Spoiler Warning

Always assume Spoilers and possible profanity in context. These are often adult themed movies.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Boogie Nights

What About It?
Boogie Nights is a specialized cousin of a classic Hollywood success story. It owes as much to Charles Dickens however, as it does to Horatio Alger, covering both the rags to riches story and the orphan finds a family story. Like any Dickens character Eddie/Dirk is unremarkable except that there's something special about him which exactly the right people recognize. In Dirk's case, it happens to be his penis, and related abilities, which makes him the perfect choice to be a porn star. We know that Eddie has ambition and a belief that he'll be a star, but given what we're shown of his intellect, coincidence is as much a factor to his success as his unusually large penis. The moment that Jack Horner discovers him reveals nothing of his physical attributes other than that he has a look which Jack recognizes. Jack seems genuinely surprised to learn of Eddie's $5.00/$10.00 peek a boo shows, and likewise Jack seems surprised to learn who Jack is, although once aware, he recognizes his work. Even so, Eddie is dragged into his success, turning down the chance to have a drink with Jack and offering some reluctance to take a ride in Jack's car (although, impressionable as he is, he doesn't require much convincing)

Eddie isn't an orphan, however, he has a family. From what we're shown however, they're nothing positive for him, his mother seemingly unable to offer anything but a barrage of emotional abuse based on reinforcing his worthlessness. Lacking talent, skill or intellect, Eddie turns his hopes to his "gift." He works in Reseda in a club that caters the successful, hoping that this will lead to a lucky break (and in a very Dickensian fashion, it does.) His father is no help whatsoever, being completely cowed by his wife. Eddie is not an actual orphan, but he is in any practical sentence, having no support, other than a place to sleep. Initially his quest is to amount to something, believing that success will give him an identity to be proud of. He very quickly abandons being "Eddie," choosing to be Dirk Diggler all the time. His new family allows him to sustain his new identity as they've all done the same thing, most notably in the case of Maggie/Amber Waves. She provides him the mother figure he thinks he should've had, loving him unconditionally, and seeing something "special" in him. She also encourages his sexuality quite directly, as his first sex on film is with her. Jack is the father he'd like to have, so in charge of everything that he controls everything around him while sitting back in his director's chair. The environment being porn production, his sexual expression is not only encouraged, but necessary. This is in contrast to his mother, who is fixated on demonizing Eddie's girlfriend as a slut to prove Eddie's worthlessness. Since all of Eddie's hopes depend on his sexuality, the difference is a vital one. When he first starts, Eddie is determined not to rely simply on his large penis, but must take pains to make sure the scenes are "sexy." His first sexual act in their company (with Rollergirl) is performed off film, with Jack watching. Eddie/Dirk feels completely validated initially, his "specialness" being recognized, and used.
However, success is not something that Eddie is in any way prepared for. The adjustment from emotional impoverishment to enthusiastic acceptance proves to be too much for him. His attitude shifts from gratitude to entitlement. Even this is tolerated, until his growing drug habit takes its toll physically making him look terrible and even worse robbing him of the ability to use his "special gift." As enthusiastic as Jack was to welcome him into the fold, he is unable to tolerate Dirk when both his ego and his lack of performance become too difficult to handle. Jack's first priority is looking for talent, and making money with it. Dirk is threatened when Jack finds another "new boy on the street." This (along with his drug habit) leads to his outburst with Jack, and their parting of ways. In a sense Dirk is undone by the fact that his special gift is not so special in the porn industry, just the expected equipment. Essentially his success, is only a chance to be common in a different circle. He can't be "special" if he can be replaced. Mark Wahlberg plays Dirk Diggler convincingly and it's easy to believe every extreme of his personality, from good natured and grateful student, to paranoid, drug addled maniac.

