Boogie Nights (12/30/12)

Boogie NightsMovie Three Hundred!!!

In Boogie Nights,  young man equipped with a special gift makes it big in the porn industry.

*sorry I couldn’t resist the pun*

In 1977 in an LA night club, young Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) is discovered by star adult film director, Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) and due to his tremendous talent, begins a new life in the porn world as “Dirk Diggler”. Dirk quickly becomes friends with fellow adult film actor Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly) and together, they create a very successful series of adult films about two secret agents named Brock Landers and Chest Rockwell. When Dirk gets started on drugs things begin to falter in his porn career and things get rough for Horner when his main financier goes to jail for child pornography charges. As times change, the rise and fall of the industry and the individuals involved are all laid out.

Boogie Nights fulfilled my goal of watching 300 movies in 2012!  I wanted movie #300 to be something special, something I maybe hadn’t seen in awhile and/or also tied into New Year’s Eve. Boogie Nights fit the bill on both counts. Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted some wonderful movies but Boogie Nights may very well be my favorite film of his. It literally has everything: sex, drama, laughs, incredible long shots, great characters, bell bottoms, etc.

The main thing that grabs me about Boogie Nights is the frequent and numerous long shots. Boogie Nights has more than a few and as the film progresses and the tone shifts, the cuts get quicker and then finally start getting longer again. I didn’t notice this when I watched the film several years ago, but this time around I almost wanted to time each shot to see what exactly is happening with the camera. The scenes aren’t just long, though, they are amazingly crafted and shot. Even if the action on screen was dull, which it usually is not, the way Boogie Nights is shot would still be impressive.

Due to the somewhat touchy subject matter at hand, Boogie Nights skirts much of what could make the film completely gratuitous. There are definitely some exceptions, including the final scene, but for the most part, PT Anderson is almost making a spoof of the industry for the audience. The cast in Boogie Nights is so varied and everyone has their story and everyone has their place in the film. The movie is not about the porn industry itself, but the characters.

Boogie Nights is not just a technically well-crafted film, it is a film that truly has purpose and heart.

I give it 5 Brock Landers and Chest Rockwells out of 5.

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From Hell (11/11/12)

From HellMovie Two Hundred Fifty Nine

The hunt is on for an investigator to find the identity of Jack the Ripper in From Hell.

After the kidnapping of a prostitute in London, followed by the murder of another nearby, Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) and her peers find themselves part of a large conspiracy and manhunt for the killer. Inspector Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) becomes involved and through his opium binges, gets visions of the case. Several more prostitutes are brutally murdered and Abberline suspects the killer is medically trained, and involves a royal family physician, William Gull (Ian Holm). Soon, Abberline finds the hunt for Jack the Ripper is more intricate than he imagined.

While I’ve never read the graphic novel that From Hell is based on, I honestly can’t say that I would look forward to it. I was always put off by its length (nearly 575 pages), despite my interest in the Whitechapel murders and Jack the Ripper. From Hell is a serviceable movie, though it plods along for far too long in the middle and by the end, the pacing was ruined and I didn’t care so much about the outcome. Even though I had seen this film before, I had forgotten the finer details of the plot, including most of the ending.

One thing that really stood out in From Hell is the widely varying accents of the actors. While some of the actors are, in fact, British, Depp and Graham are obviously not and they both choose very awkward manners of speaking. While this isn’t the type of detail that would normally ruin a movie for me, I found myself disinterested in the plot and focusing on their forced accents. At least it made From Hell go by quicker.

Still, as far as Jack the Ripper movies go, From Hell is one of the better ones I’ve seen. While the Whitechapel murder cases are famously unsolved, From Hell does have a sound theory on who the killer was. It’s a theory that makes a lot of sense, but is brought down a bit by the rest of the movie. From Hell is definitely recommended for Jack the Ripper fans, but looking at just the movie, without the lore, it’s bland and uninteresting.

I give it 3 substituting absinthe for opium out of 5.

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