Column: ‘Boogie Nights:’ a movie that feels alive

Adam Tumino

Everyone has a favorite movie. Sometimes it is easy to explain why this particular movie is your favorite, but other times the words escape you.

I have that reaction to my favorite movie, which is Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 film “Boogie Nights.”

It tells the story of a group of people working in the adult film industry in the San Fernando Valley during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It follows them as they deal with the transistion the industry took from film to video tape, as they struggle with drugs and as the pressures of their relative fame begin to weigh them down.

It is difficult to explain what specifically about this movie affects me so much. It simply grabbed me the first time I saw it.

“Boogie Nights” has an incredible energy to it, and it feels as if it is alive and I am are just along for the ride.

It is lengthy, running over two and a half hours, and has a large cast of characters, but the pacing of the story and Anderson’s superb writing make the film fly by and make me feel as if I knew these characters and identified with their problems.

There is a character played by Mark Wahlberg who feels suffocated by his parents and ventures out into a new life as a porn star, where he feels he has freedom to live his own life.

Another character, played by Julianne Moore, is a mother whose drug use and lifestyle drove her husband and son away. She calls home some nights when high on cocaine and begs to speak to her son with no success.

Don Cheadle’s character wants to leave the porn industry and start his own business, but cannot get a loan due to the stigma about his past profession.

The characters provide just part of the energy of the film, which is filled from beggining to end with songs from the 70s and 80s and has incredibly detailed sets full of vintage decor.

But Anderson’s screenplay is the real hero of the film. He was just 27 when he made “Boogie Nights,” and his talent was unmistakable.

His screenplay is sometimes tragic, often very funny, features brief moments of shocking violence and is surprisingly short on sexual content given its subject matter. It builds up momentum scene-by-scene before arriving at a climactic moment in a drug dealer’s mansion that is one of the finest sequences ever filmed.

“Boogie Nights” is an experience each time I watch it, and it is a film that I will always treasure.


Adam Tumino is a senior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]