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Quentin Tarantino on the "flaw" in Boogie Nights

It comes as no surprise that two of modern Hollywood’s most renowned (and often controversial) directors are good friends. Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson, who met during the press tour for the latter’s 1997 comedy-drama Boogie Nights, have remained close ever since. After numerous publications drew comparisons between Boogie Nights and Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Anderson found it only fitting to reach out to the Reservoir Dogs director. These comparisons have continued into the present day, with Tarantino and Anderson both releasing thematically similar hangout movies only a few years apart from each other: Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), and PTA’s Licorice Pizza (2021).

Tarantino recalled the phone call that began their friendship, with Anderson saying: “Hey, I’m Paul Thomas Anderson and we met once before and you probably don’t remember. But you know, everybody’s talking to me about you and talking about your career…so much so that I think it’s about time that me and you get to know each other and talk so we don’t have any weirdness about it.” The two have been close from that moment on, perhaps due to the intense nature they both share.

Around this time PTA began a relationship with the young musician Fiona Apple, who stated that “every addict should just get locked in a private movie theatre with Q.T. and P.T.A. on coke, and they’ll never want to do it again.” According to Apple, the night was “excruciating”, with the pair spending the time bragging. It is safe to say that the Tarantino and PTA are well-suited as friends, however, that doesn’t mean that they can’t critique each other’s work.

Featuring on an episode of The Ringer in 2019, Tarantino discussed the issues he has with PTA’s iconic Boogie Nights, the tale of a young man’s rise to fame during the Golden Age of Porn set in the San Fernando Valley. The star-studded cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, and Heather Graham. However, Tarantino’s biggest gripe comes with the character of Jack Horner played by Burt Reynolds. The prolific actor was one of many contenders for the role of the adult film director, other potential choices included Harvey Keitel, Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, and Albert Brooks.

Despite an incredible performance given by Reynolds, (and lots of behind-the-scenes tension between the actor and Anderson), Tarantino believes there to be a flaw in the characterisation of Jack Horner. The Kill Bill director said: “Paul can say he’s not based on the director Gerard Damiano, who directed Deep Throat, but he obviously is. He looks exactly like him, and Damiano has a very unique look. Burt Reynolds doesn’t look like that, so you actually have to go out of your way to make him look like Damiano. That’s not Burt Reynold’s look, that is Gerard Damiano’s look.”

Gerard Damiano is widely considered one of the biggest directors from the 1970s Golden Age of Porn, working on sexploitation films before moving on to direct pornographic pictures, such as The Devil in Miss Jones, which is considered a pioneering film in the adult industry, shaping what it has become today. Therefore, Tarantino’s issue with the portrayal of Jack Horner is that his films simply don’t look good enough if they really are meant to be based on the work of Damiano.

Tarantino claimed: “The [police-themed film that we see Horner working on] looks like a piece of shit. It looks horrible. Believe me, I’ve seen more porno movies than Paul has because I worked at the porno theatre. I saw a lot of movies that were crappy like that. But he has Burt’s character say, and he says it in a full-on moving close-up, ‘I think this is my greatest work yet. I think this is my finest work yet.’ Damiano was a good enough filmmaker to know the difference between ‘Oh wow, this is the best movie I’ve ever done.’ It’s a cheap line because the character would know the difference, that the work is not the best work he could possibly do.”

It is not unexpected that someone as meticulous as Tarantino would find a flaw in such a minor detail of the film. However, this so-called ‘mistake’ definitely does not take away from the overall greatness of Boogie Nights, which holds up as one of Anderson’s greatest films.

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