I had arranged to do a quickie sitdown this morning at the SLS Hotel with Peter Bogdanovich, director of She’s Funny That Way (Lionsgate, 8.21). The appointment was for 10:15 am, but I flaked in a sense. What I mean is that with about 17 minutes to go I asked if I could please do a phoner instead. I was backed up with an unfinished piece and I figured what’s the difference if it’s person-to-person or on the phone? Well, that didn’t fly. The publicist checked and said there wasn’t a phone in the area where Bogdanovich was sitting, which of course wasn’t true. (I called the hotel desk right after this discussion and asked if there was a phone or a phone jack in the area where Bogdanovich was sitting; I was assured that there was.) The publicist then explained that the interview would have to be cancelled unless I got down there licketysplit.
I’m guessing that Bogdanovich felt insulted that I had bailed on our face-to-face and refused to get on the phone out of pride or petulance. I don’t know this; it’s just a suspicion. I do know that the publicist telling me that there wasn’t an available phone was…uhm, a less than candid response.
So I got in touch with Bill Teck, director of the affecting Bogdanovich doc One Day Since Yesterday (which I just saw and reviewed a few days ago), and asked him to forward a private message to Bodganovich in which I’ll apologize for the last-minute switch and ask if there’s any way he could get on the phone or meet this weekend. Can’t hurt. If Bogdanovich blows me off, fine, but at least I’ll know that I went the extra mile.
Previously posted 8.10 review of She’s Funny That Way: “I didn’t much care for [it]. You could bend over backwards and call it an amusing return to the style of Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc, but you can’t go home again. All good comedies feel as if the actors were on mescaline when they shot it; the really exceptional ones give Joe and Jane Popcorn a nice mescaline high of their own. But not this puppy. It’s spirited but a bit creaky, a bit strained.
“It’s basically one of those swanky uptown Manhattan fables about wealthy guys hiring hooker/escorts and then twisting themselves into pretzels in order to keep this information from their significant others, and I’m sorry but it’s just not very funny. You half expect Edward Everett Horton to show up as the butler. Noah Baumbach is one of the producers (along with Wes Anderson), but his own Mistress America is a much better farce for our time — smart and fast with a much better script.
“I realize that She’s Funny That Way makes no attempt to synch up with the 21st Century. It’s deliberately backwards-glancing. And I’ll give the cast (Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Kathryn Hahn, Will Forte, Rhys Ifans, Jennifer Aniston, Austin Pendleton) an upvote for embracing the spirit of ’30s-styled farce but…well, at times I was almost reminded of Charlie Chaplin‘s The Countess From Hong Kong (’67), an old-fashioned romantic farce and boxoffice bomb that costarred Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren. If you know this film you know what I mean.
“And I have to say that the British-born Imogen Poots feels like a weak link. I was particularly bothered by her exaggerated borough accent (“Noo Yawwk”) as well as Bogdanovich’s decision to shoot after-the-fact interview footage between herself and Ileana Douglas in which Poots reflects extensively about what she was feeling when all the wacky stuff was happening.”