jamie’s review published on Letterboxd:
Watched on DVD.
So I consider Paul Thomas Anderson the greatest Western director of all time, yet one of his most iconic films, Boogie Nights, has always eluded me. Until now. I’m not a huge fan of Magnolia (which he made after this) or Inherent Vice (which has a similar vibe) so I was trepidatious going in, but I really enjoyed this one. Genuinely. It’s weird, I feel like this is the type of film one would make after an already solid filmography, yet this is only PTA’s sophomore effort, so it’s pretty rough around the edges. There are huge pacing issues, and there were portions of the film where I was checking my watch. But there are also moments where the film shines, were you can witness a genius really sharpen his craft. (Choices like having firecrackers being fired off at random intervals during a tense drug deal foreshadow the guy’s brilliance). I thought it did a really excellent job of blending all these wacky Coen-esque characters into a crazy narrative, and normally I don’t like it when a story does this and to be honest it rarely works, but it’s nailed here. The characters are awesome. Stand outs are Don Cheadle and John C. Reilly.
And you know when a film just nails an ending? When you’re watching it and there’s just an excellent scene and then it fades to black? This is one of my favourite film endings of all time, seriously. It was perfectly crafted and they nailed the music... oh, the music! Incredible.
So to wrap up a brief messy conclusion written right after an initial viewing: very impressive first act, enjoyable-at-times but sloppy second act, and then a third act that brings it home smoothly with an incredible ending. I have some more stuff to say but I think you get the general idea.
For anyone wondering, I think I would go...
1. The Master
2. Phantom Thread
3. There Will Be Blood
4. Boogie Nights
5. Inherent Vice
6. Punch Drunk Love
1, 2 and 3 are interchangeable basically. And I have yet to see Hard Eight.
It’s just good, isn’t it? It’s just really good.