RIP Burt Reynolds
It’s a bitter coincidence that my 2018 Blindspot October pick happens to include one of Burt Reynolds’ famous roles. Reynolds, who died a little over a month ago, was a film legend in his own right. My first Boogie Nights experience was definitely affected by seeing this man on screen so soon after his passing. But the movie also features Phillip Seymour Hoffman, which simply adds salt to the wounds. Because its Hoffman’s early passing, leaving his career unfinished, that hurts here the most. Hoffman’s strong presence on the background of Boogie Nights is what helped to create an extremely layered film.
I wanted to sit down and write about Boogie Nights right after I watched it. No, that isn’t true, I wanted to write during it. The film, released in 1997, is over 20 years old but it’s biggest theme is still an issue in today’s Hollywood. It’s the money hungry white men that run the business, and everybody else suffers, especially the women. Boogie Nights, while being a film about an adult porn actor, surely feels like a much bigger film. And it doesn’t seem that far from the current reality.
You know, I’m gonna be a great big bright, shining star.
– Dirk Diggler
Boogie Nights opens with a 17 year old Eddie working at a night club, and being spotted by an adult filmmaker Jack Horner. Eddie is cocky and definitely not shy about his sexuality, probably because he is well hung and knows it. After attracting the filmmakers attention, they make their first film together, for which Eddie changes his name to Dirk Diggler. The film progresses to tell a story of the uphill momentum Dirk has in the industry, to his fast decline later on. Also providing some strong supporting stories along with it, Boogie Nights is a dark, slightly comedic, but mostly dramatic portrait of lost souls.
There are strong performances from all the supporting actors, and the only one, who does stand out for not being 100%, is Mark Wahlberg. Then again, I know his strengths and I do think he learned a lot from Boogie Nights. His performances in The Departed, for instance, is spot on. Yet, the self-doubt that Wahlberg possesses here works for Dirk Diggler in the end. His character starts to unravel, and it’s almost like he breaks down.
What does stand out the most with my Boogie Nights experience is the fact that I found it a lot more watchable. Most likely due to the fact that it is from 1997, which feels comfortable to me. I grew up watching 90’s movies, and it’s what I associate my childhood with. It made me feel nostalgic. Plus, that full monty in the end, made me laugh and gave the film a huge ending!