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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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7. Hard Eight

6. Inherent Vice

5. Magnolia

4. Punch Drunk Love

3. Boogie Nights

2. There Will Be Blood

1. The Master

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This is a really tough one. Honestly (and to possibly commit cineaste blasphemy) I've always considered PTA films a bit of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" of films. It's like my friend says about Sonic Youth: "People don't like them. They're just told "it's smart" and so they pretend or convince themselves that they like them." That's always been my attitude towards PTA. But, well, I love Sonic Youth and think my friend is totally wrong. So I was willing to visit these films partially in an attempt to challenge my own preconceived notions about PTA. I had seen TWBB when it came out and it left me cold, and had never seen Boogie Nights.

 

First off, I was wrong. I'm glad this podcast gave me the opportunity to revisit these films without the pretentious baggage that originally biased me against them. I'm really on the fence here, and loved Amy's analogy for TWBB where, it's a statue that I want to look at, but I don't want it in my home. Both films are strong entries with incredible performances. I think one thing that puts TWBB a step above is, on the commentary track for Boogie Nights PTA (who does, indeed, come across as a bit of a bro-y douche) admits that he was learning to be a film maker on that movie and copied and "stole" almost every shot. And there's nothing wrong with that, that is how an artist learns. But TWBB, 10 years later, really does feel like his own movie and like the film of someone who has found their voice. The work of an artist who has moved past their influences. I may not want the statue in my home, but I think it does belong in The Canon.

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I voted for Boogie Nights, partially out of solidarity since I think TWBB is going to win. But I think it's a better movie, though TWBB is next level. This was a really difficut choice! Great episode co-hosts! Though I did chuckle at the disagreeing/saying the exact same thing parts

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This is a really tough one. Honestly (and to possibly commit cineaste blasphemy) I've always considered PTA films a bit of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" of films. It's like my friend says about Sonic Youth: "People don't like them. They're just told "it's smart" and so they pretend or convince themselves that they like them." That's always been my attitude towards PTA. But, well, I love Sonic Youth and think my friend is totally wrong. So I was willing to visit these films partially in an attempt to challenge my own preconceived notions about PTA. I had seen TWBB when it came out and it left me cold, and had never seen Boogie Nights.

 

First off, I was wrong. I'm glad this podcast gave me the opportunity to revisit these films without the pretentious baggage that originally biased me against them. I'm really on the fence here, and loved Amy's analogy for TWBB where, it's a statue that I want to look at, but I don't want it in my home. Both films are strong entries with incredible performances. I think one thing that puts TWBB a step above is, on the commentary track for Boogie Nights PTA (who does, indeed, come across as a bit of a bro-y douche) admits that he was learning to be a film maker on that movie and copied and "stole" almost every shot. And there's nothing wrong with that, that is how an artist learns. But TWBB, 10 years later, really does feel like his own movie and like the film of someone who has found their voice. The work of an artist who has moved past their influences. I may not want the statue in my home, but I think it does belong in The Canon.

 

 

 

The best part of the BN commentary track is where Mark Whalberg just acts like a total prick the whole time with Anderson getting increasingly insulted.

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Have not listened to the episode yet, but I've seen both movies a dozen times and considering one of them is my all time favorite I doubt I'll be swayed by Devin and Amy's arguments so I'll go ahead and chime in before I listen.

 

There Will Be Blood is why I got into movies. Saw it for the first time when AMC broadcast it with story notes. I'm a lifelong movie fan, but that broadcast was the first time it ever occurred to me that movies aren't just things that exist, but rather are things that are crafted by artists. TWBB was also my first PTA. For these reasons, it holds a special place in my heart.

 

But...

 

Boogie Nights is a perfect movie. To me, the key to realizing its greatness is to consider the validity of the claim that BN is Anderson doing Scorsese (or Altman). Yes, the opener and all the frenetic push ins are clearly lifted right from GoodFellas. Many people, in tracing Anderson's evolution as a filmmaker, like to discuss the difference between his highly kinetic earlier work and his slowed-down (even static) later work. The slant of much of this analysis is that Anderson "grew up."

 

I disagree with this generalized narrative because in Boogie Nights there is already ample evidence of Anderson's restraint and maturity. My favorite scene — Scotty showing Dirk his new Datsun — is, IMO, a perfect example of this restraint. I can't remember off the top of my head, but the scene only takes 5 or 6 shots, and is largely made of a 55 second long take. Although people often discuss Anderson's long takes, this shot is rarely mentioned. In this handheld shot, Anderson takes us from Dirk bent over looking at the car, to over Dirk's shoulder after he reject's Scotty's advances, to a two shot. In total, that's about 6 feet of movement — a far cry from the opener. Yet, in those 6 feet, Anderson tells a story. We're low with Dirk as he looks at the car, we can feel his enthusiasm. The camera rises slightly after he pushes Scotty away. Now we're over Dirk's shoulder, Scotty is small in the background. The power dynamic is clear. Scotty scrambles for anything to say, and Dirk cools down ever so slightly — now we're in two shot.

