The American indie It Girl of her day, Parker Posey is one of those performers who inspire love and devotion despite generally appearing in supporting roles. And hence the 2nd annual Parker Posey Film Festival being held in conjunction with Scalarama.
First up (and back by popular demand) is Party Girl from 1995, projected off a 35mm print for that authentic 90s flavour.
The party girl of the title is Mary (played by Posey) an unrepentant hedonist and gleeful clotheshorse. The story follows Mary from a chaotic life of dating, dancing, and debt to potential salvation within the order of the Dewey decimal system.
Prancing around town in her ever changing extreme fashions Posey skilfully keeps her character just the right side of ridiculous. Things are changing for Mary, the party lifestyle has lost its lustre, there’s a sexy man at the falafel stand, and it looks like she’ll have to work with her aunt at the library to earn a crust (leading to inevitable fish-out-of-water laughs). There’s a danger that this could slip into sitcom territory but the lack of spite in Mary and good-natured tone of the film save it from caricature.
Despite the lack of ambition in the filmmaking Party Girl succeeds in being light fun and remaining fresh with that rough around the edges feel you just don’t get in the age of digital. It now stands as an effective period piece showing us a New York still down at heel but buzzing with the sound of Hip Hop, Funk, Soul and everything in between.
After the credits rolled the packed out ICA audience were treated to an onstage phone call to Posey herself. Free from pretension, Posey was pleasingly down to earth. She described the feeling of optimism in 90s New York when dressing up was part of the fun of going out. Unfortunately things changed when new mayor Rudy Giuliani enforced strict measures that outlawed dancing in bars making the city more Footloose than fancy-free.
The second part of the screening was a sneak preview of two episodes from the third series of Louis. These featured Posey as an independent, funny, slightly damaged New Yorker who meets Louis CK on the hunt for a girlfriend. Her charisma steals the show and makes you hope that this party girl gets plenty more opportunities to strut her stuff.