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‘Studio 54’ Review: Dir. Matt Tyrnauer (2018)

Studio 54 review: A documentary charting the rise and fall of New York City’s legendary nightclub.

Studio 54 review by Paul Heath.

Studio 54 review

Studio 54 review

In 1977 a new nightclub appeared in Manhattan, one which would not only transform New York City, but also the clubbing scene around the world that can still be felt to this very day. The club was Studio 54, and it and its founders are the subject of a new feature documentary from Matt Tyrnauer (Citizen Jane: Battle for the City).

The film feels like a moving picture book, hundreds of glittering photos lining the feature, accompanied by talking heads from key figures involved in its conception – most notably Ian Schrager, just one of the entrepreneurs who gifted the city this super club at the height of the disco era. Of course, with the documentary very much being about the club and the impact it had on pop culture, the piece also goes into these characters as individuals, though Steve Rubell is obviously absent due to his passing in the late 1980s.

Schrager is largely our guide through proceedings, the now-hotelier more than willing to revisit the past to recount takes of the iconic club – its legendary parties – the doc reveals that their costs per night came to at least $40,000, though its constant influx of celebrity clientele and wall-to-wall publicity in the press as a result more than turned them a tidy profit.

The club in its original form was only open for three years, the reasons for which are documented here – from its massive opening to the sudden closure due to alleged skimming from the takings – or their ‘cash in, cash out, skim’ system – and Rubell and Schrager’s subsequent incarceration for tax evasion.

It’s an interesting watch throughout, Tyrnauer not allowing any stone to go unturned and he uses the 90-minute running time to capture the key points from the unbelievable ’54’ story, as well as lacing it with some massive 70s club hits to really take us older viewers completely down memory lane. Studio 54, the film, is thoroughly engaging to all, but those who remember this key time in pop culture history will be sure to get even more out of it.

A glizty, glittery, and very honest snapshot of the original super club and the larger than life people who brought it to life. This is as close as us mortals would ever get to peeking inside  – even if its doors were still open today. A dazzling piece of documentary filmmaking.

Studio 54 review by Paul Heath, June 2018.

Studio 54 is released in UK cinemas on Friday 15th June 2018.


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