Jack Horner has quite a journey here himself. He makes his money on sex, yet views sex as nothing more interesting than acting. He lives with Amber Waves, yet there appears to be no sexual interest whatsoever. Jack thinks of himself as an artist, and film is what he loves. His dream of making a film that keeps people watching after they come reveals a lot about him. He takes his duties as a director very seriously, with an eye always out for talent and much devotion to watching over the talent he has. He's interested in sex, like a painter is interested in paint. The advent of digital tape however puts him in a spot, not too far from Dirk's predicament. Film is what makes Jack special, without it he's nothing, as anyone can shoot on tape and the lower cost makes talent less important. Like Dirk, he achieves his goal, making what he considers "a real film" using Dirk's "Brock Landers" idea, and ultimately achieving his goal proves unfulfilling as he must continue to live after he's done it.

We see that Dirk's original idea to be different than the John Holmes films by being sexy and not slapping women around, is eventually abandoned and the Brock Landers films end up in the same territory as Holmes'. Jack has to relent on his comittment to film and tries to adjust to video, attempting a series with Rollergirl, which we see doesn't go well. Jack is not skilled at handling the spontaneous, and Rollergirl is not equipped to deal with someone who knows where she came from. Jack endures however, because he knows who he is, unlike anyone else around him. He has to know who he is, as he's become a caretaker of people pretending to be different people. Despite his remoteness from the sexual act, Jack has genuine concern for these people. He needs to take care of them as much as they need to be taken care of. Burt Reynolds gives much depth to the part in one of the best roles of his career.

Julianne Moore also gives a tremendous performance as Maggie/ Amber Waves. Jack describes her as "a wonderful mother, a mother to all who need love." And she Moore does a remarkable job getting this across. However, like Dirk and Jack, the means with which she can "mother" are limited. She can care for and encourage her porn family, but isn't able to take care of her actual children a fact she is unable to come to terms with. Like everyone in her sphere, Amber is lacking certain tools. Her unpreparedness at the hearing for custody of her children shows how out of touch she is with the practicalities of being "Maggie."  In her "family" with Jack all that's required is for Rollergirl to suggest that she be her mother, and they both agree on it. She is not blind to this fact and points it out herself that Dirk replaced her own kids (since she couldn't see them)

Heather Graham is great as Rollergirl, a character who has no idea what she's doing most of the time, and isn't interested in knowing more. Like all of them, she simply wants to disappear into the role she's created. She isn't as accepting as she tries to appear however, and a reminder of where she came from is enough to unhinge her completely, changing her from utterly docile to murderously violent. Although she tries to maitain the appearance, she is not ok, with who she is. John C. Reilly's Reed Rothchild is different than the rest of them in that we don't see him playing two personas. He has little ambition, other than the habit of lying to inflate his own importance. His affability proves a good fit for Dirk's temperament, in that he is perfectly comfortable playing the sidekick, once he and Dirk are friends. Friendship seems to be Reed's main desire.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman's small part as Scotty J. is similar, except that he can't help but want more than friendship. His social skills are lacking however, and he can't help but make a romantic advance on Dirk, settling for friendship seemingly gratefully, for the chance to remain close, even if the relationship is entirely masochistic. Thomas Jane's, Todd is an element of overlap. He is not quite in their world, but touching it as an adult dancer, until the drugs become their common bond. It's obvious that he's an outsider though, and this leads to his surprise behavior at the drug scam. Luis Guzman's Maurice is always entertaining. Alfred Molina's brief role is hilariously over the top and frightening at the same time.  Don Cheadle's Buck Swopes is also great as a kind of misfit in the group, being the only one with aspirations outside of porn. He benefits from another Dickens type twist, having the money fall on the ground in front of him with no witnesses left alive.

