When it comes to winter holidays, Christmas gets all the cinematic love. There’s no shortage of movies featuring Santa, mistletoe, and characters discovering the true meaning of the season. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, on the other hand, don’t seem to inspire the same enthusiasm in filmmakers or moviegoers.
The list of New Year’s movies is woefully short. There’s the 2011 Garry Marshall rom-com New Year’s Eve. And there are movies such as The Apartment and When Harry Met Sally…, which feature important scenes set during New Year’s Eve. And there’s 200 Cigarettes, a 1999 movie starring a who’s who of late ‘90s celebs, including Courtney Love, Christina Ricci, and Paul Rudd.
‘200 Cigarettes’ was a box office bomb
Despite taking place on New Year’s Eve, 200 Cigarettes arrived in theaters in late February 1999. Reviewers weren’t kind to the ensemble comedy, dismissing it as “brain-dead” (The Washington Post) and “lame and labored” (Roger Ebert). The film earned just $6.8 million at the box office.
In the movie, which is set in New York City in 1981, a woman named Monica (Martha Plimpton) is throwing a New Year’s Eve party at her East Village apartment. As she panics about no one showing up, her various guests make their way to her bash. They include Rudd (sporting some impressive mutton chops) as Kevin, a guy despondent over his breakup with his artist girlfriend (Janeane Garofalo). Love plays Lucy, Kevin’s best friend. Ricci and Gaby Hoffman are Val and Stephie, a pair of Long Island teens who get lost in the city on their way to the party, while Dave Chapelle makes an appearance as a smooth-talking cabbie. Ben Affleck is a conceited bartender. The rest of the cast includes Jay Mohr, Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Nicole Ari Parker, and Elvis Costello (as himself).
‘200 Cigarettes’ has achieved cult status
Despite negative reviews, 200 Cigarettes has achieved something of a cult status, in part due to its costumes, which were designed by Susan Lyall (who also created the costumes in Empire Records), as well as its star-studded cast.
In an interview with i-D, Lyall explained that she turned to legendary NYC vintage store Trash & Vaudeville, other thrift and vintage shops, designer Betsey Johnson’s archive, and her own closet to create the memorable looks for each character in the film. She also found style inspiration in photographer Nan Goldin’s 1986 book The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, which captured people in the East Village “looking for love, messed up in sh*tty apartments, and wearing vintage coats,” she explained.
The costumes even threatened to cause a bit of drama between two cast members, Lyall recalled.
“In the makeup trailer, Courtney Love saw a continuity photo of Christina Ricci, who was also in a red dress, although very, very different, and was outraged.” she said. “The fact is, they were never in the same frame ever, and as I explained to her at the time, Val was someone aspiring to be like her Lucy character, but lacking Lucy’s sartorial panache.”
You can’t stream ‘200 Cigarettes’
Perhaps adding to 200 Cigarettes’s status as a cult film is that it’s almost impossible to watch these days. The movie isn’t available to stream anywhere. That may be due to its extensive soundtrack, which includes songs by Blondie, The Go-Gos, The Cars, The Ramones, and more, Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger speculated.
Not only is it impossible to stream 200 Cigarettes, but it’s hard to come by on DVD. Copies of the movie sell for more than $200 on Amazon. However, the movie is available to rent from Netflix’s DVD.com.
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