Boogie Nights

Is there life after hip-hop? Is there life after rap? Why not? After all, there's still life after the seventies with its party-animal days and boogie nights.

Boogie Nights
(c)Polygram Filmed Entertainment B.V.'
Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) is a film producer with an eye set on revolutionizing the adult movie industry (and we do mean adult movies) and, at the same time, getting his share of the pie. Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) is the glass washing new-boy-in-town who metamorphoses into Dirk Diggler, the hot man with a hidden talent. Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) is the adult entertainment superstar who has her mind on the stardom, her nose in the powder, and her hopes tousled between the sheets (whenever there are any). Everybody's damaged goods here, but maintaining their dignity.

Pornographic L.A. seems to be laid out for all to examine in this raw, nerve-edged portrait of a world full of familiar people living in what is for most people an unfamiliar world.

Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson treats us to a chronicle including the most intimate details from the lives of a fictitious group of characters employed in the porn industry from 1977 to 1984. Their private lives are revealed on screen in this film as openly as their private parts had been in their work. The result is a sympathetic portrait of real people who experience problems, difficulties, heartbreaks and hatreds as naturally in their daily grind as frequently, if not more so, as other people do. In short, everybody has their ups and downs. Let's face it, disco and drugs can be fun, but no party goes on forever.

The dysfunctional surrogate family formed by participants of this adult film production company reveals characters searching for themselves with all the attendant tragic and comic circumstances of their lives. What is made painfully clear is that there is unequivocally more reason to be upset by a world of standards that unnecessarily deals people a deck stacked against them (from the word go) than any nonsensical puritanical annoyance about the type of films these people make.

The soundtrack moves us along as the beat goes on with hits from the 70's and 80's. It is remarkable that this production, well crafted with a talented cast and crew, was capable of being realized on schedule for a reasonably modest budget, but there are moments where one begins to feel as if the editor might have been allowed a little more freedom in filling the cutting room floor. Three hours is a little long to boogie, but, nevertheless, well worth it.

The last shot is especially revealing.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett