GREAT MOVIES GUYS MIGHT NEVER SEE -- Boogie Nights
There is probably no movie ever made that I liked more than "Boogie Nights".
It's about the adult film industry, but it is not pornographic. It handles all its' characters with respect, thus letting their dysfunction flow freely. It has three foxy lead actresses, Burt Reynolds, an awesome "Colonel", a great soundtrack that comes in two discs, Marky Mark doing everything that we wish we were doing and STILL being likable, Phillip Seymour Hoffman being solid in a role that would have made mortal actors uneasy (you know the great PSH will never truly be dead, no more than Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Heath Ledger), William H. Macy in his best project before Showtime's superlative new show "Shameless", and it tells a story that would resonate not only with dreamers and scumbags and hippies, but with Hollywood insiders.
There was a time called the SEVENTIES!!!!!(TM)
It was a time when the whole world turned 19.
Anything that you enjoyed...was safe. That was it and that was all.
Think about the last time you went clubbing with your boys, or anticipated a sure thing, met a girl for the first time and knew you'd get to hit that...without making sure you had some kind of protection. As new of a phenomenon as this is, also consider this -- Magic Johnson doesn't get infected and you'd probably still believe you're safe from HIV just due to being straight. Imagine a time when people took karate classes. Think of that mindset -- I will never in my life come across some punk kid with a gun.
Boogie Nights takes place during the years of 1977-1983. The hippies no longer had to feel grateful and or stupid that their traditionally political rivals were getting us out of Vietnam or legalizing abortion or giving people equal rights. Nixon had been proven to be a piece of s-hit the likes of which few people have ever been, and so while there became a newfound belief that flower power was 100 percent correct, disputed as it might of been in most of society...it made components of the entertainment industry quite self-righteous, particularly those who operated outside a mainstream that had been "proven" to be wrong.
Hollywood was making films that would qualify today as "independent". They were given huge budgets and had big stars, and they both began and prolonged the careers of every actor or director over the age of 50 that get any work today. There are reasons why almost every act from the 80s is dead or nuts while the cats from the 70s get love...and this is why. The 80s made disposable Coke Zero and leftover McDonalds. The 70s had huge Italian submarine sandwiches with oil, spices and vinegar. That would all change in 1980 when a movie comes out that cost what would amount to almost 300 million dollars today. It was made by Michael Cimino who directed the wildly successful "Deer Hunter" with Robert De Niro a few years before and was by 1980 a F*CKING MADMAN. He would make a film called "Heaven's Gate", a western that was almost four hours long...and it tanked from the minute the last reel was shot. Heaven's Gate was such a critical and commercial disaster that a director was now only viable if he was a douche-bomb. Think commercials that come on while your mom or girl or whoever is watching The Good Wife. That esurance commercial with the lame electric guitar? That's now a Hollywood commodity. The guy who composed that theme would now be doing Jennifer Aniston. Thanks to Michael Cimino.
Boogie Nights begins a few years before this, 1977, when every once in a while a good movie was made that was so popular and beloved that it was worth it to f-ck up twenty five other movies in the meantime. For every tons of Rock Hudson and Ron Jeremy movies you never saw, there was a Debbie Does Dallas and a Deep Throat. Because of this, our director friend Burt Reynolds (his name in this is Jack Horner), strives to make porn that is actually deep and tells a story. He's got the exact same mindset as Cimino and others did.
His stars all have different problems, and during the course of the next six years, whether these problems are solved or not, nonetheless run their course exactly the way they should. Buck, Don Cheadle's character, hates the restricting unoriginality that comes with being a black man in this day and age, and thus will not only end up marrying non-traditionally but being the only former actor who will end up escaping his money troubles -- due to the non-traditional receiving of finances by being the only one alive during a donut store robbery. Rollergirl, uncomfortable to sit in a school when she's got the reputation of being the cooze of all coozes, will at long last find the cure -- actually running into her worst fears...a former classmate who harrassed her. Even being a porn star couldn't save her from it. And so she goes back to school to take these problems head on. Amber Waves, who loses ultimate rights to see her kid, is faced with diminishing self-worth as she gets older and has nobody to be a mother to...and self-teaches herself how to be a filmmaker which, trust me, is F*CKING DIFFICULT. It is her who will combine these two aspects and be the one who directs Buck's first Super-Stereo World store commercial...true Buck has to pose as a break dancer...but it's close enough. It's untraditional for a black male porn star to put together his own business? Here you go.
Boogie Nights is loaded with cautionary tales, ones that it's up to the audience to make. There's Becky Barnett, who marries a regional manager from Pep Boys. Her payoff was in fact cut from the final version -- because he beats her. There's Little Bill, played by William H. Macy, who knew what he was getting into by marrying a porn star, and is left with daily embarrassment and indifference from the others until the time comes for him to shoot her AND him. There's a friend of Reed Rothchild's, a total scumbag and delinquent, who becomes representative of a drug scene when life goes sour. When every thing's going great, drugs compliment the fun. When everything's already there, all the paths to more and greater crimes that drugs open up are still air-tight closed. As long as Jack Horner's higher ups weren't complaining about how much it cost to make new and interesting porno films, this meant that Horner could make art the way he wanted, and his actors could have perpetual employment.
Things will break down fast once Cimino's impending failure radiates. Suddenly, switching to video from film is enough of a pressing issue to actually bring up during a New Years Eve party, as if it's keeping people from sleeping, f-cking, eating, anything, until that problem gets resolved.
The actors, from a beautiful soft-spoken slutty blond to the folks we've met so far, are no longer viewed as "real people", making way for a bunch of girls who do everything but make things sexy. Hubpages.com doesn't like the endorsing of porn so I can't get into the specifics, but you ever watch a porn from the 70s and enjoy what you're seeing...then watch any number of the ones Vivid video makes and just go "yeah yeah pwwww"? Well this rang true with millions of other men just like you. Roger Ebert referred to these new video movies as "gynecological loops". People now had VCRs, and so movie theatres began shifting to video projectors. Not only did Jack Horner have to make 8 mm journalism-school project dogc*ap, but the Colonel and Floyd Gondolli didn't have those nice porn theatres to overcharge for these things. Horner and Gondolli proceed to watch as this new conclave of actors and actresses nonetheless displayed the desire to BE LIKE THOSE REPLACED 70s STARS. Ignorant of the strides made by Dirk Diggler and Reed Rothchild to present features that didn't beat women, hurt women, do anything to them that wasn't sexy and consensual...poor Horner and Gondolli deal with a replacement who says "YES BITCH!!!" with a gun to a girl's head, wants to be called Rock Harders, and says "Lock and Load, Jack!" before a shoot.
Boogie Nights was the best film of 1997, the best film of this decade, the best film in the history of motion pictures.