“I’m born ready!” said Dirk Diggler.
Paul Thomas Anderson crafted a spectacular film about pornography industry in Boogie Nights that makes his groundbreaking era in modern cinema. This is a prototype of all his following works—strong in themes and narratives with hypnotizing visuals.
Boogie Nights is all about rise and fall of the Golden Era of Pornography in the 70s—not as a sort of exploitation or humiliation film, but as a complex multi-character drama which lasts for 155 minutes. It’s a meta-film about the industry itself, in which a bunch of people are interconnected to each other—producer, director, actor, prop guys; and this film embraces that theme correctly, giving the ensemble of casts all the spotlight equally according to how their portion in the porn film industry. The casts led by versatile performance of Burt Reynolds and young Mark Wahlberg as a pair of film director and rising porn actor were lovable, as lovable as the unique storytelling.
Anderson’s treatment for such matter in the particular theme was never been judgmental or exploitative; perhaps, how Anderson loved every single one of the characters were the key. All the characters were sympathetic and given enough background to make the story compact although the duration was enormously too long. From Dirk Diggler (Wahlberg) who got the most spotlight on-screen until the sound guy, Scotty (Seymour Hoffman), far behind the scene, were all adorable in a way that audiences were attracted to sympathize on them.
Multi-character-driven drama was a common thing in PTA’s recent films; but, here such matter were handled in a frame with subtle camera work and editing to enhance the transition between each character. The narrative was voluptuous, violent and bittersweet at once in a package of Pulp-Fiction-esque black comedy; thanks to clever script penned by PTA himself. The problem was always the duration—with 155 minutes, Boogie Nights was able to contain all the wild idea perfectly, but often the idea was branching too far and was exhausting to follow.
What I like most from Boogie Nights:
- Multi-character drama that becomes PTA’s eventual trademark was at the finest—tangled in a single frame of porn industry.
- That opening scene—all in PTA’s trademark long take with camera that always move between characters.
- All the visual style and memorable song—again, PTA’s trademark.
- Every single character—Wahlberg’s breakout performance, Julianne Moore’s bold performance, Burt Reynolds, William H. Macy’s bitter performance, even Heather Graham and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
- How it’s being violent and funny at once, just like Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction
- The 70s setting that becomes very realistic—too realistic that I always think that it’s a film from the 70s.
What I don’t like from Boogie Nights:
- The duration was too long. Seriously, too long. Although most of it are enjoyable but not all of them are acceptable.
FINAL VERDICT: Boogie Nights was a very inventive film of its appealing theme—crafted with unique multi-character storytelling and sympathetic ensemble of casts.
Boogie Nights (1997)
Drama Written & Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson Starred by: Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy, Heather Graham Running Time: 155 mins Rated R for strong sex scenes with explicit dialogue, nudity, drug use, language and violence