 

This is where I think the comparison to Scorsese falls apart. I've always thought the raw emotion of this scene is similar to the "why did you do that, Karen?" scene in GF. In that scene, Scorsese is an observer, his camera is not very expressive. He cuts between singles, uses a couple of two shots and pans with the action, and that's about it. I fucking love that scene, but I think if you muted the dialogue and blurred out the character's faces you wouldn't have much idea of what is going on. In the Boogie Nights scene, I think Anderson's camera does a little bit more to tell the story than Scorsese's camera. You might pick up the gist of it, even if you blurred out the kiss.

 

Okay, I'm done now.

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F*ck you guys for making us choose.

 

Also, porn star to actress: Tracy Lords in Cry Baby and then at least two other shitty made-for-cable movies.

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Have not listened to the episode yet, but I've seen both movies a dozen times and considering one of them is my all time favorite I doubt I'll be swayed by Devin and Amy's arguments so I'll go ahead and chime in before I listen.

 

There Will Be Blood is why I got into movies. Saw it for the first time when AMC broadcast it with story notes. I'm a lifelong movie fan, but that broadcast was the first time it ever occurred to me that movies aren't just things that exist, but rather are things that are crafted by artists. TWBB was also my first PTA. For these reasons, it holds a special place in my heart.

 

But...

 

Boogie Nights is a perfect movie. To me, the key to realizing its greatness is to consider the validity of the claim that BN is Anderson doing Scorsese (or Altman). Yes, the opener and all the frenetic push ins are clearly lifted right from GoodFellas. Many people, in tracing Anderson's evolution as a filmmaker, like to discuss the difference between his highly kinetic earlier work and his slowed-down (even static) later work. The slant of much of this analysis is that Anderson "grew up."

 

I disagree with this generalized narrative because in Boogie Nights there is already ample evidence of Anderson's restraint and maturity. My favorite scene — Scotty showing Dirk his new Datsun — is, IMO, a perfect example of this restraint. I can't remember off the top of my head, but the scene only takes 5 or 6 shots, and is largely made of a 55 second long take. Although people often discuss Anderson's long takes, this shot is rarely mentioned. In this handheld shot, Anderson takes us from Dirk bent over looking at the car, to over Dirk's shoulder after he reject's Scotty's advances, to a two shot. In total, that's about 6 feet of movement — a far cry from the opener. Yet, in those 6 feet, Anderson tells a story. We're low with Dirk as he looks at the car, we can feel his enthusiasm. The camera rises slightly after he pushes Scotty away. Now we're over Dirk's shoulder, Scotty is small in the background. The power dynamic is clear. Scotty scrambles for anything to say, and Dirk cools down ever so slightly — now we're in two shot.

 

This is where I think the comparison to Scorsese falls apart. I've always thought the raw emotion of this scene is similar to the "why did you do that, Karen?" scene in GF. In that scene, Scorsese is an observer, his camera is not very expressive. He cuts between singles, uses a couple of two shots and pans with the action, and that's about it. I fucking love that scene, but I think if you muted the dialogue and blurred out the character's faces you wouldn't have much idea of what is going on. In the Boogie Nights scene, I think Anderson's camera does a little bit more to tell the story than Scorsese's camera. You might pick up the gist of it, even if you blurred out the kiss.

 

Okay, I'm done now.

 

 

Completely agree and very well put.

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I initially didn't like boogie nights. It was aping so much from Scorsese, DePalma, and Altman that it just felt like such a poser film. There will be blood is such. A towering achievement and left me stunned leaving the. theater. It. made me go back and check out BN again and now I see what devin does and I'm able to look past the "look at me" camerawork and appreciate it. I do love BN now, but TWBB is still PTA's masterpiece. DDL may give the finest performance put on celluloid.

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Oh, forgot to add my personal ranking:

 

7) Sydney

6) Magnolia (how crazy is it that this can be so low?)

5) Inherent Vice

4) There Will Be Blood

3) The Master

2) Punch-Drunk Love (one of the most criminally overlooked of the century? I think so.)

