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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Limelight – Peter Gaiten Documentary

"Limelight" is a documentary about the rise and fall of club owner Peter Gaiten. Gaiten opened a series of night clubs throughout the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. He was highly successful in attracting millions of customers over the course of his career. He succeeded by offering cutting edge music and innovative club themes. The film presents him as being responsible for introducing hip-hop and rave music to the New York scene.**

Much of the movie focuses on his two most popular New York City night clubs, Limelight and The Tunnel. Both were wildly successful due to Gaiten’s strategies I mentioned above but were also blamed for rampant drug dealing and introducing the drug called ecstasy to New York.

Limelight is shot like an Mtv rockumentary / documentary. The footage is highlighted with subtle light effects, camera angles and animation. Much of the film’s interviews are dominated by insiders of the club and music scene as well as a few celebrities (Moby, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, etc)

Gaiten made a lot of money, wears a patch on his eye (which he lost playing hockey as a child), and is a bit sinister looking. I was really expecting the movie to show Gaiten as a greedy, drug fuelled individual. Limelight really gives Gaiten plenty of time to explain his story and, to my surprise, he comes off hard working, mild mannered and sympathetic.

Limelight is more than a film about Gaiten and the New York City night life. It is also about government conspiracy, police cover up, and the power of the political establishment. People who are generally skeptical of the government will find some of the conspiratorial ideas intriguing. Did Gaiten’s establishments cross legal boundaries or was he just singled out to be an example for political gain?

The film also explores the dark side of nightclub operations. Limelight is loaded with interviews of seedy characters, substance abusers, dealers, and murders that infiltrate and wield great influence in these clubs.
This film isn’t for everyone. If you are conservative, you might find the film to be left –leaning. I’ve always had a fascination for people who are hard driving and buck the system a bit so I liked it. For the great reviews this film garnered I doubt I would have spent the $30-$40 bucks taking the family to the movie theater to see this movie. Limelight is, however,  worth seeing after the fact on DVD, cable or wherever you can find it on your television screen.

Not bad.


78 Minutes

**(On a side note to prog rock fans, his earliest club in 1976 drew a fledgling band called “Rush”, if you ever heard of those guys….)

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