Friday, August 31, 2012

54 (1998) R - 3½ Stars

Not a documentary, but a movie based on the true life of Steve Rubell and his exclusive private night club, Studio 54, he co owned and attended nightly. This exclusive disco club of the 70's, attracted the world's elite, to party behind closed doors. Not just anyone could get in this club and Rubell hand picked only people he felt worthy of attending. His arrogance becomes his demise when his bragging costs him the club in exchange for a jail sentence. Once free, he's allowed back for one last night at the club, surrounded by the people who stood by him.

Considering the bad reviews this movie was given, I enjoyed learning a little more about this exclusive club in NYC though not a complete story. I wish the film focused more on Rubell than trying to become a love story. Being myself from this time period in L.A., we knew of Studio 54 and how special it would have been to dance inside. I had to include the Razzie nominations below because I don't agree with the nomination for Ryan Pjillippe.

Shane O'Shea (Ryan Phillippe), 19, and his two close friends, spend their nights at a local club in New Jersey. Shane's mom died when he was 12 and he lives with his strict father and two younger siblings. But he's become bored with this scene and yearns to be where the action is across the river in New York City. He cuts his hair, in a modern do, and sets his sights on how the other half lives at Studio 54. As soon as his father falls asleep, he lifts the keys and his friends head off to the big city for an evening of excitement. When they arrive Steve Rubell (Mike Myers),co owner of the club, peers out into the crowd selecting the unique and beautiful people he wants inside. He spots Shane and motions him into the club. Though his friends are rejected at the door, Shane must go inside, hoping for a chance encounter with his favorite soap star Julie Black, (Neve Campbell), who frequents this club.

Steve Rubell is a eccentric type only allowing the beautiful and the totally unique into his club. One such guest is an elderly woman, known as Disco Dollie (Ellen Albertini Dow), who attends the club nightly. Rubell has just lost his bus boy to a modeling career and takes a liking to Shane, offering him the job. Shane excepts as he immediately becomes infused with the glitter and excitement of this elite crowd. Greg Randazzo (Breckin Meyer), is a bus boy and shows Shane how things work and which drugs go to whom. Greg invites Shane home to his small apartment with his wife Anita (Salma Hayek), who also works at the club. Anita has a great voice and dreams of someday standing on stage at Studio 54. They form an instant bond and invite Shane to stay with them. Shane learns how to work the crowd and eventually makes bartender where the real fun comes in where he meets and falls for Julie. But this type of club can make instant careers if you hook up with the right people and Shane realizes he's been selling his soul for fame and fortune.

Rubell gets cocky as he allows numerous interviews where he flaunts his enourmous monetary intake from the club. He's been evading paying taxes, and the IRS is on to him. They know he's been sending hoards of cash out the back door straight to his partner hide. The IRS closes in and Rubell is arrested for tax evasion, sentenced to 18 months behind bars and the club is never the same. When he gets out, he returns to the club for one last bash with his beloved friends who supported him. He died in 1989 at the age of 45.

Awards include:
1999 - Nominated Razzie Awards - Worst Actor - Ryan Phillippe
1999 - Nominated Razzie Awards - Worst Supporting Actress - Ellen Albertini Dow

Miramax Films
Director: Mark Christopher
Writer: Mark Christopher
Producers: Dolly Hall, Richard N. Gladstein, Ira Deutchman
I viewed 8/12

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