Screen Life: You have to like a film that needs a glossary of porn-speak to be comprehensible

Let's do a little word association. Ready? Burt Reynolds. Now. What did you think? Washed-up actor? Rug Man? Has-been in opticians' advert? Somebody your mum used to fancy? Did you hear the din of duelling banjos? Or did that lovable "sonofabitch" in Smokey and The Bandit spring to mind? Get ready to adjust your archives. By all accounts, Reynolds has made a Travolta-sized comeback as Jack Horner, a blue movie producer who wants to make "art" in the upcoming Boogie Nights.

Yeah. Sure. Boogie Nights had a good rumble but Hollywood always speaks with a forked tongue. Nothing guarantees a movie will be "good" or even "a hit" - which is not the same thing. Ever notice how misleading some film posters are? Ever question why it costs just as much to promote a film as it does to make one?

Filmmaking is the best way to haemorrhage money. If the Boys Who Sell can con us into seeing a real stinker, they will have earned their Arnie- style Hummer.

Boogie Nights may not be Citizen Kane or even Pulp Fiction but, praise the Lord, it is a PR's dream. As a look at the pre-AIDS porn industry, it's sexy. Set in Los Angeles in the late Seventies / early Eighties - "an era when disco and drugs were in vogue, fashion was in flux and the party never seemed to stop" (or so says the blurb) - it's now. With a feel-good original soundtrack, it's got legs.

It is a little worrying that its young director, 26-year-old Paul Thomas Anderson, feels free to say things like, "The story takes place from 1977 to 1984, and I have very specific memories of the way Los Angeles looked and felt." Hell, I have vivid memories of being six too: my brother wouldn't give back my doll.

Still, Boogie Nights will be a must-see. You have to like a film that needs a glossary of porn-speak to be comprehensible (and you thought fluffers were the little ladies who clean the tube). And you have to like an actor like Burt Reynolds who said of his director, "I've got socks older than him."

Don't wait for Boogie Nights, though. Rent Burt's real comeback movie - Bill Forsyth's 1989 comedy Breaking In. He's so good it hurts.

If you don't like it, remember what Burt always said: "My movies were the kind they show in prisons and airplanes, because nobody can leave." What a guy.

Comments