Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights (P.T. Anderson, 1997)

Jean Renoir once said that "everything that is recorded with a microphone and filmed with a camera together is Cinema. There isn't any criteria to dismiss any work of this kind."

When I discovered Anderson's There Will Be Blood in theater back in 2007, I immediately knew that I was in presence of a great filmmaker's work. All of his films reflect the grammar of his masters. When you look at There Will Be Blood you feel like you were watching a modern made version of Erich von Stroheim's Greed and even Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. His Magnolia feels like an interpretation of Robert Altman's particular ensemble narratives. For Punch Drunk Love I have some difficulties to identify to whom he applies the grammar and the narratives but it still a one of a kind picture.

Boogie Nights is Anderson's Goodfellas with the superb tracking shots and the many pans. They also are a reference to I Am Cuba by Soviet filmmaker Mikhail Kalatozov; especially when the tracking shot dives into the water. However, the narrative exploited here and the grammar is Anderson's reference to Martin Scorsese's influence on him. The path of the hero gives us many clues also on the influence of Scorsese's protagonists: a rise to the top in his career (see Raging Bull and Goodfellas) and drastically a fall into the flat bottom but more important some kind of redemption for the hero to be back but simply has a shadow of what he was, a faux-semblant of a renaissance. It is important to understand that even if the hero seems to have a happy ending it more like a pathetic recuperation for the hero and instead of gluing back his pieces together it's just a fragile amalgam of his ancient "golden years".

The story of Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) is somewhat similar to Hank Hill's (Goodfellas). To sum up, those stories represent the rise and the fall of two outcasts (a drug dealer and a porn star) of the society. They will gain success and recognition within their underground respective world. Both will get back on their feet, but still they live on not so much of a great situation.

I cannot pass over the fact that this is an ensemble film and that this form of its structure was inspired by Altman's many ensemble films. However, Anderson's interpretation is simplified to fit with Scorsese's elements.

Meanwhile, Boogie Nights is visually amazing and the world of pornography is sincerely depicted in all his raw amateurism and innocence. My Renoir opening recalls this kind of use of films. It's funny to see pornographers at work and really giving their best to make a good work. It was like watching the first filmmakers at work trying to discover new techniques and pull further the limits of Cinema. The passion is the same and the preoccupations also: the public must follow and appreciate the work of the artisans. Otherwise, they won't have the funds to work again. Even if it's done humorously it still has something that gets you entertain and interested in the making-of.

This is a wonderful cast of big names and even the little parts are played by excellent actors: Julianne Moore, Philip Seymore Hoffman, Don Cheadle, Burt Reynolds, Alfred Molina, William H. Macy, and even Mark Wahlberg gives a noticeable performance.

I really enjoyed Boogie Nights and it's probably my second favorite P.T. Anderson after his There Will Be Blood that I am not afraid to say that it's one of my favorite films of all-time. Boogie Nights is a near-masterpiece.

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