Saturday, December 19, 2015
STATE & MAIN (2000)
Written & Directed By: David Mamet
Cinematography By: Oliver Stapleton
Editor: Barbara Tulliver
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker, William H. Macy, Ricky Jay, Rebecca Pidgeon, Clark Gregg, Julia Stiles, Matt Malloy, Charles Durning, Patti LuPone, Laura Silverman, David Paymer, Jonathan Katz
Having left New Hampshire over excessive demands by the locals, the cast and crew of "The Old Mill" moves their movie shoot to a small town in Vermont. However, they soon discover that The Old Mill burned down in 1960, the star can't keep his pants zipped, the starlet won't take her top off, and the locals aren't quite as easily conned as they appear.
The film feels more like a showcase at times. As it feels more practiced then filmed.
The film is still certainly entertaining and fun with plenty of quotable dialogue.
It doesn't feel realistic at all more like a production. That while it is entertaining. The film Just seems like every character within it has a quick or witty answer to every question or line thrown at them. Further more it seems like the characters have the answer before they fully hear the line or question completed. Like they were just waiting for something like this to happen to pontificate in the answer or subject.
Which I can see as part of It's charm coming from writer-Director David Mamet as it feels like a work of theater and also a throwback to classic comedies where the characters were smart, witty and managed to also be silly. While maintaining a certain intelligent dignity. Like a less physical screwball comedy.
The film has a great cast. Who all seem to be having fun as they are all onto it.
This also seems one of the first times that David Mamet has successfully more cast actress Rebecca pigeon. She is really good in her role and feels more believable then certain roles she has been cast in, in the past. In most films she has been cast as the femme fatale lead. She certainly has the talent to play the roles. She never quite feels believable, nor has the look. It just feels like a stretch most of the time. Usually as the film proceeds her talent takes over and you forget whatever misgivings you had about her in the role. Here she plays more the nice girl and actually the smartest person in the whole film.
The film works in two ways for Mr. Mamet. It's certainly his most light material as far as films go. It is also more accessible for a broader audience. As his films are usually hard-hitting, well written, verbose with a lot of foul language and revolve around criminal underworlds and a fascination with the sleight of hand. When it comes to this film it's almost like a studio comedy. This just happens to be a smarter one.
The film is also fun as it shows what goes on during a film production, on location. Irma not step by step, but you do get to see a little of what the job requires while on set. Including the problems and personal dramas.
The film is also one of the few times you get to see Philip Seymour Hoffman as a romantic, comedic, idealistic and non depressed. lead role he tends to be the moral center and audience surrogate in this Frank Capra lite type of situation.
As good as Hoffman is here. William H. Macy steals the film in a more non-showy role as the film director. Having to deal with all the crisis. He is subtle and powerful in the role. As his character tends to sneak up on the audience with it's strength.
It's nice to see Alec Baldwin in a more ridiculous comedic role. Done with dignity and just general silliness here before we really got to see him do it on the television show 30 ROCK. He dominates in his role here. He really touches a pulse or you feel the verve from him Spouting David Mamet's dialogue. Not as strong of course as his supporting role in the David Mamet scripted, yet not directed. Film version of GLENNGARRY GLENN ROSS. Where he had a role written for him that is not in the play and stole the whole film.
I know how I have pointed out how certain films at times have resembled or seem inspired by episodes of popular TV. Usually I write about it in more a derogatory fashion. Where as here I will celebrate it. As it reminds me of a SIMPSONS episode where a movie decides to film in Springfield and is duped and conned by the town at every turn. While the episode had a greater more wide approach. Here it focuses on the more personal dynamics of the characters and of the townsfolk
Also I liked that towards the end the film corns together as more of a moralistic story, but being that this is also a Hollywood story. The ending is cynical, yet feels earned without going over too much into sentimentality.
A satisfying rental