1) Boogie Nights

 

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I did not expect this much TWBB love. I 100% agree with Amy on this one its amazing, its important, I like it but I don't in any way think it belongs in the canon over Boogie Nights. (Honorable mention: Paul Dano IS fucking amazing in TWBB and not simply because he goes big.)

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I absolutely love both movies, but had to go for TWBB. One of my favorite movies of all time, and PTA's absolute masterpiece. I respect choosing Boogie Nights because it is an amazing film. But TWBB is just the clear choice for me.

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This is so unfair but I think I've made the right decision. I usually recommend TWBB more than Boogie Nights to people because it never ceases to impress me, but mostly because fewer people have seen TWBB over BN.

 

But I feel like Boogie Nights is such great showcase of exceptional acting and it's so well constructed. I love how it really makes you feel a part of the 70s. And what perfect casting. There's so much to this movie without feeling overlong (at least for me).

 

And I probably would have had to change my profile pic if I did vote against Boogie Nights.

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As I said, this is the moment where any movie that makes it in and is not as good as a Paul Thomas Anderson canon/pantheon tier movie (of which I say there are five or six) will get me riled. I'll be holding Canon votes far more harshly at the idea that Boogie Nights may be optional. I love There Will Be Blood as well, but not just as well.

 

Some notes for Boogie Nights:

-Philip Seymour Hoffman's Scotty is one of the best, most tragic side characters in any movie.

-The opening tracking shot is absolutely one of my favorite opening shots in any movie; beyond the stunt, it has so much energy, and the cast does such a good job introducing itself.

-Julianne Moore is heartbreaking in the custody scene, but somehow even better in the shot of her doing coke at the pool party while her son is trying to call her.

-This is one of the all-time great movie soundtracks, almost to the point that it distracts the pace of the movie in some of the party scenes. But the characters love the soundtrack so much that it always plays for me.

-Speaking of that; how about that choreographed dance sequence to Machine Gun? Is that not one of the most fun scenes in PTA's history, and it highlights the heightened reality of the 70s bubble about to come crashing down on them?

-The obvious meta-narrative tones are fun for what they say about Hollywood, but that PTA is able to vent this especially personal frustration and make such a loving movie is pretty amazing.

 

Boogie Nights is my best movie of the 1990s; Whisper of the Heart, one of the most painstakingly made Ghibli flicks, is the only competitor for my favorite. There Will Be Blood is one of my favorite 2000s movies, but would get stiffer competition from great movies like Mulholland Drive.

 

Last note; I love Magnolia as much as any PTA movie, really, but it would be crushed in this vote. It, The Master, and Inherent Vice are the only PTAs I've heard earn significant hatred from a large chunk of viewers, probably for the very reasons they're each such masterwork. But, well, so it goes.

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There Will Be Blood. This film goes deeper than one of Plainview's oil wells (or is it a derrick...whatever). While the film is clearly dark, I don't agree with Devin's assertion that it's cynical. We just don't see the happy ending (which is HW and his wife's life down in Mexico). Wouldn't go so far as to say the film is anti-capitalism or anti-spiritual either. It is not so much capitalism, nor spirituality, that corrupts, but the monomaniacal pursuit of power, whether it be through the avenue of business (Daniel) or religion (Eli). By the film's end, HW is both a business man, and religious; he is corrupted by neither. That's how I read it, at least, while watching it today. This film, as all great films, can be read in different ways, and offers up new insights and delights upon every viewing: this is why it gets my vote.

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Enjoyed this episode a lot. The choice would be incredibly difficult if I didn't just go with the emotional choice of Boogie Nights. I also love TWBB and it is probably better; maybe if I'd have rewatched it a little more recently I would have voted differently.

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Not sure I can add to the great comments already made. All I can say is both are towering cinematic achievements. My heart says Boogie Nights, but my brain says There Will Be Blood. But part of my brain also says Boogie Nights. I'm going Boogie Nights.

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Wow. The results kind of bummed me out. I love both films, but I'll never forget the jaw-dropping sense of discovery I had when first seeing BOOGIE NIGHTS. It birthed a cast of actors, nearly all of which I had seen in other films, that after this film had major career shifts. I think by contrast, THERE WILL BE BLOOD has an unforgettable lead performance and stunning cinematic storytelling, but every time I see it I tend to see something new that bothers me, often just barely but it makes me start to nitpick. I think, in particular, Paul Dano is great in the film but his performance is a little young and green. I think he was impressive for his age and emerged from this film a much better actor, but I wish I could see him playing at the place that he's at now in his life. I guess I can't complain too much about THERE WILL BE BLOOD getting into the Canon, but I hope that BOOGIE NIGHTS gets a second chance in the future. Maybe against MAGNOLIA, another film I adore but to a slightly lesser extent.

