American graffiti

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Paul Thomas Anderson is the new Quentin Tarantino. Or at least, that seems to be the consensus among US film critics. Anderson, whose first feature, Hard Eight, is released in the UK this week, is being hailed as American cinema's discovery of the year for Boogie Nights, a Seventies porn-industry epic which opens in New York today. The hype can be misleading, though: the 27-year-old Anderson is no QT facsimile. Though his inexperience sometimes shows, he's significantly less gimmicky than Tarantino, and more ambitious: Altman and Scorsese are his most obvious models. Boogie Nights features Mark Wahlberg (the former "rapper" and Calvin Klein underwear model Marky Mark) as a dim-witted teenager with "one special gift"; he's discovered by an adult-film director (Burt Reynolds, never better), gives himself the nom de porn "Dirk Diggler", and is soon screwing his way to stardom. Anderson's breakthrough is one of a growing number of films to draw unlikely sustenance from the Seventies. There's The Ice Storm, Ang Lee's meditation on the sexual revolution; a rash of disco-related movies, including Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco and a Village People biopic (written by the men behind Ed Wood and The People vs Larry Flynt); and Velvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes's highly promising glam-rock odyssey.

Early last year, all the music-biz talk here was of a Britpop invasion, with Oasis at the vanguard: with "Wonderwall" high in the charts, the band packed Madison Square Garden. This year, following lukewarm reviews of Be Here Now, Oasis kicked off their US tour on Tuesday at the much smaller Hammerstein Ballroom. Barely five weeks after release, the album is already on its way out of the Top 40 - which must count as something of a disaster, considering the aggressive hype surrounding it. If it's any consolation to the Gallagher brothers, there's still a British champ on the billboard charts: Elton John's re-recorded "Candle in the Wind" went eight times platinum in its first week of release.

A couple of weeks ago, critics and academics with far too much time on their hands gathered at the University of Pennsylvania to present a lifetime's achievement award - to a pseudonym. A day-long seminar was held to honour "Alan Smithee," the Director's Guild of America's official pseudonymous credit for movies disowned by their directors. Smithee is more than just a trade secret or a cult object these days. There's an entire movie devoted to this fictitious film-maker: An Alan Smithee Film, a Player-style parody directed by Arthur Hiller from a Joe Eszterhas script. Hiller, however, was so unhappy with the final cut he didn't want his name on the film, so An Alan Smithee Film is now credited to Alan Smithee; not surprisingly, the movie is still without a release date. Meanwhile, the Smithee mystique continues to thicken. Movie-trade mag Variety reports that there may have been a real Alan Smithee. It turns out that The Indiscreet Mrs Jarvis, a TV drama starring Angela Lansbury, was directed by one Alan Smithee in 1955, some 13 years before the DGA invented the moniker.

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