on December 24, 2002
My 3-star rating is for the DVD itself, not the film. First & foremost, this is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I would rate it alone at 5-stars without question. Both P.T. Anderson's writing and direction are unsurpassed. I've never seen a more perfect screenplay and character presentation. I was so happy to see that this issue of the DVD had not one but two commentary tracks on it; one with Anderson, the other with the actors. The unfortunate thing is, both are horrible. Anderson begins by saying how important commentaries on old laser discs were to him in his career upbringing, and yet goes on to pontificate on everything but the movie we're watching, and I must say his vibe borders on narcissism. The actors' commentary track does no better. People expecting to hear about what the actors thought of the scene on the screen will be very disappointed there as well. But alas, this file remains an all-time favorite with me. Mr. Anderson's work is admired in highest regard. His attitude I could do without.
on December 9, 2002
"Boogie Nights" was P.T. Anderson's first film after "Sydney." It starts with Mark Wahlberg as a going-nowhere-slowly kid from Torrance, California who works as a dish washer and sometime DJ at a strip club in Reseda. His home life is parched. His mother is an abusive, frustrated woman who hates her husband and berates her under-achieving son almost without surcease.
Finally, one day, Eddie, Wahlberg's onscreen character, meets Jack (Burt Reynolds) at the club. Reynolds "sees something" in the good-looking underage kid and eventually offers him a shot to star in one of his porn films. The basic come-on for this is the fact that Eddie has an unusually large [penis]and absolutely no problem with showing it off and using it with almost super-human stamina on anything and anyone at anytime.
He becomes a star and accomplishes his dream of showing people who don't believe he has anything at all (here we refer to his harpy mother) to give the world, that he can be somebody. But Eddie, whose miraculously arrived-at onscreen name "Dirk Diggler" comes to him in a dream, knows he has something, and he truly believes that his role as a porn star is his way of doing good in the world.
That is the basic conceit of the film, and P.T. Anderson traces the rise and fall of Dirk Diggler with uncanny precision and an unblinking evocation of the shallow, inescapably ignorant, touching, arrogant and deeply wounded aspects of that world and the people who occupy it.
Walhberg is excellent as the completely sincere and desperately innocent Dirk. Burt Reynolds, in what I think is the finest performance of his career, is the center of this world and he is the only one in it with an actual understanding about how it all works. Julianne Moore, an actress of an almost transcendent talent, plays the unlikely role of a porn queen (though, frankly, she does not look like one at all) with a thoughtful and vulnerable touch. Heather Graham, who does, in fact, look like a porn star, is fine as Rollergirl, an actress who never removes her roller-skates. Ever.
But my favorite performers in this picture are John C. Reilly, the top star in Jack's stable until Dirk comes along, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, an overweight gay grip in the movie company. If awards were given for the actor who shoves the most into the smallest role, Hoffman would win it hands down. He is simply brilliant in the few scenes in which he participates. Reilly is at his best in this film when, after some funny, childish competitions with Wahlberg, he becomes best buddies with his rival. P.T. Anderson is very careful to show us how really young these two are. And how incredibly naïve as well. There is nothing sophisticated about the porn industry as seen through Anderson's basilisk lens.
Several scenes stand out. The coke insanity of Julianne Moore and Heather Graham whose cocaine dialogue is meticulously written and painfully, perfectly performed. It's a scene in which everything about coke is described with an almost manic simplicity.
The other scene I want to mention is the Second Act closer. In this scene Wahlberg, Reilly, and Thomas Jane, who plays a completely unraveled coke head with a lot of bad ideas and a dangerous mixture of stupidity and violent anger, attempt to rip off a rich junkie, played marvelously by the inestimable Alfred Molina. This scene is a stand-alone masterpiece of tension and violence and represents to me what a scene should do. It's riveting and terrifying. The tension it creates is physical for the viewer.
Of course all P.T. Anderson buffs already own this film. It would be unthinkable not to. But even if you are not a particular fan of Anderson's, it is worth the time and money to at least rent this film. For some it may be just too difficult to watch. There is little that is not explored here (and what there is of that is explored in the next oeuvre of Anderson's, "Magnolia"). Dirk's descent into becoming a common street hustler is hard to watch. And the vapid, often unattainable, sometimes downright moronic dreams of all the members of Jack's troupe are so heartrendingly portrayed that the viewer is hoping against hope that these wretched denizens of the movieland underbelly can at least find a tiny piece of what it is they are looking for.
