Last night a lavish postmodern public masturbation session went down at the Rockwell in Los Feliz, with a full cast performing the movie music of director Paul Thomas Anderson. The show, titled For the Record: Boogie Nights, also featured music from other Anderson films including Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love and the hilarious baptismal scene from There Will Be Blood.
Though the show quickly ventured into costumed disco fun, it began on a serious note with songs from Magnolia. For those who aren't familiar with Anderson's work, many consider this to be his grand opus of sorts; it's a somber flick that deals with issues like drug addiction, sexual abuse, unrequited homosexual love and cancer. But it's also got one hell of a soundtrack, bolstered by the heart-wrenching Aimee Mann songs "Wise Up" and "One". (Magnolia actually becomes a musical of sorts for a moment when the cast randomly bursts into "Wise Up.") But...
...last night's directors Shane Scheel and Anderson Davis interspersed enough of the film's comedic moment's -- Tom Cruise's character screaming "Respect the cock! Tame the cunt!" -- for the audience not to want to get open a vein in the restroom.
But the real fun began after the frogs had fallen from the sky (Magnolia fans will understand) and they broke out the bell-bottoms. The Rockwell is an intimate dinner theater so the revue was preformed all around the room, with Juliette Goglia -- playing Rollergirl -- skating past folks' tables. The set list was full of classics like "Boogie Shoes," "You Sexy Thing," "Sister Christian" and the finale "God Only Knows."
"Fooled Around and Fell In Love" was one of the most sexual things I've ever seen preformed onstage, complete with a couple (perhaps unintentional) nipple-slips. Also the mostly shirtless actors made me feel extremely inadequate about my own body. The acting was solid last night, with each performer playing multiple rolls. Derek Ferguson is a dead ringer for Dirk Diggler. He has the ditzy self-confidence down to a tee -- Eddie Adams from Torrance really believed he was a big, bright shining star.
Sure, it's more of us patting ourselves on the back in Hollywood and playing around in art we've already created postmodern love children, but For the Record is a good time. It's well-acted, funny, touching at moments, and you get to go: Oh, I love that part of this movie in your own head about 80 times.
And people have responded to these shows: Paul Thomas Anderson is only one in a series of directors whose music Scheel has chronicled. Speaking with him over the phone, Scheel says that his favorite movie music placement director of all time is Quentin Tarantino, who was the subject of a different For the Record show.
"He actually came to a show and loved it," says Scheel. "He stayed out until 4 in the morning drinking the entire cast under the table." Next up after the PTA show spells in August is Martin Scorsese. It's all so meta it can make your head spin.
I won't throw out any spoilers, but I will say that this version of Boogie Nights didn't ruin one of the best movie endings of all time. After all, thirteen inches is a tough load, it don't treat you gently. Now... where the fuck is Ringo!
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Personal Bias: If you put a gun to my head, I'd have to say Boogie Nights is my favorite film of all time.
The Crowd: A bit older, with money in their pockets.
Random Notebook Dump: They give you a Broadway-style playbill at the show, which is a nice touch.