Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights ★★★★½

Paul Thomas Anderson’s sophomore directorial film cements the director as one of the best modern directors out as Boogie Nights is one hell of a ride expertly telling the story of Dirk Diggler’s rise and fall and all those around him.

Leave it to Paul Thomas Anderson to make his second film a two hour and thirty minute about the porn industry and make it amazing. Boogie Nights tells the story of a group of porn actors, directors and producers in the late seventies and early eighties. The gateway into the business is young and upcoming actor Eddie who meets Jack Horner, a pornographry director who wants to make a movie that people will see for more then just the sex. With this setup we follow Eddie and his alias Dirk Diggler as he goes through the industry meeting all sorts of faces and his battling own vices.

P. T. Anderson’s screenplay is on point as the film is able to flesh out a large ensemble cast of characters that the audience grows to care for in two hours and thirty minutes. Am example is Don Cheadle’s Buck, who is a very minor character but thanks to excellent writing in his few scenes he has; I grew to really care for him and his struggles to open his own store. There is also a lot of great comedic writing as the subject of the porn business is shown in a comedic light. An example is Jack’s very bad action movie about a erotic spy named Brock Landers filled with terrible action scenes and cruddy acting that Jack calls, “the best thing he’s made.” Another hilarious aspect is how Dirk’s penis built up as something otherworldly with scenes like everyone shooting a porn flick looking in awe when Dirk drops the pants. I just find it very funny how something that stupid is built up, it’s great. PTA also does an amazing tonal shift to the 1980s with one infamous one take shot involving William H. Macy’s character. The scene hits hard and perfectly sets the tone for the second half of the movie as all the character’s luxuries are soon overtaken with their struggles in life. An excellent screenplay that is able to tell a large period time coherently and keep the 155 minute runtime running smoothly without pacing issues.

The ensemble cast is excellent as Anderson is a master of directing actors. He took the often times considered bad or corny Mark Wahlberg and was able to make him give possibly his career-defining preformance. Mark hits all the right notes as Eddie with the ambition, cheesy porn acting and eventual egotism. The rest of the cast is excellent with highlights from Burt Reynolds as the likeable Director, Julianne Moore as the sleezy Amber, John C. Reilly as Dirk’s second hand man Reed and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the fat and grimy cameraman Scotty. An excellent cast overall, the cavalcade of actors each bring their own personality to the table.

Moving onto the technical aspects of the film, PTA makes the world of the late seventies and early eighties feel alive with excellent cinematography and a kickass soundtrack. There are many awesome one take shots that show the lively nature of the scene by following a character until tracking onto a different person who then walks around. It’s hard to explain but is used to perfection in the opening nightclub shot introducing us to our characters and the pool party one take showing the energy of the party with the Eric Burdon song Spill the  Wine. The soundtrack takes the disco, psychedelic and rock songs from 1976-83 and 
uses it to add to the setting of the golden-age of pornography. 

A fun as hell film, Boogie Nights is an amazing look at an area of time not seen in film showing the true talent of Paul Thomas Anderson.

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