200 Cigarettes (1999)
Written by Shana Larsen
Directed by Risa Bramon Garcia
Movie of the Day
Alphabet Movies – September 2019
“These matches are disappointing me!” – Ellie
September’s Movie of the Day starts out a theme that will be continuing through the rest of the year, and most likely into the next. Alphabet Movies or my favorite movies shared alphabetically. I’m going to make my way through a huge list of “favorite movies”, one-by-one, alphabetically (one per letter, or number as it starts today) and then turn-around and start all over again once I make it through my a-b-c’s.
I didn’t want to forget “number” movies in this themed equation, so the first of this new Movie of the Day theme is 200 Cigarettes.
Please note, most (not all) of the Movie Of the Day have spoilers, this post included. Spoilers ahead – be warned.
200 Cigarettes was directed by Risa Bramono Garcia, and written by Shana Larson. The film plays out like a mosaic, following multiple characters in New York City on New Year’s Eve, 1981. The film has a huge ensemble cast, which includes a cameo by Elvis Costello, and paintings by Sally Davies.
The film follows various plot arcs all occurring on New Year’s Eve of 1981. Monica (Martha Plimpton) is throwing a big New Year’s bash and is desperately afraid no one will attend. Early on the only person to have arrived is her friend Hillary (Catherine Kellner). As she tries to convince Hillary to stay, we learn about various other groupings of individuals who are all on their way. (from Wikipedia)
For me, 200 Cigarettes has four big features to it that I movie-love-obsess about: an ensemble cast, a story told all in one day or night, a fantastic soundtrack, and an unexpected take on the holidays. This has all four of my favorite film features.
The title of the film, 200 Cigarettes, is a reference to a carton of cigarettes. 10 packs per carton, 20 cigarettes per pack.
I love ensemble films, especially if the stories work well on their own, and yet still connect together in some way by the end. I love films like this the way I love good short story collections,and anthologies.
Also, I am a sucker for a good holiday film, one that is unconventional, not overly sentimental, but full of heart all the same – and this one ticks off all those “holiday” boxes.
I co-hosted a party once where myself, and my co-host, fell asleep before the party really got going. When we woke all the caffeine in the house was gone – all of it – coffee, diet Coke, etc. Though there was plenty (more than plenty) of booze still left.
We made a joke that a friend of ours, who we deemed the “Elvis Costello of the night”, and who was known to have a Diet Coke addiction, must have shown up after we passed out, and this was how he’d left his mark. 200 Cigarettes always reminds me of that night, and makes me smile.
Every time I watch this film I ask myself whose New Year’s Eve I’d want to inhabit, or at least tag-a-long with. My answer changes often. Most of the time, though, I’d choose to be a part of Lucy and Kevin’s story – and not just because I adore both Courtney Love and Paul Rudd – although that does help me in the choosing.
“You need to find somebody that likes you the way you are.” – Lucy
“And who would possibly like me the way I am?” – Kevin
“I have no idea.” – Lucy
“Pump It Up” by Elvis Costello
featured in 200 Cigarettes