William H. Macy is top notch here. His Little Bill serving as a reminder that despite the group's dedication to pretending, all is not ok. He routinely endures his wife's blatant humiliation of him, until it becomes their ritual, she having sex with someone else openly, he becoming outraged before walking away. Even in this environment, sex is more than acting, and can be dangerous in ways that no one can predict. In this situation, with sex treated as a product, performed by sexually damaged people, there are bound to be consequences, Little Bill's murder/suicide being the loudest example. Everyone here is damaged, but they have no other way to be. As much as they try they can't always be the people they've invented because they all came from somewhere, and the problems they had are still inside them. Even when they achieve their goals, they're left unsatisfied.
P.T. Anderson creates a world of specialized celebrity and damaged success. The casting is perfect and the dialogue is masterful. We see a world that shifts from impossibly bright to unbearably dark in an instant, success being as temporary as a sexual act. These are characters who can't look at their own stories and finding "success" suddenly, they end up facing huge problems without the tools to deal with them.

Much of the world in Boogie Nights is cold and hostile, but at it's heart, it's really a movie about finding people who care about you, and defining your own sense of family. Dirk and everyone else Jack has taken under his wing are all limited, but they make sense to each other. Their "family" is based on pornography, but ultimately that's just their common banner. Buck gets out of the business but remains a part of Jack's family. Maurice never really gets into the business except for bit parts, but spends his free time in Jack's kitchen. Dirk is accepted back like a prodigal son. When he says "I'm sorry." Jack says "I'm sorry too." and we truly believe them both.

Despite the perceived shallow nature of their business, they all put themselves into it, forming a shared mythology where no one is ever thrown away. We even see a painting of Little Bill, when Jack walks the house like a tour guide at the end. It's an unexpected moment of grace, that despite all their failings, Dirk and his friends succeed in finding others who genuinely care about them, a sense of family that wasn't offered any other way. It's an ending  truly worthy of a Dickens story, tragedies, cruel turns, unlikely coincidence tying everyone together, everyone who works getting rewarded, but mostly Dirk Diggler as our Oliver Twist, (by way of John Holmes) finding people who love him in the end.

What Happens?
Boogie Nights opens on the street outside "Hot Traxx," a busy nightclub in Reseda, CA. We see Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) step out of his car, along with his companion Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) both, oblivious to the long line to get in. Jack is greeted enthusiastically by Maurice TT Rodriguez (Luis Guzman) the club owner, who tells them he's been upset because they haven't been by in a while. They agree never to stay away that long again. He shows them to their own special booth and tells Jack he's ready and willing to be in a movie before walking off to keep an eye on his club. Maurice stops to talk to Buck Swope (Don Cheadle) and Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly) two adult film actors who are on the dance floor. Maurice sends Jack some free food, and Jack and Amber are visited by Rollergirl (Heather Graham) who roller skates up to their table. Amber reminds Rollergirl to call someone and noticing her holding herself asks
"What's the matter down there?" Rollergirl explains she has to pee, and Amber tells her "Well, go then."

We notice a club employee, Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) clearing plates. Jack makes brief eye contact with him, before Eddie returns to the kitchen. Jack and Amber get another visitor, Little Bill (William H. Macy) who wants to confirm a schedule. He's disappointed when Jack pushes the date back a day, and asks if they have a script. Jack leaves him there and goes to the kitchen, finding Eddie there. He asks Eddie about his job, finding out that he lives with his parents and takes a bus to work, although there are certainly clubs closer to his house. He asks "What do you want to be?" Eddie surprises Jack by asking "So, do you want five or ten?" When Jack doesn't know what he's asking, he explains "Well, if you want to see me jack off, it's ten. But, if you just want to look at it, it's only five." Jack asks "Guys pay to watch you do that?" and then discovers he's done it a couple of times that night, and could do it again. Jack declines and introduces himself. Eds read about him, and is a fan of his "Inside Amber" film. Jack asks him to come to their table for a drink, but Eddie tells him he has to work, as he can't let Maurice down. Jack tells him "I've got a feeling that beneath those jeans is something wonderful just waiting to get out."

