Studio 54 was the epicenter of 70s hedonism--a place that not only redefined the nightclub, but also came to symbolize an entire era. Its co-owners, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, two friends from Brooklyn, seemed to come out of nowhere to suddenly preside over a new kind of New York society. Now, 39 years after the velvet rope was first slung across the club's hallowed threshold, a feature documentary tells the real story behind the greatest club of all time.Written by
Illuminating real life insight into the nightclub that set the standard
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
In late 1970's New York, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were two lower middle class college graduate friends, who had separate idea about the career paths they wanted to carve out for themselves. But eventually, they came together to spearhead what would turn out to be their most spectacular endeavour: Studio 54, the Manhattan nightclub that pushed the boundaries, and was a spectacle like no other. But unlicensed drinking, drugs and tax evasion resulted in the pair's imprisonment, and the demise of the club. Upon their release, they attempted to relive their former glory, until Rubell's death in 1989 from AIDs.
For those who weren't around to actually experience it first hand, the iconic Studio 54 has generated a kind of mythical quality about it that film has tried to capture, with even a 1998 film starring Mike Myers made about it. It defined the disco era, and evoked a genuine sense of glamour and wonderment that imitators have failed to capture, whilst also simmering in an underbelly of excess and debauchery that was equally integral to its nature (and was eventually its undoing.) Its overwhelming appeal was to the gay and transgender community, who were persecuted mercilessly on the New York streets, but who discovered a community of acceptance and love inside, both in the spirit of the people and the music.
Despite being the closest of friends, Rubell and Schrager are still portrayed as polar opposites, Rubell a wild, crazy closet homosexual who lived like any moment could be his last, while Schrager is a more practical, level headed guy who oversaw the more grounded side of things. With this in mind, it is overwhelmingly Rubell's influence that shines most brightly in the club, injecting the flamboyance that only a gay mind could muster, and still made it so iconic after so many years. Theirs is a true life tale that wouldn't have been as good if it had been made up, and understandably set the template for many fact based films.
Director Matt Tyrnauer manages an impressively condensed 98 minutes to fit in this illuminating real life tale of triumph and tragedy, filled with a pulse pounding soundtrack that may make you want to dig out your old records afterwards. ****
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