Bogdanovich's 'She's Funny That Way' milks laughs in Venice

Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:46am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

VENICE (Reuters) - A madcap New York drawing-room comedy that played out like a classic Hollywood farce saw "The Last Picture Show" director Peter Bogdanovich in sharp comedic form at the Venice Film Festival on Friday.

In "She's Funny That Way" Bogdanovich, who in the 1970s was part of the "New Hollywood" wave of pioneering directors, has assembled an all-star cast including Imogen Poots as an aspiring actress who says she is a muse but works as a call girl.

Her liaisons weave a spider's web that nets men, including Owen Wilson, a theater director who has played the rich sugar-daddy "benefactor" to a series of call girls over the years. The people revolving around her character eventually crash into each other, to everyone’s huge embarrassment.

Jennifer Aniston, as a therapist, gives a refresher course in how to portray the woman scorned once she finds out about her lover's hanky-panky partners.

Telling who shows up in cameo roles would be a spoiler, but it is all fairly ingenious, as well as preposterous.

Bogdanovich, 75, said at a press conference that he had been inspired by classic Hollywood films but also by the 19th-century French farce writer Georges Feydeau whose motto, he said, was "whoever must not come into the room must come into the room".

He also said he'd tried to capture the spirit of Hollywood before it was governed by a system that would not settle for less than huge box-office takes on the opening weekend.

"The great days of Hollywood which we remember with (Ernst) Lubitsch and Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks and John Ford and all those great filmmakers, those days are not with us anymore.   Continued...

Director Peter Bogdanovich poses as he arrives to attend the 71st Venice Film Festival in Venice August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile