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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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This ep posed the same director, writer, or actor question of "will more PTA movies be nominated for The Canon and, if so, will they be pitted up against each other?" For me, Punch Drunk Love has everything one could want in a film, and the fact that The Canon has absolutely no parameters or rules kinda bums me out/makes me love it. There are so many other films that will never be argued over that really deserve the Amy and Devin treatment. In the immortal words of Meatballs' character Tripper, "IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!'

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Barely worth mentioning due to the ubiquity of the sentiment, but this decision is unbelievably difficult. I've seen arguments on the thread that really sparked my interest.

 

Regarding the ensemble cast of Boogie Nights - Far superior. No argument. I was kind of bummed that Thomas Jane, Don Cheadle, and Heather Graham didn't get as much discussion as I would've liked. Aside from this being the best Wahlberg performance, John C. Reilly's loyal/lovable idiot, Burt Reynold's cheeky and paternal omnipotence, Julianne Moore gives once of the great performances by an actor in cinema history. Together they have a chemistry that almost feels like a milieu for the audience to be a part of. TWBB has the challenge of primarily being about such a select few characters. Dano and Day Lewis create such stark opponents because they're both so willing to be snakes to get what they want. They're the same type of person, just with different motivations. Despite the success of pulling off this dynamic with perfection, it is less of a testament to PTA's nearly unrivaled ability to form characters.

 

Devin said that he couldn't imagine a canon without Boogie Nights, and god damnit, he's right. Amy argued about this being the seminal PTA movie in terms of the life it injects into character's, Hollywood, and it's film making in general. I think that this is a movie that makes you appreciate the film making while you're watching without distracting you. Very few directors can show off their genius and keep you completely in the moment. There Will Be Blood on the other hand, isn't as socially important. Devin talked about the mainstream acceptance of porn, and Amy was absolutely right in saying that there are other movies that talk about capitalism in similar way.

 

I would sooner watch Boogie Nights rather than TWBB, but I think that speaks to the emotional investment that the latter requires. It really is a film that impacts me on such an intense and visceral level. It is a film that is structured and executed in tandem with Plainview's growth and ultimate downfall into a precise dichotomy of inadequacy and resentment. Similar to what Devin was saying, the last moment is the payoff for the journey that the film earns. Side note: this is a grueling movie, but unlike the Revenant, is asserting so many profound notions and has such intriguing and well-crafted character arcs that it is almost impossible to not see it through. Boogie Nights has a similarly earned finale, but feels like some threads aren't payed off as satisfying as TWBB (Roller Girl, for example).

 

The only thing that is helping me decide is the thing I always think about when voting here or discussing the merit of certain pictures at large. I love movies with such an intense passion that it almost feels like betrayal to pick one, but Spielberg tells a story about the first movie he ever saw (Cecil B. DeMilles' The Greatest Show on Earth), and how it emotionally impacted him. I can safely say that amongst the list of movies like Schindler's List, Raging Bull, City of God, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blue Valentine, Do the Right Thing, and Dancer in the Dark that have affected me on such a deep emotional and mental level, that TWBB is right at home. That being said, I still haven't voted. Need to sleep on it. With such an expansive canon, it seems almost unreasonable to have to choose. But such is life. First time posting on the voting forum, so I'm sorry if this is too lengthy.

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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.

 

Isn't that an unfair criticism? I think Paul Thomas Anderson has even said in interviews that he would not have made the movie if DDL didn't take the role. It's easy to say that when the movie is centered around one person. The Master would not have been the same if Joaquin Phoenix wasn't playing the lead. Can't you say the same thing about Taxi Driver or Raging Bull?

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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.

 

I love TWBB but PUNCH DRUNK LOVE is every bit as singular/similarly sheds those influences.

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I voted for 'There Will Be Blood', and I would like to preface this vote by saying that I hated casting it. Like Devin, 'Boogie Nights' was a formative experience for me... and it's in my own personal Canon, and I want it in this Canon. 'Boogie Nights' was the first movie my friend Natalie and I watched together, before we dated and fell in love... and eventually broke up of course. But it was a magical experience in a unruly period of my life. Suffice it to say, it has remained an integral part of my identity as a filmgoer and cinephile, and while I agree with Amy, that Magnolia is probably my favorite of his early period, 'There Will Be Blood' is his 'Citizen Kane', his 'Ugetsu', or his 'Bicycle Thieves'. He was trying to make a Herculean masterpiece that would go on to be taught in film classes, and his ambition did not exceed his grasp. There is no 'Boogie Nights' without 'Hard Eight/Sydney' and Martin Scorsese, but 'There Will Be Blood' is a different beast entirely. It's him whole cloth (so is 'Boogie Nights', but he smuggled the techniques from other filmmakers more liberally to essentially make a Altman/Scorsese pastiche that expands upon the cinematic vernacular he toyed with in his other Scorsese picture, the aforementioned 'Hard Eight/Sydney').

