Worth A Look: 16.92%
Just Average: 6.67%
Pretty Crappy: 5.13%
9 reviews, 141 user ratings
by Chef ADogg
I wish "Boogie Nights" were four hours long. Maybe even five.It is a testament to the film's POTENTIAL that I could have watched it endlessly. Chock full of interesting characters, refreshingly articulate dialogue, and juicy subject matter, "Boogie Nights" has what it takes to be great.
And, with all fairness, it could have been much worse. In the hands of lesser talent, the film could have turned into a series of showoffy set pieces and too-flashy sequences--Paul Thomas Anderson is brilliant enough to string together a more-than workable narrative, but too restless to stay in one place.
We watch the rise and fall of busboy-cum-adult film star Dirk Diggler--listen to it, listen to the storyline. It's enough to make even the most talented directors mess themselves in a flood of premature ejaculatory matter.
Anderson, thankfully, cares more about revealing all the sides to his characters than he does about titillating the audience. But I wish that he would have made "Boogie Nights" a bit more sexy--I would have appreciated a love scene not being captured on celluloid (and Marky Mark jerking off in front of onlookers does NOT count).
Anderson strives so hard to demystify sex that he forgets to show us why people love it so much. He turns into nothing more than a base, biological urge.
But that ain't the core problem of "Boogie Nights." The problem is this: Too much stuff, not enough storage space. Bursting at the seams as it is, I should think that Miramax might have considered stretching "Nights" out a little bit, letting Anderson put more in.
At two hours and forty minutes, it's one weighty film. But it justifies it's running time with the pure joy with which it has been made. And the second half of the film, settling down and delving deeply into the minds of the characters, is nothing but out and out brilliance--Anderson finally focuses, and what he can do with full concentration is astounding (these parts of the film work even better than the sublimely disturbing "Hard Eight", because we're not expecting them).
"Boogie Nights" starts as a party movie and slowly but surely evolves into a testament to humanity. The characters don't change their ways, and none of them get retribution, but Anderson has, by the end, showcased something much more sustaining than his verve with a camera.
He lets us inside a world that, on the surface, lacks morality--and proceeds to twirl our minds with the constant affront of twisted family values that permeate said world.
Touching, beautiful, devastating--and too damn short. "Boogie Nights" comes up something short of a masterpiece, but is certainly worthwhile--if only for the performances.
Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly (ESPECIALLY John C. Reilly), Julianne Moore, and Heather Grahm are all excellent, creating sympathetic, realistic characters (and never revealing their tricks--master magicians, them all).
Much kudos, two complaints. A) "Boogie Nights" is a beautiful dress with just a bit too much fabric--a bulge here, a droop there. It looks good, it feels good, but there's a certain incomplete sense to it. B) Not enough Philip Baker Hall, dammit.
I was looking forward to seeing him again, but he only gets a few lines, and that pissed me off.All critical bitches aside, it does more with one frame than most movies do in two hours. And that's got to be worth something.
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originally posted: 09/18/99 20:52:14