NY1 Movie Review: "Limelight"
A look at the heyday of popular nightclub Limelight and its owner Peter Gatien are the subject of the new documentary "Limelight," but the film focuses too much on Gatien's legal troubles. NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
If you've been around New York for a few decades, there's a good chance you remember the dance club Limelight. Now there's a new documentary, called "Limelight" that the focuses on the rise and fall of its owner, Peter Gatien.
Pater Gatien was a entrepreneur from Canada who turned an abandoned church on Sixth Avenue into a hot Manhattan nightspot -- the Limelight.
Gatien packed the place with all types of people and with the success of Limelight, he went on to open two other popular clubs, the Tunnel and the Palladium.
The parties went on until the wee hours of the morning and Gatien made tons of money. But his life changed dramatically when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani administration's crackdown on crime turned its eye on Gatien's empire.
According to filmmaker Billy Corben, who made the fascinating documentary "Cocaine Cowboys," Gatien was railroaded, and that the city wanted to make Gatien a sacrificial lamb.
They went after him for the sale of illegal drugs, specifically ecstasy, that was regularly sold at the club.
Gatien beat the rap, but was then brought up on tax evasion charges, to which he pleaded guilty.
The first 25 minutes of this film are terrific. With grainy, archival footage of nightlife at the Limelight, one gets a glimpse of a time in New York that's now long gone. It will be nostalgic for some and a history lesson for others.
It's the rest of the movie that's extremely tedious. Corben spends the bulk of his film focusing on Gatien's legal troubles. He interviews lawyers, witnesses and many New York fixtures who offer their own recollections of what exactly happened.
But unless a viewer was involved with the Gatien case back at the time, he or she really will not care about this overly long look at Gatien's legal battles. This aspect of the story could have been handled in about 10 minutes,
What would have been more interesting is a look at the history of the club itself, who came out of this scene and how New York influenced popular culture back then. Even a more personal view of Gatien's life would have been more interesting than what "Limelight" provides.
Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating Scale: 2 Apples