 

My brain is overriding my heart on this one, and 'There Will Be Blood' deserves that vote.

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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.

 

This is a completely unfair criticism. Of course if you take away a huge element of a movie, it'll be worse. Movies are a collaborative project and every piece and every job is essential to the whole.

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This is a completely unfair criticism. Of course if you take away a huge element of a movie, it'll be worse. Movies are a collaborative project and every piece and every job is essential to the whole.

 

Lewis is the most important single element for sure, and you can't imagine it without him. But it's not as though his performance is the film's only merit. His performance is the engine, but there's a whole damn Lamborghini around it. It's essential, and it even uplifts the surrounding elements, but that shouldn't take away from the credit of all those elements.

 

Instead you owe credit to a film for getting all the essential stuff so right. As Mecks states, it's a collaboration. Look at how successful everyone was on this film.

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This is a real tough choice.

 

When it pertains to the Canon as a spectrum of what cinema is as a medium how do you decide? Is it the film that announced the arrival of one America's great modern autuers or the film that cemented him as such?

 

Boogie Nights is the film that launched Anderson into the critical world as a filmmaker to pay attention to and where he got the first full taste of creative freedom, down to even demanding final cut from Michael De Luca before signing the deal with New Line. It's the film he first got to play with all the toys; from the amazing cast to the period setting. It's also the film where he wears his influences so obviously on his sleeves; like other filmmakers of his generation. He's remaking Goodfellas by way of Altman. A film about not the family you're born with but the family you choose wrapped up in the delicious kitschyness of the late 70s-early 80s porn industry.

 

I do believe that There Will Be Blood cemented Anderson as an american autuer. A graduation into modern, adult storytelling. Whereas his earlier films felt like a filmmaker who had to exorcise his cinematic influences, TWBB is him at his fullest realization. A period piece look at america's obssession with power and wealth. Not to shy away from his influences entirely; it's Treasure of Sierra Madre as envisioned by the exacting detail of Kubrick. The storytelling is precise and exacting, the perfomances from DDL and Paul Dano is some of PTA's best and most subtle male-friendship dynamics, and the cinematography will be studied for years to come. It will very well go down as PT Anderson's masterpiece. But to be honest it's a summation of a fully realized artist. A filmmaker at full command of his craft. The culmination of the potential first glimpsed in Boogie Nights.

 

But should TWBB go into the Canon over Boogie Nights? Should a filmmakers Masterpiece go in over the film that established them as the filmmaker critics and audiences should watch? It's probably a fools errand but I think Boogie nights should go into the canon because it is the film that shot Anderson into the cinematic culture as a truly unique voice. Especially considering, as was discussed in the Usual Suspects episode, how so many filmmakers of his class were playing in the same pulp crime sandbox with a film like Sydney/Hard Eight, a genre that's so tightly associated with Anderson's contemporary Quentin Tarantino.

 

TWBB may be Anderson's (up to now) masterpiece, but Boogie Nights is the film that opened my eyes to film-making and made me a devout Anderson follower. That's why I say it goes in.

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Needless to say, both are utter masterpieces, and equally deserve a place in The Canon. Despite my username, I'm voting There Will Be Blood.

 

Boogie Nights is more re-watchable, optimistic, fast-paced, funny, and features my favorite ensemble cast of all time. However, There Will Be Blood is a more intense, and original film in the larger realm of cinema.

 

Inherent Vice was a disappointment; perhaps because I read Pynchon's novel beforehand and approached the film with too many expectations.

 

I've been looking forward to an episode like this since The Canon started. Thanks!

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This is the first time I disagreed with Amy :( Daniel Lewis' performance in TWBB was transcendent, he was deserved of that year's best actor award, and while Dano's performance was great - Day stole the show, he simply melted into that character. I've never been so transfixed by a performance; every scene with Dano, the dynamic between those two characters is elevated because of Day's acting. And most of it comes from his eyes, or his body language, it's masterful. I'm not a huge fan of Lewis', he takes method acting to an unnecessary level, and sometimes he's over the top, but I have never been able to shake off Daniel Plainview - he's such a strange character, and Day plays it to the tee that TWBB becomes the ultimate character study IMO.

