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Episode 85: BOOGIE NIGHTS vs TWBB

Which PTA masterpiece gets in?  

342 members have voted

  1. 1. Which PTA masterpiece gets in?

    • BOOGIE NIGHTS
      156
    • THERE WILL BE BLOOD
      186


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I really enjoyed this episode. This is a tough one because these are two of my favorite movies of all time and they are my two favorite PTA movies. They are the best representations of the two halves of his career. I'd argue that Boogie Nights made more of a cultural impact while TWBB tends to be talked about more in film fan circles so I could see an argument for that and I think more people would have a good time watching Boogie Nights.

 

I'm going with There Will Be Blood though not because it's the more "important" movie but because I think it's a better movie and I think by this point, Paul Thomas Anderson found his own style. I'd argue that while he wore his influences on his sleeves in the first half of his career, he made it his own but you still can't help but make comparisons to Scorsese and Altman. There Will Be Blood feels like it's truly his in a way Boogie Nights is not, at least on a filmmaking level. One thing that Devin and Amy didn't mention and I think most people overlook is how funny There Will Be Blood can be, at least once you are familiar with the movie. Every time I rewatch it, the funnier I find the dynamic between Daniel Plainview and Eli. Watching it in a theater a year and a half ago was interesting because of how often the audience was laughing in a movie that is seen to be so serious and important. Also a note about the ending, I don't think the music at the end is meant to show how important the movie is. It calls back to the scene where he first opens the oil well in Little Boston where that same piece is used.

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Both, easily, belong in the Canon. Which ever loses will probably be the strongest competitor for redemption.

 

However, I can imagine Boogie Nights being done with a different director/different actors. I would still be interested in seeing a Scorsese/DiCaprio, or Soderbergh/Tatum version of Boogie Nights. I really can't imagine There Will Be Blood without PTA, Day-Lewis and Paul Dano. In my mind it is nearly a "perfect film" in so much as I can't imagine anything changing in it, and the film being better as a result.

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Boogie Nights. Not even a question. Its ensemble alone would give it the edge, and I happen to believe it's a serious contender for greatest American movie ever made.

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This may have been the toughest pick to date - possibly tougher than The Thing vs. The Fly. Boogie Nights is my FAVORITE movie, period. Love every character, every beat, every cut, every music cue. I watch it when I'm sick, I watch it when I can't sleep, I relish watching it with friends wh haven't seen it.

 

In the end, I had to go with There Will Be Blood. My reason:

 

Boogie Nights established PTA as a great director.

 

Blood established him as one of The Greatest.

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Listening to this pushed me closer to There Will Be Blood, weirdly enough. I'm really torn. I think that I'll go with Boogie Nights for now, but I'm gonna sit on this.

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Honestly, I flipped a coin and came up for There Will Be Blood. But we're eventually putting both of these in right?

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Don't comment on here, usually just vote. Yes, I watch the films before I vote. Honestly, both films are perfect, but TWBB's tone just works better for me. I prefer a jet-black narrative that's unapologetically nihilistic and cerebrally nourishing. Any film that can earn that type of darkness and still be so inviting to multiple re-watches has clearly accomplished something very unique.

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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.

 

Perhaps 'bittersweet' is the more accurate term, I think we feel happiness that these broken people found each other but as individuals they're still lost. Amber still can't see her son, Rollergirl is stuck in arrested development, and the industry is still leaving them behind. The movie's theme

which plays during the sequence makes me think of a circus that exists for the sakes of the performers lives than for any other real value.

 

Finished listening to the episode and the thing I want to touch on most is the debate over the drug use. I don't think drugs were the reason for everyone's downfall (and Rollergirl was most definitely on drugs throughout the movie, since we do see her snorting coke with Amber) but rather just a symptom, as Devin said. Going back to the idea how the "family" exists as a broken circus, Dirk's ego as the star and top dog got him deeper down the rabbit hole. Actually, as I'm typing this it's making me feel a little more sad about Dirk's final "I'm a star, I'm a star." Amber started the movie off in a bad place and the drugs didn't change that for better or worse, so a scene where everyone's rehabbing would have felt empty, in my opinion.

 

--

 

I ended up voting for There Will Be Blood and ironically it was Amy and Devin that gave me the push even though they both voted Boogie. Boogie Nights is so expertly made and so rewatchable but There Will Be Blood just feels more important and weightier. Maybe it's the generation gap (TWBB came out during my film formative years so it fills the role that Boogie Nights had on Devin) but I also think that TWBB's style is more representative of PT Anderson. I think of Punch Drunk Love and The Master's less flashy camera moves moreso than I think of ensemble.