He returns to his table, leaving Eddie in the kitchen. Jack and Amber head home. Jack has a drink while Amber says she's going to sleep. She goes to the bedroom takes some pills and snorts some coke, before calling her ex husband asking to say hello to her son, Andy. When he won't let her, she threatens to call her lawyer, and then pleads with him.    In another house, we see Little Bill returning home. He opens his bedroom door and sees her wife having sex with another man, which she continues although he's standing in the doorway yelling. The man she's having sex with asks him to close the door, making him more angry. She calmly tells Little Bill to go sleep on the couch, and tells her partner to keep going. Bill finally obliges. We then see Eddie arriving at his house, going to his room and admiring himself in his underwear, posing in a full length mirror. The next morning he joins his Mom and Dad for breakfast. His father gives his mother a kiss and she berates him for not shaving. His father remarks casually on how late he gets home. His mother isn't so casual, and scolds him for not getting the same job closer to home and not thinking about school. He and his Dad, say goodbye quietly and  Eddie takes off for work.

We then find Buck Swopes at his day job, selling hifi systems.  He explains some modifications to a potential customer and plays some country music to demonstrate the capabilities. The potential customer leaves however, and Buck's boss yells at him for playing the country music, asking "What kind of brother are you?" He also tells Buck "I gave you a job here, because i thought your acting stuff might bring some nice pussy into the place, and it has, but I can't have any more fuck ups." Buck apologizes. We then move to Rollergirl in a classroom, taking a test. She loses her concentration when a classmate makes an extended lewd gesture at her, and roller skates right out of the classroom. We then find Eddie in bed with a girl, Sheryl Lynn (Laurel Holloman) Feeling playful, Eddie jumps up and down on the bed while she lays on it. She asks him to stop and says "Your cock is so beautiful. Do you know how good you are at doing it, Eddie? Having sex? Fucking me? Making love to me?" Eddie replies "Everyone has one thing, you think? I mean, everyone's given one special thing, right? He tells her he plans on being a star.
Eddie goes to work at the club that night, and Jack goes to the club. He asks Rollergirl to find Eddie in the kitchen. They quickly end up in a storeroom where Rollergirl gives him oral sex. As he's leaving work later, Jack, along with Amber and Rollergirl pull over and tell him to get in the car.He doesn't need much convincing and goes along with them. Jack tells Eddie that it takes a lot of money to make a film due to all the film costs. But, he says "If you make a good one, there's no end to how much money you can make." Amber and Rollergirl brag about Jack's house, Jack assuring them that Eddie will see it. Jack then discusses possible complications, saying "You got maybe 15 - 20 guys standing around, just making sure that your lighting is right. But, you can work out in the morning, you can work out at noon, you can work out at night, doesn't matter. If you don't have those juices flowing down there, in the Mr. Torpedo area, in the fun zone. But you got to get the people in the theater, you need the big dicks, the big tits..." Amber sighs as she knows where his speech is going, having clearly heard it before. Jack goes on "How do you keep them in the theater after they've come? With beauty, and with acting. I understand you've got to get them in the theater. You got to keep the seats full, but I don't want to make a film, where they show up, sit down, jack off, and get up and get out before the story ends. It is my dream, it is my goal, it is my idea to make a film that the story sucks them in, and when they spurt their joy juice, they just got to sit in it. They can't move until they find out how the story ends."

