Friday, September 14, 2012

920. Boogie Nights (1997)

Running Time: 155 minutes
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Main Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, John C. Reilly
Click here to view the trailer


After watching "Safe" the other day, I needed just a little bit more of Julianne Moore, so I turned to P.T. Anderson's break-out film, "Boogie Nights", starring not only Moore, but a host of other very talented actors...and Mark Wahlberg.

The plot is, I guess, loosely based on the life of popular adult film star John Holmes and tells the story of Eddie Adams a.k.a. Dirk Diggler (Wahlberg). When the film opens, Adams is working as a dishwasher in a nightclub cicra 1970s and is approached by adult film director Jack Horner (Reynolds). Adams has built a reputation for himself around town for being very well endowed and through the grapevine Jack hears about it, picturing dollar signs and envisioning his next BIG star. It doesn't take much from Jack to convince Eddie to enter the world of pornography and Dirk Diggler is born. Jack's vision is to turn adult films into real films, where people not only come for the joy of self pleasure, but also can't help but stick around for the story. Along with Dirk, adult film actress Amber Waves (Moore), actor Reed Rothchild (Reilly), Jack and crew see their vision through, making tons of money for anyone involved in their productions. The film shows the rise and fall of Dirk Diggler and follows various other characters, as the we segue from the 70s into the 80s and as the porn industry transitions to videotape, rather than film.


My opinions on "Boogie Nights" have changed since the last time I saw it, which was a shock to me because I really had this one pegged for a heavy rating getter. "Boogie Nights", to me, was the cinematic equivalent to a child with ADHD. The film was just way too busy for me and despite it's two and a half hour running time, it seemed to be too rushed. Take the soundtrack for instance, which consists of over two dozen popular hits from the 70s and 80s and rarely lets up from beginning to end. We go from one song to the next, with Anderson keeping the film vibrant, which wasn't necessarily a good thing. There were also a few scenes that didn't feel needed. For instance, as much as I loved it, the whole scene with Alfred Molina just felt tacked on as a way to draw parallels between Molina's character and the real life Eddie Nash. There were also, perhaps, too many characters, which took too much focus away from the main characters at times. You've got the main story of Dirk Diggler's rise and fall, Amber Waves and her custody battle, Buck and his dream of opening a stereo store, Little Bill and his promiscuous wife, Scotty and his crush on Dirk, Floyd Gondolli and his pressuring of Jack to switch to video, plus you have Heather Graham and John C. Reilly running around on the side, participating in any plot line where they're needed. I like P.T. Anderson, I really do, but he seems to have this problem where he thinks he's the greatest filmmaker that ever lived. This production was just so trumped up that it came off like a house with too many Christmas lights. You had the huge cast, the constant music, the tracking shots, the underwater shots, the montages and so much more that it looked like Anderson was desperately trying to polish a turd...and guess what, he succeeded on some levels.

"Boogie Nights" isn't bad, by any means. If you want to spend two and a half hours watching a movie, this is a good way to do it. The cast, for the most part, turn in great performances and really this is a who's who of a new wave of actors that would be a force to be reckoned with in the 21st century. You've got Don Cheadle, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, Alfred Molina, Heather Graham and Mark Wahlberg, all of whom started to take off in the mid-90s and are still prevalent actors today. Add to that Burt Reynolds, Phillip Baker Hall and a few others and you've got one hell of a cast.

What was the real message of "Boogie Nights" though? We can examine the character of Eddie Adams and watch him go from this innocent, seventeen year old kid, wide eyed and bushy tailed about his future, sure that someway, somehow he'll be a "bright, shining star" and watch him fall, being eaten up by a corrupt world. But is it a corrupt world or is it just a world where a life of drug use and pornography is easy to get sucked into? At the end of the film we watch Jack go around his house and greet the various members of his makeshift family. He's the patriarch and like Philip Baker Hall in "Hard Eight", he's the one who took these people (Dirk, Reed and Rollergirl) off the street and gave them something and now looks upon them as if they were his children, with Amber playing the part of the mother. There doesn't seem to be anything corrupt at all about that, in fact, it's a very sweet moment and a fine way to end this sometimes sleazy film.

RATING: 6.5/10  Lets call it a '6.5' for now, but I'll definitely reconsider my thoughts and we'll see what happens come RECAP time. By the way, speaking of "Hard Eight", that's a movie that definitely should've been included in THE BOOK, not to mention "Punch Drunk Love".


September 14, 2012  3:49pm

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