Boogie Nights: Classic Review. By Julius Tabel.
This is THE coolest movie of all time; I have no doubt about it. The first 90 minutes are the greatest party you will ever have when watching a film, and the last 60 minutes complete the most interesting character study. In my opinion, this is the best directed movie of all time because Anderson ́s collaboration with Elswit (cinematographer) pays off in every single shot.
I fell in love with “Boogie Nights” before it even cut for the first time, because the first shot is a continuous three-and-a-half minutes Steadicam-shot through a Night Club. This happens multiple times in the film. Other examples would be the party at Jack ́s house, the New-Years party, and the reunion at the end. To pull something like that off is simply amazing, and the directional effort behind it is unbelievable. Anderson always has a plan in his mind of what he is doing, and when executing, you can see that he has so much fun. At 27-years-old, he is able to do such great stuff with a camera, and I think that every aspiring filmmaker is in total envy of PTA.
Five things are certain when watching a PTA movie: Outstanding camerawork, that I partly mentioned already, deep characters, an interesting score, a thought-provoking story, and amazing performances. Starting off with latter, everyone can see that Anderson ́s films emerged some of the greatest performances of all time. For instance, Tom Cruise ́s career best in “Magnolia”, Adam Sandler ́s career best in “Punch-Drunk Love”, Daniel Day-Lewis with my favorite performance in “There Will Be Blood”, and Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”. Only one of these may have won an Oscar, but who cares about Academy Awards when talking about PTA. He is the only person that won in Cannes, in Berlin, and in Venice, and there are 8 films that prove that he is one of the greatest directors out in the world. Speaking about “Boogie Nights”, Anderson revived Burt Reynolds ́ career, and started it off for Mark Wahlberg, Philip Seymour Hoffmann, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, and John C. Reilly. All these amazing performances are no coincidence. It all comes from the directional mastermind of Paul Thomas Anderson. Once again, there is not one little flaw in the performances.
The cinematography isn ́t only proven to be pure perfection in the Steadicam-shots, but in every single shot of the film. There is a thought behind every decision. Considering that Elswit left Anderson after “There Will Be Blood” and the cinematography hasn ́t dropped off one bit off since, I consider PTA to be the master behind it, but Elswit ́s execution is still flawless. Anyways, the two must have about a hundred different kinds of shots ready because each scene looks so very different. There is always something special about where the camera is placed.
In only one movie, Anderson was able to create more, deeper and more interesting characters than Christopher did in his entire filmography. No offense against Nolan here, but Anderson is out of this world. Every, and I mean every of the 10 protagonists – and yes, Dirk Diggler may be the major protagonist, but literally every of the 10 has a complete and complex story. If you think about other great movies, they have mostly 2-4, and very rarely 5-7 important characters with most of them being side characters. Anderson created 10. I am not saying that the more characters, the better the movie, but if you can do it perfectly, why not? Also, I already did study all characters in one of my previous reviews which you can find here: https://letterboxd.com/steggo27/film/boogie-nights/1/
Quentin Tarantino is often known for the incredible collections of music in his films, but “Boogie Nights” is on top of my list. Every scene is a party. There are scenes that only contain dancing to iconic songs, and it really wants you to stand up and dance as well. I never had more fun when watching a film.
Now, speaking about the thematic of “Boogie Nights” for the first time, there are only a few movies that come close to the excess of it. Maybe, Martin Scorsese ́s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is worth mentioning, but from my point of view, while it is still an awesome movie, Anderson used a better portion than Scorsese. “The Wolf” contains definitely more crazy stuff, but Anderson depicts it way better. He transforms the excess of sex and drugs with some kind of hilariousness. For me, one of the greatest scenes of the film is when they film the porno, and everybody just stares at Dirk ́s penis and is in absolute awe. Furthermore, Anderson knows when it ́s too much. There is no loudly-spoken “Oh my god”, but only minor facial expressions that speak louder than a thousand books ever could.
Additionally, each character has some kind of special and hilarious trait like ultimate stupidity or megalomania. There won ́t be one scene that won ́t be funny. I will not mention it right now for specific reasons, but the highly sexual dialogue is just awesome. Additionally, this guy ́s name is Dirk Diggler. I think that ́s prove enough.
The truly interesting thing about Anderson is that, although his partying and excess is absolutely awesome, he changes in a different direction after 90 minutes in order to complete his story. And this may be the part when an overall easily understandable film becomes a true PTA film that is very complicated and needs to be understood to fully be appreciated. If you are not a cinephile, you probably won ́t like the second half, but if you are, you will be able to enjoy just as much as the first.
Another amazing scene would be the one at the house of Rahad Jackson portrayed by Alfred Molina. It is truly one of the most intense scenes I have ever witnessed. There is this boy throwing firecrackers that will throw you out of your seat every 10 seconds, and you also are very aware of what ́s at stake, while also knowing that Molina portrays an absolute madman. And then, in midst of all this danger, there is Dirk ́s stare. It ́s the moment when he realizes what has becomes of him. And when he comes back to Jack a few scenes later, the delusions of grandeur have mostly ended. It is the ultimate development of a character with a perfect pay off. The from-one-day-to-the-other star wanted to much, and his megalomania almost killed him, but he completed his history because Anderson is a mastermind. This was Dirk ́s story quickly summed up, but I guarantee that every character has a similar one that is just as masterful.
All in all, “Boogie Nights” has to be on every cinephile ́s all-time list. It is one of the most awesome, most genius, and most interesting movies ever. It contains amazingly portrayed characters whose story will be a lesson to everyone, artistic cinematography that is gold for the human eye, hilariousness in its storytelling, enjoyability in its soundtrack, and the best direction of all time. This is an ultimate recommendation for every cinema lover and a must-watch.
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