They bring Eddie back to Jack's house, where Amber quickly goes to bed, leaving Jack and Eddie and Rollergirl awake. Speaking of Amber when she leaves, Jack tells Eddie "She's a wonderful mother. She's a mother to all who need love." Eddie comments "She's really nice." Jack tells Eddie he wants to be in business with him, which Edie quickly agrees to. He then asks Eddie if he'd like to have sex with Rollergirl. He quickly agrees to that as well. Jack calls Rollergirl over and tells her to sit on the couch with Eddie. She says "Here we go. Are we gonna fuck?" Jack tells her "Oh, yes." Eddie is surprised to find that she doesn't take her skates off. Eddie's mother is sitting up waiting for him when he gets home. She asks "Were you seeing that little slut girl, Sheryl Lynn?" She continues berating him, telling him "You're a loser, you'll always be a loser." She calls him stupid and attacks him when he tries to grab his things, telling him he didn't pay for them. Eddie breaks down crying and begs her not to be mean to him." She tells him she's not being mean, he's just too stupid to see that.He runs out of the house and we next see him at Jack's.
Jack is having a pool party and introduces Eddie to Buck and Reed. Reed and Eddie start talking. Reed brings up working out, and claims he can squat a lot more weight than Eddie and brags about working out every day. Eddie then asks Reed what he can bench, but doesn't want to give a number first. They agree to say their numbers at the same time, although neither of them says anything. Another guests, Jack's associate, The Colonel (Robert Ridgely) shows up in a limo, wearing a nice suit. Maurice is also at the party, trying to convince Amber to persuade Jack to put him in a movie. Reed attempts to one up Eddies dive in the pool but doesn't do very well, messing up a flip. A kid calls the house looking for his mother, Maggie. Maurice asks around but doesn't find anyone named Maggie. Little Bill notices a crowd gathered in the driveway, and sees that everyone is watching his wife have sex with someone. Another crew member, Kurt Longjohn (Ricky Jay) approaches Little Bill about some filming details for the upcoming job, but Bill can't concentrate as he's thinking about his wife.

The Colonel and Jack find one of the guests in a bedroom holding a girl who has blood all over her face. He tells them "I think she's sick." and explains she may have done too much coke. The Colonel asks his driver, Johnny to get the girl to a hospital. The guest starts getting hysterical. He explains that this is the second time this has happened in two days. The Colonel asks "You think it's time to think about getting some new shit?" Another guest, Scotty J. (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) arrives and notices Eddie immediately. He approaches Eddie and Reed and starts a conversation, although Jack soon calls Eddie over to meet the Colonel. The Colonel advises Eddie to think of a name that "makes him happy." Jack explains that the Colonel puts up all the money for the films. The Colonel tells Eddie "I'm looking forward to seeing you in action. Jack says you've got a great big cock." and then asks to see it. Eddie shows him, which seems to make him happy.
Later that night, Eddie hangs out with Reed in a hot tub. Reed recites a terrible poem for Eddie, which Eddie announces is great. "I write songs too." Reed tells him. Jack joins them and Eddie asks Jack if he has any ideas for a name. Jack asks Eddie what he thinks and Eddie says "When I close my eyes, I see this thing. It's this big sign, and the name is in bright blue neon lights, with purple outline, and this name is just so bright and so sharp that the sign blows up because the name is so powerful." We see the sign he described, with the name "Dirk Diggler" in lights before it blows up. Jack says "I think Heaven has sent you here, Dirk Diggler.

We find Jack another day, getting ready for a film. Little Bill wants to go over the script and doesn't recognize Dirk Diggler's name. Dirk sits in front of a mirror in a dressing room, trying to prepare for his part. Scotty comes in to tell him they're ready for him. He stares at Dirk until he asks him to give him a minute. Scotty waits for him in the hall and tells Dirk he looks really sexy. They discuss the scene, which is Jack and Amber. When Jack calls him Eddie, he asks him to call him Dirk from now on. Everyone is ecstatic with his performance. Dirk is soon out spending money on expensive clothes and shoes and bragging about them. His name is up at the theaters and the reviewers love him. Dirk is a porno celebrity very quickly. Dirk tells Jack he isn't happy with the characters John Holmes has come up with and he wants to do something classier, an sexier, with a secret agent theme. featuring himself as "Brock Landers" and Reed as "Chest Rockwell" Dirk wins a host of porno awards.
We next see the filming of Dirk's secret agent idea. (with Maurice working as a bartender.) Dirk has himself a nice place with all kinds of expensive furniture, a wardrobe organized by color and designer, and a new Corvette. We see Jack editing the Brock Landers film with Kurt. Jack tells him it's the best work they've ever done. Kurt tells him "It's a real film, Jack." Jack says "This is the film I want them to remember me by." Dirk wins another award, and we see everyone at a "Goodbye 70's, Hello 80's " party. The Colonel is at the party and gets a visitor, Floyd Gondolli (Phillip Baker Hall)
He has a group of boys and girls with him who he points out to the Colonel as "the new stars" The Colonel suggests they have a talk with Jack. Another guest, Todd Parker (Thomas Jane) shows up to Reed's pleasant surprise. At the same time Buck is explaining to adult actress Jessie (Melora Walters) that his ultimate plane is to open low cost hifi stores, called "Buck's Super Stereo World."
Amber has asked Dirk to come up to her bedroom for a surprise. She tells him that she wants to tell him how much she loves him, calling him her "little baby." saying he's the best thing that's happened to her "since her son went off."  Dirk is appreciative and they discuss the 80's coming in. Amber reveals her present is some coke, which she insists he snort. He asks, "Do I look sexy when I do it?" and she kisses him aggressively.

