Boogie Nights * * * * *


Director: Paul Thomas Anderson.
Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman, Alfred Molina, Thomas Jane, Philip Baker Hall, Robert Ridgely, Ricky Jay, Nicole Ari Parker, Joanna Gleason, Melora Walters, Jack Wallace, Jonathan Quint, John Doe, Robert Downey, Sr. Nina Hartley.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson made his debut in 1996 with “Hard Eight” but it was with this film, a year later, that he exploded onto the film scene and raised a few eyebrows with this daring and mainstream film about the californian porn industry.

Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) is a young kitchen porter working in a vibrant nightclub. He’s trying to escape his mundane life at home with his parents and make a better life for himself. It’s here that he meets Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), a succesful and well known director in the porn industry. Horner immediately sees the potential in Eddie and takes him under his wing. It is rumoured that Eddie has a “gift” which could make them all very rich indeed. The appeal and glamour of Horner and his cohorts – the sexy Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) and Rollergirl (Heather Graham) are too much for Eddie to resist, so he agrees to become involved. First, he needs a porn name, deciding on “Dirk Diggler” and it’s at this point that the glamourous and exhilarating adventure begins.

Set during the 70′s & 80′s, this captures the period brilliantly (with marvellously evocative cinematography by Robert Elswit) and is reminiscent of director Robert Altman’s “Nashville” or John Badham’s “Saturday Night Fever“. It shares the same elaborate structure of the former and the bold vibrancy of the latter. Being only 26 years old at the time, it was an ambitious project for such a young director at this point in his career to tackle. Anderson could easily have crumbled under the pressure but instead, pulls off (excuse the pun) an intricate and expertly structured film in the style of the aforementioned Altman, in handling numerous characters and narrative strands or Martin Scorsese, in his long and impressive tracking shots. Anderson’s talents are not only apparent in his writing or directing though. He also has an eye for performers and amasses a highly impressive ensemble of actors; Mark Wahlberg has never really convinced me over the years but here he is absolutely perfect (in a role originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio) and shows fine range as the naive Eddie growing more confident as Dirk; John C. Reilly adds a nice comic role as his bumbling, endearing friend Reed Rothchild; Julianne Moore and Heather Graham excel in their roles as the female leads; William H. Macy as Little Bill is at his tragic best – knowing that his wife is having sex with every other man, except him; Philip Seymour Hoffman, no matter how small a role always manages to add depth and pathos as Scotty J, the homosexual cameraman who can’t resist his urges towards Dirk and Burt Reynolds has never been better as the patriarchal Horner. In fact, there are so many marvellous performances it’s difficult too mention them all here. It’s testament to Anderson’s skills that despite his large cast, he affords them all adequate time to become their characters and never judges them for their shortcomings.

An extraordinary and provocative film, with an abundance of talent throughout. It works both as an expose of the porn industry and a deeply involving character study that’s not without moments of intensity and well tuned humour.

Mark Walker


9 Responses to “Boogie Nights * * * * *”

  1. Paul Thomas Anderson is a gap in my cinematic education I’m afraid. Oh, I’ve seen Magnolia and remember loving it, even though I can’t remmeber a thing of it if you ask me now. But I think that’s all. Considering your enthusiasm I should dive into his works.


    • You definitely should Jessica. Anderson has delivered some very fine works over the years. Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood are all superb. He not prolific director but his stuff is always worth the wait.


  2. Nice Review thanks!


  3. I want to get my self a young filipino boy to light fire crackers while I snort blow and listen to some night ranger. That was my favorite scene in the film if you could not guess. 🙂


  4. Nice review, I’m enjoying going through some of your earlier stuff Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

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