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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%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#41 kiingfan011

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 04:51 PM

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.

#42 Callahan

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 05:33 PM

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.

#43 SilverShade

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 06:00 PM

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.

#44 gmgerling

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 06:07 PM

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.

#45 hachiemachie

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 06:39 PM

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.

#46 giblet.kittensoup

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 06:58 PM

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.

#47 Head Spin

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 07:06 PM

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.

#48 Sreekar

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 07:50 PM

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.

#49 kiingfan011

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 08:17 PM

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.

#50 AAHARROW

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 08:52 PM

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.

#51 AmandaNumbraOne

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:32 PM

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!'

#52 Ross Holzschuh

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 09:44 PM

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.

#53 KevinJP64

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:09 PM

View Postgmgerling, on 11 July 2016 - 06:07 PM, said:

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?

#54 EvanDickson

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 06:09 AM

View Posthachiemachie, on 11 July 2016 - 06:39 PM, said:

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.

#55 Joseph Daley

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 06:24 AM

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.

#56 JimmyMecks

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 06:41 AM

View Postgmgerling, on 11 July 2016 - 06:07 PM, said:

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.

#57 Head Spin

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 06:47 AM

View PostJimmyMecks, on 12 July 2016 - 06:41 AM, said:


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.

#58 CharlesElmore

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 07:54 AM

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.

#59 DirkDiggler

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 10:00 AM

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!

#60 ned yost

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 10:19 AM

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.