State and Main

Bomb Rating: 

It's often a mystery as to how people build their reputations in a certain industry, and David Mamet's reputation in film is certainly one of those mysteries. You can always identify a Mamet cocksucker by the way they blather on endlessly about what a brilliant film "Glengarry Glen Ross" was. Mamet's films are all the same: Poorly-plotted, poorly-planned character sketches masquerading as intricate puzzles.

Let's talk about all the lame stunts Mamet gets away with that no other filmmaker does. In fact, amateur screenwriters try this crap all the time and are not only ridiculed for it, but demoted to making commercials for hemorrhoid cream and RV expos.

First of all, haven't we seen about 200 too many of these filmmaker "insider films"? Do we really need to revisit the reeking clich├ęs of the womanizing male star, the petty director, the airheaded actress, and the abused writer? Didn't Joe Eszterhaus bury this whole genre with "Burn, Hollywood, Burn"? If Mamet's intent is to emulate Joe Eszterhaus, I'd say he's doing a pretty good job.

Secondly, Nicolas Roeg, who had at least established himself with films like "Performance" and "Don't Look Now," sent his career spiraling down the nepotism toilet by casting his actress-wife, Theresa Russell, in role after role. Shouldn't the same happen to Mamet? Both Russell and Mamet's wife, Rebecca Pidgeon, deliver lines like they've been shot with a tranquilizer dart. Seeing either of these women on a theater screen is enough to make one yearn for View-Master and a Walkman.

In "State and Main," director Walt Price (William H. Macy) leads a film crew into a small New England town where the residents are all-too-happy to sacrifice their morals and their homes for a chance at Hollywood glamor. Naturally, the cast and the filmmakers are scum, with the exception of the writer (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who begins questioning his commitment to his craft. The story ends with a trial involving the lead actor, Bob Barrenger (Alec Baldwin), who likes underage girls. In the process, Mamet abandons a variety of thoughts and plot questions. He introduces the question of various mysterious fires, which never gets resolved. The cinematographer breaks the window at the firehouse, but nothing happens after that. The mayor (Charles Durning) gets stood up for dinner by Barrenger and Price, but we never find out anything that happens afterward.

Given how much he seems to regard the rules of storytelling, Mamet would be more at home directing porn films. He appears to enjoy waving his dick around for the same reason dogs lick their own nuts: Because he can.

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