Bogdanovich's worldview is this very simple, narrow thing. To his (mis)fortune he's run into objects in his immediate environment amenable to abuse towards his schematic misunderstanding of phenomenology, and in sufficient abundance to... uhm... nigger-rigi a kinda-sorta something out of them even. Thus Cybil Shepherd's his perennial Princess Preciouscunt, Eileen Brennan's time and again the frumpy-but-"real" Columbine, Duilio del Prete the castrated "exotic" cicisbeo... the whole thing's like an old timey farmstead : mortgaged to the hilt, creaking in the Dustbowl winds, just about ready to fall over ; and yet within it, there's the milky farmer's daughter, and daddy's chair at the table, and where the hunting rifle goes, a dedicated space between the flour sack and the caulk bushel. All the whole pile's waiting for is you, Hero McHeroson, to shotgun wed the dumb bitch and spend some of your lifetime spinning around like a top on their pre-arranged if very flat whirligig. The story's to a large degree pre-decided by the failings, shortcomings and inadequacies of the pre-selected most-of-a-cast (all of which are misrepresented as qualities, detail, flavour etcetera of course, and this merely because in turn they're driven by the failings, shortcomings and inadequacies of a half-man incorrectly assigned a role in the world that's not for him). So he takes his stable and goes about town looking for a leading man to sock into it, and make yet another self-same film about jackshit in peculiar. If their collective name were Half-Man-Riding-Half-A-Lame-Rabbit I'd be much surprised, however, because English ain't ever been quite that usefully expressive, to say nothing of its intrinsic tendency to incorrectness.
The Last Picture Show -- 1971, with (a very young) Jeff Bridges and (a barely legal) Cybill Shepherd -- is the one case where the foregoing works out best, in the sense of coincidentally veering closest to somethingness.
Time's been very unkindii to the woman. She's never again managed to land this close to herself ; instead her self-image slowly but monotonically veering into an impossibly stiff, utterly uninteresting imaginary of "propriety" or "acceptability" or whatever idiotic bullshit "the other dumb bitches won't call me the bad" poisoning her loneliness. She does manage to poke fun at that alienation convincingly enough on occasion (like say in At Long Last Love), but there's quite the difference between dancing and paresis victims exchanging quadriplegy jokes.
Time's not been nearly as unkind to the man : his glimmers in The Last Picture Show polish out well and by degrees, yielding a top caliber actor steadily working himself closer to his own self.
I'd say this film's an interesting basis to make the fundamental point : female society is not actually workable, and therefore neither useful nor important. Watch if you will a talented teenage actress and a talented teenage actor as rendered very plainly by a very simple director in 1971 ; then watch what "doing her best" on the basis of female culture yielded for her over half a century versus what "doing his best" not on the basis of female culture yielded for him over the same interval. If this doesn't make the point I'd say the problem's not outside, to do with arguments and examples, but squarely inside ; and if it does make the point I suppose I don't need to explain what changed from the early 70s to the late 90s such that Edward Norton and Angelina Jolie both went the way of the failure.———