Boogie Nights ★★★½

PTA's ability to juggle a million characters is just spectacular. Most of these characters are pretty simple but get the illusion of depth through the morally complex story they inhabit and more importantly through the acting performances. There's no shortage of actors that give their best performances when working with PTA, and this movie may be the most glaring example.

I still manage to be disappointed by this one every time though. It's full of great bits, but it doesn't feel as much the unique creation of PTA as his next and onwards. It looks and sounds too much like the product of someone aping Scorsese. There's a fine line between that and amalgamating your influences into something new and improved, which is my impression of the later movies. There's also a lack of refinement in the writing, especially in the jokes where subtle jabs are ruined by piling on and going too broad. There are enough emotional stakes to suggest this shouldn't be a cheeky Goodfellas of porn and it mostly isn't, which makes the parts that are a bit annoying.