#41 | June 18 - July 1, 1998  smlogo.gif

Krazy Kevin's Kino Korner

In This Issue
Feature Story
Press Review
Death Porn
Kino Korner
Moscow Babylon


Boogie Shite!

If there was a more overrated movie than Boogie Nights last year, then I certainly haven't seen it yet. Just how over-hyped was this movie? For starters, think back to how many times it was referenced by MT-Out nightlife guru Vijay Maheshwari at the end of last year. As if that wasn't annoying enough, you've also got a whole island full of Brits who insist on pronouncing it Boo-gie (rhymes with "Doogie") Nights. Of course, this could be a blessing in disguise: a title like Boogie Nights leaves some margin for error, but can there be any doubt that something called Boo-gie Nights is anything other than pure garbage? No, of course not.

Now that the film is finally here, you could set aside all the hype and judge it on its own merits. I don't recommend it, though. There isn't a single good reason to find this movie entertaining. I'm not saying you won't like it, just that you shouldn't. As always, I invite you to disagree with me 100 percent, but in this case you'll be wrong. Period.

Here's a simple quiz to illustrate my point (only those who have already seen Boogie Nights and found it inventive and/or insightful should take this quiz; all others please proceed to the next paragraph). First, have you seen GoodFellas? If not, then stop reading and watch it before continuing... OK, now for the quiz part. Do you still see Boogie Nights as anything but a third-rate rip-off without a single idea of its own? If you said yes, you are a hopeless idiot. Get yourself a subscription to Time or Newsweek and leave me the fuck alone.

For the record, I didn't hate Boogie Nights simply because it so shamelessly loots the cinematic style of pretty much every good movie Martin Scorcese or Robert De Niro has ever been involved with. Nor was I especially bothered by its third-generation '70s revivalism. All that would be rendered partially irrelevant if this movie were remotely watchable. But unless you take as much cocaine as the moronic characters, it is not. By the way, if you really want to get angry, try watching it on heroin. Even the most laid-back Kino Korner reader will be instantly transformed into Gripe-Lor, king of the nitpicking pedants.

A couple other myths perpetrated by the overweight middlebrows: Burt Reynolds turns in a "career performance" as Jack Horner, a porn director whose dream of elevating the genre to an art form is hampered by forces beyond his control. Burt in a silly hairpiece and covered in Vaseline in Striptease was entertaining and funny. Burt looking like Charlton Heston and talking too much is not.

Ah, the banality: a very stupid film about some very stupid filmmakers
The film's disenchanted, yet empathetic depiction of a "misunderstood underground" illustrates the striking parallels between the worlds of adult and mainstream cinema. OK, so maybe both industries are populated by ineptly manipulative imbeciles who get way too excited about coke. That still doesn't make Boogie Nights any more interesting to watch than hideous behind-the-scenes Hollywood ego-strokers like Get Shorty.

Marky Mark's prosthetic weenie, once it is finally shown, looks startlingly realistic. For one thing, the lighting of this shot was murkier than F/X-heavy scenes in Jurassic Park, and the thing still looked like a garden hose wrapped in translucent sausage casing.

I take extreme personal offense at William H. Macy's car salesman from Fargo being transplanted here-with only the addition of an obligatory '70s sleaze mustache-as Burt's cuckolded assistant. In the Adding Insult to Injury category, he is forced to spout off garbage like "Little Bill's suicide can really be seen as a metaphor for America itself" in the film's press kit. I'm not one of those reactionaries who insists that movies were automatically better in the old days, but at least it wasn't part of an actor's contractual obligations to do embarrassing media cheerleading in which he refers to his character by name as if it were a living, breathing entity.

And let's talk for a moment about Alfred Molina, making a brief appearance in what I suppose is the film's climax as a "wacky" coke-head parading his distended gut around to the an(th)emic power balladry of "Sister Christian." I don't know where this guy came from all of a sudden, but I sure do wish he'd go back there quietly without bothering me anymore. Which might have happened if this movie had been greeted as the turd it is but, alas, the craze-happy outlets of mainstream media had other plans. Helping to further the career of Alfred Molina may not be Boogie Nights' greatest sin, but it is the one I will be focusing all my hatred upon-and I invite you to do the same.

A nother pop quiz. What do Charles Dickens and homicidal teen lesbians have in common? If you said the lush landscapes of the Florida everglades, then either you're a hotshot film exec or you've already seen Wild Things and the latest cinematic take on Great Expectations.

Let's start with the latter. I didn't have any particularly Great Expectations going into this one, and it pretty much ran as expected. Robert De Niro is acting on auto-pilot in a brief role. Anne Bancroft looks even older and more frightening than she did in G.I. Jane. I suppose director Alfonso Cuaryn's
use of magical realism during the opening scenes is engaging enough if you're into that sort of thing, but there's still the Ethan Hawke voice-over to contend with. Before you know it, the Pip character (Americanized to Finn, as in Huckleberry I guess) is all grown up and Hawke is there in the two-dimensional flesh. Ethan may prove he's a better actor than prose writer, but he's still not much better than Alfred Molina.

On the plus side, moving the action to Florida eliminates the necessity of having to watch a bunch of Brits and their teeth for two hours. For this I was thankful. I was also pleased to see Simpsons regular Hank Azaria providing his unique brand of comic relief. I love the way this guy sticks out like a sore thumb in every single movie he's in. The real gem here is his "Wow, would you look at that one!" line as he peruses a room full of nude paintings Hawke has just done of his (Azaria's) fiancee. Speaking of this fiancee, Gwyneth Paltrow looks pretty damn good in black underwear, not that that should come as a shock to anyone. And her naked form is a lot more believable as artist's inspirational muse than Helen Hunt's was in a nearly identical scene in As Good As It Gets.

I can certainly appreciate what they were trying to do here by updating Dickens's serialized Victorian sensibility to the '90s, but things would have worked out better if they had taken a few more liberties with the story. For example, Finn tells a NY art critic a fabricated story about his guardian Joe being a drug smuggler who died when he was very young. Why not have this be the case in reality? Maybe Finn could have been raised by wolves or alligators or something. Now that would be edgy. And why not toss out all that mystery benefactor business? Instead, Bancroft and De Niro could be involved in some kinky sex-related subplot (using body doubles of course). Hell, they stuck Rob with that ridiculous beard, but then didn't get any mileage out of it. Maybe next time.

Wild Things is another case of fulfilled Floridian expectations, the latest in the long line of yawners John McNaughton has been pumping out since his disturbing debut, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. I can't really be bothered to get
bilious with regard to this one-it's far too pointless. Yes, it's another B-grade noir in which tiresome plot twists take the place of imaginative storytelling. Yes, it has that soap-opera bimbo from Starship Troopers along with a similar dose half-assed tongue-in-cheek humor. Yes, it's untitillating lesbo kiddie porn. It's even another movie about murderous bisexuals. But who really cares?

I suspect the whole affair can be explained by the brief shot of Kevin Bacon's schlong occurring just before the final plot twists. You see, Mr. Six Degrees is also one of the film's executive producers, which means he put up a whole lot of dough to get the thing made. Could it be that Bac-O was willing to risk several million bucks on a clunker like Wild Things just to keep from missing out on the chance to immortalize his member in celluloid before this whole male frontal-nudity craze had passed? You make the call.

ImageMap - turn on images!!!