"Get two geniuses, put them together in a room, and... wow!" That was Steve Martin's self-conscious gag incorporated into the dialogue of his play Picasso at the Lapin Angile. It said, in effect, that we shouldn't give famous intellectuals more credit than they're due. They have inconsistencies like all of us. Peter Bogdanovich's bitter Hollywood pill both loves and hates its showbiz characters and geniuses, but it admonishes them in their Golden Era splendor and exists somewhat in awe of them.
Taking place aboard William Randolph Hearst's private yacht one fateful weekend in November, 1924, Bogdanovich enjoys tweaking the Citizen Kane myth built around the mighty Hearst (Edward Herrmann) and his youthful, rising-star mistress Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst). Marion, in particular, is seen as a bright-eyed, confident, canny manipulator, working her way into the power system through her own creative ingenuity. It's a far cry from Kane's bubblehead recreation. Hearst, sinking deep into his middle-aged bulk and deeper into paranoia (monitoring his guests through a series of spy gadgets), uses her as a lifeline to humankind. Without her, he'd barely be a person.
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