Thursday, August 28, 2014

54 (1998)

Written & Directed By: Mark Christoper 
Cinematography By: Alexander Gruszynski 
Editor: Lee Percy 

Cast: Ryan Philippe, Breckin Meyer, Mike Myers, Neve Campbell, Salma Hayek, Sherry Stringfield, Sela Ward, Lauren Hutton, Heather Matarazzo, Cameron Mathison, Skip Sudduth, Erika Alexander, Mark Ruffalo, Domenick Lombardozzi

An anthology film retelling the story of the famous Studio 54, a hot disco hangout for the social elite of New York. The movie follows several characters at once, some of whom are in desperate straits and on the verge of crashing --Involves the club and a little bit of the behind the scenes shenanigans though feels put there to legitimize the scandal and intrigue that is notorious when it comes to the club.

The audience who comes to expect an expose and instead get melodrama, a good soundtrack as 54 is at the center, but we more get fictional characters, Who are right there in the middle and as participants amongst the debauchery. Then the film becomes a late coming of age tale and a flirtation story rather than a love story. That tries not to become the main focus, but feels tacked on.

This could have been a good movie though it feels extremely cut as we get the breed and the toppings but the meat of every story and subplot seems missing or undercooked.

If the film kept the focus on the club. It might have made for a much more intriguing film. Though as it plays now you can see the greatness it tried to possess.

Mike Myers, Gives a great performance and if there was more of him as the larger than life Steve Rubell. It could have been a classic performance as he seems to mimic him as create his own character. here he feels like a extended cameo. Who adds star power to the poster of the film

The characters played by Salma Hayek and Breckin Meyer seem to be the biggest casualties as the film focuses more on Ryan Phillipe. The only problem is his story isn't that interesting especially as we have seen his story before of getting popular too fast. Like the sort of Icarus flying too close to the sun. So of course his downward spiral as he see's himself an equal to the and rich and famous. When really he is a plaything, more of a fascination for them and as all fads they only have a certain shelf life.

Neve Campbell seems to be like Mike Myers, here only to be a face in the poster through she is hardly in the film.

This film also came out around the same time of the whit still man film THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO which was more fictional and is better remembered, but also portrayed as more of a relationship comedy with a great soundtrack and a cast of up and coming stars that played more to an indie, intellectual crowd. Where as this was more the mainstream release. This film positioned itself as a mainstream drama.

Plenty of sex and drugs though it tries to maintain heart. The film and all of it's characters instead come off as shallow.

A few scenes lead themselves to an interesting what would you do and give the characters a chance tough choices to define themselves as to how far they are willing to go to be successful.

Being that Writer-Director Mark Christopher is a noted playwright, maybe that is why the film while having a grand lifestyle feels so small, Of course setting most of the film at the club and center the film and it's characters in a single location to scenes that are more theatrical.

The film isn't horrible, but you see all the wasted potential all over the film.

I really wanted to see this film in Theaters, but something in my gut told me to wait for it. I saw THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO instead and enjoyed that film. This film had no chance of living up to the expectations I had for it at the time. Which would have been something similar to Martin Scorsese's CASINO Where we would get into side stories and urban legends about the place. With more telling the audience behind the scenes stories of club 54. --Which to most modern audiences must seem like a random number or a number meant to mean something to the story unless you actually do the research or know

As fictional characters at the end finding out their fates and futures. Doesn't pack a punch as other then Ryan Phillipe. You Barely know anything about the other characters.

Writer-director Mark Christopher spent about five years writing and researching the disco era and Studio 54.

In fact the characters at the heart of the film are barely in it. The disco grandma and Steve Rubell played by Mike Myers who seems like a doomed character straight out of Shakespeare, or at least that is how Myers plays the role. Funny yet tragic all the detail in his performance is all the authenticity that the rest of the film lacks.

The film also appears to be a victim of too many cuts. So that what is left is barely coherent as storylines are either forgotten or barely resolved or left open with no resolution. Like an epic edited down to an hour long special.

In 2008, about a decade after its original theatrical debut, writer-director Mark Cristopher assembled a bootleg Director's Cut of the film with 45 minutes of never before seen footage and unofficially screened it at New York's Outfest around July-August 2008. This version reinstated the blatant promiscuity and bisexuality of Ryan Phillippe's character, as well as the film's core love triangle between Phillippe, Salma Hayek and Breckin Meyer which the Miramax studio forced him to cut from the original release.

Though set in New York, the majority of this film was actually shot in Toronto, Canada in 1997. Principal photography for this movie was filmed during September, October and November 1997. Re-shoots of the picture were filmed in June 1998 only about two months before the film was due to launch in late August 1998. This additional photography was shot in New York and cast were not told the content of the scenes. The additional filming was conducted due to the poor results from early test screenings. Ultimately, 45 minutes of the original film was replaced with 25 minutes of new footage, the running time went from a two hour version to one around an hour and a half.

The film seemed to want to be more of an ensemble, but puts most of the film on the shoulders of Ryan Phillippe. Where as Mike Myers appears in the film as Steve Rubell, but is only a supporting character. Though the film's advertisements make it seem like he is the star. Which hurts the film as it seems like it is going to be more of a truthful biography film about the club, but it ends up a fabricated tale that just happens to involve studio 54 as a location and meeting place for everyone to interact. It tries to carry a BOOGIE NIGHTS-vibe, but is never so bold or energetic. Mike Myers at first seems like he is trying to Create a comedic character, but he has a talent in mimicry so as the film goes along, you begin to notice him creating a real character and giving a true performance full of heart.

This film was supposed to be a by studio wonderland. Instead it looks drab and wallows in melodrama, barely anything ends up being grand in it.

Grade: C-

No comments:

Post a Comment