A favourite film of iconic filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, Boogie Nights, is a staggering work of early brilliance. A passionate and painfully honest depiction of the American soul by a precocious filmmaker elicits something similar to a punk band’s first records — pure fiery brilliance. Echoing a snappy energy similar to the films of Quentin Tarantino, it’s no wonder that the filmmaker found so much joy in Paul Thomas Anderson’s film.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly, the film succeeds as a result of its incredible ensemble cast, who each create an eclectic image of life in 1970s California. The iconic late Burt Reynolds was also cast in the film as an influential porn filmmaker, and despite the actor’s Oscar nomination for the role, he famously hated his time making Boogie Nights.
Directing the film at just 26 years of age, Paul Thomas Anderson didn’t get along with Burt Reynolds on set, with the actor even recounting in a 2015 memoir But Enough About Me, “I wasn’t crazy about being (directed) by a guy who’s younger than some sandwiches I’ve had”. With a 35-year age difference being a significant point of contention between the two creatives, Reynolds often fell out with Anderson on set, stating to GQ in 2015, “personality-wise, we didn’t fit”.
Continuing, the actor noted, “Every shot we did, it was like the first time [that shot had ever been done]. I remember the first shot we did in Boogie Nights, where I drive the car to Grauman’s Theater. After he said, ‘Isn’t that amazing?’ And I named five pictures that had that same kind of shot”.
Following the completion of the film, Burt Reynolds fired his agent for recommending such a project to him, finding the whole film highly uncomfortable and a mismatch of personalities. Speaking about the tensions between him and the director on the Conan O’Brien show, the actor noted: “I didn’t want to hit him in the face, I just wanted to hit him, I don’t think he liked me,” before adding that he hadn’t actually seen Boogie Nights and “didn’t want to see it”.
Despite such a fraught relationship on set, Reynolds went on to win a Golden Globe for his captivating performance, and would later be nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the film, losing out to Robin Williams in Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting. Reynolds performance in Boogie Nights remains one of great stature, embodying the style and bravado of 1970s California.
Paul Thomas Anderson has gone on to create some of the finest films of modern cinema, including Magnolia, There Will be Blood and The Master. Anderson is close to Stanley Kubrick in his meticulous deconstruction of narrative, cinematography and sound, orchestrating cinematic magic by directing some of the screen’s finest actors. His influence on the industry is truly impressive, having inspired a particular style for frank, honest, almost documentary-esque filmmaking techniques.