Floyd, The Colonel, and Jack are having a meeting. Floyd wants to discuss what video will do to the industry. Floyd wants them to get in on videotape before it's too late. Jack is resistant and won't accept that tape will replace film. He tells Floyd "I'm a filmmaker. That's why I will never make a movie on videotape." Floyd explains "I'm not a complicated man. I like cinema. In particular, I like to see people fucking on film but I don't want to win an Oscar and I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I like simple pleasures, like butter in my ass, lollipops in my mouth. That's just me. That's just something that I enjoy. Call me crazy, call me a pervert but there's one little thing I want to do in this life and that is, I want to make a dollar and a cent in this business. Jack, I'm not trying to hurt you. I'm trying to help you stay one step ahead of the game." Jack counters, saying "If it looks like shit an sounds like shot, it must be shit." Floyd tells him that theaters are already converting to video. Jack excuses himself to "be with his friends"

Scotty approaches Dirk and offers to show him his new car. On the way out to the driveway, Reed introduces his friend Todd to Dirk, telling him that Todd's a dancer. Scotty shows him the new car which he's had painted the same color as Dirk's car. He offers to take Dirk for a ride, but Dirk wonders how much time is left before the New Year. Scotty gives Dirk a kiss, which Dirk doesn't appreciate, pushing him away. Scotty asks him if he can kiss him, but Dirk says no. He tells Scotty that he likes him, and tells him they should go back inside. Scotty sits in his car crying while Dirk goes in.  Bill shows up at the party and looks around for his wife, eventually finding her having sex with someone in a bedroom. He goes out to his car and gets a gun, then walks back in an shoots her an the guy she was having sex with as the New Year arrives. He then shoots himself.

Dirk and his friends are all interviewed in a documentary directed by Amber. Dirk speaks to accusations of the Brock Landers films encouraging violence towards women, saying that he's Dirk, and Brock Landers is a character. Jack gets a phone call and goes to visit the Colonel who he finds out is in jail for having sex with a 15 year old, who overdosed on cocaine at his place. The Colonel claims he didn't touch the girl and begs Jack to believe him. At a wedding, Dirk gets upset when he notices Jack talking to a guy named Johhny Doe, who he says is the "new boy on the street." Dirk refuses to shake his hand. Dirk takes off with Todd to go home and snort cocaine. Dirk can't stop being bothered by Johhny Doe and starts having a difficult time getting himself hard before shooting a scene. He manages to get himself ready, but Jack tells him they don't shoot for twenty minutes. Dirk tells him "It's gotta be now." Dirk picks a fight with Johnny Doe and gets aggressive with Jack, who tells him he won't shoot him in the state he's in. He tells Jack "You're not the boss of me." although Jack insists he is. He tells Amber she's not his Mom. Jack tells him he's fired and he rants about nobody being the boss of Dirk before storming off. Reed takes off after him assuring Jack, he'll calm him down.

