* Bogdanovich New York film has starry cast, special cameos
* "99 Homes" looks at grim aftermath of mortgage bubble
By Michael Roddy
VENICE, Aug 29 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 theatre 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 gives a refresher course in how to portray
the woman scorned once she finds out about her husband's
Telling who shows up in cameo roles would be a spoiler, but
it is all fairly ingenious, as well as preposterous.
A Venice screening audience that has so far been treated to
very little in the way of humour since the festival's opening on
Wednesday laughed frequently at the slickly produced film.
It is set partly in a Broadway theatre, partly in a luxury
hotel and also in a swank Italian restaurant, and is being shown
out of competition for the main Golden Lion prize to be awarded
The posh New York scene was a world away from American
director Ramin Bahrani's "99 Homes", a grim tale about the lives
that were destroyed, but also the big money to be made, during
the tidal wave of home foreclosures that washed across Florida
after the 2008 mortgage-market collapse in the United States.
The competition film stars Andrew Garfield as a young
construction worker, Dennis Nash, who loses his job - and
several weeks' pay -- when a homebuilder he works for goes bust.
He then loses the home he shares with his mother and his
freckle-faced son Connor when he cannot keep up the mortgage
The foreclosure, which sees Nash and his family literally
thrown out into the street, is overseen by a financial vulture
of a realtor named Rick Carver, played by Michael Shannon
He is the ultimate social Darwinist, or perhaps Ayn Rand
follower, who has only scorn for anyone who failed to read the
fine print of their mortgage contract or is sentimentally
attached to a home.
America is "of the winners, for the winners and by the
winners", he says, giving a twist to Abraham Lincoln's
"Gettysburg Address" as he takes the down-and-out Nash under his
wing and has him do the dirty work for him.
The Hollywood Reporter trade publication called it "a
hard-hitting look at America's economic divide".
Variety had particularly strong praise for Shannon, saying:
"like the devil that gets all the best tunes, it's Shannon -
ideally cast in a role that fully capitalizes on his dauntless
stare and imposing, almost-handsome physicality - who gets the
choice lines here, though his half-snarling, half-purring
delivery lends a certain snap even to clunkier ones."
"Anime Nere" (Dark Souls), an Italian competition entry
directed by Francesco Munzi, was a partly humourous look at
modern-day mobsters operating in a crumbling Italian city.
Two younger brothers want to stick with the family business,
but their older brother wants to lead a pious life, leading to
an escalating conflict that provides the film's dramatic ending.
(Michael Roddy is an arts and entertainment correspondent
for Reuters, The views expressed are his own.)
(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Crispian Balmer)