As a DVD aficionado I would have liked a bit more supplemental material. The best of these are the color bars and the John C. Reilly stuff. I would have liked a little more of the daily set-ups and the shoot itself, but for that you have to get Magnolia which has an excellent movie "diary" included.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the fine work of the always-excellent William H. Macy who portrays an associate producer with a wife who cheats on him publicly and often.
And yes, in the final scene, we do finally get to see what Dirk Diggler is so famous for.
on October 29, 2002
Paul Thomas Anderson's peek inside the adult film industry of the 1970s, BOOGIE NIGHTS, is a fine piece of filmmaking. In fact, I think thefilm is still the famed witer/director's best work to date. Adult film producer Jack Horner, (Burt Reynolds) wants to take his films in a new direction. He is tired of being looked down upon by the mainstream. Soon Jack meets young actor Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), giving him the stage name "Dirk Diggler", the 2 set out to make Jack's dream a reality...But at what price? Soon, "Dirk" finds out that having fame and fortune is not, all it's cracked up to be.
PTA gives us a pretty ugly depiction of the industry. Sex, drugs, and violence rule the day. The ensemble cast, is for the most part, really good. Besides Wahlberg and Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Heather Graham, make the auduence remember that they are good at what they do. For example, Wahlberg starts the film as a shy but determined young man (very against type), who goes from unknown, to star, and back again, with much more skill than I usaually give him credit for. The film is quirky. Some may find that it is a bit too melodramatic at times, however, it wont lose you, as say PTA's way over-rated MAGNOLIA (say what?).
The most surprising thing about the the 2 DVD set, is how much of it remains a lot like the single disc, in terms of extras. Looking at both editions, there really isn't much of a difference between 'em. That said, I waited to purchase the title, until I could find a copy of, what the director calls "The definative version" of the film. With all the boasting about how this is the version to own, I find it odd that, not even the theatrical trailer can be found on either disc. You should like BOOGIE NIGHTS, just the same. Recommended effort by PTA.
on August 26, 2002
P.T. Anderson's films have the reputation of being groundbreaking and original. "Boogie Nights" is no exception. The sceenplay in smart, edgy and at times, very humorous. Anderson's film about the adult film industry is very interesting. It lets you see how pornography can change your life, both good and bad. The movie is great because this subject is something so unconventional.
The film is about the rise and fall and rise again of Eddie Adams, a porn star known better as Dirk Diggler. the story is about his workings with Jack Horner (played wonderfully by Burt Reynolds) and other interesting people such as Rollergirl, played by Heather Graham. The movie is surprisingly original and entertaining. The soundtrack is cool, and it takes you straight to the seventies/early eighties.
The movie, in my opinion, has five great performances. Burt Reynolds is spectacular as Jack Horner. Julianne Moore is wonderful. William H. Macy, one of my favorite actors is great as a husband dealing with his wife's new sex games with other men. Another I really liked was Don Cheadle's performance as Buck, a stereo salesman who dreams of opening his own place, but has many set backs.
This film is great. It is an important film. P.T. Anderson is a very intelligent writer/director. This film is a very mature film for a second film. But with a film like "Hard Eight" as his debut, would you expect anyhting less than what "Boogie Nights" was? This is an exceptional film.
on July 20, 2002
My first experience with director Paul Thomas Anderson was Magnolia, his third film. It took many a repeated viewings to relish, but now that I do, I consider it to be one of the highest points of filmmaking of the 90's if not the entirety of film history. Anderson has a distinct style: ensemble characters, San Fernando setting, the same character actors, and colorful cinematography.
Boogie Nights is the flashier, more instantly entertaining of the two. It's also shorter by forty minutes, yet still has the "sprawling epic" feel that either turns people off or on to Anderson depending on who you are and where your tastes lie.
The film centers around the porn industry as many should know by now with all the buzz this film has received because of its controversial and sexually provacative subject.
