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Paul Thomas Anderson was 27 years old when he directed Boogie Nights… this may be the most incredible aspect about the film, which is very mature, well-written, shows fabulous acting performances and an overall very mature understanding of human drama. Is this one of the best films ever made by a director that young? May well be.
There are too many things to be mentioned: Philip Seymor Hoffman, Burt Lancaster, Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg, Don Cheadle, Wiliam  H. Macy form an outstanding cast. Maybe only Luis Guzman’s character gets somehow lost along the way, and it comes as a bit of a surprise when towards the end he is re-established on equal par with the other lead actors.  I have no idea how the director boy got all those people to play along, but maybe it means that there is hope: even actors understand great stories when they see them.
The film does not play with the epic breath of Magnolia or There will be Blood, it is more intimate, following basically one part in a carreer, and playing it harmless for a long time, with segments reminding me of “Entourage” episodes, the pleasures of fame and richness, the pleasure of any need to think ahead being absent from a Hollywood life. But when things take a turn, they do so in a very distubring way, and Anderson does not just let it happen, he very consciously directs these: the New Year’s party where William Macy’s character decides to take his fate into his own hand is a constant swirling of people’s movement from one part of the house to the other, like a bee hive reacting to different information about flower garden’s honey pots. If that was disturbing, then all the more is the scene when Don Cheadle and Mark Wahlberg face their fate at the same time, brilliant editing juxtaposing the scenes, bringing together not just these two, but I think altogether four development archs. Or the cruelty of a crumbling facade of easy living, represented by Amber, the wife of the porn director played by Burt Reynolds, collapsing after trying in vain to get custody over the child from her first marriage, crashing under the humiliation of having her ex-husband describe rather accurately what life she lives, being faced by her own reality and by the fact that she will never be able to accept it for herself. And finally the big finale, the pre-showdown in the house of the crazy drug buyer played by Alfred Molina, with Chinese fireworks constantly scaring the crap out of our brave gang of supposed badass robbers. The cunning final scene, where we are allowed for a second to believe that Dirk Diggler has made true on his belief that he is an actor and his ambition to show this outside the X-rated business.
Just thinking about it, it may be that Anderson is the most consistently over-performer among current directors. Look at that oeuvre and bow your head in admiration!
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19971017/REVIEWS/710170301/1023
http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/reviews/cl-movie971111-40,0,7782501.story

Boogie Nights 1997.

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