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LAST DAYS OF DISCO

SYNOPSIS:
Alice Kinnon (Chloe Sevigny) and Charlotte Pingress (Kate Beckinsale) are recent Hampshire college graduates working as assistants in book publishing and rent a cramped apartment with Holly (Tara Subkoff). They head off to the local hot disco where Alice spots Jimmy Steinway (Mackenzie Astin), a man she finds attractive and whose position at an ad agency depends on him getting clients into the club. The club's shady owner, Bernie Rafferty (David Thornton) tells one of his managers, Des McGrath (Christopher Eigeman), to remove Jimmy, his friend. Des already has his own share of problems including his ambiguous sexuality as well as a growing drug problem, not to mention that his college buddy, Josh Neff (Matt Keeslar), now an assistant district attorney, is investigating the club.

"This is the third in what one can imagine is director Whit Stillman's post-college preppie talkfest dealing with a group of New York would-be yuppies. The time is the very early eighties, swank nightclubs to the last throbbing beat of disco is the rage, and the dating game is rife. Stillman's work has a wonderfully acerbic quality, and this biting look at a bygone era fits snugly into the writer/director's sharply defined style. Cinematically, Stillman's film has greater depth than its predecessors, with its fluid style and the beautiful way in which it's been lit. Though the characters tend to be somewhat overwritten, there are some delightful performances, especially the exquisite British import Kate Beckinsale, whose bitchy, self-absorbed Charlotte is masterful, while Stillman regular Christopher Eigeman is topnotch as Des, who uses homosexuality as a convenient excuse to break off relationships with women. One can forgive Stillman's movie for being excessively plotted, because his dialogue is so engaging to listen to. Then there's the music; those of us who grew up in the disco era will recall those incessantly funky tunes which permeated our consciousness way back when. This movie keeps the beat alive with renewed and exuberant vigour, with a script to give it added punch."
Paul Fischer

"The '80s revival strikes back - not that director Whit Stillman could care less about disco. His use of pop culture is limply condescending: besides the expected pulsating soundtrack, there's lots of tired banter about Spiderman comics and Disney movies, as if mentioning these artefacts were automatically zany and cute. Of course the glibness is intentional. Stillman's talkative rich kids are uncomfortably aware of their own bland vacuity; someone describes a bar as 'full of boring preppies,' and the sarcastic response is 'Yeah, like we're so interesting.' The social jostling and self-delusion involved in trying to be 'interesting' is the real subject of the movie. Bouncing round the dancefloor are the 'cool' denizens of the club - androgens in glitter wigs, busty 'ethnic' women, gay boys stripped to the waist; uneasy in their business suits or chic frocks, the main characters lurk stiffly in the foreground, as if hoping some of this excitement will rub off. But the colourful party animals function only as decor; true to Stillman's basic conservatism, the heroine is genuinely shy and virginal, while her extroverted friend is an unredeemed bitch throughout. Despite the nostalgic trappings, the brittle humour is recognisably contemporary, focusing, like many current sitcoms, on minor etiquette points and the enmities of friendship, routine backstabbing and guilty niceness. The film toys with Boogie Nights' mock-elegiac mode (mourning the end of a glorious era), but whatever fascinates modern filmmakers about 'the very early '80s,' you won't find it analysed here."
Jake Wilson

"Whit Stillman presents us with an ensemble of recently graduated Ivy Leaguers who are heavily into disco, yet they all shake their larynxes a lot more than their booties. Pseudo-intellectual waffle is vigorously exchanged and they patronise The Club not so much to dance as to affirm their social status by surviving the style-nazi door patrol. The message is that youthful academic achievers (however upwardly mobile and clever) arenít necessarily precocious in the worldly wisdom stakes. Itís credibly delivered, but The Last Days of Disco loses any potential for poignancy, pathos or exhilaration because it doesnít make us care about the characters. And theyíre practically interchangeable -- just different shades of shallow. Whitís wit is sharp at times but too scarce and off-hand to actually infuse the film with deep satire. The nightlife milieu at the time of discoís death-throws provides a mildly intriguing background, however some laudable efforts to establish verisimilitude are overshadowed by the surreal notion that dialogue occurs at below-shouting levels within a nightclub interior. Very expedient, of course, but come on! ... this is excessive use of a triple-A-class poetic license. Acoustic dynamics aside, there arenít many flaws in execution; the film is simply rather dull and (despite the slight quirkiness of Stillmanís directing) not particularly ambitious. Disco never incorporated the limbo; the bar could have been set a lot higher."
Brad Green

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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

See Paul Fischer's interview with director
WHIT STILLMAN

LAST DAYS OF DISCO, THE (M15+)
(US)

CAST: Chloe Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, Chris Eigeman, Matt Keeslar, Mackenzie Astin, Matthew Ross, Tara Subkoff, Burr Steers, David Thornton, Jaid Barrymore, Michael Weatherly, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Beals

DIRECTOR: Whit Stillman

PRODUCER: Whit Stillman

SCRIPT: Whit Stillman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Thomas

EDITOR: Andrew Hafitz, Jay Pires

MUSIC: Mark Suozzo

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ginger Tougas

RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Polygram

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 10, 1998







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