"Boogie Nights" Is Released

Boogie Nights is a 1997 American drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

Set in Southern California in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the screenplay focuses on a young nightclub dishwasher who becomes the popular star of pornographic films and finds himself slowly descending into a nightmare of drug abuse when his fame draws him into a crowd of users and abusers.

Fantastic bravado from a 27-year-old filmmaker who has laid-back wit, amazingly fluid camera technique and no qualms about borrowing from the best. Following the ''Nashville'' blueprint, Paul Thomas Anderson explores the quaint customs and inchoate longings within an insular pop subculture, this time the sleazy, druggy universe of 70's porn. From spectacular party sequences to clear proof that the party is over, this busy, wildly colorful film has no trouble holding interest -- far from it. But its extravagant length is a tactical mistake, since it promises bigger ideas than Mr. Anderson delivers. Mark Wahlberg gives a terrifically appealing performance in the story's tricky central role. Prominently featured in the fine ensemble cast are Burt Reynolds, doing his best and most suavely funny work in years as a porn auteur, and Julianne Moore as his ethereal, vaguely tragic star. Minor details, like her hilariously bad porn acting or the flashy period costumes, are an evil treat. — Janet Maslin, The New York Times