"Boogie Nights": Blu-ray Movie Review

12/24/2009 Posted by Admin

Blu-ray Movie Review

"Boogie Nights"

Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 152 minutes, rated R.

By Christopher Smith

Paul Thomas Anderson’s insufferably long film offers a treasure trove of tragic characters who try our collective patience with their weaknesses and neuroses.

Whether drunk, high on cocaine or performing sex in parking lots for a group of sweaty onlookers, these characters may find themselves in interesting situations, but it would be a mistake to assume that they are interesting as a result. They should be considered for what they are--a dim group of unlikable losers hell-bent on a path of self-destruction via the porn industry.

When the movie was released to great praise in 1997, many critics thought that Anderson’s characters were victims of that industry, which is wrong because they clearly are victims of their own greed and hubris. These people want fame so badly, they willingly launch themselves into the sack with unabashed glee and bravado in an effort to achieve it. Never forced, they freely choose to snort the cocaine that leaves several dead by film’s end, choose to screw-up their lives by having sex on film, choose to murder and cheat, choose to drop out of school and steal.

Are we to pity these people and hold none accountable for their actions?

“Boogie Nights” does have its moments, particularly in the suspense Anderson builds at the end. But for all the time the director gives his characters to engage us on film, few do. Mark Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler, the 17-year-old who flees his abusive family to find an extended family in porn, may have a sizable surprise in his pants that suits his newly chosen profession, but, much like Julianne Moore’s Amber Waves and Heather Graham’s Rollergirl, he never becomes someone we care about.

The film’s one great performance belongs to Burt Reynolds, who shines as blue movie director Jack Horner--the man who discovers Dirk, directs him to stardom, and then sits back--powerless--as the ‘80s usher in the cheaper medium of video, his movie empire is threatened, and Dirk becomes mired in a haze of drugs and violence.

If only we cared.

Grade: C-

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