Boogie Nights (1997)

Written & Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, William H. Macy

My Advice: Don't Miss It.

Synopsis:  A film that takes us inside the world of porn during the late 70's, early 80's, specifically the rise and fall and rise of Dirk Diggler, a newcomer to the scene who is...quite gifted in certain areas.

This film is proof positive that there should be an Oscar for ensemble acting.  I can't remember the last time I saw a film with a cast where every single member was just dead on.  And I can't rant enough about how good they are. fave Burt Reynolds gives his best performance I've ever seen as the director who's at the top of his field.  He wants to make...well, porn that makes you think.  Go figure.  Julianne Moore's tragic mother wants to live the lifestyle but doesn't understand why she lost her son as a result.  William H. Macy (also an fave) is so pathetic you have to laugh, in his role as a crew member whose wife (Nina Hartley) is always screwing someone who isn't him.  And therein lies the key, I think, to why the film works, since it would have been easy to fall back on "Look!  A bunch of naked people doing the horizontal mambo dance of love!"  Instead, you have that, yes, but it's the backdrop for a series of characters with tragic flaws the size of humanity to go about doing their things.  (No pun intended)  And honestly, without such choice actors and actresses to power these characters, the whole thing would fall down around Anderson's ears.  But damn if it doesn't work.

And even though everyone in the cast is top notch, I must also mention Don Cheadle's musically challenged cowboy, Joanna Gleason's portait of disturbed motherhood, and of course Wahlberg's great performance as the man who suddenly has it all because, has it all.  The only thing I fault this movie for is its ending, which didn't really seem to fit with the rest of the film and served only to cause controversy for the sake of having controversy.  But otherwise, a class act all around.

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