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Boogie Nights (Blu-ray Review)

4 Feb, 2010 By: John Latchem

$28.99 Blu-ray
‘R’ for strong sex scenes with explicit dialogue, nudity, drug use, language and violence.
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, Luis Guzmán, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Thomas Jane, Philip Baker Hall.

This is one of my all-time favorite films. Digging through the seedy underbelly of society’s vices, the film manages to find simple moral truths.

It’s a parable about family, set during the golden age of pornography in the 1970s, that focuses on the epic rise and fall of well-endowed porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg), who just wants to find that one special thing he’s meant to contribute to the world. These are characters who live in the bubble of their own special world, and must face a harsh reality when that bubble bursts.

As far as extras go, the Boogie Nights Blu-ray doesn’t really have anything the special-edition DVD released in 2000 doesn’t have, other than a gorgeous new 1080p transfer. The two commentaries and deleted scenes are all here.

This classic from 1997 is loaded with so many great details, from director Paul Thomas Anderson’s wandering camera to dialogue that seems to have a mind of its own. There are new things you’ll notice each time you watch it. And there are many great scenes, from the plight of Little Bill (William H. Macy) to Wahlberg’s hilariously bad rendition of “The Touch.” But to me there’s one scene that stands out above the rest.

Godzilla vs. Mothra.

That’s the name given to the scene in which the porn distributor played by Philip Baker Hall (who steals the movie in just three minutes) tries to convince porn director Jack Horner (Oscar-nominated Burt Reynolds) to switch from film to video tape at the dawn of the 1980s.

Taking place in the middle of the film, the scene perfectly encapsulates the mood of what has come before and sets the stage for the heartache to come. It’s a scene of transition, about embracing the change that is required to keep up when the world wants to pass you by, even if it means mourning what is lost in the process. (In this case the self-delusion that porn is art.)

To me, it’s not only one of the greatest single scenes ever committed to celluloid, but I think it’s especially interesting in light of the changes in home entertainment the past few years. Here we have a scene about switching from film to VHS in a movie released at the dawn of the DVD era that is finally being released on Blu-ray.

I can only imagine how this scene would play out today:

“It’s the Internet, Jack. Low-quality streaming flash video tells the truth.”

Well, it is what it is.

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