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Great episode. I'm going for Boogie Nights. It might be Canon just for the cast alone, which is one of the best casts in movie history: seven actors in the cast were nominated for Oscars, with a total of 14 nominations between them - and that doesn't even count the phenomenal contributions of Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina, Heather Graham, and Luis Guzman. Add to that some of the best shots I've seen, including the breathtaking opening tracking shot and the pool scene. But the thing that really sets this apart from TWBB is the way it treats its characters like humans, whereas TWBB treats its characters as gods. I agree largely with Amy's view of TWBB, in that beyond the incredible acting performances by Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano, it's a rather narrow film. (I understand that saying to look beyond one of the greatest pairs of performances in any film in history is a rather narrow argument, but the film has always has left me unsatisfied.)

 

But overall, I can't argue with either choice, and this was a thoroughly enjoyable episode to listen to.

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This is by far the hardest Canon choice to make so far. Both films are masterpieces that should be in the Canon.

 

But I had to go with There Will Be Blood for one simple reason. Daniel Day Lewis delivers one of the all time feats of acting in TWBB. It's the performance to beat for the century and I don't see it being surpassed for decades.

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had to be TWBB, though the discussion really got me riled up about Boogie Nights in the first half

 

I have to sort of disagree with Devin on the core of TWBB though, I have never seen the film as a look at the exploitation of Capitalism and Religion of the little guys by the big dudes, that's too ... what? It's too broad, too obvious even. That TWBB's characters are exploiters is almost established by nature, glossed over, seldom returned to, Plainview skeezes people out of their money, Eli makes everything Church the highest priority behind the pretense of selflessness. This is all in the early Little Boston scenes.

 

To me TWBB is about the futile pursuits of power, of the unending quest for resolution in The American Dream, whether it be by Daniel's through competition or Eli's through salvation. What is key in Plainview's character is how he deviates from the capitalist pig archetype - Plainview doesn't know indulgence. We never see him partying, gorging, fucking, drinking in any context of fun, relaxing, even revelling in his wealth Scrooge McDuck style. Plainview only knows the hunt and the promise of something better at the end. He drags himself out of the ground, from his animalistic past through the ranks of society, and for what? He fights with an almost supernatural rage against an abstract system and comes out alone and lost, he has expanded all his efforts and found no enlightenment. Somehow the part of the last act that always makes me feel the worst for Daniel is that stupid fucking dog he has in his house. You just cannot picture Daniel giving a shit about dogs, let alone a prissy rich people dog like that. He has tried it all. Not even fulfilling the caricature of a 1920's oil baron can save him. It's only Daniel's vengeance on Eli that gives him a sense of resolution, as if some kind of replacement for his broken family ties with his son, resolution with a brother.

 

Who knows, maybe I am just won over by something in Daniel Day Lewis' performance, but I have always found Daniel Plainview immensely sympathetic - the scene with Henry in the brothel is maybe the most quietly heart rending in the whole film - despite the cruelty he does and the cruelty he is. TWBB is a film about the essential lack of core in the American rat race, and I can't help feeling like Daniel's just another victim of the empty pursuit.

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I'm going with There Will Be Blood though not because it's the more "important" movie but because I think it's a better movie and I think by this point, Paul Thomas Anderson found his own style. I'd argue that while he wore his influences on his sleeves in the first half of his career, he made it his own but you still can't help but make comparisons to Scorsese and Altman.

 

This was my gut reaction to this versus pairing. Boogie Nights is very referential and invites (sometimes demands) comparisons to other films and filmmakers, whereas TWBB seems utterly singular.

 

I think Amy misses the mark when she criticizes TWBB for not being an all inclusive statement on American westward expansion, as I have never considered that the film was even trying to go for this. I agree with Devin here that the film is instead about contemporary politics. Seeing the movie on release in 2007, I interpreted it as a statement on the George W. Bush presidency and the invasion of Iraq. Plainview is an oilman who follows a sheep trail from the church to the Sunday family to sway them toward his venture; this is a parable of how many on the left viewed the "war for oil" in Iraq. Plainview's promises of infrastructure (schools, roads, etc.) to appease the native population echoed similar promises made in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The entire drama of the uneasy symbiotic relationship between Industry and Religion was evocative of what was on many of our minds in the last year of the Bush administration. Even naming the boy H.W. seemed like a nod to Bush senior. I clearly recall seeing TWBB for the first time, how electrifying it was, and a large part of that experience was the resonance with 2007 America. Beyond the socio-historical context, it is an exquisitely crafted and exceptionally affecting film.

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It may not be the most enjoyable PTA film (which isn't an option anyway), but There Will Be Blood is the most canonical. I ultimately agree with bmichael, and since I can't cast a second vote against Re-Animator, I suppose the closest thing.

 

For me it's therefore not a difficult choice: Boogie Nights - every day of the week. There Will Be Blood belongs in a museum - Boogie Nights belongs in The Canon!

Isn't a museum where one places canonical works of art?

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This was my favorite episode of The Canon (so far) & the one i've been waiting for. It's THERE WILL BE BLOOD for me. I can't really quantify what it is about this movie that works for me so deeply. I took a friend to see it last month and she very much enjoyed it but couldn't understand why I'm in love with it. It just works for me. I was 17 when it came out (I'm aging myself, I'm 26) and I saw it in the theatre, while it wasn't THE movie for me that got me into film more seriously, it was a huge milestone for me. It sat with me from 17 to 26 without rewatching it once. I've watched it twice this year, three all together and I can't know this movie enough. This doesn't take anything away from BOOGIE NIGHTS, which I love, and sits second for me for PTA, who is my all time favorite.

 

 

I can't wait for this alleged PTA-Daniel Day reteaming that is rumored. Perhaps in 2017, another ten years after TWBB, and 20 from BOOGIE...

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So obviously both are worthy, but I think Boogie Nights' warm depiction of family is unique among canon-worthy films. On the other hand I think there are multiple masterpieces about power and greed that will make it into the canon easily.

 

When the world ends and the aliens find the canon I'd like them to get a good long look at that rubber cock.

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Absolutely Boogie Nights. i mean I realize Blood is important and great but Nights is pretty much prefect to me.

 

Absolutely was wondering if anyone else wanted to comment on Amy's criticisms on PTA as a person. I meantioned this in the comment section as well but i feel like I've heard good stories about moern day PTA. The stories of him being a raging asshole feel like they came from the 90s an early 2000s.

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I really hate these Sophie's Choice episodes because both of these are Canon worthy, but I'll man up and say the right answer is still Boogie Nights. Like Goodfellas, I can watch it whenever it's randomly on TV even though I own a copy. It's a fun and exciting watch in the 1970's into the bleak 1980's (maybe especially in that half of the film). I never feel the length but I'm grateful for it because every character is interesting and the fact that Alfred Molina can steal the film in a murderer's row of a cast is still so remarkable. I'll watch this one and the Godfather Part II whenever I find myself confined to the couch with an illness. I've introduced Boogie Nights to girlfriends gleefully. It just never gets old. PTA continues to make great films, but this is the one we'll think of first and truly remember him for.

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I love both but There Will Be Blood is one of my three favourite films so I have to go with it. It's a movie that I revisit about once a year and never get sick of it.

 

I think the music at the beginning is more reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey than Planet of the Apes. That whole sequence is like an homage to the Dawn of Man sequence: no dialogue, vast desert setting, characters encounter black substance that leads to progress, one character is killed by a blunt object, etc. There are lots of references to The Shining too; I'm surprised they didn't talk about Kubrick even though they talked about the Scorsese influences in Boogie Nights.

 

P.S. If it was between Boogie Nights and Magnolia I would have chosen Magnolia.

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Very much enjoy There Will Be Blood and respect it for what it is, but had no hesitation voting for Boogie Nights. If Daniel Day Lewis wasn't playing Plainview, this movie would barely be remembered as significant. There is far more going on with characters and direction in Boogie Nights and I think it has had a far greater effect on movie culture. "I drink your milkshake" is a t-shirt idiots wore in college. People think Dirk Diggler is a real person.

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Great episode and a tough vote because both of these movies belong in The Canon, but I'm going with There Will Be Blood. I have a feeling in 20-30 years when we look back at PTA's output, we'll see it as the point when he started shedding his Altman/Scorsese influence and became a master in his own right. It doesn't seem like the "most PTA" movie right now, but I bet it will in the long run.

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I went with There Will Be Blood. I can watch Boogie Nights in bits and chunks, individual scenes stand out, but I can walk away from the entire narrative at any time. I'm more drawn to the individual pieces in it then the movie as a whole. If I start watching There Will Be Blood I'm in for the duration. I'm sucked in solely by the power of Daniel Day Lewis' performance every time.

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Great episode guys. The best in recent memory.

 

I have to say I expected the choice to be more brutal then it was. I don't deny that Boogie Nights is as good as people say, but it left me somewhat cold on rewatch. Not sure what it was. It's missing neither craft nor performances nor soundtrack. It has it all, but I just didn't connect with it this time past a pleasant smile.

 

I was damn sure that in rewatching both that Boogie Nights would be the chosen brother. But it was TWWB who was chosen. I have had snippets of dialogue from that flick rattling through my head all week, and I don't want it to stop. And whoever calls Daniel Plainview non-sexual forgets that great line on the beach where he yells: "I SAID WE'LL GET LIQUORED UP AND TAKE 'EM TO THE PEACH TREE DANCE!!"

 

TWWB is just an astonishment. It's magnetic for all the reasons the hosts stated and more. And while I absolutely agree with Amy that the "BIG IMPORTANT" feel to it stands in its way a bit, I've found it such a fun movie to dwell on after the credits roll in a way that restores what power it keeps itself from in the moment. I think self-important movies tend to build to a deep and specific idea or point. TWWB's point is deep, but it's the opposite of specific. It captures Daniel Plainview but also keeps him mysterious enough for a really "here's the point" kind of big finish to be impossible (and unnecessary).

