Wednesday, March 16, 2011

State and Main (2000) [R] ****



Directing a film is a difficult task at best, but when the cast and crew of The Old Mill arrive in Waterford, Vermont to shoot a film set in the 1890s, about purity and redemption, director Walt Price (William H. Macy) must be convinced that the gods are punishing him. His male star Bob Barrenger (Alec Baldwin) has a penchant for underage girls, which is why they had to flee their original New Hampshire location, where they had already built an expensive old mill.

Walt's female star Claire Wellesley (Sarah Jessica Parker) tearfully tells Walt she can't do the film's nude scene - unless she's paid an additional eight hundred thousand dollars. Novice screenwriter Joseph Turner White (Philip Seymour Hoffman) can only work with a manual typewriter, and his is missing. Producer Marty Rossen (David Paymer) is an aggressive film company executive who has dealt with plenty of locals like Doug Mackenzie (Clark Gregg), town councilman and state political hopeful, who sees an opportunity to extort money from the production company and tries to manipulate Mayor George Bailey (Charles Durning) to that end. Doug's fiancee Ann (Rebecca Pidgeon), who directs a local theater company, thinks the film company's presence is a wonderful opportunity for the town, while the mayor's wife (Patti LuPone) plans an elaborate banquet for Walt, Bob, Claire and Marty, and teenager Carla (Julia Stiles) plans to throw herself at Bob Barrenger.

Written and directed by the incomparable David Mamet, (Glengarry Glen Ross, Wag the Dog, Ronin) the screenplay is a wonderfully eccentric satire, filled with deliciously quirky characters and hilarious dialogue, for example... Joseph: Do you like kids? Ann: I never saw the point of them. Joseph: Me, too. If you've always suspected that being part of a film company on location is like entering a slightly off-kilter, parallel universe, State and Main will confirm your suspicions. This is a memorable film to enjoy more than once. 

Labels: comedy, drama, filmmaking, satire     
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 75/100     
Tomatometer (critics=86, viewers=70)
State and Main


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