Saturday, June 11, 2016

freakboy on film: PARTY GIRL

I will be participating in a blogathon concerning a very specific genre of film.  In honor of this upcoming event, tales from the freakboy zone will be mutated into a film blog for the month of June.
Screenplay by: Harry Birckmayer & Daisy von Sherler Mayer
Directed by: Daisy von Sherler Mayer

"I would like a nice, powerful, mind-altering substance, preferably something that would make my unborn children grow gills."
- Mary

Some things you should know about Mary...
Her mother was a woman with no common sense.
She really enjoys a falafel with hot sauce, a side order of Baba Ghanoush and a seltzer, please.
She might be an existentialist. 
She is not a waitress.
She knows how to throw a party.
She desires to find meaning in her life, which takes her to a library.

PARTY GIRL, at the core of its strange, indie heart, is a film about growing up.  When we first meet Mary, she is holding an illegal party and is subsequently arrested.  After being bailed out by her menopausal godmother Judy, she inadvertently starts down a party-filled road to maturity. This road includes a drug/alcohol-fueled learning of the Dewey Decimal System, having (safe) sex in the Romance Language section, and selling off her designer, and well-organized, wardrobe to pay the rent.  All of this, and more, leads Mary to wanting to become a librarian.
No, not Syphilis. 
There are many quirky characters and some good performances in this film, Sasha von Scherler as Judy and Donna Mitchell as Rene (an alcoholic club owner) are particularly memorable, but let's face it, this is Parker Posey's film.  As Mary, she is frustrating, funny, and commands attention in every scene, even when Mary's not there.  It is no surprise that Posey became the indie queen of the 1990's, and Party Girl, in my opinion, sets the bar pretty high.  

To be honest, Parker Posey is one of those rare actors I'll sit through anything for.  Once you have suffered through the cloying You've Got Mail and the insufferably long Superman Returns just for a hint of Posey brilliance, you are a dedicated fan.  She was easily the best part in either of those films, which leads me to believe that big-budget, mainstream affairs don't know how to fully utilize her eccentric acting style.  Well, except for maybe Josie and the Pussycats, but I'm blind to any faults in that admittedly bizarre spectacle, and Posey is purr-fect in it, but that's another post for another time.
You don't need Leo (Guillermo Diaz) to spin this awesome disc, but I'm sure he would!

Another aspect I love about Party Girl is its music.  Funky and danceable, from The Wolfgang Press to Run DMC to Deee-lite, the various artists and songs are nearly side characters in their own specific ways.  The "original motion picture soundtrack" is worth looking for, even though it tragically does not include "Lick It" performed by Karen Finley.

One more thing about this film, and this is purely opinion, but I wonder if Mary's mother was Holly Golightly and this is an unspoken sequel to Breakfast at Tiffany's.   I saw Party Girl first, so when I finally experienced Breakfast at Tiffany's, I was struck by a similar vibe between these two films, but thankfully Mustafa (Omar Townsend) in Party Girl isn't a cringe-worthy caricature portrayed by a Caucasian.  Perhaps the cinematic connection I imagine is simply because Holly's and Mary's stories are essentially the same.  A young woman, living in a self-created party world of sorts, finds her true self and falls in love in the process, albeit in different ways and in different decades. It's just a thought to chew on.

So, pour yourself a cocktail (or mocktail), imitate a cat puking, be on the lookout for a young Liev Schreiber and party with one of my favorite films, but FYI: 

"I expect you on that dance floor in five minutes and please change into something more festive!" -Derrick (Anthony DeSando)

Freak Out, 

P.S.  PARTY GIRL inspired an extremely short-lived television series in 1996, starring Christine Taylor (The Brady Bunch Movie), John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Swoozie Kurtz (Sisters), Merrin Dungey (Alias), and Matt Borlenghi (All My Children).
I remember enjoying the handful of episodes, but it couldn't quite live up to the film, which is probably why the series didn't find an audience.

P.P.S.  In case you missed the post where I go on and on about Gentlemen Broncos...

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