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Boogie Nights

Director/Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Director of Photography: Robert Elswit
Editor:Dylan Tichener
Music:Michael Penn
Production Designer:Bob Ziembicki
Producers:Paul Thomas Anderson, Michael De Luca, Laurence Gordon, Lynn Harris, Daniel Lupi, Lloyd Levin, John Lyons and Joanne Sellar
New Line; R; 152 minutes
Release:11/97
Cast:Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy and Heather Graham

Director Thomas Anderson's sophomore sizzler (Hard Eight was his debut), is an ambitious, tragicomic epic about the porn-film industry in the late '70s and '80s. Copping heavily from Scorsese, Tarantino and Altman, the film represents not only a big break for Thomas Anderson but also for former Calvin Klein briefs babe Wahlberg. Affable and sympathetic, Wahlberg plays a 17-year-old busboy whose bulging crotch catches the eye of porn auteur Jack Horner (Reynolds at his smarmy, hirsute best). Re-dubbed Dirk Diggler, the rising “star” joins Horner's make-shift family, which includes the maternal Amber Waves (Moore) and Rollergirl (Graham), a cheery nymphet who never takes her skates off, even during sex. The first half of the film mesmerizes with breathtaking tracking shots of '70s glitter and glam; the second half is decidedly darker, and less effective, as Dirk falls from his porn pedestal amidst a cloud of cocaine and petty crime. On the down side, Thomas Anderson's writing talents don't quite equal his directorial skills, and the much-snickered-about ending in which we get to see (courtesy of prosthetic science) what makes Dirk so, er, extraordinary actually ends the film on a weak, gratuitous note. Some things are, indeed, still best left to the imagination. Nonetheless, Boogie Nights counts among the year's best, a superbly acted ensemble piece that never judges or flinches at the world it captures.


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