Dirk records a song, with Reed cheering him on and helping by playing guitar. Neither of them has any musical talent however. Jack puts Johnny Doe to work on a scene, and we see Floyd looking on as well. Rollergirl and Amber do some lines together while Rollergirl talks about going to get her GED. Amber reveals that she misses her sons, and now misses Dirk, because she thought of him as her "new baby. Rollergirl tells Amber that she wants her to be her Mom and Amber agrees. Buck, with his now girlfriend, Jessie, applies for a loan to open his stereo store. They turn him down, due to being a "pornographer." We see Jack has put out a new action porn film series with a character for Johnny Doe, named "Rock Harders" Dirk, Reed and Todd continue snorting a lot of cocaine. Reed and Dirk visit the recording studio to get their tapes but the owner tells them they can have them when they pay. They insist that they need the tapes to get a record contract which will allow them to pay.

Amber (who is revealed to be named Maggie) shows up in court without a lawyer to discuss the custody of their son with her ex husband. They reveal that the divorce settlement six years ago allowed her visitation with their son on Saturdays "at home or any reasonable place." but her ex husband didn't approve of her son being in a place where pornography and drugs were present. The judge asks Amber some questions and decides not to uphold her visitation. Jack starts a video experiment, by taping a ride in a car with Rollergirl looking for a "young stud to get it on with Rollergirl." as the premise for a show called "On the Lookout." They pick up a college student, who doesn't want to reveal the school he goes to. The college guy however turns out to know Rollergirl as "Brandy" and went to school with her. Jack isn't happy with the guy's performance and Rollergirl gets irritated and angry with him. After exchanging fuck you's, he gets out of the car, telling Jack "Your films suck now anyway." Jack gets out after him and starts beating him. Rollergirl sees the college guy beaten on the ground and tells him "You don't ever disrespect me, fucker." before kicking him in the face with her skates.
We see a pick up truck pull up to Dirk, who's standing outside a building, He asks Dirk if he wants to get in the truck. Dirk asks what he wants and the guy tells him he'll pay ten bucks to watch Dirk masturbate. The guy in the truck gives Dirk directions, but Dirk can't get himself hard. We then see another truck pull up with a bunch of guys in it, and the guy in the truck with Dirk says "You shouldn't do this sort of thing, faggot." before punching him in the face. His group of friends then assist in beating Dirk an leave him on the ground.
Buck stops at a convenient store, asking Jessie if she wants anything inside. We see that Jessie is pregnant. Buck asks for a dozen donuts. While he's getting the donuts, a man comes in and attempts to rob the store at gunpoint. A patron at a table also has a gun. The patron shoots the robber, who shoots him back, and the patron fires another shot before dying accidentally killing the employee, leaving Buck the only survivor, his white suit covered in blood. He sees the bag of money that fell from the robber's hand and grabs it, leaving.

Todd has come up with a plan to rip off a rich guy named Rahad Jackson, who is looking for drugs. He explains to Dirk, Reed and Scotty that he plan is to sell him baking soda instead of cocaine. Scotty warns them to be careful, but Dirk tells him to mind his business. Dirk and Reed and Todd go to the house in Dirk's car, and Dirk and Reed are upset to find that Todd has brought a gun, which he explains as "just in case." Rahad (Alfred Molina) is walking around his living room in his bathrobe, while someone in the background keeps lighting firecrackers, making them all very edgy. Rahad agrees to pay them five grand and has his guard give them the money. The guard also takes the drugs to check them out. They notice the guard has a gun. Rahad himself pulls out a gun and acts like he's going to shoot himself. The firecrackers continue throughout their stay. Dirk's nerves get to him and he gets up to leave, although Rahad insists they stay longer. Todd doesn't get up from the couch, telling Rahad they need something else, telling Rahad "In the master bedroom, under the bed, in a floor safe, understand?" Dirk and Reed try to tell him they should just go, but he doesn't listen. Todd realizes the guard is about to pull his gun and points his own at him, telling him not to reach for it. Rahad takes the opportunity to get his gun and shoots Todd in the shoulder. The guard starts firing and everyone runs for cover. Todd kills the guard and insists they go in the bedroom after Rahad. To kicks open the door and gets blasted with a shotgun. Rahad starts chasing Dirk and Reed with the shotgun.

