Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boogie Nights: The Art of Dumbing Down

Over at Moon in the Gutter, Jeremy Richey is hosting a Paul Thomas Anderson Blogathon. With only five films to his credit, the choice for me was easy: Boogie Nights. I watched it again this weekend and found it as entertaining as ever, realizing even more how much it leans towards comedy over drama. The key to the comedy is not only the performances, especially John C. Reilly, whose Reed Rothchild might easily be outwitted by a billy goat, but the writing of dialogue so banal that it is somehow fitting and at the same time, earnest.

I put together this short video to highlight some of the dialogue and acting and would point you, in particular, to the final clip between Buck (Don Cheadle) and Jessie (Melora Walters). Their conversation is as innocuous as humanly possible and yet, they make an honest connection and both actors treat their characters as sweet and gentle people just trying to get by. We may laugh at how vapid their discussion is but to them, they're meeting a soulmate. It's a nice feat that Anderson manages to flesh out the characters of Boogie Nights with such extremely limited dialogue, but he does, impressively. Here's the video, but due to language, it's definitely NSFW. Enjoy.