Boogie Nights focuses on the family that surrounds pornographers, more so than the pornography and sex itself- How patriarchal director Jack Horner (played superbly in the role of his career by Burt Reynolds) and matriarchal porno star Amber Waves (Julianne Moore, also in a stunning performance) sort of adopt a 17 year old heavily- endowed dishwasher, Eddie Adams, aka Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) into their family of porno films, pool parties, and cocaine.
Dirk's ego (and cocaine habit) gradually intensify as he becomes the "award-winning" star of a series of James Bondian type adult film as "Brock Landers." Anderson pokes great fun at the haste with which the plot, dialogue, and script in these movies is executed, yet he does so without denigrating Horner's hope that the films will attract audiences who'll come not just to see the pornographic material but the rest of the film too. As the 80's dawn his world, Horner is forced to abandon these ambitions of artistic integrity with the introduction of videotape, in which people can fastforward straight to the sexual parts, so why even bother making a film with plot and characters?
A decline is inevitable for all characters filled with shocking violence, drugs, and prostitution.
This is a Paul Thomas Anderson picture though, so naturally there's a redemptive though unsentimental ending.
The performances are incredible. Wahlberg is charismatic and nuanced in the breakthrough role of Dirk. The first choice of the role was Leonardo DiCaprio but Wahlberg makes you forget about Leo with his acting chops and magnetic intensity. Moore plays a woman too addicted to maintain relationships with her child with bravura. Burt Reynolds is fantastic as Horner, probably the best performance in the whole movie, which is saying a lot considering the high-grade talent in the film which includes among others, veterans, William H. Macy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Melora Walters, Don Cheadle, Philip Baker Hall, and John C. Reilly, all as pornographers on some level or another.
Boogie Nights is one incredible film. Love it or hate it; it's packed to the brim with comedic and dramatic electricity. See it for any of its many virtues: acting, directing, cinematography, music, or the unique subject matter itself. This is not a film to be missed.
on July 6, 2002
Burt Reynolds gives an inspired performance as the avuncular leader of a "family" of porn stars who churn out films by the dozen under his watchful eye.
In a sad turnaround on the rags to riches theme, Mark Wahlberg, who is nothing less than brilliant in this film, plays a teenaged loser with an abusive family who has one thing going for him: he's one hot stud, in his clothes and out of them. In a twist of fate, he's "discovered" by Reynolds, who invites him over to the famiiy homestead to audition for a part in his next movie. The audition requires the budding star to perform sexual intercourse with several people watching and critiquing his performance. He passes the test, and becomes an overnight porn sensation, renamed "Dirk Diggler."
Then we watch his tragic disintegration from superstar to drug addict (cocaine) back to his origins: a has-been loser in his early 20s. Wahlberg is so poignant, so powerful, he has the viewer in tears, even though the subject matter is not everyone's cup of tea.
on April 20, 2002
I feel that Boogie Nights is a perfect film in every sense of the film making world: be it the writing, shot composition, the acting... anything. I also believe that the film is greater than the sum of all these parts, making it - if ever possible - a more than perfect movie. These seemingly overly-generous words aside, this - the second release of the film on DVD - has equaled the quality of the film itself. I could go on and on about how good the movie is, but this is a review of the two-disc set, so I will instead go on and on about how good this set is.
The picture and sound quality are top notch. No grain to be seen here (as with most releases from New Line), and colours are crisp and clean. Dialogue is loud and clear, and the music (almost a character itself) is spot on.
Extras wise, the deleted scenes are great (most of above average A/V quality), the John C. Reilly Files are funny, and the music video is a nice addition, but my favourite extras (if it means anything) were the commentaries. One ultra-informative one with just Mr. Anderson, and one (one of my favourite commentaries from any disc) with Mr. Anderson and a lot of the cast (not all of the cast) - it's hilarious, informative and it down-right rocks!
There's no better way to watch this movie than this edition, and with everything else you're getting with this set you'd be silly not to buy it.
on April 14, 2002
"Film history... right here on video tape."
BOOGIE NIGHTS is an ensemble story covering the rise and decline of an era. And like AMERICAN GRAFITTI before it, the stories are supported by music that was so important in defining the period. But, BOOGIE NIGHTS abandons any optimism that GRAFITTI had.
This film had an immediate polarizing effect on the audience, many placing it on a pedestal as the new voice of film and the other half claiming it was the beginning of the end for American Cinema. With time taking us away from all the hype we see that the film falls nicely between the two poles.
