“Boogie Nights” Still Slays Filmmaking Competition Decades Later
Online, I read a comment about Boogie Nights and cannot shake it out of my brain. The anonymous user compared it to watching Pulp Fiction. “An underrated classic,” he/she wrote. Comparing the film to Pulp Fiction is far stretched. Apples versus oranges? Ha! Apples versus kiwis.
Because I did an interview with Burt Reynolds this year about The Last Movie Star, in which I declared this is the opportunity to give him the Oscar he deserved for Boogie Nights, seeing this on Netflix as a free streaming option, and me wanting to have my web diary venture off into more of a “film school for people who don’t want to go to film school” training camp... shall we approach this film again?
As the film goes on, the characters feel like real friends we’d know. You’ll hear people who love movies talking about how you are always aware of watching a movie. No movie can ever make you believe you’re in it. I highly disagree. Paul Thomas Anderson for everyone in this film from the guy taking an order with sugary treats who winds up having something bad happen to Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg, Don Cheadle, everyone involved, the acting is so flawless,
I feel like I’m watching someone’s memories. However he did that...could it be done today? He pulled out time period authentic accents on accurate filmmaking techniques with the most realistic acting possibly of modern cinema. All three of those components in one film. I cared for these people watching Boogie Nights. Julianne Moore’s character losing her child. The younger porn actors and actresses viewing her as their mom as their real families more or less disowned them for doing porn. Don Cheadle’s character wanting to escape the porn acting life and being discriminated against at the bank as a “pornographer!” when he overall qualified for a small business loan.
Dirk, played by the former Marky Mark, beaten one night with prostitution gone wrong. Rollergirl feeling disowned. Watching all of these people separately in stand alone films, none of them pull out the emotions from Boogie Nights. Heather Graham is a great actress and never gets material to show it. Julianne Moore plays people like her real life persona. Burt Reynolds didn’t get to be an actor again until this year wi5 The Last Movie Star making Quentin Tarantino say, “Mr. Reynolds needs his career back. He’s still a movie star!”
I watched Boogie Nights when it came out and over the years in a hazy on-off viewing interrupted by commercials and schoolwork. To properly view it and grasp all of the sensory needs in your brain, you need darkness, a quiet room, and two and a half hours, no bathroom breaks, your mind emptied.
My heart dreams of the day Mark Wahlberg steps away from his sell out career trajectory back into this. Boogie Nights when he’s in tears running away from the conventional life he had as a normal teenager, him at the lowest of his low nights beaten by a self hating closeted LGBT man who hired him as a hooker, you believe you’re watching a real person being beaten, unloved, miserable, sad, at the end of times, all of this. Mr. Wahlberg right now is in a place with enough money from his blockbuster summer event movies, he can step back. Make another Boogie Nights. Snap up that Oscar he needs.
With all of this movie, each person, like who all of us are, experiences a rollercoaster. Life is good or bad. No middle. A man always wonders if Dirk has a crush on him and finds himself crushed knowing he doesn’t. Dirk probably wishes he had a family, does so much coke he leaves the amazing people who adopted him as family within the porn industry, and loses it all only to beg his adopted family to take him back. However one does this writing the script and later manipulating the performances and direction entirely into that, the feat is unbelievable. We have our guy, Mr. Reynolds, viewing his filmmaking as art meets porn. Real movies with people getting laid. You don’t find that today.
Nor today would most filmmakers successfully make a movie about the porn industry and keep it full of heart. Social media, all of fhese pressures, would have studios begging to cast Instagram “models” and the like rather than a new Julianne Moore. The question mark, vocal fry crowd wouldn’t make an effort nailing down the retro dialect/accent. Jack Horner, played by Mr. Reynolds, would find himself saddened by a 2018 mentality that it’s all sex and no soul to the filmmaking. 2018 Boogie Nights would be a near porn flick and not a movie about people with beautiful souls who happen to make porn.
It is safe to say all of us dream of writing and directing a movie as good as this.
And to the Academy, please give Burt Reynolds an Oscar for his most recent film, The Last Movie Star. I said it in the article. Am saying it here. Will say it forever. Give the gentleman the joy of winning the career achievement he deserved forever, certainly for Boogie Nights, and always did. I look at him in every role he’s ever done and can’t find a piece of Mr. Reynolds in those characters. I watch someone else on camera telling me about his life.
To the rest of my friends reading my film review, go watch Boogie Nights and tell me you’re not a changed person after viewing it the way it’s meant to be seen.