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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Wreck-It Ralph (11/8/12)

Wreck-It RalphMovie Two Hundred Fifty Three

A video game villain wants to be treated like a hero and jumps into other games to win a medal in Wreck-It Ralph.

The game Fix-It Felix, Jr. is home to game villain Wreck-It Ralph aka Ralph (John C. Reilly) who, after 30 years of service in the same arcade, decides he is tired of always being the villain and wants the recognition of a hero. When the in-game building residents throw Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer) a 30th anniversary party without inviting Ralph, Ralph crashes the party and smashes the cake. Ralph then decides he needs to win a medal to prove his worth as a good guy. Ralph learns that the new neighboring game called Hero’s Duty gives out medals to the winner so Ralph decides to leave his game in search of a medal. After taking a medal and accidentally launching a spacecraft, Ralph and the cy-bug enemy from Hero’s Duty are launched to a neighboring racing game called Sugar Rush where Ralph must retrieve his medal from Venellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman)by helping her win the race.

Wreck-It Ralph may very well be the perfect movie for me, a video game loving movie nerd. It combines my great love of video games, hits big on nostalgia for retro gaming and arcades, and also has that great Disney touch. There are so many sly nods to video games over the past three decades that it’s easy to miss most of them. Wreck-It Ralph is to video games as Toy Story is to toys and that is perhaps the best way I can describe the movie. While Wreck-It Ralph relies on knowledge of some video games, it is really only for the setup of the film, once Ralph leaves his game he is in the video game worlds created for the movie in Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush, though both of these games are heavily influenced by actual video games.

I do not usually defend 3D in movies as I find it superfluous in nearly all instances, but Disney treats 3D with a sense of care. There are no gags in Wreck-It Ralph with random stuff flying at the screen just for the sake of 3D, the 3D is mostly used just to give scenes a particular depth to them. While I still could do without 3D, I would rather have it benefit the movie rather than be obnoxious.

One comparison Wreck-It Ralph is destined for is how it fares against Pixar animated movies. While Wreck-It Ralph may lack that extreme level of polish, I would be surprised if people could really tell this wasn’t a Pixar movie. The story gets a bit bogged down towards the end, but the pacing never plods along. Even young kids with no real knowledge of older video games will not have the setup go over their heads. For example, there are several Q*Bert jokes that should work for all audiences, regardless of if you remember Q*Bert.

Disney has a winner with Wreck-It Ralph and I hope that its a movie that remains high on people’s favorites for the studio. I think it has the potential to be a classic, though once the video game references start getting old, they will either be the good type of nostalgic or archaic. Hopefully the former, but I’m already in love with Wreck-It Ralph and can’t wait to watch it again.

I give it 5 awesome official websites out of 5.

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