Monday, April 16, 2007
This October marks the ten year anniversary of Paul Thomas Anderson's BOOGIE NIGHTS but I thought since it was originally supposed to come out in May of 97 I would go ahead and pay tribute to it now.
I had seen Anderson's 1st work SYDNEY (HARD EIGHT) in 96 and had thought it was the best debut feature by an American director since Paul Shrader's 1978 film BLUE COLLAR. Even more than Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS it seemed to mark the arrival of a major new voice in American film.
The emotional power of SYDNEY was still in my mind upon entering a fairly empty Lexington, Kentucky theater opening night of BOOGIE NIGHTS but I wasn't prepared for just how blown away I was about to be.
I think there is something about the feelings a person can develop towards a work of art that they encounter during a particularly bad period in their life. I was 23 in 1997 and was going through the worst period of my life. I had dropped out of my senior year of college to take care of a sick father, had just lost my girlfriend of two years, and was going through some spiraling chemical issues so BOOGIE NIGHTS themes on family, sex and addiction hit me particularly hard.
BOOGIE NIGHTS and the relief it gave me during that incredibly hard period of my life have been something that I have held close in the past ten years. My life thankfully stabilized and revisiting the film a couple of times each year since is like visiting a friend who helped me out when I needed it the most.
I don't mean to suggest that it is all just personal with Anderson and his film. I think this guy is the best American director that came out of the 90s and I consider his four films to be among the major works of the modern film era. His talents as a screenwriter and director are incredible and I haven't been surprised to watch his work be acclaimed by his peers ranging from Tarantino to Von Trier to Altman.
I'll be paying tribute to BOOGIE NIGHTS throughout the day with some writing on the film and a few other surprises. I hope anyone who might have been touched by this film will enjoy them.