Boogie Nights

Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997. Starring: M. Wahlberg, J. Moore, B. Reynolds, D. Cheadle, J. C. Reilly, W. H. Macy. Drama.
Boogie Nights

From the opening sounds of sad circus music flowing into disco, you feel you are in for something unique. As the camera tracks across a street into a bustling nightclub, introducing us to a large array of characters in one take, you know you are in for one hell of a spectacle...

Boogie Nights is an epic tail about life in the swinging seventies through the lens of the porno industry of Southern California. It explores the transition of the business into the 1980s, where film was switched out for video, and the roof caved in for many. But it’s not simply a story of the sex trade—it’s about family. Although somewhat warped, the group of porn stars connect together as if they were brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers.

Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) plays a young buck from the Valley named “Eddie Adams” who, while not washing dishes, gets paid to whip it out his monstrous member. He meets “Jack Horner” (Reynolds) one night at the club and the rest becomes porn history. Wahlberg is ideally cast in the role of the star that would become “Dirk Diggler.” There is a certain charming innocence in his performance that over time becomes a sad and miserable desperation.

The always apt Julianne Moore (Children of Men) plays “Amber Waves”—a coke addled mother of an estranged little boy. The personal dynamics between Amber and Dirk is unlike any other in cinema. They have sex with each other on camera, while she thinks of him as her surrogate son.

Burt Reynolds (Deliverance) plays the most interesting character in the latter part of his career. As a sex merchant who sees himself as an artistic filmmaker, Reynolds gives Jack Horner more heart than you would expect.

Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) is hilarious as “Buck”—a part time stereo salesmen, always looking for a new style to re-define himself. John C. Reilly (Talladega Nights) is great as the comedic sidekick, “Brock Landers”— the dim-witted best bud and co-star of Dirk Diggler. They snort their futures away together, leading to criminal activities and a lot of bad mojo.

Strong supporting performances are turned in by:  Heather Graham (Drugstore Cowboy) as the always aroused “Roller Girl”; William H. Macy (Fargo) as an emasculated and browbeaten assistant director; and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) as the “boy next door” who falls deeply in love with Diggler.

Writer-Director, P.T. Anderson (There Will Be Blood) provides us a beautiful time capsule with Boogie Nights. It records the shifting of the porn industry as much as society itself. Where most directors would have focused on the porn, Anderson boldly decided to use it as springboard into the human condition.

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Boogie Nights was nominated for 3 Oscars:  Best Supporting Actor (Burt Reynolds), Best Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore), and Best Original Screenplay.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Jan 26, 2009 11:25am
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