An ill-timed release, mere months after Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco. Written and directed by a starry-eyed Mark Christopher, it purports to grant us entree to the "real" Studio 54, as against Stillman's fictional "composite," and it predictably and conventionally gravitates more toward the "inside" and the "top" (the club owner, the bare-chested staff of "New York's Finest," the rising star, the wannabes), and goes in more for celebrity-spotting ("Truman Capote, where are you?"). Perhaps surprisingly, it short-changes us on dancing and decor, even in comparison with Stillman's modest amounts. Yet the number of points covered in common between the two films is remarkable, or possibly not, given the inherent poverty of the subject matter: the unwritten dress code, the arbitrary standards of admission, the drugs, the clap, the tax evasion, the bust, the valedictory to an era. All the more convenient, then, to measure the vast inferiority of the Christopher film: the paper-doll characters, the formulaic I-gotta-be-somebody storyline, the dull-witted dialogue, no personality, no vision, no angle, no strategy, no Chloë Sevigny. With Ryan Phillippe, Mike Myers, Salma Hayek, and Neve Campbell. 1998.

Duncan Shepherd

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