|Boogie Nights (Special Edition)
|New Line Home Video
Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Luis Guzman, Don Cheadle,
Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heather Graham, Thomas Jane,
William H. Macy, Ricky Jay, John C. Reilly, Robert Ridgely, Alfred
Molina, Melora Walters, Robert Downey, Robert Downey, Jr.
'Boogie Nights' by writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson is dazzling and
involving, funny and dramatic, affectionate and satiric -- and
wonderfully entertaining from opening scene to the last image. It's
about two and a half hours, but there's not a dull frame in the movie.
The most original movie of 1997, it established Anderson at once as a
major director; this was only confirmed by 'Magnolia.'
The way Anderson handles a Panavision camera is novel -- he uses
off-center, even unbalanced compositions -- and his occasional quick
cuts is unusual, almost innovative. But mostly, it's in the way he
approaches his material that's so refreshing and entertaining, and so
radically different from the films named above, which are critical of
the subsections of society in which they take place. 'Boogie Nights' is
about people who make pornographic movies; Anderson knows the
profession is limiting and potentially dangerous, but he doesn't judge
any of his characters for being involved in it. He sees them as a
quirky little family, and he loves them for it. You're likely to feel
the same way.
The movie opens in the San Fernando Valley in 1977, at the disco run by
exuberant Maurice Rodriguez (Luis Guzman); he's delighted when Jack
Horner (Burt Reynolds) and Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) arrive,
treating them as superstars. Jack notices a hunky but shy young waiter;
when he approaches him in the kitchen, the young guy, Eddie Adams (Mark
Wahlberg), assumes Jack is gay, and offers to masturbate for $10. But
Jack has other things in mind, especially when he realizes that Eddie
has a 13-inch penis. Jack is a director of hardcore films, and is
always on the lookout for talent, if that's the word.
Eddie's a little skeptical, but his relationship with his parents is
rocky, and he wants to get out of Torrance. And there's that length of
hose, and he does know how to use it. Jack auditions Eddie with bouncy
young Rollergirl (Heather Graham), one of his more enthusiastic stars,
who never takes off her rollerskates.
He moves in with Jack and Amber, who have a big pool party where Jack
meets Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), another of Jack's stars, as well
as pudgy, geeky Scotty J (Philip Seymour Hoffman), whom we, but not
Eddie, realize immediately falls for the newcomer big time, but is too
shy to do anything about it. Also at the party are Horner stars Buck
Swope (Don Cheadle), The Colonel James (Robert Ridgely), Jack's jovial
but vaguely sleazy backer, Little Bill (William H. Macy), Jack's
partner, and Kurt Longjohn (Ricky Jay), his cinematographer.
That night, Eddie announces that he's thought of a new name for
himself, a name that spells "star," a name that he envisions in blue
neon (which we see), a name so powerful that it would make the sign
explode (it does): DIRK DIGGLER. Jack thinks it's a fine name, and from
then on, Eddie is Dirk Diggler. A star is born.
At first, it's all gravy and glory; Dirk wins trophy after trophy at
the hardcore film awards; he's praised in the press, and he can work
all day and all night long. He's never had anything like real family
before, and he blends in happily with good-hearted Jack and his
cronies. Sure, father Jack, shoots lots of scenes of mother Amber,
having sex with son, Dirk -- but what family doesn't have its own
style? They really do care about one another.
But come 1980, things start falling apart for all of them. This really
is one of those classic rise-and-fall-of-a-star movies, although this
one doesn't end in tragedy, but rather things just get worse, and stay
While Anderson does not condemn these people at all, nor their
profession, 'Boogie Nights' does have something to say; boiled down,
it's "don't believe your press notices." He doesn't condemn the
business, he instead condemns the illusions it fosters.
'Boogie Nights' has a loose, improvisational feel; as revealed in his
extremely interesting commentary track, Anderson did tightly script the
film, but allowed room for improvisation, especially by the great John
C. Reilly, one of his favorite actors (and best friends).
There's a sweet naivete to almost all the characters; Jack is older and
more sophisticated than Dirk, for example, but he's really not much
smarter, and has much the same worldview, as indicated by his honestly
saying that "Dirk Diggler" is a great name. Jack could never had ended
up as a director in the real movie business, but he's a little king
here, and he's a benign, forgiving monarch. He's a very limited man,
but it's a limited field, and he's a perfect match.
This was Burt Reynolds' best role since 'Deliverance,' and he fits it
as well as Jack fits the porno biz. Toward the end, when his worldview
is changed forever because of the advent of hardcore videos, Jack seems
like a wounded optimist, a man whose dreams have been broken. Reynolds
never lets Jack show despair, or even many weaknesses at all; in fact,
he rallies at the end because of his real strength -- his patriarchal
Mark Wahlberg used is simply wonderful. He clearly understands sad,
sweet Eddie/Dirk, his limited intellect and why he goes astray. We
become so fond of Dirk that even when he's being a bastard, our
reaction is not to dislike him, but to worry about him, to hope that
he'll straighten himself out.
This is an ensemble film, and everyone is excellent. William H. Macy is
the current leading hapless shmoe in movies, and he's rarely been more
hapless than he is here. Julianne Moore gives yet another of her
seemingly endless series of absolutely great, totally truthful
But however good the cast is, and they're all excellent, the real
triumphs here belong to Paul Thomas Anderson. The movie has an unusual
range of moods and content, and he handles everything with the aplomb
of a master, and the insight of a poet. He'll drift away from a
two-shot to a daringly off-center closeup, and drift back. He uses
moving camera to express character and to demonstrate setting, never
for its own sake. 'Boogie Nights' is almost flawless on its own level.
It's a richly-textured movie about shallow but likable people, honest,
comic, satiric and sympathetic. I've never seen anything else quite
New Line has released a two-disc DVD of 'Boogie Nights' in its
"Platinum" series. Anderson provides a warm, enthusiastic commentary
track by himself, then does a much less successful track in which he
alternates between separately-recorded interviews he conducted with
Wahlberg, Don Cheadle and John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, and William
Macy and Heather Graham. They all have a great time talking to one
another, but Anderson's solo track is the one to listen to.
The disc also includes many deleted scenes, all of which are
interesting, including three with John C. Reilly, which are isolated as
"The John C. Reilly Files." Two of the sequences were never intended to
go into the film; one was a birthday present for composer Michael Penn
(brother of Sean and Chris), another was done just for Anderson's own
amusement. All are worth watching.
Technically, the disc is excellent, and the sound is no exception;
Chapter 33, with Alfred Molina's explosive cameo, might be the best
showcase. Otherwise, any sequence you want to choose will feature
Anderson's layered soundtrack.
An outstanding movie, an outstanding disc.
If you liked this DVD, you may also enjoy, Magnolia, Hard Eight, and Nashville.
|Dolby digital 5.1
||many extras as described above
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||36-inch Sony XBR