I'm a sucker for a good documentary, and I'm beginning to think Matt Tyrnauer can do no wrong in the medium.
He follows up his outstanding, nuanced Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood doc about Golden Age pimp and hustler Scotty Bowers with Studio 54, which could be the definitive look at the legendary nightclub that defined the disco age in spite of existing for a mere 33 months.
Anchored by extraordinarily candid interviews with the club's co-founder, Ian Schrager — who has not spoken at length about the heady success that became a debacle — the film documents the club's origin story, chronicles its infamous shortcomings (Why are we so nostalgic for a place whose megalomaniacal owner would deny entry based on appearance?! Yet we are.) and its trailblazing embrace of LGBTQ patrons and aesthetics. Most usefully, it reunites Schrager with onetime biz partner Jack Dushey in scenes that are poignant and unguarded.
Best of all (okay, second best since Schrager's presence makes the movie), Tyrnauer's got a keen visual sense in selecting unseen footage from inside the pleasuredome, leading to a doc that doesn't feel it's recycling an oft-told tale, and one that marries the histories of AIDS and gay liberation with a cautionary tale of what can happen if you achieve your dreams before you're ready.
Studio 54 opens today in NYC at the IFC Film Center and nationally October 12. Dress to impress.