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Episode 85: BOOGIE NIGHTS vs TWBB


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Poll: Which PTA masterpiece gets in? (340 member(s) have cast votes)

Which PTA masterpiece gets in?

  1. BOOGIE NIGHTS (154 votes [45.29%])

    Percentage of vote: 45.29%

  2. THERE WILL BE BLOOD (186 votes [54.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 54.71%

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#1 devincf

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 06:28 AM

It's a PTA masterpiece face off! Which sweeping American epic makes it into the Canon?

#2 StephenStaunton

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 06:49 AM

Deciding which to vote for is absolute torture.

#3 PPetrusma

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 06:54 AM

This episode was interesting because I really questioned what the point of the Canon is. Both films are fantastic but do both belong in the canon. Should we vote a film in because its entertaining and fun or should we vote a film in because its the best representation of a filmmakers work. Boogie Nights is incredibly fun and brilliantly crafted but I have always felt that it was PTA's attempt at a Scorsese film, the tracking shots, the character who strives for greatness and then loses it all (Henry Hill, Jordan Belfort) and of course the Raging Bull inspired ending. Boogie Nights has always felt like a film that PTA had to do, its fun, entertaining and accessible and by making the film, PTA earned the trust that he required in order to make stranger and quirkier films like Magnolia and The Master. By having Goodfellas already in the Canon, I find it unnecessary to also include Boogie NIght's. There will be blood however, is PTA's masterpiece. Although some sequences are reminiscent of a Kubrick film, There will be blood is entirely PTA's film. Yes, it does tell a very similar story to Boogie Nights and many Scorsese film's (the nobody who becomes a somebody) but its done with such incredible PTA style, style that is very hard to find anywhere else these days. There will be blood is a rare film, a brilliantly crafted, fantastically acted and incredibly well written epic, filled with emotion and meaning, a type of film that is hard to find these days and thats why it gets my vote for the Canon.

#4 Felipe Sobreiro

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 06:55 AM

Boogie Nights is a great movie. But There Will Be Blood is transcendent!

#5 bmichael

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 07:12 AM

I almost stopped listening to this episode after the first ten or twenty minutes.

It's immediately clear that Devin cannot argue in good faith about things that he loves. I generally find people talking about things they love (rather than things they hate, for example) to be the most revealing and interesting. In Devin's case, it's revealing but not interesting. The first part on Boogie Nights re-animated the Re-Animator discussion, with Devin pointlessly taking the total opposite point of view from every opinion Amy expressed. Their discussion about what the beginning of the movie means is a perfect example: Devin and Amy were saying essentially the same thing or something very close, yet Devin says that he thinks the exact opposite of what Amy just says. Come on.

Ok, after the Boogie Nights warmup period, things got much better. This ended up being a great ep! In marked contrast, There Will Be Blood elicits admiration more than love from Devin, and he talked about it with extreme clarity and insight. Unlike most episodes, I found Amy's opinions to be a little driftwood-y, but it was pretty clear she disliked TWBB and Devin and the listener (me) both really like that movie. I would say I actually love TWBB and only sort of respect BN, now. It was not a formative experience for me as it was for Devin. I think it's a fine movie, a little uneven. And I agree with Amy in that it is a didactic and loses the thread toward the end. But it ends on a high note, which is really its intrinsic genius.

Devin's weird social arguments for BN (porn is more mainstream -- ok? is that a good thing? seems totally irrelevant to the matter at hand, either way) is lame. His main argument is that it was a formative viewing experience in his life -- and that's fine! I watched TWBB several times in theaters the year it came out, which was around the run-up to the first Obama election. It just gave to my life an atmosphere of largeness, and underscored the stakes of that election (and I guess all forthcoming elections). I totally agree with Devin that TWBB is about the poles of the modern world, and saying it's a western is entirely reductive.

So yeah, I usually disagree with Devin 100% (well, 66%) and I ultimately have to disagree with him here. However, his arguments for TWBB were much better (to me) than his arguments for BN. One is a Great Movie and the other is a Loved Movie. Which brings us back to the criteria of the canon: things you love or things that are great? Re-Animator should not have gotten in last week and Boogie Nights should not this week.

Next week, there will be There Will Be Blood in the Canon. I hope!

#6 Colfax McLiverneck

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 07:13 AM

Like creamed corn and fried cornbread, both of these movies are delicious. Comparing the two is like comparing The Sun Also Rises to Light in August. It can't be done.

#7 Newlin

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 07:43 AM

Oh man. I thought this one would be hard, and it is brutal to toss a really great movie (at least temporarily) out of the canon in this vs. episode, but after re-watching, I think it was just really obvious that it has to be There Will Be Blood.

The main thing I thought coming out of watching them was that Boogie Nights is an incredible film that is so deft and able to create such a heartwarming story of family out of a scene that most people would initially think was gross, seedy, etc. It's practically an impossible task, but he doesn't just pull it off, he turns it into a near-perfect film.

But that's just the thing -- It's near perfect. I think there are couple flaws that make TWBB cross the finish line just a bit earlier. They're so minor, but still there. For instance, I think Rollergirl's arc isn't quite handled as well as everyone else's. I think Amber Waves' mom role is hit on just a bit too forcefully, like Amy pointed out. And I think that the overall feeling I walked away with was that you could tell this was a brilliant director making an early film, like a childhood piano virtuoso -- It's incredible but you can still see the slightest lack of control (compared to what they are capable of, not compared to other virtuosos/filmmakers).

Whereas There Will Be Blood is just perfect. I can't honestly think of even really minor flaws. It's just the best film that it could possibly be. Day-Lewis is amazing, Dano's performance is even more strikingly good given that it's in Day-Lewis' shadow.

I'll also say that one thing that swayed me was precisely how different TWBB is from other PTA films. It's the first one that really got away from heartwarming-in-a-fucked-up-way films he stuck to before. And it finally proved that he could make whatever film he wanted. That he's not just good, he's one of the all-time greats.

Also, I'm one of those weirdos who would have voted for Magnolia over Boogie Nights. I just love that movie. In certain ways I even think Boogie Nights feels like a warm-up try at Magnolia. Which is saying a lot because Boogie NIghts is so damn good.

#8 nickperkins

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 07:43 AM

There Will Be Blood is just a better film in every way. And any movie that can use the line "I'm your brother from another mother" as straight as this does deserves canonization.

#9 Felipe Sobreiro

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 08:24 AM

I don't know if the Sasha Grey movie you guys were talking about is WOULD YOU RATHER (starring Jeffrey Combs, by the way!), but she's really bad in it...

#10 Justin Remer

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 08:30 AM

View PostFelipe Sobreiro, on 11 July 2016 - 08:24 AM, said:

I don't know if the Sasha Grey movie you guys were talking about is WOULD YOU RATHER (starring Jeffrey Combs, by the way!), but she's really bad in it...


I assume Amy means Soderbergh's THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE. I like Sasha Grey as an actress. OPEN WINDOWS was a good one.

#11 TKFopp

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 08:33 AM

Very tough one. It was close, but I ended going Boogie Nights. Devin and Amy noted how these two picks show the growth (& breath) of PT as filmmaker, the difference between a young director and his older self. Oddly, if I was 20 years younger, I think I would have gone with There Will Be Blood. Themes of nihilism and inescapable fate were much more appealing to me in my 20’s, but nowadays after seeing too many real world Daniel Plainview’s run amok and realizing grim endings are the norm in reality, I appreciate the hard earned optimism that Boogie Nights leaves you with more and more. That feels like the harder trick to pull off these days, to make that work without insulting your audience.

Both are impeccable films though, I won’t lose sleep no matter which one gets in. The biggest argument in favor of Blood that I had to wrestle with was the point that PPetrusma made already, that Boogie is PT’s “Scorsese” film, while Blood is all PT. That is tough point to get over, and would be the closing argument if this was just about PT’s greatest piece of film craft. But for the Canon, I think Boogie is the pick. Despite traditionally viewed “sleazy” subject matter, its themes of make-shift families and acceptance will continue speak to audiences more as time goes on, and do so with intelligence (and great tracking shots).

But yeah, tough choice. I kept going back and forth as I wrote this, realizing my arguments for one were actually pointing to the other and vice versa. Lot of restarts. I am the only one that would put up The Master before Magnolia? (Though I do need to revisit my Magnolia dvd, it’s been at least 10 years).

And I got quoted (for Re-Animator) and discussed on the episode! Great way to start out the week.

#12 Evilproduct

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 08:40 AM

This vote is unfair. I voted for Boogie Nights simply because its the one I'd sooner watch again, but that does not lessen my love for There Will Be Blood.

Boogie Nights is a wonderful film. There Will Be Blood is an angrier film, but no less fantastic. PTA is a wonderful filmmaker and this vote unfortunately completely discounts his two other great films, Magnolia (which is a weird passion project that is just a beautiful sight to behold) and Punch-Drunk Love (which remains one of 2 films starring Adam Sandler that I don't believe he has yet to tarnish in memory, the other being Reign Over Me).

#13 andyradicalpossumtackler

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 08:50 AM

Both are great, but I think "Boogie Nights" is the clear choice. The heart, the sense of discovery, the ensemble, the playful validation of unlikely subject matter, the time spent with characters who would usually be underestimated or stereotyped, the "holy shit, this was in 1997, who was doing things like this in 1997?" factor.

"Blood" is an accomplishment but has the weight of an auteur behind it, a blank-check factor that makes it slightly less remarkable to me than what PTA managed so early with "Boogie".

Also, after last week's call to arms over where "fun" films belong in The Canon, I would hate to see "Boogie" lose out for feeling less important than the, frankly, overly self-important "Blood". I would actually dock points for "TWBB" being so damn portentous at all times.

#14 JimmyMecks

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 08:51 AM

View PostTKFopp, on 11 July 2016 - 08:33 AM, said:

I appreciate the hard earned optimism that Boogie Nights leaves you with more and more. That feels like the harder trick to pull off these days, to make that work without insulting your audience.


Y'know, I don't get the impression of optimism at the end. I think Dirk mirroring Jake LaMotta mirroring Marlon Brando is intentionally empty (add in the fact that he's speaking as his misogynistic fantasy character). It's like you took an idea of what it is to be a human with feelings to the nth degree and all we're left with is a broken shell of a person. Dirk wants to go back to the way things were before the bad times but that's impossible because he's always gonna be the guy who experience those bad times.

Anyway, about to start the episode. Both are all-time favorites and similar to what you were getting at I've flip flopped on which is better over the years and as I've grown so I'm going to be really curious just to see where I end up falling after listening.

#15 Number 1 Cheeba Hawk

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:07 AM

I like Boogie Nights more than There Will Be Blood. The ensemble is everything in early PTA, which is why Boogie Nights and Magnolia are my two favorites of his (with Inherent Vice just behind). The rise and fall and rise of Dirk is not just Scorsesian but is an archetype of the epic that we have seen since the beginning of the style. (epic is a style, not a genre, right?) The way that PTA uses that classic arc of a character being exposed to too much good stuff and it ruining them is similar to the way he uses the guy meets girl-and so on-format of Punch Drunk Love. MASTERFULLY. The way that he has both loud and combative as well as quiet yet tense scenes with all of these characters is reminiscent of the other, and possibly MORE important influence on Boogie Nights, the work of Robert Altman. The 70's that Anderson is painting is much more like the 70's of Altman than the 70's of Scorsese, and in between those two is the 90's of Scorsese. The way that Anderson is able to use all of these influences to create something truly singular is not unlike that of Tarantino in his first few films. Reservoir Dogs is in the canon, and I'm sure the throw-all-your-influences-in-a-blender-core classic Pulp Fiction will end up in there some day as well. If art is about borrowing, than PTA is a guy who goes to a video store and takes out a VHS copy of Nashville, splices in some sex scenes, restores the image, re-shoots some of the tracking shots to be even more effective, and then returns the video, with Altman's name crossed out on the box, and that note that PTA wrote at age 7 scribbled on.

