One of the movies I’m most interested in hearing more about from the fall festival circuit is Peter Bogdanovich’s She’s Funny That Way (currently only scheduled to play at Venice, though it may still pop up at Telluride and/or New York). Produced by Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson, and co-written by Bogdanovich and his ex-wife Louise Stratten, She’s Funny That Way is reportedly a return to the fast-paced, semi-screwball comedy that briefly turned Bogdanovich into one of the most successful of the New Hollywood directors in the 1970s. Bogdanovich had back-to-back hits in 1972 and 1973 with What’s Up, Doc? and Paper Moon—the latter of which is in a strong candidate for the ideal model of a Bogdanovich film. Mixing the pinched nostalgia of The Last Picture Show with the snappy Old Hollywood pacing of What’s Up, Doc?, Paper Moon shows off both Bogdanovich’s gifts as a craftsman and his ability to find both the soft and hard edges of a story. Paper Moon is far more soft than hard, telling an episodic tale of a con man (played by Ryan O’Neal) and a tagalong orphan (played by O’Neal’s daughter Tatum), living fat while traveling across the Midwest during the Depression. But Bogdanovich and cinematographer László Kovács’ let the story develop in open spaces, creating an impression of almost frighteningly boundless opportunity. Bogdanovich has made several really good films since Paper Moon, but if his new one hearkens back to that era at all, it could be something special. Until the early reports start trickling in from Venice in a couple of weeks, prepare by watching (or rewatching) Paper Moon, at 2:40 a.m. Eastern, on Starz’s Retroplex channel.
August 13, 2014 newsreel