The Legendary Peter Bogdanovich Discusses ‘She’s Funny That Way’ and the State of Modern Cinema

GameStop, Inc.

bogdanovich--002Going in to interview Peter Bogdanovich can be a little intimidating. Not only is he an Oscar-nominated director behind such classics as The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon, he’s also a key figure as a film historian, having done extensive interviews and documentaries on Orson Welles, John Ford, Charlie Chaplin, and countless other iconic figures in film history. He represents this bridge between the bygone era of classical Hollywood and the new Hollywood of the ‘70s. The legendary filmmaker is still at it with the upcoming release of She’s Funny That Way, a charming throwback to the screwball comedies of yesteryear.

Of course, that feeling of intimidation was amplified when I walked into the expansive conference room occupied by Bogdanovich and his assistant. A room big enough for a hundred mingling professionals was featuring three lonely chairs in the center. The slick-dressed Bogdanovich doesn’t really raise his voice, carrying himself in a cool demeanor that could easily be confused for arrogance. She’s Funny That Way is Bogdanovich’s first feature film since 2001’s The Cat’s Meow, but his time away from the silver screen doesn’t mean that he’s been resting on his laurels or having troubles securing financing – the two being the most common reasons for a filmmaker’s prolonged absence.

“I was busy. I was doing a lot of things,” Bogdanovich explained of the time between films. “I did six seasons of The Sopranos, a 600-page book, a four-hour documentary on Tom Petty that won a Grammy, a two-hour documentary about John Ford that I did in the ‘70s, but I redid it and added new interviews.” Yet that’s not all, as Bogdanovich continued, “I did two television films. One on Pete Rose and one on Natalie Wood.”

bogdanovich--004

“Well, I don’t think of it as old-fashioned,” Bogdanovich says of She’s Funny That Way’s classical style of screwball humor. “I think of it as a well-constructed comedy.”

“I like certain films of the ‘30s and ‘40s – I was obviously influenced by them because I’ve seen them, but I wasn’t thinking about any particular film,” the filmmaker says of the influences on the film’s style. Explaining the thought behind his escalating farce, Bogdanovich mentions the French writer Georges Feydeau. “He wrote 28 hit stage farces and then went crazy. He invented the bedroom farce,” the director says of the turn of the century playwright. “One of his cardinal rules was the one person who must not come into the room must come into the room,” which is insightful as to the approach behind his new film, particularly in a restaurant scene when everybody enters the room.

Though he may not have set out to make something old fashioned, Bogdanovich admits that he’s not exactly a fan of modern comedies. “I have seen many comedies that I’ve liked,” he says. “Most of them seem to get laughs out of body fluid jokes, or things that are shocking, like cum in the hair,” Bogdanovich says using the 17-year old comedy There’s Something About Mary as a recent example, though he’s by no means off the mark as that film is an outlier for much of today’s gross-out comedy.

bogdanovich--005

“As far as American films are concerned, it’s not a good era,” Bogdanovich says of the current state of American cinema. “Spending $150 million on a picture is looney to me,” he says of the compulsive gambler mentality of the modern studio system. “Special effects movies, superhero movies, cartoon movies just don’t interest me,” he says with a cool indifference.

But all is not bleak at the cinema as far as Bogdanovich is concerned. “I liked Noah [Baumbauch]’s picture, While We’re Young,” he says of the filmmaker who is also an executive producer alongside Wes Anderson on She’s Funny That Way. Anderson and Baumbach aren’t the only members of this next generation of filmmakers involved in She’s Funny That Way, as Quentin Tarantino makes a brief appearance. “He put They All Laughed, a film I made, as one of the ten best of all-time,” Bogdanovich says of Tarantino. “I thought it was a bit excessive, but you can’t help but like a guy who does that.”

The filmmaker has no problem heaping praise upon his star Owen Wilson. “Owen is like an old fashioned movie star,” the director says. “He has a personality that comes across no matter what he’s playing, and that’s the old fashioned kind of movie star, which I lament the loss of,” Bogdanovich says with a sense of tragic nostalgia. “Once in a while,” he added, “you find an actor who has a movie star quality, like Clint Eastwood, like Barbra Streisand. But they’re rare, and Owen has that.”

“I just wrote him a note saying he’s so good in this that he could do all the William Holden parts,” the director said of the film’s co-star Will Forte. “Orson Welles used to say, ‘It is very rare to find an actor that looked like he wrote a book.’ And Will is in that department. Jennifer [Aniston] recommended him very highly, as she did with Kathryn Hahn.”

bogdanovich--003

She’s Funny That Way takes a chunk of dialogue from the Ernst Lubitsch film Cluny Brown, but my inability to track down a copy of the film prior to the interview (though Bogdanovich mentioned that Criterion was working on a DVD release) led me to ask the filmmaker and historian about the state of film preservation. “It’s better than its ever been,” he says assuredly. “I wrote a piece about film preservation back in the ‘60s. The headline was “Who Cares?” Jokingly, Bogdanovich adds, “The irony is you can get just about everything except Cluny Brown.”

But just because his friend Quentin Tarantino appears in his film, Bogdanovich isn’t adopting a hardline stance on the film vs. digital debate. She’s Funny That Way isn’t the filmmaker’s first foray into shooting digitally. “I did that Tom Petty documentary on digital,” he explains. “It’s the wave of the future. It’s a lot easier to fix things. It’s a lot easier to change the image. I like film, too, but I don’t think it’s worth a federal case.”

She’s Funny That Way didn’t always share the title with the song from the late ‘20s. It was originally titled Squirrels to the Nuts, referencing the line the film borrows from Cluny Brown. “We got maneuvered out of it because people thought it would be difficult to translate for foreign, and domestic they thought it was a kid’s movie or something. I don’t know why it just couldn’t say, ‘Not for kids.’” He later added, “I liked it better, too, but that’s how it goes.”

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

FanboyNation
Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three’ – Leaves us Wanting More! – Spoiler Free Review

‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three‘ is a...

‘Lumina’ is a Incredible First for Debuting Director, Gino McKoy – Review

‘Lumina‘ is an incredible concept and an exceptional first run for...

Aaron Augenblick Returns for Season 2 of ‘City Island’ on PBS KIDS – Interview

Acclaimed Animator, Aaron Augenblick Returns with a Second Season of ‘City...

Event News Event Reviews
The ‘California Dreams’ Band Reunite on The Sunset Strip For a Night of 90s Nostalgia – Concert Review

Don’t Wake Me Up if I’m Dreaming, The ‘California Dreams‘ Band...

Jay Anthony Franke Talks California Dreams Reunion Concert in LA – Interview

Jay Anthony Franke Talks About The ‘California Dreams‘ Reunion Concert in...

‘An Inspector Calls’ Challenges the Morals of the Bourgeois – Review

‘An Inspector Calls‘ Challenges the Morals and Ethics of the Bourgeois...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Derek Gumin Talks Planet 13 and UFC 303 Meet and Greets – Interview

Director of Wholesale Accounts at Planet 13, Derek Gumin spoke about...

Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the Cactus, Endgame

Mhuhahahahahahahah!

Fantoy Comics Presents: A 4th of July Message!

Seriously, America, THIS crap?!?!?

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse: Blood on the cactus pt 4 (?)

There are some weird guys here that want invest in a...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus
MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Billy Eddy Talks His new Book ‘Our New World of Adult Bullies’ – Interview

Lawyer, Mediator and Personality Expert Bill Eddy Provides a Six-Step Strategy...

Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...