Writer-director -- and recent LA Weekly guest blogger -- Jason Reitman is in the midst of a banner awards season, his much-lauded George Clooney-starrer Up in the Air having raked in a truckload of nominations and snared more than one win, in particular for his screenplay written along with Sheldon Turner. As a matter of fact, the BAFTA Awards were in full swing on Sunday in ye olde London town and Reitman picked up yet another prize for his script, but he wasn't there to accept it. No, sometimes there are far more important things to attend to than awards ceremonies... such as sitting in a dark, crowded theater watching and enthusing about films that you love with dozens of like-minded cinema geeks. Indeed, it was Reitman's turn at bat for the New Beverly Cinema's ongoing director-programmed film series.
Having practically blown the doors off the New Bev's spiffy makeover out front (Ooh, new tiling!) with Friday night's Matthew Broderick-double header of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Election -- featuring a Q&A with very special guests Jennifer Grey and Chris Klein -- Reitman treated the sold-out audience (at least 50 people were turned away, according to booker and hostess with the mostess Julia Marchese) to the sexy, solipsistic and superbly LA-centric pairing of Shampoo and Boogie Nights.
Reitman introduced the former with a nod to the dismissive teenage attitude he once had toward it ("It's called fucking Shampoo!" And Warren Beatty's face on the poster was just somehow terribly off-putting...), then letting the film speak for itself and rapidly diving into just why, particularly if you were one of the aspiring filmmakers who greeted the director at the break between films, Hal Ashby's bittersweet sex comedy is exactly the film they should be making. "Because it's not romantic... it's embarrassing, and real." And for the record, Reitman admits, he lifted more than a little inspiration for Up in the Air's halting ending from the conclusion of Shampoo: "I just ripped it off, basically."
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The film that put PT Anderson on the map has an ending that is halting for more than one reason (although it's that one reason most people end up talking about), and the hedonist-LA sensibilities that are pervasive throughout Boogie Nights made it a choice match for Ashby's earlier film. Reitman -- who justifiably boasted of getting to see the film in one of its earliest test screenings at the Beverly Center -- also scored the evening's sole special guest in connection with Boogie Nights, although when you've got the incomparable William H. Macy in the house, you don't really need backup.
The man who was Little Bill -- a character who was the focal point of one of the most indelible moments in the entire film -- was happy to answer a barrage of questions from his former Thank You For Smoking director on PTA's shooting schedule: how he came to get the role, and how delightful legendary porn star Nina Hartley (who portrayed Macy's wife) is. (Kind enough, it turns out, to present the entire cast with copies of her anal sex guide video as wrap gifts. Aww, Nina... you shouldn't have.)