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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Ted (7/1/12)

Movie One Hundred Fifty Three

Ted is a film about a boy that whose wish comes true that his stuffed teddy bear was his real friend…Even 25 years later.

One Christmas morning, young John Bennett opens up an adorable teddy bear as a gift and later wishes that Teddy was real so the two could be best friends. When he wakes up the next morning, he finds his wish came true, much to the horror of his parents. News of Ted sets the media world on fire, but he soon finds himself out of the limelight and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) and John (Mark Wahlberg) are still best friends. John’s girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), has come to grips with John and Ted’s friendship, but finds her own patience dwindling as John must learn to grow up.

It’s hard to write a plot synopsis about Ted without it sounding like a Hallmark channel special, but perhaps that is some of the magic behind the absolutely crass humor found in Ted. MacFarlane, best known for his animated TV series Family Guy, has been able to stretch his comedic legs and offer his unique sense of style and humor for a live-action full-length feature. For the most part, Ted works on a movie level and a comedic one.

I will be the first to admit that when I first heard about Ted I cringed and rolled my eyes thinking that it looked like a steaming pile. I figured that it would end up being a 90 minute Family Guy episode totally devoid of humor but tries really hard to nail it. While the film is unabashedly stupid, it uses that stupidity in a smart way. The style of humor isn’t for everyone, but it’s safe to say that you can set your notions of what to expect based on MacFarlane’s TV series aside. Ted is its own unique entity and is impressively funny and charming.

Two things that I didn’t think worked in Ted were the antagonists. Joel McHale plays Lori’s sexually harassing boss who continually tries to ask her out and the other is Giovanni Ribisi as a creepy guy that tries to steal/kidnap Ted. It’s hard to imagine the film without both antagonists, but in addition to the antagonistic breakdown of Lori and John’s relationship, it’s almost too much.

When I find a comedy worthwhile enough to see in the theater, I’m usually hugely impressed at the time but when I see it again on DVD I scratch my head and wonder why I thought the film was so funny. The verdict from future me is still out, but for now, I will say that Ted was a huge surprise that had my face hurting from laughter.

I give it 4 Flash Gordons out of 5.

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