Peter Bogdanovich
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Peter Bogdanovich

Targets (1968) is as self-referential as it gets.

An old Boris Karloff movie rolls under the titles. It is being watched by him, named Byron in Bogdanovich's film, and other friends. When the showing is over, Byron announces that he wants to retire to the filmmaker who has just completed a script for him, Sammy (played by Bogdanovich himself). Byron says that the real violence around them makes his horror movies look pathetically outdated. Across the street a young man, Bobby, is buying a gun and accidentally aiming it at Byron as he checks it. He has the trunk full of weapons. Bobby drives home: a stereotypical suburban home of the American middle class. He has the typical loving wife, Ilene, and they live with his parents. His wife has to work in the evening to make ends meet. After she leaves, Bobby grabs a gun from the trunk of the car and keeps it in bed the whole night. In the morning he kills his wife and his mother. In the meantime the struggling director Sammy, who is also the boyfriend of Byron's diligent secretary Jenny, has spent the night talking with Byron and in the morning Byron is more reasonable about his retirement. He accepts to appear in person at a drive-in to inaugurate his new movie. Bobby breaks into a oil refinery and climbs to the top of a tank. He pulls out his gun and starts shooting at the cars on the freeway, killing several drivers. When the police arrive, Bobby flees. A police car chases him and Bobby hides in the same drive-in where Karloff is scheduled to speak. While Byron is driving in his limo towards the drive-in, Bobby is getting ready to strike again. The first victim is a spectator who went into a telephone booth. Bobby even briefly aims his gun at the limo. Then the lights go off and the movie starts. Bobby begins shooting at anybody he can see. People panic and try to drive out, while the horror movie is still rolling. Byron and his secretary get out of the limo and walk towards the screen, as agreed, for his speech. Jenny herself is wounded by one shot. Byron starts walking towards the sniper. Bobby is confused because the scene on the wide screen is a scene of Byron walking towards his direction and the real-life Byron is walking towards him from another direction. Bobby shoots at both, causing the screen to catch fire and Byron to get wounded. But Byron has a chance to disarm the sniper and slaps him repeatedly in the face. Bobby simply hides in a corner, like a little child. The cops arrive and arrest him. A duel between the monster of the old-fashioned collective imagination and the monster of the new society.

The Last Picture Show (1971), based on the novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry, was one of the first films of the 1970s to exploit the nostalgic feeling for the 1950s. Appropriately, it was filmed in black and white. The story was basically a collection of episodes loosely tied together by the ghostly atmosphere of the town. In a sense, it was a claustrophobic version of Fellini's cinema. While Fellini's characters fundamentally like their life and their town, Bogdanovich's characters hate their life and their town.

