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Boogie Nights

Paul Thomas Anderson directs Mark Wahlberg and a great supporting cast in Boogie Nights. This tells the tale of Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) who enters the adult film industry and becomes the legendary and fictional Dirk Diggler. A great supporting cast and a great soundtrack help to carry this film from being a cult classic to a cinematic necessity

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Mark Wahlberg is a legitimate actor. This role cements his legacy. Dirk Diggler could have been portrayed by a dozen or more actors. Mark Wahlberg takes control of the flick and makes Dirk Diggler a real person. Stupid as fuck, but real. His only goal in life is to make use of what he was given. He was given a large cock. And he embraces it.

Every character in this movie views sex in different ways. Sex is the theme, but it destroys people. Heather Graham plays Roller Girl, and she is always down to fuck. She doesn’t consider herself a whore or a slut thought. She has pride and respects herself even if others don’t. Julianne Moore plays Amber Waves, an aging porn star that is protective of Mark Wahlberg and desperately wants to regain custody of her kid. She’s a bad mom, knows it, and hates herself for it. Burt Reynolds plays Jack Horner, a director with delusions of grandeur. He considers himself an actual director, involved with story and plot but he’s a porn director and not much more.

Don Cheadle and John C. Reilly join the cast as washed up porn stars. Don Cheadle wants to be a cowboy and wants to start his own electronics business. John C. Reilly is constantly trying to prove himself and acts tougher than he is. He wants to be a magician, but he’s a straight up mimbo. William H. Macy plays the assistant Little Bill. He’s married to a porn star/swinger who is constantly cheating on him. It becomes a running gag. Sex isn’t casual for everyone, and he reaches the breaking point. There are a lot of other great supporting cast members. Philip Seymour Hoffman has a bizarre man crush on Dirk Diggler. Luis Guzman plays a sleazy nightclub owner who is always trying to break into the industry.

If you’re a dude you probably feel inadequate after watching this movie. You aren’t the only one. I’m sure there are support groups available. Just remind yourself that Mark Wahlberg had to use a prosthetic.

Boogie Nights is less about the porn industry and more about the amazing time that was the 1970s and ‘80s. Porn just happened to be a hot topic at that point. All the people involved in the porn industry are trying to make themselves appear legitimate. They want to be presentable to society. They are all trying to be something else. Only Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams wants to fully embrace the lifestyle. He wants the glory and infamy that comes with the territory; sex is the only thing that sets him apart from the crowd. He wants to be the best at the only thing he is good at… it just happens to be a taboo subject.

The industry seems exciting and glamorous at first, but it gets darker and darker as the film goes on. It destroys careers and lives, and only a few people are able to escape it. Sex is awesome, but sometimes it is a curse. This movie shows both sides of the coin.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Game Change

Game Change is an HBO original film about Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential election campaign. Jay Roach (Austin Powers?!?, Meet the Parents) directs Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin, Ed Harris as John McCain, Woody Harrelson as campaign senior strategist Steve Schmidt, and Barry Obama as himself.

Before I get started let me just say that I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I don’t vote; I think it’s a hollow privilege. But I think politics are fascinating. This film feels like a documentary and you get an inside glimpse of the GOP and how modern campaigning works.

John McCain’s presidential campaign has hit a snag. Obama is just too popular. He is the man, he is a rock star. McCain brings in Steve Schmidt to get his campaign back on track. Steve figures the best way to do that is to find a charismatic running mate, a game changer. They eventually stumble upon an unknown governor from Alaska who just might be what they need. Sarah Palin gets thrust into the national spotlight, something that she was mentally, emotionally, and politically unprepared for.

Palin isn’t ready to be on the main stage. She has a concerning lack of simple US history, she doesn’t have any grasp of foreign policy. She thinks that Saddam Hussein attacked America on 9/11. She seems pretty damn stupid at times. But, man oh man, can she talk to people. She can relate to them. She is a rock star like Obama; she’s just in a shittier band.

Julianne Moore is Sarah Palin. It’s uncanny how well she portrays Palin. She captures her charisma when she delivers speeches, and humanizes her in private, intimate moments. You feel like you are watching home movies of her, and not some HBO flick produced by Tom Hanks. There’s one scene where Palin’s deployed son calls her from Iraq to wish her luck in a debate. After the brief conversation, tears well up in her eyes and Steve asks if she needs a moment. “My son is safe. My son is safe,” is her response. Politics are important to her, but family means everything.

Ed Harris does a great job as John McCain. He sort of acts as a wise grandfather figure. He worries about Palin’s emotional and stress levels, he cares about her. He recommends sending her to the desert so she can avoid a breakdown and have some time to relax. He also defends Obama from racist Republicans, saying he’s a decent family man. Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of strategist Steve Schmidt is the glue that holds the movie together. His 60 Minutes interview bookends the film. He is given the impossible task of making McCain more popular than Obama and trying to control Palin.

This is an interesting movie showing the behind the scenes chaos of an historical election. You see how much help Palin needed to be presentable to the public. She is put under a microscope and almost has a nervous breakdown. She sits and stares blankly at the walls. She fights back tears as she sees Tina Fey’s scathing SNL impersonation of her. You feel bad for laughing at a real person. That’s what this movie did: it turned Sarah Palin into a real person. This is more than a good movie about politics; it’s just a good movie.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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