Boogie Nights (1997)

Boogie Nights (1997) — This is a story, basically, of losers bottoming out yet it doesn’t ever get as depressing as that summary would imply (maybe because banding together as a surrogate family helps them cope). I think Paul Thomas Anderson ascended to that Robert Altman level of directed large ensemble casts for epic-in-scale movies that never lost sight of the human drama at their core. He also, like Altman, has enough wicked humor in his films to keep anything from getting too heavy. Add to that probably the best 70s/80s period soundtrack ever compiled, and you still only get a fraction of what makes this movie rock. This was the movie that made us
take Marky Mark seriously as an actor (though the next woman he slept with afterwards was probably disappointed to learn in the movie he used a prosthetic) and even though they’d been working long before it, it’s the movie that made people notice great character actors like Don Cheadle and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It’s the movie that [briefly] pulled Burt Reynolds’ career out the ground. Not to mention the movie that gave us that great scene at Alfred Molina’s place with the firecrackers going off and Night Ranger blaring on the
stereo before Tom Jane loses his shit and everything gets crazy. After watching a documentary about the MPAA earlier in the day I’m surprised this movie got an R instead of the NC-17 the puritanical ratings board dumped on movies with similar subjects. Anyway P.T. Anderson is one of the great film-makers working today and this was the film that made people stand up and take notice.

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