just great filmmaking all around. last time i mentally compared the two, boogie nights was better than magnolia, though the opposite was true for a long time. it had been about 7 years since i saw BN and 11 since i saw magnolia.
boogie nights establishes its many characters so easily and quickly that it puts to shame about 95% of filmmaking in that one element alone. add to that the camera movement and music and you have an instant classic. anderson is like tarantino in that he’s inspired by a lot of filmmaking before him and wears it on his sleeve. you can see the altman influence in the sprawling stories he tells. the cinematography always reminds me of jan de bont’s work. in this and magnolia, though, anderson outdoes pretty much everyone he borrows from.
i used to think that the film was alternatingly funny and sad. this time around i felt like it was both at the same time. when dirk diggler breaks down and throws a fit on a shoot it’s funny how he breaks down (“it’s my big dick…you’re not the boss of me…”), but seeing him in that state (“what the state of california? i know where i am, jack.”) is also quite sad.
i love the simplicity of the characters. they have simple desires and thoughts, as do most people, yet we also are drawn to them. the fact that they are simple doesn’t detract from my enjoyment or sympathy for them. this also ties into another element that i have enjoyed since first seeing the film – it’s oddly positive. for all the awful things that happen, things end fairly well and the family never really breaks apart. they have to fight the outside world and they have their inner demons (for amber it’s the drug abuse, for dirk it’s his ego and drugs), but they stay together. it would have been very easy to have dirk and reed snipe at each other since dirk is the new guy on the block, but it never happens.
anderson is a hopeful filmmaker in his three best films – boogie nights, magnolia and punch-drunk love. a lot of times people compare him to kubrick. if that’s the case anderson is more like paths of glory, which has a shimmer of hope in the end, than the killing, which ends with the protagonist’s imminent arrest. A+.