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Boogie Nights

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Boogie Nights

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Rated: R
RunTime: 152 Minutes
Release Date: October 1997
Genres: Drama, Music


*Also starring: Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, Alfred Molina, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Robert Ridgely, Melora Walters, Luis Guzman



Review by Walter Frith
3½ stars out of 4

The amount of vice contained within 'Boogie Nights' serves as a profound statement on the culture of the 1970's, perhaps the most decadent in American society this century. It's about the lowest common denominator in society's diversity but has a gradually progressive look as it spans six years from 1977 to 1983. It's an examination of the pornography business and its seedy side undoubtedly comes through not as gratuitous but as a well defined and artful statement about seduction through fast money, drugs and an illusion of the what the 'good life' really is.

Beginning in 1977 in California's San Fernando Valley, Mark Wahlberg plays Eddie Adams, a busboy in a disco dance club who meets the key player to his turbulent and sometimes successful future, a pornographic filmmaker named Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). Horner approaches him one night in the kitchen as he's performing his nightly duties and tells Eddie he sees him as a future star in the business he excels in.

Convinced of his future success, Eddie comes up with a show business name "Dirk Diggler" and his career begins. Other key players in the film's complexity are a female porno star, Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) in the film's best female supporting performance, Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), Little Bill (William H. Macy), Rollergirl (Heather Graham) and the film's best male supporting performance in Buck Swope (Don Cheadle). Each character has a goal and a dream to live up to. Amber has a young son who she is trying to see in life after divorce, Buck has dreams of owning his own stereo store and the others are less goal driven but are still fascinating characters. It has a scene where Horner is told as the 80's are about to begin that pornographic films will become the property of the videotape industry and Horner says he will not stoop to making videos because he is a "serious" filmmaker which brought out a few laughs from the audience with whom I saw this movie.

The film's writer and director (Paul Thomas Anderson) has molded a film out of a relatively unknown cast who are known more to movie fans instead of casual movie goers. It is a good comeback role for Burt Reynolds whose career has been sagging for years. Anderson's direction is sure footed and built on a command of subject material which looks as if it was carefully written and researched in detail.

This motion picture is unlike any I have ever seen before. It starts slowly and focuses more on solidifying its message in the second half and the film's last half hour is its most powerful. But that isn't what makes it so strikingly original. Its adult theme is countered by its convincing message that what you're watching isn't porno but a Hollywood production which stands up as academic gold. There are scenes where the cast is involved in filming the porno scenes where their acting is extremely bad and for good actors to act bad when they're supposed to adds a dimension of talented creativity. Their lives change drastically as the film winds down and the final scene is shocking if nothing else but you should see it coming. One of the best films of 1997 and a likely candidate for a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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