Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997). Director: Paul Thomas Anderson.

Mark Wahlberg is excellent as an academically disinclined young man who does have one enormous asset, and uses it to become a famous porn star named Dirk Diggler. This is clearly inspired by the story of John Holmes [aka Johnny Wadd], who was also the subject of a far superior biopic a few years later. Although it's hard to dislike the movie, the lack of a moral focus, while initially refreshing, eventually becomes a problem, but even worse is the fact that the movie meanders along for too long a length and doesn't do enough to develop any of its characters. The film is essentially a comedy that throws in moments of violence and then erupts into brutality in the film's true climax – three incidents at once – but ultimately offers no true drama. Along the way there are some nice bits – such as a scene when Dirk's friend Scotty expresses unrequited love for him [this, too, goes nowhere] – but the movie is poorly edited, with tedious tracking shots and uneventful scenes that go on for too long. This could only be considered powerful stuff by the unsophisticated. Along with Wahlberg, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Don Cheadle are stand-outs in a fine cast, but Burt Reynolds is given no real character to play. He's just the porn maker and is never developed beyond that; the limited Reynolds isn't able to add anything to his portrayal. Wahlberg, however, is quite impressive, unafraid to show emotion and vulnerability along with angst and anger. This is a good showcase for the actor; if only it were a better movie. Some viewers may overdose on the picture's disco soundtrack long before it's over.

Verdict: Interesting failure. **.

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