Dirk gets hysterical and then realizes he's out of gas. He ends up not far from Jack's place  and stops in to ask for help. He apologizes to Jack and asks him if he can help him. Jack gives him a hug and says "I'm sorry too kid." Amber comforts Dirk, holding his head in her lap to soothe him. We see Jack's film crew shooting an ad for Buck's new stereo store. We glimpse the Colonel in prison being abused by his cellmate. Rollergirl is back in school, studying for her GED. Reed is performing a magic act for an audience. Jessie has Buck's baby boy. We see Reed playing with Buck's baby in the pool while Jessie paints. Amber and Dirk are getting ready. We see Dirk practicing his lines in the mirror. We see the end of his ritual for the first time, as he pulls his penis out of his pants and recites "I am a star. I'm a star. I'm a star. I'm a star. I am a big, bright, shining star. He puts it away and walks out of the dressing room, closing the door behind him.


Unknown said...

Excellent look at this classic. I remember reading an interview with PTA where he said how he was struck by the tonal shift in an audience at a screening right at the moment where Little Bill kills himself. Up to that point, the audience was laughing and enjoying the film and then, bam, that moment was like a bucket of cold water and people were stunned. It is also the shift to a darker portion of the film, which PTA handles so well.

Man, what can you say about this film? It is so good. Fantastic cast, killer direction and a rock solid script. Too bad Burt Reynolds never really capitalized on this role. Much, like Sly Stallone in COP LAND, he showed what great acting chops he has but hasn't found another role like this challenge him.

INDBrent said...

Thanks J.D.! Yes, I like how Anderson makes use of "movements" Little Bill's death certainly plunged us into the deep end of the pool, bucket of cold water is exactly right, "there are consequences." It's amazing thing as well, that with so many characters, they all get good moments. Reynolds is truly amazing here, and I agree that it's a shame he never went further with it, as it appeared to be the start of his climb back to greatness.

Anonymous said...

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M. Hufstader said...

I've read depressingly little of Dickens, so I can't really comment there. Nonetheless, this is a great review, as always! You definitely hit the nail on the end every time, especially this line struck me somehow about Rollergirl:

"Like all of them, she simply wants to disappear into the role she's created."

It was one of those things I knew intuitively, but until hearing you say it out loud I couldn't quite figure out WHY Boogie Nights was as satisfying as it is. But it really is that contrast between who they are (and their pasts) against who they want to be (and their porn star alter egos) that causes so much tension in the movie. The ending is really only so satisfying because they all seem to reconcile one way or another with that person in the mirror, finding ways to accept the "Eddie" and the "Dirk Diggler". In any other story, the fact that he goes back to the only thing he can do--be a porn star--should be a tragedy. Here...not so much. P.T. had a lovely way of putting a happy, complete spin on the ending and making you feel like all would end well for the characters, so long as they could exist in their little twisted family.

Also, I've just got to say, I love this line: "We see a world that shifts from impossibly bright to unbearably dark in an instant, success being as temporary as a sexual act." So true, so in tone with the movie. Great review, homie!

INDBrent said...

Thank you! So glad you enjoyed the review. I appreciate the kind words! It's truly remarkable how deep the story and the characters are when to all appearances it would seem to be a shallow story about shallow concerns, but these are people, like anyone else, and Anderson really gets that across. It's a remarkable achievement, and I think it's notable that I typically distrust the happy ending but here I was just glad they were all (most of them anyway) Ok.