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The Films of Peter Bogdanovich

Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women


The Last Picture Show

Directed by John Ford

What's Up, Doc?

Paper Moon

Daisy Miller

At Long Last Love


Saint Jack

They All Laughed


Illegally Yours (July 9/05)

It really is quite remarkable just how bad Illegally Yours is, particularly considering the talent that's on both sides of the camera. Rob Lowe stars as Richard Dice, a clumsy oaf who - after being summoned for jury duty - discovers that a girl he used to have a crush on is the defendant. Dice, eager to clear the name of said girl, lies under oath and says he's never met the woman before. The young man also takes it upon himself to investigate the crime, resulting in a wacky series of supposed comic misunderstandings and hijinks. Director Peter Bogdanovich (!) imbues Illegally Yours with a frenetic, madcap sense of style that's presumably meant to hearken back to the screwball comedies of the '30s. That's all well and good, but there's just one problem: none of this is even remotely funny. Lowe delivers an exceedingly broad performance that's tiresome and obnoxious, something that's also true of virtually every actor in the supporting cast. The film's been written by Max Dickens and M.A. Stewart, and it really comes as no surprise to learn that the two haven't sold anything since.

out of


Noises Off

The Thing Called Love

The Cat's Meow (May 7/11)

Based on a stage play by Steven Peros, The Cat's Meow follows several well-known 1920s figures - including silent film star Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard) and infamous gossip columnist Louella Parsons (Jennifer Tilly) - as they gather for a birthday celebration aboard William Randolph Hearst's (Edward Herrmann) expansive yacht. Trouble ensues as Hearst becomes increasingly convinced that his mistress (Kirsten Dunst's Marion Davies) is having an affair with Chaplin, with Hearst's paranoia eventually resulting in the death of one of the more high profile passengers. The Cat's Meow has been infused with a decidedly plotless feel that is, at the outset, not as problematic as one might've feared, as filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich effectively sustains the viewer's interest by emphasizing the various characters' freewheeling, expectedly sarcastic exploits - with the relatively compelling atmosphere heightened by the presence of several familiar faces within the movie's cast. There inevitably reaches a point, however, at which the viewer starts to crave a more substantive vibe, with the relentless revelry proving instrumental in highlighting the various deficiencies within Peros' screenplay (eg the film's inherent staginess becomes increasingly difficult to overlook). And while the movie does improve once the aforementioned murder occurs - particularly as Bogdanovich begins to stress the characters' varied reactions to the death (eg Louella blackmails Hearst into granting her a lifetime contract) - The Cat's Meow ultimately comes off as a missed opportunity that's rarely as engrossing or intriguing as its premise might have indicated.

out of

The Mystery of Natalie Wood


Runnin' Down a Dream

She's Funny That Way (August 6/15)

Peter Bogdanovich's first theatrical effort in almost 15 years, She's Funny That Way follows prostitute-turned-actress Isabella "Izzy" Patterson (Imogen Poots) as she reveals the story of her success to a probing interviewer (Illeana Douglas' Judy) - with the movie, for the most part, subsequently unfolding in a series of flashbacks. The primary thrust of the narrative details Izzy's illicit relationship with a well-known director named Arnold Albertson (Owen Wilson) and how the coupling affects the play in which they're both involved, with complications ensuing as Izzy and Arnold's affair has a pronounced impact on a variety of periphery players - including Arnold's actress wife (Kathryn Hahn's Delta), a playwright (Will Forte's Joshua) with a crush on Izzy, and a judge (Austin Pendleton's Pendergast) who's developed an unhealthy fixation on Poots' character. It's clear virtually from the get-go that Bogdanovich, along with coscreenwriter Louise Stratten, is looking to cultivate a screwball atmosphere with She's Funny That Way, as the movie possesses many of the attributes that one has come to expect from the long-out-of-fashion genre - with the protagonists' ongoing penchant for coincidentally crossing paths certainly standing as a key example of this. (There is, for example, a fairly amusing sequence in which most of the primary characters separately converge on the same Italian restaurant.) And although it's lacking in gut-busting laugh-out-loud moments, She's Funny That Way possesses an affable, briskly-paced feel that effectively carries it through its admittedly padded out third act - with the able efforts of the talented cast elevating the material on an impressively persistent basis (ie though it's not one of the genre's most accomplished effort, the film remains a watchable throwback almost from beginning to end).

out of

© David Nusair