 

I love how the movie approaches its tight focus on Daniel. Some movies might feel thin around the edges with that approach, but Anderson fills the movie with interesting side characters and relationships and then deliberately places them out of focus to demonstrate how single-minded Daniel is.

 

The perfect example is Daniel's business partner Fletcher. I'm not sure I took any real notice of him the first time I saw this movie. But he's around a ton, just to the right. The movie shows him taking care of H.W. at the first Coyote Hills claim. Soon thereafter Paul enters Daniel's office to trade information. Paul's body takes up the entire right of the frame while Daniel sits at a distance to the left. When Paul is finally invited to sit, he moves and reveals that Fletcher has been sitting there the whole time.

 

Fletcher is his business partner for the entire film, at least until the final time jump where Daniel's business is just another something that's happening outside his mansion. He's probably the most important man in his life, and the person who's spent the most time with him during it. But he isn't meaningful to Daniel, so he's off to the side. We see Fletcher develop a full paternal relationship with H.W. From Fletcher rescuing H.W. from the exploding derrick to Daniel sending him to be his replacement father in San Francisco. Anderson dangles Fletcher around the film to remind us that there are real people with full lives all around Daniel, but that he'd would never interact with any of them except H.W. and finally Henry.

 

The hosts spoke about Daniel jilting Eli at the derrick blessing, but there's an even greater perversity to that scene. Daniel has clocked Eli's ambition and the dangerous religious power he wields when he asks to perform the blessing. It's hard to imagine that Daniel hadn't planned his betrayal instantaneously. But what's so interesting is that we're never sure how conscious Daniel's reactions are. He might just be consciously plotting to humiliate Eli, but the truth is that he's decided to war with God.

 

Daniel gives his own blessing and ushers everyone to the free buffet afterwards, and he sits there eating contented like a new god. And when Mary comes running by he grabs her by the arm and asks her if she likes her new dress and she does. He asks if she's glad that he came here and she is. And then he declares, right in front of Abel Sunday that there would be no more hitting ever again. He's stretching his legs with his godhood. And maybe anyone would start their power trip off by trying to be the beloved benevolent one, but it's another testament to Anderson that he both shows a power-hungry monster enjoy his latest conquest, but also that he expresses a genuine (if tiny) benevolence - we never get easy answers about who Daniel is, and there are hints like these to remind us he has a human heart somewhere in there.

 

In fact, if there's any spirituality or grace in this film it's represented by Mary. Mary saves H.W. from Daniel, and almost saves Daniel himself. Not only does she inspire him to that one good gesture, but after Daniel returns smugly to his seat post-baptism Mary hugs him from behind around his neck. We don't see Daniels face, but he appears to be deeply moved by the gesture, and the very next scene shows him reuniting with his son. It's not enough, but the film suggests that there was a way back for Daniel, and it required him to renounce his quest for omnipotence and actually reconnect with humanity.

 

 

Too long, as usual, but I love this film so goddamn much. There is huge power and depth and -yes - heart to the film as long as you're willing to drill past some of the pompous artifice. Go on, and drink the Blood of Lamb from Bandy's Tract.

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My vote is for Boogie Nights. The Julianne Moore scene tips the scale for me.

 

I saw TWBB for the first time this week, and I think Paul Dano was a false priest. I think he just wanted fame.

Because,

 

1) In the scene where he asks Plainview about him blessing the Oil rig, he specifically says "say my name" and "you can say my name, and then..."

 

2) In the scene where he is helping that old lady with arthritis, he say specifically that the voice he heard "was a whisper". He starts with a whisper, but then starts doing his theatrics by screaming at the ghost.

 

3) The "I've abandoned my child!" scene and the "I am a false prophet.." scenes are, I think parallels to each other, where Plainview (and I agree with Devin here) Loved H.W, and was speaking the truth. He did abandon his child, and Eli was also saying the truth, both of them were confronting the bitter truth.

 

Also, the name of the village girl was Mary, and just after Plainview is baptized, She hugs him from behind. It was almost like a "its going to be okay.." kind of hug.

 

Sidenote:- Sunny Leone is big in Bollywood lately.

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I'm curious for everyone who is voting There Will Be Blood are you also saying that if someone said that for tonight or any night you can watch Blood or Boogie Nights you would choose Blood. I would always through Boogie nights on over Blood.

 

Then again I thought this should have been Magnolia vs. There Will Be Blood.

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After The Thing Vs. The Fly I never thought I would be so unable to choose a victor. So as I did then, I will choose based on which one I like more. I will vote for Boogie Nights in the poll.

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