Friday, January 26, 2018

Movie Review: Boogie Nights

The rise and fall of Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) is the film that put Paul Thomas Anderson on the map as a more mainstream director. The movie follows various characters but mainly follows the story of the young dishboy Eddie who becomes the award-winning pornstar Dirk Diggler. The porn film director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) notices Eddie when he is working in the back of a dance club run by Maurice TT Rodriguez (Luis Guzm├ín). He notices his talent and takes him to meet his two female stars Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) and Rollergirl (Heather Graham). After watching him in action a few times, he decides to hire him. Eddie's life at home is not great as his frustrated mother demands he go back to school and eventually kicks him out for staying out so late every night. Eddie flees to Jack's house where he meets more of the members of his crew like Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly) at a pool party. It is at this party under the suggestion of the financier the Colonel James (Robert Ridgely) that Eddie comes up with the pornstar name Dirk Diggler.

Buck Swope (Don Cheadle) is a radio salesman and porn actor who struggles to find a signature look jumping from cowboy to samurai. Little Bill (William H. Macy) is a production manager whose wife constantly cheats on him in a very public manner. Jack films Dirk with Amber Waves and Dirk shows his great talent at the job. He finds a lot of successes receiving awards for his performances. He buys a new house and a car with his earnings but Amber introduces him to cocaine. Dirk and Reed pitch Jack a new series of films about Brock Landers, an action star who has sexual relations with many women. Dirk continues his success but his drug use also continues. 

The 1980s spell a new time for the film crew as Little Bill kills his cheating wife and himself at the new year's party. Scotty (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a boom operator, expresses his love for Dirk and tries to kiss him but his feelings are unrequited. The Colonel is put into jail for child pornography so Jack has to turn to a different financier Floyd Gondolli (Philip Baker Hall) to finance his films. Jack discovers a new young talent named John Doe making Dirk jealous as he struggles to keep an erection. Dirk argues with Jack about filming and is fired. He tries to start a music career with Reed but Dirk is a terrible singer and they run out of money to pay the studio. In an especially intense scene, three storylines play out simultaneously as Dirk tries to make money masturbating for a man but finds himself attacked by homophobes, Jack tries to film Rollergirl having sex with random men but the guy knows her from high school and assaults her, and Buck survives an armed robbery and takes the needed cash to start his radio store after being refused a loan because of his past work. 

Amber Waves also encounters trouble when she applies for custody of her son and her past troubles come to the surface. She is distraught when she is refused and shamed. A fellow cokehead Todd Parker (Thomas Jane) comes up with a plan to rob another wealthy cokehead Rahad Jackson (Alfred Molina), bringing Reed and Dirk along with him. The robbery goes terribly wrong and Todd is killed. Reed and Dirk escape. Dirk decides to return to Jack, apologizes, and asks for help. The story ends on a relatively happy note as each of the characters proceed to achieve a version of their dreams and we get a glimpse of Dirk's natural talent.

Boogie Night is a ton of fun with great storytelling. The film is long but almost always entertaining as it is filled up with tons of characters and their hilarious and sad struggles with fame, money, and art. The film supposedly revived the career of Burt Reynolds and helped to launch Mark Wahlberg into the superstardom he now has. Julianne Moore is probably a standout as there are a ton of other actors and actresses that will continue to work with Paul Thomas Anderson. The film manages to span several years and tell a grand story while also being well shot and moving at a brisk pace.  

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