155 Min. | Drama | January 1998
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Staring: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds
Boogie Nights Review: ‘Boogie Nights’ uses its protagonist, Dirk Diggler, as a metaphor for accumulated celebrities from a decade in America’s shameful past, which was comprised of an unexpected rise in pornography, therefore resulting in an abundance of corrupted youth. Its lead character borrows traits from a various assortment of genuine actors, involving himself in many illegal affairs that have been dabbled in by celebrities in Hollywood, and all-too-often exploited by the press. It seems like the sort of tall tale that might appear on an E! True Hollywood Story special. Drugs, sex and violence – the American Dream. But what goes up must come down, and the bigger it is, the harder it falls. Dirk Diggler’s dreams are huge, as is another valuable asset on his body. Dirk’s real name is Eddie Adams, a Californian who dreams of becoming a star. He believes that God gives one great talent to every individual on the planet, and his gift is a rather unusual one.
Eddie/Dirk himself is primarily based on infamous porn star John Holmes, whose life story was adapted in 2003 with ‘Wonderland’, which starred Val Kilmer. ‘Boogie Nights’ is unarguably the better of the two, proving that movies about pornography can be made without disgusting its target audience, regular cinema-goers. Boogie Nights takes place in 1977, an era of artistic pornography – filmmakers truly believed that they could compensate for the low points of X-rated features by adding deep stories and mesmerizing atmosphere. In a way, the film’s director – Paul Thomas Anderson – implements a very artistic approach to the project, resulting in a gratuitous and artistic movie about a period in American history when smut was indeed both gratuitous and artistic. Anderson’s style is so deep, and so distinct, that we soon feel as if we are reliving the era first-hand. Not a moment goes by where we are unconvinced of the time range dealt with in Boogie Nights.
Anderson knows how to captivate his audience and take complete control of every scene. When Jack Horner first meets Eddie, Anderson slyly uses stars in the backdrop, a sign of things to come, and hidden symbolism as finely acute as it can be. The opening scene is three minutes, a long tracking shot that follows Jack and Amber into a night club, where most of the characters are first introduced. His style is fast-paced in the vein of Martin Scorsese, where shots zip around quite quickly but never seem rushed. Incidentally, Anderson references two classic Scorsese shots – the closing De Niro mirror speech from ‘Raging Bull’ and the tracking nightclub scene from ‘GoodFellas’. Anderson is a young, growing director who is remarkably mature in story and direction, despite his age. Whereas his first feature film, ‘Hard Eight’, was noticeably wise and poignant, ‘Boogie Nights’ is even more so. ‘Boogie Nights’ began as an effort of love on Paul Thomas Anderson’s account. Having filmed the extraordinary Hard Eight in 1996, Anderson’s film is pragmatic to such an extreme that it almost seems genuine. Boogie Nights invigorates us with its gratuitous content, occasionally bordering on the verge of pornography, only it is far more sophisticated than such trash.