Comfortable and Furious

Boogie Nights

Yesterday, if you had asked me what single material possession in the world I most coveted, I would have said “Britney Spears; before she got old.”  Today I rented the platinum edition of Boogie Nights. My answer would still be the same, but this is the best DVD I’ve ever seen.

I already knew that Boogie Nights is one of the best films of the ’90s. Shall I count the ways? It’s easy to forget that this is one of the most brilliantly cast films in history, but a look at the cast and crew filmographies shows just how unknown or unappreciated most of this cast was before the Boogie Nights launched or boosted their careers. This is a retroactively star-studded film.

The directing, script and acting are all first rate. The photography is good as well. The film is funny, sexy and engrossing. If Boogie Nights has a significant flaw, it might be unnecessarily length. In particular, the courtroom scene with Amber/Maggie doesn’t tell us anything new. Yet with such high quality, extra quantity is not much of a problem.

One of the aspects of Boogie Nights that I most enjoy, and which has been almost completely missed, is that it can be read as satire on mainstream film. Essentially, the film challenges the existence of the gulf that purportedly separates Hollywood from the Porn Valley. The most obvious assault on this gap is the successful casting of porn star, Nina Hartley as Little Bill’s wife. Mostly though, the film demonstrates that the thing that most separates porn and mainstream film is budget. A good example is Jack’s speech, in which talks about the need to have big dicks and tits to get people into the theater. Jack knows this, but in addition to the big dicks and tits, he wants to have a real story, one with artistic merit. Substitute the word ship’ for dicks’ and it could be James Cameron pitching Titanic.

There’s also the pathetic awards ceremony. We laugh because we know the awards are handed out by a bunch of hacks, yet Dirk thinks winning awards is a great accomplishment. As far as I can tell, the only difference between this awards ceremony and the mainstream awards is money and scale. Could anybody be more clueless than the academy, not to mention the second-tier awards? I think even the folks in the porn industry would have given Scorsese an award by now. Yet the academy awards maintain their prestige. So, the fatuous self-importance of those in the porn world serves as a perfect lampoon of big-time film production.

If you really think that there is a wall of separation between porn and mainstream try this experiment. Rent Double Jeopardy and a porno directed by Gregory Dark and see which one is more interesting .

DVD Extras

The director’s commentary is superb. No lulls, lots of info. I think the tone is captured by Anderson’s description of how he first met Robert Ridgeley, the Colonel. “He was a friend of my father’s, from some weird cult, or… who knows where the fuck they met? But Ridgely is a guy I remember coming over to my house when I was about six or seven years old, singing me songs about Winnie the Pooh having sex with Eeyore and then shitting on him… and I just fell in love with him.” I want to be friends with this guy.

There is also another commentary track with Anderson, Moore, Wahlberg, Graham, Reilly, Cheadle, Macy and others. This commentary track might be better than the first. It’s recorded in the various homes complete with phones ringing, people making breakfast and shit like that. This track is also entertaining, full of info and all the stuff you want in a commentary. Plus, Anderson asks Wahlberg if he ever got half a boner during the sex scenes.

The John C. Reilly files are unproduced outtakes of Reilly’s wacky improvisation. Well worth seeing.

The deleted scenes make you wonder if the film was actually too short.

Ruthless Ratings

  • Overall: 9
  • Direction: 9
  • Acting: 9
  • Story: 8
  • DVD Extras: 10
  • Re-watchability: 10