Movie Mamet

State and main

Rating: NNNNN

Writer David Mamet’s career as a film director is spotty. House Of Games and The Winslow Boy are great Things Change and The Spanish Prisoner are awful. With State And Main, Mamet hits his stride, taking the opportunity to comment on the art and business of making movies. Simply put, he’s remade François Truffaut’s Day For Night. A film crew led by director William H. Macy arrives in the small Vermont town of Waterford to make a turn-of-the-century drama. The unflappable Macy must deal with a naive writer (Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose script is being dismantled by unforeseen circumstances, a leading man (Alec Baldwin) with a thing for seducing underage girls, a leading lady (Sarah Jessica Parker) who won’t show her breasts and a local politician (Clark Gregg) who figures out he can soak the producer (David Paymer) for a truckload of money. Like all Mamet movies, the guts and glory are in the precise, angry writing, which in turn inspires actors like Macy, Baldwin, Hoffman and Paymer to give wonderfully deadpan performances. Mamet is notorious for demanding exact line readings, a tricky thing for actors, especially in a comedy, but the cast pulls it off here, and for the first time you get the feeling that Mamet had a good time making this movie. NNNN

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