Boogie Nights (1997)

mv5by2e2ywyxy2qtzmjmzi00mjjllwfiywitztk5y2iymwq1zthhxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtmxodk2otu40._v1_

The story of a young man’s adventures in the California pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s. (IMDb)
I dunno, amidst all its characters and plot lines, in the end it lacks a certain, ahem, thrust, with no clear arc or, heh, climax to speak of (the hypnotic back-and-forth between limo and truck came close but didn’t quite land). That said, its “slice of life” structure is certainly done very well, with the majority of its many characters and scenes quite memorable and mull-worthy (Reilly’s earnest Reed and the dramatic/comedic drug deal probably top the list). Great music and camerawork too.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

punch-drunk-love

A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding. (IMDb)
Delightfully bizarre-within-the-mundane (our lead has seven sisters and sells novelty plungers in a big storage locker) and artfully and purposefully constructed (the loud and constant soundtrack, sudden sounds, tracking shots, zooms all envelope us in Barry’s anxiety; the colour flares are a cool touch too). It’s a well-acted character study of a man just trying to cope in this overwhelming world, and the solace and redemption he finds strike all the right chords after so much dissonance.
8.5/10 (Amazing)

 

There Will Be Blood (2007)

there_will_be_blood_ver2

A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business. (IMDb)
Patient and poignant cinematography and a persistently discomforting Kubrick-esque score fittingly portray drawn-out scenes in a dreary landscape amidst a long-scale soul-crushing story about the corruption of capitalism. Daniel’s narrative is compelling, but the parallelism in his feud with fellow false prophet Eli (Day-Lewis and Dano are both wonderful) is so brilliantly crafted (see the echo of the former’s baptism in the devastating final scene) the latter could have used more screen time.
8.5/10 (Amazing)

Magnolia (1999)

mpw-53082

An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley. (IMDb)
The book-ending narration is unnecessary. The frogs are a bit out-there. But the bulk of this 3-hour epic truly is a masterpiece of dramatic storytelling, as multiple poignant narratives–superbly acted–are brilliantly woven together in both stark and subtle ways, in the script and on the screen (see the swirling montages of tracking shots and an ever-building soundtrack found throughout; the character voice-overs lengthened into other scenes; the unique and moving cross-character sing-along).
9.5/10 (Breathtaking)