The Essential Movie Library #79: Boogie Nights (1997) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #79: Boogie Nights (1997)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s warmest and most affectionate work, Boogie Nights views its auteurs of the forbidden as a dysfunctional family, a tribe of lost boys and girls trying to make a home

As consistently brilliant as any director of his generation, Paul Thomas Anderson has taken his filmography through various phases so distinct and unmistakable they might almost be homages, what with Magnolia his Altman movie and There Will Be Blood and The Master his Kubrick movies (will the forthcoming adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice be his Alejandro Jodorowsky movie?). The breakthrough Boogie Nights is his Scorsese movie, and while subsequent pictures are more accomplished and less derivative, none is livelier or more vivid that this epic about the porn business in the disco-era San Fernando Valley, where and when those who were not quite bad or beautiful enough for the Sunset Strip partied down to the worst pop music of all time. 

Anderson’s warmest and most affectionate work, Boogie Nights views its auteurs of the forbidden as a dysfunctional family, a tribe of lost boys and girls trying to make a home. Copping from Goodfellas its long tracking shot through a New York nightclub, Anderson makes an aesthetic of it here, the camera flowing in and out of a scene goofier and sadder than it is sexy or offensive, and mostly characterized, debauchery aside, by a peculiar innocence. Among star-making turns by John C. Reilly and Heather Graham—this also is the picture where a lot of us first took note of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman—it’s hard to know what’s more startling: Mark Wahlberg’s manchild in fallen paradise or Burt Reynolds’ adult filmmaker who, not unlike Russ Meyer (Essential Movie Library #66), wants to make movies that still matter to people after they’ve gotten off. In any case it’s Julianne Moore’s film anyway, as the sweet, dazed X-rated goddess trying to love away her grief for the small son she’s lost, and adopting in his place the flower children whose petals already have begun falling.

Read them all:

The Essential Movie Library #78:  Le Samouraï
The Essential Movie Library #77: The Wild Bunch
The Essential Movie Library #76: Barton Fink
The Essential Movie Library #75: The Spirit of the Beehive
The Essential Movie Library #74: Sexy Beast
The Essential Movie Library #73: Groundhog Day
The Essential Movie Library #72: Rear Window
The Essential Movie Library #71: The 400 Blows
The Essential Movie Library #70: Blue Velvet
The Essential Movie Library #69: Dr. Strangelove
The Essential Movie Library #68: The Bicycle Thieves
The Essential Movie Library #67: Pulp Fiction
The Essential Movie Library #66: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
The Essential Movie Library #65: Caché
The Essential Movie Library #64: A Hard Day's Night
The Essential Movie Library #63: The Searchers
The Essential Movie Library #62: The Conformist
The Essential Movie Library #61: Bonnie & Clyde
The Essential Movie Library #60: Sweet Smell of Success
The Essential Movie Library #59: Melancholia
The Essential Movie Library #58: La Dolce Vita
The Essential Movie Library #57: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The Essential Movie Library #56: Contempt
The Essential Movie Library #55: Sunset Boulevard
The Essential Movie Library #54: Metropolis
The Essential Movie Library #53: In A Lonely Place
The Essential Movie Library #52: Talk to Her
The Essential Movie LIbrary #51: To Be or Not To Be
The Essential Movie Library #50: The Battle of Algiers
The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious
The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #47: L'Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2
The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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