Boogie Nights (1997) – Everyone Has One Special Thing

First of all, what do you think when you hear about porn? Or let me change my question, what are your thoughts when you hear about the porn industry? Secondly, how do you see people in that industry? Are they forced to do that? Do they have nothing to work in the porn industry as the only way? They have a feeling, a conscience, and have people they love as well. And to conclude and answer all those, just watch Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights”, the second film from the director after “Hard Eight”.

In the era of the 70s, the porn industry reached its peak. At the time, there is a lot of quality pornographic films. They work on pornographic films with serious production, large budgets, and provide a fair focus on its story. Because of it, pornographic films aren’t taboo anymore after the cinema launches them widely. In the 80s, the fall of the porn industry began. Many pornographic films with a low budget, poor quality, and cheap, a sign of the end of the golden age of porn. Through “Boogie Nights”, Anderson got big success and critics began to recognize him as one of the most talented directors.

Besides Paul Thomas Anderson, there is Mark Wahlberg, the main actor. He also began to gain recognition and reputation after he cast as Eddie Adams, with his huge penis. Eddie had nothing, dropped out of school, had no future, and was just a useless and stupid teen. Every day, Eddie only fills his activities by working as a dishwasher at a nightclub. In one night, Eddie attracted the attention of a famous yet ambitious pornographic film director, Burt Reynolds as Jack Horner. Jack offered Eddie to be an actor in his films.

For Eddie, he just wanted to prove he still had hope, still had dreams to become big, still had recognition. It wasn’t difficult for Eddie to accept the offer. Finally, Eddie as Dirk Diggler along with his huge penis managed to become a big porn actor. Also with Jack Horner, Eddie achieved instant success. Eddie is no longer a small income teen who still lives with his parents. Instead, Dirk Diggler is a rich kid, lives in a mansion, and has many fans.

The conflict began at the turn of the year towards the 80s, the golden era of porn began to fade and the amount of inner conflict caused his career to suddenly dropped. But, “Boogie Nights” doesn’t just focus on Walhberg. Just like the first amazing one-take sequence, Anderson introduced these characters simultaneously. The film has many sub-plots like one of them Julianne Moore as Amber, a porn actress who had to face the fact her ex-husband didn’t allow her to meet her child. Don Cheadle as Buck, has the ambition to open a sound system store but the society forbids it just because he is a former porn industry worker.

There is Heather Graham as Rollergirl, one of the porn actresses who got oppression in her school because of her profession. William H. Macy as Little Bill, always gets his wife having sex with other men. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Scotty tried to express his feelings to Eddie but was difficult. John C. Reily as Reed, one of Eddie’s friends who always helped and accompanied him. Obviously, “Boogie Nights” not only tells its stories and shows many pornographic contents apart from its theme. However, Anderson’s greatness was able to divide the portion of the plot in a balanced manner. Finally, we are able to understand internal conflicts as well as we do.

Paul Thomas Anderson uses a lot of long shots in this film. And the long shot isn’t just a gimmick. Instead, he uses this technique to introduce and develop all the plots at once. Just tiny details like a car that passes at once alternately were just mindblowing. Anderson, at one time, in real-time built tensions slowly, making the audience would anticipate many events.

“Boogie Nights” is a tale of greed, proud, ambition and others. In this case, each sub-plot or character has ambitions like Eddie who wants to be an actor. There is Jack who wants to be a legendary director. In the end, they managed to achieve instantly and purely through their efforts. But in reality, they fell again so they had to rise slowly. There is a dark atmosphere but with a clear conclusion, I think we really know about this. In fact, characters or people who are related to the porn industry are just ordinary people.

They have feelings, still, have what humans actually have. However, because their names are in the porn industry alone, society belittles them, considers them despicable only because of the porn world. “Boogie Nights” is a comedy satire, besides dark, but it also combines violence and humor. Never expect if you want to search for porn in this film, even though some were there. The most obvious question, is Paul Thomas Anderson inviting us to get to know this porn industry more closely? Is porn a real movie? Or indeed this is just a love letter written by Paul Thomas Anderson?

This movie is like a novel or a comic at least. I think all the characters in this film are so, so memorable and comical. They all have colors, apart from their characteristics, but also the set. Watching this movie reminds me of two films. The first is Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” and the second is Quentin Tarantino’sPulp Fiction“. And there is also “Saturday Night Fever” vibe in it, in the style of 70s and 80s pop culture. “Boogie Nights” combines all of these elements in the universe itself, the porn industry.

Long before Paul Thomas Anderson explored human psychology, this film had long existed. Two and a half hours has never been tiring and Anderson managed to make everything unique. Conflicts, characters, sets, all are very detailed. A satire comedy in the form of a depressive drama or melancholia, “Boogie Nights” provides a very impressive, total viewing experience in exploring its theme. And of course, the last moment before credit, at least you can see how big Walhberg’s penis was. Just God, is that real? I’m just speechless about that.

5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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