Released in 1997, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights follows Eddie Adams AKA Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) as he tries to make it in the pornography industry.
Set in California in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the film has a familiar arc: rising star gets his big break, grows arrogant and becomes embroiled in crime and/or drugs. What sets Boogie Nights apart is its variously interesting characters and talented ensemble cast, including Heather Graham, Burt Reynolds and Don Cheadle. Many other cast members would appear in Anderson’s follow-up Magnolia, such as Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The film is at its best when exploring these characters and the porn industry, in a way that’s wild, human and completely non-judgemental. Featuring shades of Scorsese and Tarantino, the movie pops from the screen with fun style and energy. The 1970s aesthetic is brilliantly observed, with great costumes, locations and a soundtrack that boasts everything from War to the Ohio Players (but not the song ‘Boogie Nights’). Plus, there’s bad singing by Wahlberg to rival Marguerite and wickedly accurate ’70s porn pastiches aplenty.
Although rather long (that’s not supposed to be innuendo) and climaxing (nor is that) in a few too many shootouts, this is a stimulating (ok that one was deliberate) comedy/drama and the cokiest film since Scarface.