The Cat's Meow

Rated NR

Director Peter Bogdanovich, heralded in the’70s as one of America’s most talented young filmmakers for such movies as The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon, finally has an admirable picture on the big screen again. After flying under the pop-cultural radar for years—he’s done a decade of TV movies and plays psychiatrist Elliott Kupferberg in HBO’s The Sopranos—Bogdanovich delivers an inspired but scathing look at 1920s Hollywood viciousness in this (perhaps) apocryphal tale. The central story is a love triangle involving real-life historical figures such as publishing and movie tycoon William Randolph Hearst (Edward Herrmann), funnyman Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard) and silent-film ingénue Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst). Along with a dozen other characters (some of them drawn from history, too), this dysfunctional Camelot, complete with a covered-up crime, takes place on Hearst’s massive yacht, which is bobbing along in the Pacific between Los Angeles and San Diego. A lovely period satire, it’s a blast, too.

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