* Bogdanovich New York film has starry cast, special cameos
* "99 Homes" looks at grim aftermath of mortgage bubble
(Adds quotes from Bogdanovich, "99 Homes" director Bahrani)
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, 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.
"Now it's how do you make $300 million the first weekend.
It's rather depressing, I think we're in a period of decadence
A WORLD AWAY
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.
Bahrani said although his film plays out in an area
deliberately chosen for its proximity to Disney World and its
"Magic Kingdom" and castles, he felt it had a global message.
"I think it's a very global subject because this type of
corruption has become systemic in the world and the thing is the
people perpetrating the crime, it's hand in hand with the
government, so they pass a law to protect themselves," he said.
The film that, unlike Bogdanovich's is competing for the
festival's main award, 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 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 cynical 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."
(Michael Roddy is an arts and entertainment correspondent
for Reuters, The views expressed are his own.)
(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Crispian Balmer)