Boogie Nights: How To Make A Movie

Paul Thomas Anderson makes excellent films. His films literally excel. Boogie Nights is the best place to prove this, it’s his most accessible film. Sure it’s a movie about a dumb as hell porn star with a giant penis who does drugs and ends up teaming up with The Punisher to assault Doc Ock’s drug den, but compared to the character driven Hard Eight, the deeply depressing Magnolia, the gonzo romantic comedy Punch Drunk Love, and the slow-paced There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights is a god damned crowd pleaser.

and Mark Wahlberg is a lady pleaser

Boogie Nights is the age-old tale of a California high school drop out with a 13 inch dong who is discovered giving looky loos in the back of a night club by a kindly old gentleman played by Burt Reynolds. This kindly old Burt Reynolds also happens to be the worlds most artistic porn director. Through Reynolds, Wahlberg and his monster penis meet a great cast of characters played by almost every great character actor working today. John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy, later on Thomas Jane and Alfred Molina show up. This movie has the best cast since It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, only Mickey Rooney doesn’t pull out his dick at the end of that one.

Although I bet you wish he did!

Sure Boogie Nights works as and entertaining and thought-provoking character study of the porn world in the 70’s and 80’s but did you know films can have subtext! Well they can as long as you stay away from Michael Bay films, you will be rewarded with interesting topics to think about that can only be grasped after 2 or 3 viewings.

That's not subtext Michael, that's just racism.

Boogie Nights can also be seen as a discussion and love letter to Hollywood. It’s about the need to make films, and sure the films Burt Reynolds and his crew make are really terrible to look at and not at all worthwhile, these people love to do it and they do consider themselves artists. Hell there is even a scene where Burt Reynolds and the great Philip Baker Hall have a conversation about converting the porn industry from film to videotape that uses the exact same ideas and emotions and motivations behind the Hollywood argument of film to digital. It’s a gangbusters idea that works to make Boogie Nights a fuller, richer film.

I’ve seen Boogie Nights a number of times now and each time I do I notice different things, the set design, soundtrack, and character interactions are so rich and organic that there is just too much to see in one sitting. Also this movie has a scene where Alfred Molina walks around shirtless, in a robe and boxer shorts waving a large handgun around while listening to the worlds greatest mix tape, and during the entire scene a chinese kid (Cosmo!) is lighting and throwing fire crackers. It’s definitely the best scene in the movie, and I would put it in the running for best scene in any movie.

Well there you have it my thoughts on Boogie Nights. It’s a good flick.


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