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Boogie Nights (1997)
IN-THEATER AND REMOTE CLASSROOM
Boogie Nights (1997)
IN-THEATER AND REMOTE CLASSROOM
Boogie Nights (1997)
IN-THEATER AND REMOTE CLASSROOM
Boogie Nights (1997)
IN-THEATER AND REMOTE CLASSROOM
Boogie Nights (1997)
IN-THEATER AND REMOTE CLASSROOM
Boogie Nights (1997)
IN-THEATER AND REMOTE CLASSROOM

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
Boogie Nights

Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm
ON SITE: $25 for members, $35 for non-members
REMOTE CLASSROOM: $15 for members, $20 for non-members  
Instructor: Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini University

Although not his first film, Paul Thomas Anderson’s sophomore effort, Boogie Nights (1997), is undoubtedly his early-career calling card, an achievement that announced him as a creative force for decades to come. At times a playful period romp tracing the evolution and devolution of the California porn industry from the late 1970s through early 1980s, Boogie Nights is also a most unusual “family drama” about the creative families we choose and improvise, rather than those to which we are born.

Boogie Nights is also a young filmmaker’s conscious homage to the cinematic forerunners who had inspired him. One can palpably sense traces of Martin Scorsese’s almost anthropological capacity to document outsider subcultures at the margins of respectability (think Goodfellas), as well as Robert Altman’s ensemble-driven commitment to the language and social posturing that animates any line of work (think Nashville). These narrative inspirations aside, Anderson finds his own distinctive voice by dancing elegantly between a full embrace of his subjects’ humanity and a detached, almost voyeuristic accounting of their working lives in an industry decidedly off the beaten path, yet fraught with personality dynamics and rivalries like any other.

Depicting the absurdities and excesses of the so-called “Golden Age of Porn” alongside its genuine spirit of countercultural entrepreneurship, Anderson refuses the cheap tricks of caricature or condescension that would likely plague another take on the material. He fundamentally understands his fictionalized porn actors, directors, and producers—echoes as they are of real figures from the industry—as frustrated outsiders desperate to connect with like-minded souls who find American conventions of traditional family and gainful employment equally wanting. Anderson also recognizes in his characters, however self-deceiving and self-sabotaging at times, a charming, relatable aspiration to meaning, respect, and even artistry. Eschewing judgment of the porn industry per se, Anderson instead unfolds a strange yet poignant tale of how porn became corporatized during a particularly transitional era of American life at large, and how the film’s creative family is fractured and fragilely reconstituted with each dizzying change in the cultural landscape around it.

Featuring memorable ensemble work by Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham, Alfred Molina, and 1970s icon Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights remains as vibrant, humorous, and cautionary a tale as ever. One of the cautions being this: remember that every “golden age” is the flip side of a perilous fever dream, and every waking dream of non-conformity is an invitation to the harsh wake-up call provided by the commodification of even the edgiest desires.

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Additional showtimes can be found here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those who attend the seminar on site at BMFI receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink.

Please note: There are two ways to attend in this seminar:

  1. On site, at BMFI, in one of our theaters: Registration and seat selection must be done in advance, online, via the “ON SITE” button under the “Course Information” heading. There will be no walk-up registrations for this seminar.
  2. If you wish to attend in our Remote Classroom, please do so via the “AT HOME” button under the “Remote Classroom” heading. You will be able to livestream the pre-screening lecture and participate in the post-screening discussion, but the movie is not included (nor are popcorn and a drink, we’re sorry to say).

 Please email BMFI education coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.


Course Information

On Site

Schedule
  • Wednesday, January 26 · 6:30 pm
Remote Classroom
At Home
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