There Will Be Blood, however, is also a masterpiece. That is what truly sucks about this episode. I'm voting masterpiece against masterpiece, and while I have already made my case for Boogie Nights (and no, those aren't the only reasons I like it, but everyone else will cover those), I need to display why this was such a tough decision. Remember how Devin said that every camera movement in Boogie Nights is motivated? I agree, but every camera movement in There WIll Be Blood is like if the camera only got to make one big choice per scene, and its lens would be smashed if it didn't. The effectiveness of camera movement in TWBB is truly astounding. Nothing necessarily grabs your eye like the opening shot of Boogie Nights (and to double back, the opening shot, donut shoot-out, parking lot ass-kicking, and roller girl curb stomping all take place within one block of SHERMAN WAY, between Lindley ave and Reseda Blvd. Amy mentioned it as "down Reseda blvd" but as a Reseda native i must defend my turf), but the highly motivated camera movements end up catching your eye every fucking time the camera moves in the more tense scenes, because of how static it can be at points, and how deliberately paced this movie is. PTA went out and made something unlike all of his other work, but also something ONLY he could make. How the fuck do you argue against that???? Well, if only one movie is to exist, no matter how thought provoking and second-viewing demanding TWBB is, I'd still have to vote Boogie Nights, because a world without Boogie Nights is a world where I never really got into movies to be honest. Boogie Nights was the one that made me jump ship in college (yes, oooh so dramatic) and change my major from English to screenwriting. PTA made me want to make things, and Boogie Nights will always be the reason why. There is no alternate fucking world that has no Boogie Nights in which I'd have any desire to live.
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#16 TKFopp

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:07 AM

View PostJimmyMecks, on 11 July 2016 - 08:51 AM, said:


Y'know, I don't get the impression of optimism at the end. I think Dirk mirroring Jake LaMotta mirroring Marlon Brando is intentionally empty (add in the fact that he's speaking as his misogynistic fantasy character). It's like you took an idea of what it is to be a human with feelings to the nth degree and all we're left with is a broken shell of a person. Dirk wants to go back to the way things were before the bad times but that's impossible because he's always gonna be the guy who experience those bad times.

Anyway, about to start the episode. Both are all-time favorites and similar to what you were getting at I've flip flopped on which is better over the years and as I've grown so I'm going to be really curious just to see where I end up falling after listening.


I was actually thinking of the end scenes as a whole (everyone together again at the house) more than the specific Dirk at the mirror scene, I didn't see Dirk as empty there though, more like an alcoholic who knows he's hit bottom and has to start again, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. He appreciates what (and who) he has now, not what he felt he was owed. They discuss that scene on the episode though, with some better points than I had, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts again after you listen to it.

#17 suspiiiiiria

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:07 AM

These are two of the greatest films ever made. Im going with Boogie Nights because i do watch it more often, and because its the sort of film that you recommend to someone and they ask "really? i should watch that?"

Furthermore, I want Boogie Nights to win because there should be a second chance episode sometime (right?) and I want both of these films in. If There Will Be Blood loses, i think itll be more likely to be voted into that Second Chance episode than Boogie Nights if Boogie Nights loses.

#18 Squirmy

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:13 AM

This was a very very hard one for me but I had to go with Boogie Nights.
I love Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano's performances in There Will Be Blood and that movie is a true masterpiece but Boogie Nights is just stacked with incredible performances.
Don Cheadle, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C Reily, Luis Guzman, Heather Graham, William H Macy, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Alfred Molina, Thomas Jane, and yes, Mark Wahlburg turn out arguably the best performances of their entire careers.
Hell, even Nina Hartley is great!

There WIll Be Blood is a prestige picture and is definitely more than an Academy pleaser. It's even a more delicately crafted film by a much more mature and educated filmmaker but there is just something majestic in his sophomore outing that rushes Boogie Nights right to the top.

I'm a real lover of PTA but my rank probably doesn't look like yours

7. Magnolia
6. Hard Eight
5. Punch Drunk Love
4. The Master
3. Inherent Vice
2. There Will Be Blood
1. Boogie Nights

#19 Felipe Sobreiro

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:20 AM

View PostJustin Remer, on 11 July 2016 - 08:30 AM, said:


I assume Amy means Soderbergh's THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE. I like Sasha Grey as an actress. OPEN WINDOWS was a good one.


Ah, I didn't watch that one.

#20 GoldandBlue

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:24 AM

This was actually easy for me. I love Boogie Nights. I think it is a great film and absolutely deserving of being in The Canon. It is more watchable and digestible than There Will Be Blood. The cast is incredible. There is really nothing bad to say about the film.

...that said, There Will Be Blood is to me one of the greatest cinematic achievements in film history. It is not only a great movie but one of the greatest movies ever made in my opinion. I think this episode is a testament to the greatness of Paul Thomas Anderson. The difference to me is that Boogie Nights is a great movie, There Will Be Blood is a masterpiece and is the type of movie The Canon was made for (even though the bar has been set to just good movies since last week).