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The Last Days of Disco(1998)
During the early 1980s as the disco era comes to a close, recent Hampshire College graduates Alice and Charlotte move to Manhattan to search for love and entertainment. By day, they toil as publishing-house assistants.
For more about The Last Days of Disco and the The Last Days of Disco Blu-ray release, see the The Last Days of Disco Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on July 17, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Whit Stillman
Writer: Whit Stillman
Starring: Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, Chris Eigeman, Mackenzie Astin, Matt Keeslar, Jennifer Beals
» See full cast & crew
The Last Days of Disco Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, July 17, 2012
Whit Stillman's "The Last Days of Disco" (1998) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; four deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Whit Stillman and actors Chris Eigeman and Chloe Sevigny; standard featurette with raw footage from the shooting of the film; production stills and behind-the-scenes photos; audio commentary by writer-director Whit Stillman and actors Chris Eigeman and Chloe Sevigny; and more. The disc also arrives with a leaflet featuring David Schickler's essay "Pop Paradise". In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Set during the early 1980s, the film tells two very different stories. The first is about two girls, Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale, Underworld: Awakening, The Aviator) and Alice (Chloe Sevigny, Boys Don't Cry), searching for inspiration and identity. Both are single and dreaming about careers in the book publishing industry. Charlotte is the more aggressive one, a real go-getter, while Alice is the quiet and more laidback one.
While visiting a chic disco club, Alice sees Jimmy Steinway (Mackenzie Astin, The Zeros), a handsome young man she finds irresistibly attractive. Jimmy is trying to get a few important clients in the club but the owner, Bernie Rafferty (David Thornton, John Q), tells one of his managers, Des McGrath (Chris Eigeman, Metropolitan), to kick them out. This creates a serious problem because Jimmy and Des are good friends. While trying to figure out how to deal with the situation, Des is approached by Josh Neff (Matt Keeslar, Art School Confidential), an old college buddy who has become an assistant district attorney. Des has no idea that Josh is investigating the club.
Charlotte and Alice become involved with the other guys. They keep returning to the club night after night and slowly begin to discover their self-identity. During these happy trips, and sometimes in between, they have a lot of discussions about love, culture, and ambitions, but it never becomes clear exactly what the two girls and their new friends aim to accomplish in their lives.
The second story is about a unique transition. Early on, the film effectively captures the euphoria that made the disco era what it was. The film also gives a sense of the culture that emerged from it. Later on, the film shows how the culture was destroyed.
The change is effectively depicted through the maturation of the main characters, all of which become quite cynical. They are presented with new responsibilities which dramatically alter their lifestyles and ultimately the way they see the world around them.
Parts of the film work really well. They shows how disco united and liberated people, at least for a short period of time. The disco family was the most diverse family ever - as long as one wanted to be part of it, one could. Skin color, sexual orientation, social status did not matter.
The film frustrates a bit with its desire to spend time with characters that are incredibly difficult to embrace because they lack identity. As they date each other and repeatedly meet in the club, they engage in strange debates that essentially keep the viewer isolated because almost always they feel incomplete. Naturally, instead of learning more about these characters the view wonders if they truly are as eccentric as they seem to be or simply trying to impress each other. There is subplot involving the club's shady owner that does not align well with the rest of the film either.
The two leads are good. Sevigny, in particular, gives as much credibility to her character as the script allows, while Beckinsale looks beautiful and the majority of the time appropriately overconfident. However, some of the lines the latter utters feel artificial.
The Last Days of Disco is loosely based on director Stillman's personal experiences in disco clubs in New York City, including the notorious Studio 54.
Note: In 1999, The Last Days of Disco won ALFS Award for British Supporting Actress of the Year (Kate Beckinsale) at the London Critics Circle Film Awards.
The Last Days of Disco Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears on the leaflet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Supervised by director Whit Stillman, this high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image Systems' DVNR was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Telecine supervisors: Maria Palazzola, Whit Stillman.
Colorist: Doug Drake/Universal Studios, Hollywood."
This is one of the harshest looking high-definition transfers I've seen from Criterion. While during close-ups detail is mostly adequate, sharpness levels are often elevated quite a bit. Occasionally, contrast levels are also too strong. Unsurprisingly, light to moderate edge-enhancement is quite easy to spot (see screencaptures #5 and 17). There are traces of light filtering as well. As a result, some of the footage from inside the big disco club look rather soft (see screencapture #9). Generally speaking, colors are stable, but do not appear as lush and natural as they should. The reds and blues seem to suffer the most, especially where there is plenty of light. Finally, there are light artifacts that are occasionally noticeable as well. All in all, while viewing the film some of the issues mentioned above could be easy to ignore, but the larger your screen is, the more likely it is that you will be distracted by them. Naturally, my advice to you is to find a way to rent this disc before you add it to your collection. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Last Days of Disco Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears on the leaflet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The original 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 35mm magnetic audio tracks. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation."
The Last Days of Disco has a great retro soundtrack that benefits tremendously from the lossless track. The club sequences, in particular, sound great. Admittedly, the surrounds are not too active, but the sound has excellent depth and and good crispness that enhance the viewing experience quite well. The dialog is stable, clean, and easy to follow. Additionally, there are no distortions, pops, or cracks to report in this review.
The Last Days of Disco Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Last Days of Disco Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco is a unique film which will resonate differently with different viewers. Those who were part of the disco craze from the early 1980s will probably like it a lot more than those who have only read about it. However, there is a side of it that is quite eccentric. I don't have a problem with it, but I think that it does not always blend well with the period atmosphere. I was not overly impressed with the film's technical presentation. Naturally, my advice to you is to find a way to rent this disc before you add it to your collection. RENT IT.
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