The Last Days of Disco [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, PCM 2.0
- Subtitles: None
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: R
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Criterion Collection
- Blu-ray Release Date: July 24, 2012
- List Price: $39.95
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Unlike the 60’s, which if you remembered them then you probably weren’t there, the disco era with its strobe lights, spinning crystal ball, and polyester double-knits, really happened. Whit Stillman, whose social commentary cinema rolled out with Metropolitan, examines a cultural phenomenon that spanned a decade and then brief-candled its way into oblivion. The Last Days of Disco chronicles a group of young urban professionals caught up in the wave of a musical experience characterized by a dance, drugs and sex. The story centers around the adventures of two recent college graduates, Alice (Chloe Sevigny) and Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale), working as young hires in a publishing firm, as they navigate through the late night entertainment scene in Manhattan. The concrete jungle is populated by other rising stars of the late ‘90s, Mackenzie Astin, Jennifer Beals, Robert Sean Leonard, Chris Eigeman, and some cameos from director Stillman’s earlier film, Metropolitan. Against the relentless and, some would say mindless, beat of disco music, The Last Days effectively recapitulates the coke-fueled scene that brought down some of the trendiest hot spots (remember Studio 54?) of the Big Apple
The overall quality of the print is sharp and unfailingly true to the scenes and locales of the demi-monde of New York discothequerie. I was pleased to find that nearly all close ups were demonstration quality and the shining disco balls and over the top costumes appeared fetchingly real. Overall, you get an immersive view of what the inside of the clubs was like and the frenetic pace of their habitués.
Disco is all about music and fortunately the sound engineers do not disappoint. Underscoring the crisp dialogue is the relentless catalog of the best (I use that term with reservation) disco music of the times. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 version outpoints the PCM 2.0 counterpart in depth and ambience.
Extras for this film include
- Deleted scenes (best left on the cutting room floor)
- Stillman’s take on the novel basis for the film
- A featurette
- Stills gallery
- Booklet with David Schickler’s essay on Pop Paradise
An interesting lot but somewhat short shrift for newcomers who missed out on the buzz that was disco fever.
The Definitive Word
The disco world has retreated 30 years into the past and in its wake there are relatively few survivors. Whit Stillman has recreated successfully some of the seamier aspects of this dance scene. A terrific group of young actors populate the disco club with the sight and sound trappings of this period. In return, viewers get a penetrating and entertaining tour of dancers, freaks, drugistas, and enablers that came and went like the wind. Special recognition to the principal actors (Sevigny, Beckinsale, Eigeman and Astin) who make us feel a part of the velvet rope in-crowd. In many respects, Stillman outdoes his previous effort in Metropolitan, and resurrects the ephemeral essence that was disco. If you really don’t feel that you love the nightlife and got to boogie on the disco ‘round, then you need to be checked for signs of life. For disco-era survivors, like myself, and those who want to know what all the fuss was about, The Last Days of Disco, is a must-see tribute to this brief but vibrant moment in time.
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