As the critic-turned-auteur par excellence, Peter Bogdanovich doesn’t write dialogue so much as assemble quotations, most of them from the Golden Age of Hollywood. That gave his films scope to be quite moody and melancholy when his sources were only a couple of decades old, but now that classical Hollywood is no longer really part of lived memory, it’s a challenge to see how his cinephilic exercises could resonate as poignantly and poetically as they did in the 70s and early 80s. In some ways, his last film, The Cat’s Meow, was the last gasp, since it did what none of his previous films had ever dared to do – it enshrined the classical film industry as a period drama, thereby cementing it in the historical past, rather than celebrating it as an enduring part of the present. It feels right, then, that She’s Funny That Way – originally titled Squirrels to the Nuts, after a soundbite pulled from Ernst Lubitsch’s 1946 comedy Cluny Brown – is set in a version of the present that isn’t so much affectively indebted to classical Hollywood as anachronistically and defiantly shot as if we’re still living in classical Hollywood, in a kind of simulacral 30s that feels like even more of a definitive break from the embodied, corporeal, autobiographical nostalgia of, say, Paper Moon, than The Cat’s Meow. As in virtually any 30s film set in New York, Broadway is here presented as the nerve centre of an island in which everyone is an actor whether they know it or not, and every relationship in the city converges on the theatre. In fact, convergence is what the film does best, since most of the bit players – Owen Wilson as a director, Imogen Poots as a call girl, Rhys Ifans as an actor, Kathryn Hahn as another actor, Jennifer Aniston as a therapst – are all fairly underwhelming in themselves, and only really start to sparkle when they’re given the chance to work off each other’s energy. Combined with a story that's obsessed with artists and their muses - and offers a wonderful outlet for Wilson's musing mentality - that creating a genuinely ensemble experience that perhaps most differentiates it from Woody Allen’s latter-day jarring, dissonant and incongruous assemblages of celebrities. As a result, the film tends to play out across a series of ceremonial, performative, theatrical spaces – hotels, elevators, therapists couches, interviews – and is strongest when characters simply bump into each other – the perfect combination of spontaneity and theatrically – most memorably in an extended scene in which every member of the cast converges on a single restaurant, with delightful results. Certainly, that makes the whole film feels somewhat cloistered – one of the key scenes actually takes place in the Cloisters – but the effect is strangely one of expansiveness more than constriction, transforming Manhattan into the backdrop for a giant country house drama, drenched in a golden glow that that’s as ahistorical and self-containted as an Instagram photo, a tone and texture that makes even SmartPhones seem positively screwy. If anything does start to grate, it’s Poots’ abysmally historicised American accent – all the more unusual in that Ifans doesn’t seem under any pressure to conceal his Englishness – but there’s also something to be said for how enthusiastically the film revels in its sheer plasticity and implausibility, placing it front and centre with a framing device and voiceover that makes it feel as if she’s in every scene, and that every scene is bracketed by quotation marks more emphatic than those of any other film in Bogdanovich’s career, even or especially as nothing tangible or concrete is there to be quoted anymore.