BOOGIE NIGHTS is an extremely well executed film that puts pornography in the limelight. The subject matter in itself helped in sifting out the more conservative audience, and those that it kept away were better off as the film splurged itself on sleaze.
The film is filled with quirky characters that would be very funny if it weren't for their basis in reality. What starts off as fun descends to pain as the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the late Seventies gives way to a less extreme eighties. That change has a tremendous effect on the ensemble as their personal successes were based firmly on the former ideals.
Mark Wahlberg is Dirk Diggler, a porno star of great... ummm... stature. And he is surround by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Riley, Ricky Jay, William C. Macy, Don Cheadle, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham and Burt Reynolds in a pure star power role as Director Jack Horner. That group is extremely well performed, even when the film occasionally meanders. At times, the film approaches irrelevant material much in the way a Robert Altman film, by making it about the experience, not the story.
Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson does a great job of re-creating an era we were lucky to leave in one piece. And with this, only his second feature, he promises to be a leading filmmaker for years. His follow-up feature MAGNOLIA received a similar response as this film.
The Deluxe DVD set is in itself a film workshop, filled with great commentary, loaded with deleted scenes and musical cues. Blame it on the Boogie.
on April 1, 2002
Early in "Boogie Nights," Eddy Adams (having just been offered the chance to become the porn star whose rise and fall the film chronicles) is thrown out of his mother's house. He is unable to say anything but, "I'm going to do something! You'll see!" A lesser screenwriter would give Eddy an eloquent monologue. Paul Thomas Anderson allows Eddy to be inarticulate. He is smart enough to avoid making all his characters as smart as he is.
This is part of what earns the comparisons to the work of Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman and Jonathan Demme. Anderson allows each character in his world of '70s porn filmmakers to speak for him or herself in an epic that rises above its campy subject. His script is buoyed by awe-inspiring performances from rising stars in starmaking roles (Mark Wahlberg, Heather Graham), legends in career best work (Burt Reynolds, Robert Ridgely) and national treasures in consistently great performances (Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Don Cheadle). Anderson is as adept at doing interesting things with the camera as he is at creating compelling characters.
The film has a plodding third act that's better on repeat viewings, and it will be off-putting to those disturbed by graphic sex and violence (although, for it subject, it has little sex and nudity: about 15 minutes out of 155), but for those who can watch "Taxi Driver" without recoiling, it is that rare film that reveals something new with each viewing.
The sound transfer on this DVD suffers for those who have theater-quality sound systems, but the extras are more a problem than the sound. Although this single-disk version is loaded with extras, it is a letdown compared to its double-disk counterpart. Most annoying, Anderson's enthusiastic commentary references deleted scenes not included on this disk but included in the two (e.g.: the fall of Becky Barnett). Shame on New Line for not including Rahad Jackson's ending, even on the double disk!
The most fun extras are the character bios, also included in the double-disk set. For the mild fan, this disk will be more than enough, but for the hardcore fan more likely to buy the DVD, at only a few dollars more, the double disk is a better bargain.
on January 7, 2002
Boogie Nights is not the greatest movie of all time, but the DVD package may be the best one available on the market at this time. The film looks great and especially sounds great if you have the sound hooked up to a receiver and high quality speakers. The music of the 70s never sounded better!
About the movie itself. This movie is hilarious, depressing, entertaining and thought-provoking all in one shot. Great performances abound, particularly from Burt Reynolds, the late Robert Ridgely (the Colonel), Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heather Graham (who you get to see quite a bit of in this movie, in more ways than one). Mark Wahlberg is totally convincing as the "gifted" teenager with brains the size of peanuts while John C. Reilley personifies the classic 70's porno star (lots of hair and ugly as sin). The latter two character's give and take throughout the movie is one of its strong points.
The story deals very little with actual porno filmmaking but more about the life and family of the folks involved in this type of life. It is thoroughly convincing. My only real complaint about the film is that it drags during the time that Dirk Diggler (Wahlberg) is out of the porno business and is trying to make it in other things, like music (although the recording scene is hilarious).
A great movie for people who like simple pleasures, like lollipops in their mouth and .... (sorry, you have to see the movie to complete the sentence).