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An anthology film retelling the story of the famous Studio 54, a hot disco hangout for the social elite of New York. The movie follows several characters at once, some of whom are in desperate straits and on the verge of crashing. Written by
Studio 54 was the center of a universe that revolved around sex, drugs, and a pantheon of ephemeral pop culture gods who presided over a world of decadence and music. Long before the neanderthal "disco sucks" mob convinced the world to stop dancing, every possible indulgence was explored, and then surpassed, in clubs like this one across the country. Well, if there had been clubs like this, but there was only one 54.
The story mirrors the lunatic time warp within great dance clubs. There was a cast of characters, you kind of knew them, and you knew some of the details of their lives outside the club, but make no mistake, the real world took place under the seductive lights, and everything else was just backstage preparation.
You might say that the myriad subplots that ran through 54 were not adequately explored by the movie, but that would be naive. Nobody at the club really knew Warhol, Jagger, Grace Kelly, Capote, or any of the luminaries, famous or not, who inhabited the club like ghosts. We drank from their lives from dusk till dawn and hibernated in the so-called real world until the stars came out at night.
Mike Meyers is beyond fabulous as the complex and tragic Steve Rubell. If Ryan Phillippe is no Oscar winner, you might recall that the real busboys weren't usually National Merit Scholars either. They were beautiful, and that was all that mattered.
The giddy yet tragic abandon of the Disco Days has never been captured so perfectly. Everyone knew it couldn't last, but we all stuck it out to see who could make it till last call. An era as beautiful and optimistic as the hippies and flower children of the 1960's drowned under the weight of the resentment of those who couldn't make it past the velvet rope.
This movie is the absolute best of its genre, and unflinchingly reveals the darkness that lay under the glittering veneer of 54. If you weren't there, you won't understand. If you were, there is no better way to remember. Brilliant, tragic, and most of all, fabulous.
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