Saturday, November 20, 2004

Boogie Nights

So, counting down my top 50 movies all time we come to 49, Boogie Nights. Now, this movie has an interesting reputation, due to its subject matter, the porn industry. This is a movie about the porn industry, but it's definitely not a porn itself, it's not even really about the porn industry, it's about a group of people who become a family for each other, and what happens to them. This movie is about porn in the same way that The Sopranos is about the mafia, yes, it's set in that world, but what makes it interesting is how their unique circumstances affect the characters. You're not watching to see Tony kill people, or to see Dirk filming, you're watching for the interactions between characters.

Boogie Nights has been compared to Goodfellas a lot, and I can see some similarities, but what Boogie Nights does that Goodfellas doesn't is create very strong characters. Paul Thomas Anderson is clearly interested in the porn industry itself, but he's more interested in creating characters. As he did in the brilliant Magnolia, this is a film that seems to be structured around character decisions rather than an artificially imposed plot. The best movies move along organically, with events occurring because of logical choices that the characters make. That's how this movie works. It's about a bunch of people, and they're all pretty interesting.

The movie feels very epic. It spans six years or so, and a ton of stuff happens. In some ways, it's the archetypal rise and fall story, but there's enough character stuff happening on the peripherary that it never feels cliche. I love movies with a lot of characters, and this movie has roughly twelve major characters. PTA's greatest talent is his ability to manage massive casts, and while this movie has a clear main character, it's still an ensemble piece, and everyone gets some interesting material to work with.

What makes the movie special is really in the way PTA makes it. The long shot that opens the movie is absolutely phenomenal, echoing and even surpassing A Touch of Evil in its scope. Another amazing shot is in the pool scene, when the camera does a five minute or so tracking shot, then follows a diver into the pool without a cut, goes underwater, then comes back up. Awe inspiring.

Anderson's use of music is similarly impressive. He breaks out a lot of the best songs of the 70s and fits them organically into the film. He does a bunch of montages, but they actually move the story forward, and are hugely entertaining. The "Jesse's Girl" scene with Alfred Molina is just one amazing use of music.

Pretty much everything clicks here, and this movie serves as a good warm up for PTA's Magnolia. It's the film that gave us Chest Rockwell, that should count for something.

Related Posts
Magnolia: PTA's Masterpiece (7/22/2005)
Hard Eight (9/7/2005)
Punch Drunk Love (9/13/2005)
Paul Thomas Anderson Quote (9/13/2005)


cialis online said...

I am not agree with the people who make some top list of movies, I think that the no end of movies are so good, so I think that my top movies all time is will be a list of 1000 films!!22dd said...

The chap is definitely just, and there is no doubt.