October 12, 2009

Boogie Nights - 1997

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, the usual PTA cast

The film that made PTA a household name, Boogie Nights tells the story of an overly endowed young man (Wahlberg) with not only a lackadaisical attitude about showing off his member to other guys, but also the good fortune to work in a nightclub frequented by Jack Horner (Reynolds), a big-time adult film director. Horner wastes no time in bringing the newcomer, christened "Dirk Diggler," to the forefront of the industry, even allowing him to pitch some ideas for his own films. Before too long, though, Diggler gets into the rougher side of fame, falling into a downward spiral which threatens to end his career. And of course, it wouldn't be a PTA film without an ensemble cast, many of whom have their own tales: Little Bill (William H. Macy), a man who finds his wife in flagrante at every party; Buck Swope (Cheadle), an actor with a dream to run his own stereo business; and Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), an early friend of Diggler's who aids and abets in the quest for money and drugs.

People complain about the length of most of PTA's films, and at just over 2.5 hours, this one is no exception. However, the reason that "the other Anderson" (as I've been known to call him, out of respect to Wes) has a justified fascination with epic filmmaking is that he's able to engage the audience for every moment. I left the room a few times for one reason or another, and found myself backing up the DVD to see what I missed, even though I heard it plain as day. The other show of brilliance by PTA is the long shot, which this man has made into an art form. On multiple occasions, you've got an actor walking through a building (as the camera follows him), interacting with someone else, and repeating this three to five times with other characters seamlessly. You never realize fully how much movies cut from one shot to the next, especially in dialogue-heavy scenes, until you go three minutes with all the fluidity of distilled water. I highly recommend you see this (as long as you can spare the time). And if you have a whole day with nothing better to do, check out Magnolia and There Will Be Blood as well.

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