Also, a quick note on the fact that there are NO female characters in this movie... My father flips houses for a living, and I've helped in the construction work - tar roofing, plumbing, electricity, remodeling bathrooms, etc. And construction (manual labor in general) is by fay the most grueling way to make a living. There are no women, simply men doing their jobs, conversation is utilized as a team - to get the job done effectively, or during short food breaks. And it's DANGEROUS, I've seen men lose fingers. That's why this movie struck a chord for me, it truly is the American blue collar story, a film that explores the intricate relationship between the working class and the big wigs, and how long a shadow those big wigs cast. I know that the working class (blue collars) isn't made up only by men, but from personal experience (EVERYONE my dad works with are white men, and his investors are mostly wealthy white men), the film just resonates with me for that reason. And it has A LOT to say about capitalism, which, in my opinion, isn't discussed enough in film.

One last thing, that weird Michael Gondry-ish trumpet score at the beginning and end of Boogie Nights is fucking incredible. Both are great movies, and are deserved to be in the Canon.

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There Will Be Blood is a shoo-in for me. One of the most astonishing aspects of the film, to me, went unmentioned by Devon and Amy, and that is the truly historical, almost alien feel of the whole picture. I feel like PTA set out to steep the set in a time and place - and a way of talking and being - that is incredibly foreign to us today, only a hundred years later. That does make this a scary and difficult to approach movie - there's little to experience, emotionally, in this film. But I think in this case that wasn't PTA's goal, and I think that works.

 

Also, the opening sequence with no dialogue is as stunning and effective as the D-Day invasion in Saving Private Ryan.

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I'm voting for Boogie Nights partly on the grounds that it is the Paul Thomas Anderson-ier of the two (though I am with Amy in thinking Magnolia deserves consideration here) and partly, for all the genius of what TWBB does to and with Daniel Plainview, I think I would rather watch Citizen Kane again to see similar themes…

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Had to go with There Will Be Blood.

 

I love Boogie Nights and have seen it more than I've seen There Will Be Blood (not just because it's been around longer) but where Boogie Nights announced that PTA was a new player to be reckoned with TWBB threw down the gauntlet and said now what motherflippers...

 

The look of rage on DDL face when he kills Henry alone is 10 seconds worthy of the canon.

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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.

 

Well I could rewatch Step Brothers over a whole bunch of movies but that doesn't mean it's my favorite movie or the movie I think is the best. That said, I will contend that it should be in The Canon.

 

When I voted for TWBB I wasn't voting against Boogie Nights.

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This is maybe the only episode of the show so far where the choice could go either way and I'll still be happy. As many have admitted, both movies could easily fit into the canon. This said, I'm choosing to vote BOOGIE NIGHTS.

 

I agree with probably 90% of Amy/Devin's notes on the film so I won't reiterate those points - but I do find it interesting that this movie really solidified what it means for someone to argue for an element of "fun" in the Canon, especially coming off the heels of the RE-ANIMATOR debate. The fun in BOOGIE NIGHTS transcends what it seemed like most people were pointing to as the fun of RE-ANIMATOR. Not to rehash the whole genre-film discussion, but it seems like the fun of RE-ANIMATOR is facilitated best and reaches its most positive crystallization when it is discussed and debated and ultimately revered by communities who are truly invested in understanding and studying the context of the genre, its history, etc. The more niche the conversation gets, and the more well-versed its participants are, the more fun the conversation gets (in my experience, at least).

 

On the other hand, the fun of BOOGIE NIGHTS takes something that is already very masterfully executed in many respects and makes the movie more expansive in who it can reach and resonate with. The fun of a genre film sort of does the opposite, which for me drives it further from canon-material in certain senses.

 

I also really agree with the notion that BOOGIE NIGHTS is actually a better representation of PTA's body of work than THERE WILL BE BLOOD on the whole. If the Canon acts almost as the ultimate survey course in film (which of course others may not feel that the canon could or should do this), BOOGIE NIGHTS is the movie that I think would inspire people to discover more from PTA and immediately bring them closer to understanding his style, ways of storytelling and developing characters, and other idiosyncratic components that in my mind make him one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation.

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They're two great movies, but I feel that Boogie Nights loses a bit of its steam in the second half.

 

However, There Will Be Blood is an absolute masterpiece. It's perfection, and the film feels like its an hour and a half long, rather than its actual length.

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So, woof, this was seriously brutal.

 

I love Boogie Nights. Like seriously love it. When I first watched it I just watched it on a base level and just loved it because it was lurid and so funny but the older I got, the more the levels of family and creative integrity started to reveal themselves.

 

That said, I voted There Will Be Blood because I am hard pressed to think of another American movie that was that exact, that towering, and that stocked with incredible creative decisions from the score to the casting to the production design. It's also one of the greatest slow burns I think I've ever seen in a movie. Like the whole time you are just instantly on edge and you don't really know why and like Devin and Amy said it takes you on this elaborate journey that is incredibly rewarding.

