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"The Last Days of Disco"

Whit Stillman goes retro in 'Last Days'

From Correspondent Michael Okwu

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Disco suffered an inauspicious end in the early 1980s. The rage of dance and style that swept the country in the late '70s crumbled from serious backlash as disco freaks seemed to finally wake up and realize what they were wearing. Soon, an anti-disco sentiment reigned.

But now, safely buffered by time and nostalgia, the era when disco was king is the subject of two movies hitting theaters this summer.

"The Last Days of Disco," a film by Whit Stillman, gets the boogie started with its release on May 29. And "54," a fictional portrayal of the owner of New York's drug- and sex-laced disco haven Studio 54, is scheduled for an August release.

'Disco-dancing child'

"Last Days" is the story of recent college grads who enter the real world of New York City as disco fizzles. Writer-director Stillman, who has tackled the stories of 20-somethings in "Metropolitan" (1990) and "Barcelona" (1994), says he enjoys writing about young urban professionals.

"I focus on them because I know about them," he said. "They're sort of the group I knew."

"Last Days" stars Stillman regular Chris Eigeman, as well as Robert Sean Leonard, Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale.

"It's not really about disco," Sevigny said. "It's about these characters that the movie revolves around and their relationships with each other and it's more about the dialogue."

But along with dialogue, there's plenty of dance. Each actor was required to cut the rug for the camera.

"I was a big disco-dancing child really," Beckinsale said. "My friend and I were constantly making up routines and flinging ourselves around and doing the splits."

Hanging out during 'Last Days'

Sevigny and Leonard in "The Last Days of Disco"

Stillman's movie captures good times on the screen, but the actors walk away from the production with plenty of memories. Beckinsale and Sevigny play rival characters in the movie. Off-screen, it was a different story.

"We got along really well, thank God," Sevigny said. "We'd go out at night to parties and stuff, and hang out together."

Eigeman, meanwhile, was enjoying "veteran" status on a Stillman flick.

"You know, we've done three of them, and there's a real sort of secret language between us," he says. "Whit gives me the luxury of being the guy who says the things that everybody is thinking but no one's gonna say because they're too damn polite."

For Stillman, the completion of this movie caps his trilogy on 20-something relationships.

"The films are all about young people finding each other," Stillman said. "There are groups of young people and they are going out at night and they are pairing off, ferociously or not ferociously."

And in "Last Days" Stillman adds the element of disco, which is now retro, and coming to theaters this weekend.


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