Boogie Nights

At its best when Anderson is doing the least. Conversational scenes which replace a typical shot-reverse-shot with isolating, Hong-like zooms. The climax of a high-tension confrontation resolved in a static, ambiguous shot of Wahlberg's face as he watches what unfolds. Keeping us in the car as Hoffman's character lacerates himself for his irrational outburst of lust (a gay man's worst nightmare). The rest is good though never great. Anderson's writing is too didactic (particularly in early scenes with Wahlberg and his family) and too reverent towards the typical Scorsese arc to register as something deeper than watchable. I also have little time for the kind of kinetic, 'camera as character' style which Anderson constantly apes here - when the formal qualities of your film make subtext text, then there's very little for me to dig in to (I have similar problems with Goodfellas). Regardless, this is still imminently watchable and terrifically cast - Anderson's instincts are good, even if his filmmaking remains unrefined here.

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