Review by Gordon Justesen
Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H.
Macy, Heather Graham, Nicole Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Baker Hall,
Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina, Luis Guzman, Melora Walters, Robert Ridgely
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: New Line Cinema
Features: See Review
Length: 155 Minutes
Release Date: January 19, 2010
“This is a film I want them to remember me by.”
If you asked me to name any movies that exhilarate me with each single viewing, I can assure you which movie would top that list. That special movie is Boogie Nights; my choice for the best movie of 1997 and the third best film of the 90s. Not since Pulp Fiction had a single motion picture, which ran for more than two and a half hours, astounded me with sheer brilliance.
I still remember my trip to the theater to see as if it were last night. I had to travel an hour away from my hometown just to see it, and it was worth every mile and gallon of gas. The theater wasn’t full, but had a good amount of people, and then the movie came on, backed up by some of the best theater quality surround sound I had ever heard. And all through the viewing, I was absolutely glued to my seat, feeling a sense of joy through every moment of the film.
Though it may seem as he was heavily inspired by Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson certainly gets my vote as genius filmmaker, and this was only his second feature film, following the small indie gem Hard Eight, which was released early in the same year. He does open the film with a glorious steady cam shot that covers about every single one of the main characters in a nightclub. This scene is slightly reminiscent of the famous steady cam shot in GoodFellas that follows Ray Liotta and Lorraine Brocco through a kitchen and into a nightclub, but Anderson’s opening scene is no doubt more alive than many a film’s opening shot.
We are introduced, at a glorious pace, to the central characters in the film, particularly the two characters that result creating the movie’s strongest bond; adult filmmaker Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds, in the performance of the decade), and a busboy at the nightclub named Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg). Horner sees a star in Eddie simply by giving a glance at him in the nightclub. Eddie is a 17-year-old who works two jobs, and takes the bus from Torrance to work at the club in the San Fernando Valley. By that gesture, it’s clear Eddie is attracted to super stardom, and dreams of becoming a star himself someday.
Then, following a very harsh fight with his mother, Eddie runs away, and goes immediately to Jack, who is already proven himself as a father figure. Other unique characters that Eddie meets include Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), who is a mother-figure to just about everyone that needs some kind of love, Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), Eddie’s soon-to-be on-screen sidekick, Little Bill (William H. Macy), a crew member who hides a serious depression, Buck Swope (Don Cheadle), a cowboy-loving actor who dreams of opening a stereo shop, Scotty J. (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a gay crew member who hides an attraction to Eddie, and Rollergirl (Heather Graham), the stimulating siren of the stars who never takes her skates off for any reason. Soon, Eddie is taken under by this sort of surrogate family-like atmosphere, and changes his name to Dirk Diggler.
One of the most interesting aspects of Boogie Nights is the way it illustrates how the porn industry perceived itself in the 70s. During this period, people associated with the porn industry considered themselves parallel with that of regular movie stars. Adult films could still be consider these films a sort of cheap thrill, but the filming process was taken more seriously, and as shown in the movie, actors took there characters very seriously, even though all they were doing for their movies was saying a few sentences of dialogue before going into the sex. So it’s clear that the film’s story takes a tragic turn when it’s announced on New Year’s Eve, 1979, that videotape is the new source for adult movies. Suddenly, everything starts to go down the drain.
After a long streak of success, frequent awards, and acclaim, Dirk and his friends turn to drugs, and use them at a rapid pace. At one point, Dirk and Reed leave the adult industry to pursue a music career, while they’re still coked out of their minds. Amber fights to have custody of her child, which she no doubt abandoned. Buck attempts to get a loan to finance his future stereo shop, but is sadly denied because of his affiliation with the porn industry.
Now comes the films final 45 minutes, which is truly the film’s high point of brilliance. Anderson simultaneously shows several tragic acts happen to some of the film’s principle characters. Jack and Rollergirl attempt to film a sexual escapade with a man chosen at random, and in the back of a limo, which results in emotions of pure rage. At the same time, Dirk, now turning to male prostitution, is hideously set up by some homophobic men and beaten to a near bloody pulp. Also, Buck finds himself in the middle of a robbery at a donut shop that ends in a rather shocking and bizarre way.
Following those scenes, is the film’s most exhilarating moment, where Dirk, Reed, and a fellow friend and cokehead (Thomas Jane), attempt to rip off a rich playboy, by selling him cocaine in the form of baking soda. Three songs are played in this scene, Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian”, Rick Springfield’s “Jesse’s Girl”, and Nena’s “99 Balloons”, all of which are played in their entirety. I still get goose bumps every time I watch this scene, because after all that is happened before in the movie, you simply do not expect to end up with moment like this. I consider it one of the most brilliantly directed scenes in the history of motion pictures.
Boogie Nights is a film that should be experienced by all film lovers. Everything from the acting to the directing, to the soundtrack of countless classics from the 70s and the 80s. Filled with terrific camera work, and enormous insight to the time period, which it is set in, get ready for an uncompromising, thrilling masterpiece of a film.
I can remember this being my first highly anticipated movie to own on DVD more than a decade ago, so you can imagine how much more I was anticipating its arrival on Blu-ray. Let’s just say the wait was definitely worth it because this visual feast of a film has officially been given its most outstanding presentation yet! Anderson’s vision of the 70’s and 80’s has never looked more authentic in any other film, so to see this presented in HD brings nothing but mind blowing results. Image detail is thoroughly breathtaking from beginning to end, and all of the dazzling colors are rendered in the most spectacular form possible! Trust me, if you love this film as much as I do, and own a Blu-ray player, you absolutely must upgrade for this release. You will not regret it one bit!
Bringing with it possibly the single best collection of music to be heard in any single film, the Dolby TrueHD mix will do nothing short of turning your living room into a retro dance club. But that’s not the only fantastic quality of this remarkable sounding piece of lossless audio. The balance between dialogue, music and assorted bits of insanity represents true perfection as far as sound mixes go. The last half of the movie, alone, will knock your socks off completely!
New Line has thankfully ported over all the extras from the 2-Disc Platinum Series DVD release onto this single disc Blu-ray. The only added bonus on this release is that of the film’s awesome Theatrical Trailer, which I feared we would never get to see on any release. Included are two of the best commentaries you will ever hear in your life; the first with Paul Thomas Anderson, the second with Anderson and Actors Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, Luis Guzman, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Mark Wahlberg and Melora Walters. Also featured are 10 Deleted Scenes, a collection of outtakes known as “The John C. Reilly Files”, and a music video for Michael Penn’s song “Try”, also directed by P.T. Anderson.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights deserves a place in history as one of our greatest films. A thrilling epic masterpiece of a movie that doesn’t come along that often. A film that is sure to surprise, involve you, and make you feel extremely entertained at the same time, is now finally available in the format is was meant to be experienced in!