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I thought this was a clear TWBB vote for me, then I watched both films again over the last two nights. My wife was viewing TWBB for the first time, and BN for the first time in years. She had disdain for TWBB, which made me defend my love for Day-Lewis, Dano and the film a little harder. What I realized after watching both again, however, was that my original opinion was correct (in my eyes). The dichotomy of the two is great; TWBB focuses on two main characters, Plainview and Sunday, and their eventual collision course. BN goes the ensemble route, and is able to effectively dissect several while serving just enough of the smaller characters to keep all of them interesting. I had forgotten just how much we are force-fed the Amber/Dirk and Amber/Rollergirl maternal role, and had the podcast not pointed out the repetitive nature, I don't think it would have struck a nerve. I personally like the scene where Amber and Rollergirl are getting ripped on cocaine and having their mother/daughter discussion. It shows Rollergirl's desperation to be wanted like a daughter, and Amber's regret over choosing the life she lives over her son; but moreso, it reads as an all-too-real depiction of coked up conversations. Again, I thought this would be a steamroll win for TWBB, but it is (slightly) less...TWBB just has too much - perfect performances by Day-Lewis and Dano, incredibly quotable lines for a film of this heft, and a fantastic progression of a man turned monster (or maybe, two men turned monsters). There Will Be Blood is, in my opinion, near-perfect. Very excited to see this PTA showdown!

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I thought this was a clear TWBB vote for me, then I watched both films again over the last two nights. My wife was viewing TWBB for the first time, and BN for the first time in years. She had disdain for TWBB, which made me defend my love for Day-Lewis, Dano and the film a little harder. What I realized after watching both again, however, was that my original opinion was correct (in my eyes). The dichotomy of the two is great; TWBB focuses on two main characters, Plainview and Sunday, and their eventual collision course. BN goes the ensemble route, and is able to effectively dissect several while serving just enough of the smaller characters to keep all of them interesting. I had forgotten just how much we are force-fed the Amber/Dirk and Amber/Rollergirl maternal role, and had the podcast not pointed out the repetitive nature, I don't think it would have struck a nerve. I personally like the scene where Amber and Rollergirl are getting ripped on cocaine and having their mother/daughter discussion. It shows Rollergirl's desperation to be wanted like a daughter, and Amber's regret over choosing the life she lives over her son; but moreso, it reads as an all-too-real depiction of coked up conversations. Again, I thought this would be a steamroll win for TWBB, but it is (slightly) less...TWBB just has too much - perfect performances by Day-Lewis and Dano, incredibly quotable lines for a film of this heft, and a fantastic progression of a man turned monster (or maybe, two men turned monsters). There Will Be Blood is, in my opinion, near-perfect. Very excited to see this PTA showdown!

 

 

People have strong visceral reactions. I know many people who hated There Will Be Blood and doesn't understand why anyone would like it.

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I enjoyed Boogie Nights when it was released, and loved the cast. I don't think it's an important movie and I don't get the argument that it had a big social impact. When this podcast talks about impact of movies, it's often more accurate when it comes to older movies. With more recent movies, maybe it's too hard for a critic to set aside his/her personal experiences.

 

I found it tough to watch There Will Be Blood the first time, and I can't say I enjoyed it, but I think it's a perfect movie. Even though I rarely like straight dramas.

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It's been mentioned before in this thread, but the Religion V Capitalism idea doesn't really work because it isn't really a fair fight within the context of the movie, and thematically they both represent the same ideas.

I read the ending as being a deeply personal revenge by Daniel Plainview and nothing else.

Also, his performance is so great, but sometimes deeply ridiculous, I was outright laughing at the absurdity in some moments. I think they were purposeful..?

 

Also, I read Roger Ebert's review where he was absolutely scathing about Plainview's relationship with his son, using him as a 'prop' and nothing else.

I think he does use him as a prop, like all shitty, egocentric parents; but I also do think he loves him, as Devin mentioned, during the baptism scene and all the small moments between the two of them.

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What a difficult choice. Both are impressive pieces about important and culturally relevant 20th century industries, both are engrossing and easy to lose yourself in... I was thinking I'd like to watch them both back-to-back with Glengarry Glen Ross and The Social Network for a perfect piece of Americana.

 

That said, for me it's There Will Be Blood. The photography alone would be enough to tip it for me, but I also like the complete overwrought last scene, the dialogue-free first 10 or so minutes, and everything else in between. The way the film comments on capitalism, the relationship between the economy and the environment, the motivations for charity... it's a masterpiece. I like Boogie Nights, but TWBB gets my vote.

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