would have been perfect for this movie. The large party
scenes
and drug scenes would have benefited from a full surround mix to really create
the chaotic feel of these scenes.



Special Features: Director/Producer Commentary, Featurette,
Interview with Michael Alig, Actor Interviews, Behind the Scenes Footage, Trailer



Commentary with Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato: This
commentary is filled with loads of information about the movie and actual
story as well as history lessons on the Club Kid scene.


Featurette: An eight minute short describing the movie,
the club kid scene and the murder using the actors' and directors' words.


Interview with Michael Alig: I was very interested in checking
this extra out when I first saw it, but after seeing how short it is I was
left disappointed.


Actor Interviews: These are set up like the Michael Alig
interview and once again a little too short.


Behind the Scenes Footage: Just under nine minutes of random
"backstage" shots of scenes being shot, conversations and costuming.


Final
Thoughts:
Party Monster is a strange mix of good and evil sprinkled
with a whole lot of glitter. Anyone familiar with the story
will definitely want to pick this one up and those that aren't are sure to
find
a bizarre
true story worth watching.




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