Boogie Nights (1997)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
While I would not call myself a P.T. Anderson 'fan,' I really respect him as a filmmaker, and appreciate his ability to balance the broad scope of a story, and the intimate relationships of characters. Boogie Nights demonstrates this particular ability, as it spans over two decades, and follows are large number of characters as they navigate the changes to the porn industry from the 70s to the 80s.
I haven't seen Mark Wahlberg in much, but I cannot think he could be better than he is here. His Eddie 'Dirk Diggler' Adams is a great mixture of confidence, naivety and innocence, as he moves through his career and attempts to make his own mark on the world. Anderson is clearly a great director of actors, and regular collaborators Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly and William H. Macy gives memorable performances. Burt Reynolds is also good as the father figure of this rather motley family.
The production design of the film is one of the highlights. The 70s are evoked with some great costumes and hair, and Jack Horner's Californian home. Anderson and Robert Elswit's cinemtography is decidedly modern, with its stedicam long takes that glide through this world. These shots contrast with the small glimpses we get of the porn films being made; filmed to resemble the 70s films of the time. Part of the plot involves the move to videotape, which causes a crisis for the porn industry, as it opens up the opportunity for anyone to make porn (and cheaper too), without the production values that Jack Horner prides himself on. It is interesting to think that the advent of digital cameras has done the same for maintstream film industry (to say nothing of the Internet's influence on the modern porn industry!)
While this is not a film I would say I loved, I am glad to have seen it; Anderson is one of the best modern filmmakers working today, and watching his films is a lesson in smart storytelling. I may not re-watch this anytime soon, but I look forward to seeing Anderson's other films.