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Episode 85: BOOGIE NIGHTS vs TWBB


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Poll: Which PTA masterpiece gets in? (342 member(s) have cast votes)

Which PTA masterpiece gets in?

  1. BOOGIE NIGHTS (156 votes [45.61%])

    Percentage of vote: 45.61%

  2. THERE WILL BE BLOOD (186 votes [54.39%])

    Percentage of vote: 54.39%

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#21 stinkyshrimp

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:35 AM

Saying Paul Dano gives the best performance of TWBB is like comparing the Mona Lisa to a manila envelope.

#22 JJ95

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:43 AM

As I already wrote in the homework thread "There Will Be Blood" just didn't click with me. I fully appreaciate the extraordinary directing, acting and cinematography and recognize the artful writing - but I couldn't relate to anything in this movie. It's an amazing accomplishment but for me nothing else.

I need a minimum of sympathy for the characters to be interested in a movie, and there's just nothing there for me. Boogie Nights is completely different. While it's also a completely different world the ensemble is just so engaging and "loveable".

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!

#23 stee

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:53 AM

I loved that Devin mentioned the fine line Boogie Nights walks between laughing at its characters and taking them seriously, it seems like so often it is doing both! The scene where Dirk's mother is attacking him for being a moron read as comic to me, at the same time that I saw it as a portrayal of a really abusive relationship. That scene, as well as a huge chunk of the Wahlberg/John C. Reilly bro-ey-ness felt like a prototype of the kinds of jokes you see in current Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly movies, things like Walk Hard or Step Brothers. I was wondering if anyone else noticed that or if I was projecting.

I chose There Will Be Blood over Boogie Nights because it is so alien. Amy mentioned the way in which it can come across as self-important, or at least is so purposefully a big deal movie, and I completely agree with that to a point. I remember a guy I knew in high school who went through a phase of quoting all of Daniel Plainview's quirky lines. He wears a lot of vintage clothing now. I can see that there is a crowd of people, maybe in the same way as Fight Club, who love the hardscrabble unshaven macho of Daniel Day Lewis without seeing his critique of it. But watching this movie again, I think that it is its own unique thing to a greater extent than can be said for Boogie Nights. It is more focused, and (arguably) less cinematically referential.

#24 Patrick Gaertner

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:03 AM

This is probably the hardest versus episode we've had yet. I love both of these movies. Paul Thomas Anderson is brilliant and I love every single one of his movies. But in the end, I'm going with There Will Be Blood.

I love Boogie Nights. I've loved it every time I've seen it. It's a fastinating movie that I will continue to watch over and over again for the rest of my life. But There Will Be Blood is one of my favorite films of all time. And it honestly may just be when it hit me. I saw it for the first time in college, when I was just starting tor really think about film and stories in general, and it blew me away. I had never seen a movie quite like this until I saw it. The rise and fall of Daniel Plainview is one of the most engaging, dark, twisted, and beautiful stories I've ever seen. This may be my favorite portrayl of a villain of all time. So while I would love to see every Paul Thomas Anderson movie in the Canan (maybe not Sidney) I have to go with There WIll Be Blood over Boogie Nights.

Boogie Nights is a great movie that guarantees a good time. There Will Be Blood changed my life. It's not really a contest. To Me.
As always, I'm just some geek on the internet and it's all my personal opinion.

#25 Funny Username

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:23 AM

Oof this is a tough one. I think I'm going to come down on the side of Boogie Nights, but just barely. I think, like Amy, I've always felt that TWBB was clearly made to be a masterpiece in many ways, and it is one of the rare movies that lives up to those expectations. However, I think it looms so large that it actually leaves itself kind of distant from me. I've never connected to it the way I connected to Boogie Nights the first time I watched it. I also think, just from a purely preferential point, that I often like ensemble movies more than a 2-hander like TWBB (although DDL as Plainview is clearly one of the greatest performances ever put to film). Both are Canon-worthy, and I'm trying to look at this like a no-lose situation rather than a no-win.

#26 KevinJP64

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:40 AM

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.

#27 Alltehpie

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:40 AM

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.

#28 GeorgeBP

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:44 AM

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.

#29 Alex Murphy

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:45 AM

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.

#30 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 11:13 AM

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.

#31 phred2321

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 11:54 AM

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

#32 TwistedChrome

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 11:59 AM

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.

#33 JimmyMecks

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 12:01 PM

View PostTKFopp, on 11 July 2016 - 09:07 AM, said:


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 The Big Top 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.

#34 bleary

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 12:07 PM

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.

#35 jarathedude

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 12:15 PM

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.

#36 groovy-guy

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 12:41 PM

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.

#37 brianoblivion

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 01:00 PM

View PostKevinJP64, on 11 July 2016 - 10:40 AM, said:

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.

#38 FictionIsntReal

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 01:21 PM

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.

View PostJJ95, on 11 July 2016 - 09:43 AM, said:

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?

#39 Llewellyn_Wells

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 02:48 PM

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...

#40 Galactiac

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 03:54 PM

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.