 

On a personal note (which I know kinda taints my vote) but There Will Be Blood marked the moment where I started taking movies seriously. Beforehand they were just fun larks, but this seriously kicked me in the ass to start looking below the surface and really seeking out other important works to chase the same feeling that TWBB gave me.

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Boogie Nights is a great film, made by a filmmaking prodigy who was much better at watching films that making films. Too much of the cinema of Boogie Nights is assembled with derivative elements. They are assembled masterfully, though.

 

There Will Be Blood is a wholly original work of cinema. (It is an adaptation, yes.) It is one of the most beautifully photographed films of all time, and visually so unlike much of modern cinema.

 

Boogie Nights has great depth to the characters, which is a rare enough feat. There Will Be Blood has that, but also has depth to the circumstances and depth to the world, which is even more rare.

 

Both films have a corny hyperfocus on the downward arc of their main characters, and they demand the audience to project too much of the character backfill, rather than literally expressing the beginnings and motivations of their characters. Magnolia and The Master do a much better job at expressing full characters with arcs that have more complete cadences.

 

The score of There Will Be Blood was touched on. At times in the film, the score seems so out of place from what is happening on screen it almost feels like there was a final cut done after the score was complete, omitting an entire theme of ... Nature? I don't know, but it would be interesting to learn more about the motivation of the score and how it pertains to the film we see. There are a couple other mysteries in the film -- is Paul a different person from Eli? What the hell happened to that town that Plainview walked away from? These mysteries add to the depth of Their Will Be Blood.

 

Voting for There Will Be Blood because of its cinematic originality and the depth of its world.

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Seems pretty evident that There Will Be Blood will win, but I voted Boogie Nights anyway. It's one of my favorite movies of the 90's and I think it's a true masterpiece. However, it's probably still only my third favorite PTA movie, after Magnolia and The Master. I hope you guys get to those eventually.

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Pretty cruel guys, because obviously both are Canon-worthy, but BOOGIE NIGHTS is clearly the way to go. THERE WILL BE BLOOD is impressive filmmaking too, but it is completely dominated by Daniel Day-Lewis' performance and Johnny Greenwood's eerie score. Try and remember the particulars of any scene that Day-Lewis is NOT in...you won't be able to do it. BOOGIE NIGHTS' every frame is memorable in some way and (as Devin said) it is something that can be watched and enjoyed anew every year.

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There Will Be Blood, the more mature film. It would have been a tougher choice if Magnolia were subbed for Boogie Nights.

 

Magnolia has a deep empathy for it's characters that seems shallow and facile in Boogie Nights.

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There Will Be Blood, and it's not even close. I love Boogie Nights, I love PTA, and I may even prefer The Master to TWBB in the end, but if it's between TWBB and Boogie Nights, there's no contest for me.

 

One thing that wasn't mentioned during the episode is just how funny There Will Be Blood actually is. It's not an airless, austere work with pretensions towards being a masterpiece - it's a deeply funny, humane, quietly tragic film that remains utterly singular in the world of film, and is well-deserving of a place in The Canon.

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I voted for There Will Be Blood. For what it's worth, I would have voted for Magnolia over Boogie Nights (though I'm not sure it would have beaten There Will Be Blood).

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I love both of these movies. Whenever I think of either of these movies, I say it's my favorite PTA movie until I remember the other and debate with myself for too long. There Will Be Blood came out while I was a senior in high school, the time when I was evolving past the surface level good times I was looking for in movies. Boogie Nights is amazing and so fun to watch. I agree with pretty much everything Devin has to say here and just laugh good naturedly at some of Amy's sentiments. But for me, it goes to There Will Be Blood for one reason above the others. It doesn't feel like anything else before it or after it. Yes, it feels like a PTA movie, but he isn't explicitly riffing on someone else's work, like he's done with Scorsese or Altman. It was a big leap for him, the shedding of his old style into the singular mind he is today.

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I love both of these movies. Whenever I think of either of these movies, I say it's my favorite PTA movie until I remember the other and debate with myself for too long. There Will Be Blood came out while I was a senior in high school, the time when I was evolving past the surface level good times I was looking for in movies. Boogie Nights is amazing and so fun to watch. I agree with pretty much everything Devin has to say here and just laugh good naturedly at some of Amy's sentiments. But for me, it goes to There Will Be Blood for one reason above the others. It doesn't feel like anything else before it or after it. Yes, it feels like a PTA movie, but he isn't explicitly riffing on someone else's work, like he's done with Scorsese or Altman. It was a big leap for him, the shedding of his old style into the singular mind he is today.

 

But as other people he is still riffing. He will never stop riffing on other filmakers which is fine with me as he is (usually) such a great filmaker. He has no intention of not riffing on other filmakers.

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