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Festivale online magazine, November, 1998
54 movie review

The path of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

Sometimes the best way to tell the story of an era is by telling the story of one person (or place).

It was the era of shiny clothes, big shoes, body shirts, aqua liquid eye-shadow and Farrah Fawcett flippy hair. Disco ruled the air-waves, and John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John ruled disco. Anyone who wanted to be someone wanted to get 'in' to the dark, throbbing, drugged-out places, and if you were someone you could make a place the in place to be.

Movie Poster, 54 a.k.a. Studio 54, Festivale film reviews section; 54.jpg - 23600 Bytes

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Studio 54 was a party: the crowd outside desperate for the nod that would get them past the bouncer, the undersized foyer to create a crowd, the mirror-balled dance floor with its outrageously-costumed denizens, the sex on the balcony, the drugs in the office and the celebrities in the basement. Your host was the perennially-stoned Steve (Mike Myers), whose tax evasion would ultimately bring it all to an end.

He was the mix-master, building his nightly extravaganza with bare-chested, flat-bellied bartenders and bus boys, celebrities like Warhol and Princess Grace, and personalities, like the 80-year-old disco queen. He is a strange mix of insight, svengali, psychologist, drug addict and thief. Myers spends almost the entire film with his eyelids dropping and speech slurred, reminding us that the best comedians are masters of characterisation.

54 is told from the point of view of Shane (Ryan Phillippe). Pretty, undereducated, naive, he waits in the corridor outside the boss's office, seeking a job. He has been warned that Steve will ask him difficult question. Steve sticks his head around the door, "Oh, you are gorgeous. What's two and two?" Quick as a wink, Shane replies, "Huh?" And he's hired.

Shane and his friends are young and beautiful and ambitious and part of the honey-trap of excess and esctasy that is 54. It's all part of Billy's big bang theory.

This is not so much a story of loss of innocence, as the getting of wisdom. Shane and his friends somehow survive to move on and go, escaping overdoses and STDs, and Steve comes back with his Club Fed tan, and it is the end of a era.

The mood of 54 is gently nostalgic, the story is told with affection and without preaching. From its home movie introduction through its mirror-ball disco the photography and editing work hard to convey the story with images, which is exactly what a film should do.

While this is not the most substantial film of the year, it is an affectionate window into the past.

Click here to buy films from one of the online stores in Festivale's on-line shopping mall Due for Australian release November 15, 1998

Ali Kayn

See also: Mike Myers also appears in Austin Powers
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Just the facts:

Title: 54 (1998) (aka Studio 54)
Written by: Mark Christopher
Directed by: Mark Christopher
Produced by: Don Carmody   (executive), Bobby Cohen   (executive), Ira Deutchman, Richard N. Gladstein, Dolly Hall, Jonathan King (associate), Bob Weinstein   (executive), Harvey Weinstein   (executive)
Edited by: Lee Percy
Director of Photography: Alexander Gruszynski
running time: USA 89 mins

The Players: Ryan Phillippe .... Shane O'Shea
Salma Hayek .... Anita
Neve Campbell .... Julie Black
Mike Myers .... Steve Rubell
Sela Ward .... Billie Auster
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Festivale Online Magazine
Celebrate everything!

ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: 3-Nov-1998 : Last updated: : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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