In honor of Burt Reynolds (1936-2018), here is my review of “Boogie Nights.”
Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 film “Boogie Nights” is a gripping portrait of porn filmmaking in the 70s, back when the X rating was alive. It shows us what goes on set and off set-the cocaine, the money, and the issues the people deal with. I’m no porn viewer, but looking at this film, it’s f*cking mesmerizing. It’s one of Anderson’s best works.
Set in 1977 San Fernando Valley, we meet a variety of characters, played an all-star cast. Burt Reynolds was nominated an Oscar for his role of adult filmmaker Jack Horner; Julianne Moore was also nominated an Oscar for her role of actress and director Amber Waves; Mark Wahlberg plays high school drop-out Eddie Adams; Heather Graham plays porn star Rollergirl, who always wears her skates, even during sex; William H. Macy plays an assistant director named Little Bill, whose porn star wife (Nina Hartley) is always sleeping with other men right in front of him; John C. Reilly plays fellow porn star Reed Rothchild; Don Cheadle plays an actor and stereo shop employee named Buck Swope, who wants to open his own business when the 80s kick in; and Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays boom operator Scotty J.
Horner sees potential in Eddie, based on his Johnson and motivation, and offers him a gig in his next movie. When he’s given a suggestion to change his name, Eddie now calls himself Dirk Diggler. Ultimately, he becomes a success, hits it off with Amber, and makes friends with Reed and Scotty. But has fame and coke consumed Dirk?
“Boogie Nights” is filled such memorable scenes and awesome acting, it’s impossible to loathe. Most of the scenes are filmed on one-angle shots, and that’s why the scene when Little Bill finally takes care of his fornicating wife looks great. And why the coke snorting looks “Goodfellas” riveting. And that’s why the donut shop robbery scene looks pulsating. This is an attractive film.
The cast in the movie is top notch. Wahlberg gives one of his best performances as the young star in the ways he lets his emotions go, and how his dialogue keeps him in check. Reynolds may not have gotten along with the director on set, but he’s still fun to watch with his ambitions and charisma. Moore is delicious in how she acts on the porn set and in reality; especially when her character in a custody battle for her son.
And you have a variety of classic hits from Emotions, Three Dog Night, Elvin Bishop, and Hot Chocolate to keep things looking so fly.
Looking at a 90s movie set in the 70s-80s is a reminder of why we love cult films. It’s the ambition, the style, the art, the dialogue, and the casting. The minute the movie introduced me to all these breathtaking qualities, I knew I loved it.