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The Last Days of Disco (15)

The final film in Whit Stillman's trilogy of romantic comedies is set in "the very early 1980s", with an exclusive Manhattan nightclub (loosely based on Studio 54) serving as a backdrop. The focus is on two recent college graduates - bitchy, confident Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale) and her less sophisticated friend Alice (Chloe Sevigny) - who are now room-mates in the city with entry-level publishing jobs. The young men in their social circle include a cad who breaks up with his girlfriends by pretending he's gay (Chris Eigeman) and a prosecutor with a history of manic depression (Matt Keeslar). The actors deftly handle the prolix postulations that, in Stillman's films, stand in for one-liners. And while the film has sluggish moments, it's carried along nicely by the most effective soundtrack of any recent disco movie.

Armageddon (12). You can't fault a Jerry Bruckheimer production (directed by Michael Bay, in this instance) for being loud, boorish, illogical, and chaotic, but this decisively crosses the line into a whole new dimension of Hollywood blockbuster hell. The movie gets right down to business, annihilating midtown Manhattan in a matter of minutes, while establishing the premise: big asteroid coming. In an attempt to zap the offending rock, the US government turns to Bruce Willis, inventor of a Very Powerful Drill so fiendishly intricate that even Nasa can't figure out how to assemble it. Cocksure yet insecure, Bay leaves nothing to chance: all situations are life-or-death. Real thrills are beyond him, so he simulates their presence through quick cuts, sudden camera swivels, and deafening explosions. Designed to strong-arm viewers into a bogus frenzy, Armageddon makes less sense as entertainment than as an experiment in social control.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (18). Guy Ritchie's hit first feature

is an elaborately plotted crime caper, in which an assortment of East End hustlers and dealers stumble towards a predictably bloody finale (played for laughs, of course). The film is entertaining enough on its own terms, but is finally most notable for a galling lack of substance.

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