In the 1950s young men Sonny and Duane live in a small sleepy town in Texas, swept by the wind in the first scene. Sonny has a mute friend, Billy, and a girlfriend Charlene whom he has been seeing for a while, but he's no longer excited about. He seems more excited about the waitress, Genevieve, of the only restaurant in town and especially about Jacey, although she is beyond his reach. Duane is dating the rich and beautiful Jacey. Her mother, a bitter and cynical frustrated wife, disapproves because Duane is poor. Another depressed woman is the wife of Sonny's coach, whom Sonny is asked to take home (she starts sobbing in front of him). A semi-drunk rich boy, Lester, invites Jacey to a wild party where people are likely to swim naked. She's tempted but needs to find an excuse with Duane. They are both going to their parents' party, where Jacey's mother openly flirts with a male friend while her husband is playing cards. Jacey pretends that her parents set her up with Lester and ditches Duane after letting him touch her intimate parts. Sonny leaves Charlene and kisses his coach's wife.
At the pool party of the rich kids Jacey is invited to strip naked in front of everybody. She is amused by her own temerity as she dives naked into the pool.
Duane is venting his anger by getting drunk with his fellow poor kids. They decide to have fun by buying a prostitute for Billy, Sonny's mute friend, who has never had sex in his life. The joke ends up in a humiliation for the poor kid. They are reproached by the old cowboy, Sam, who runs the billiard room, the restaurant and the movie theater. Sam bans Sonny from all his establishments.
Sonny and his coach's wife make love but she cries of humiliation while he comes. One day Sonny returns to the restaurant and is forgiven by old man Sam and welcomed by his mute friend Billy again. The waitress, Genevieve, tells him that the town knows about his relationship with the adulteress.
Jacey is now part of the crowd of decadent rich kids. She teases Lester because he can't even undo her bra, then lets another boy kiss her and touch her. She confesses to be still a virgin and not wanting to be one.
Duane and Sonny decide to ride to Mexico and Sam gives them some money. When they come back, they learn that Sam has died and left the billiard hall to Sonny.
Determined to lose her virginity, Jacey offers herself to Duane, but Duane just can't do it. She is humiliated and warns him not to tell anyone. They try again in a motel and this time he succeeds, while she passively waits for him to finish. But she wanted to lose her virginity only in order to be accepted by a rich decadent kid, Bobby. She goes straight to him and dumps Duane, who then decides to leave town. Jacey is punished by her new boyfriend, who dumps her almost immediately. When a rough oil worker invites her into the billiard hall, she accepts to have casual sex with him. Her mother figures out what happened and is shocked (probably more because she wanted him than because he slept with her daughter). Jacey is desperate that now she will be single forever, but her mother suggests Sonny as a viable candidate, as the relationship with a middle-aged woman is unlikely to last.
Sonny's lover is no longer feeling guilty. She not only enjoys their relationship (she finally found love) but has become a happy and funny woman. Jacey carries out her plan though and easily seduces Sonny, who has always secretely lusted after her. The coach's wife is annihilated realizing that the best time of her life is coming to an end.
The son of the preacher is caught molesting a little girl and put in jail. Duane returns to town and learns of Sonny's affair with Jacey. They fight and Sonny ends up at the hospital. Duane decides to enroll in the army to fight in Korea.
Sonny and Jacey elope and get married, but her father have the police track them down and annul the marriage before it is consumed. Jacey's mother sympathyzes with Sonny and reveals that she was Sam's first lover. The movie theater is closing, killed by the competition of television. Duane returns from the war. Sonny invites him to watch the last movie ("picture show"). Then Duane takes the bus to the big city.
Just then a truck runs over Sonny's mute friend Billy and kills him. Sonny is the only one to feel sorry for the death. Everybody else hardly mourns the poor boy. Devastated, Sonny walks back into the coach's house to his old lover. Without saying a word, he lets scorn him and scold him. Then he simply clutches her hand.

Paper Moon (1973) , filmato in bianco e nero e ambientato negli anni '30.

Una bambina rimane orfana e un amico della madre e` obbligato a prendersene cura. Estorce $200 alla famiglia dell'uomo che ha causato la morte della madre e progetta di sperire la piccola dagli zii, ma lei non ne vuol sapere, minaccia di denunciarlo per i $200 che le spettano di diritto e lui allora se la tiene. Attraversano la nazione in auto, vivendo delle piccole truffe dell'uomo (vende Bibbie di lusso alle vedove che incontra, fingendo che siano state ordinate dai defunti consorti) a cui collabora la piccola e intraprendente bambina. Rivendicando la propria parte del bottino, sveglia e astuta, pronta a capire quando lui tenta di raggirarla, lui si comporta da Bonnie con il suo Clyde. Ma e` anche di buon cuore e manda a monte le truffe a danno dei poveri. Roosveltiana. Complessata perche' tutti la credono un maschietto. Fuma a letto e in auto. Tiene la cassa, controlla il compagno, che la trascura spesso per le donne. Una ballerina che prendono a bordo con la sua servetta nera mette in crisi il loro rapporto: lui spende e spande per la ballerina, la bambina si ingelosisce e tiene il broncio. Per disfarsi della ballerina, la piccola organizza una trappola corrompendo la servetta e facendo in modo che lui trovi la ballerina nelle braccia di un altro. Anche quando vengono arrestati per contrabbando di alcolici da uno sceriffo corrotto, e` lei a organizzare e dirigere l'avventurosa fuga in auto.. Quando pero` gli uomini dello sceriffo li raggiungono e lo pestano a sangue, portandogli via anche tutti i soldi, lui si decide a consegnare la bambina agli zii, essendo arrivati al loro paese. Ma la bambina non resiste che qualche minuto con la buona e petulante zia. Gli corre dietro con i suoi due stracci e quando lui rifiuta di riprenderla con se` gli ricorda che e` ancora in debito di $200. Partono insieme sul macinino lungo una lunga strada polverosa.

Mask (1985) e` una commedia sentimentale

Un adolescente ha il viso sfigurato da una malattia incurabile. Riesce comunque a farsi accettare nella comunita` dei motociclisti di cui fa parte sua madre (drogata e un po' ninfomane) e a scuola, dove la sua intelligenza e il suo buon umore finiscono per conquistargli le simpatie di tutti. Riesce persino a convincere la madre a ravvedersi. Una ragazza cieca si innamora di lui, ma i genitori di lei si oppongono, e il mostro ne muore di dolore.
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