State and Main (2000)

Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Rebecca Pidgeon, Michael Higgins,
State and Main is a movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, and Rebecca Pidgeon. A movie crew invades a small town whose residents are all too ready to give up their values for showbiz glitz.
  • 6.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • David Mamet, Director:
  • Sarah Green, Producer:

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7 / 10

Brilliantly acted and refreshingly original!

I haven't been thoroughly following David Mamet's career, but just watching this film, "American Buffalo" and "Glengarry Glen Ross" I already get a feel of his unique style of writing. It's very witty, very original and he has certain trademarks, like quick exchanges of dialogue between actors and repeating of the same sentence of dialogue in a group of lines. Well, his uniqueness is quite evident in watching this movie and it works quite well.

First I'll mention the vast array of talented actors. I don't think the casting could've been any better. Character actor William H. Macy is brilliant as the almost unscrupulous director, who will do ANYTHING--and I'm not exaggerating the least bit--to get his picture done. Fellow character actor/fellow PT Anderson regular Philip Seymour-Hoffman turns in another brilliant, yet subtle performance as the shy but appealing and wildly creative screenwriter who is the fuel of this cinematic project. As I said, he's made a significant--and extremely impressive--transition from playing the airhead jerk in "Scent of a Woman" and "Twister" to playing deep character roles like this. He ranks among the top in my list of Best Underrated Actors (along with Macy) and I hope one of these days he'll become a household name. David Peymer, I think, delivers the best performance of his career as the fast-talking, sniveling producer. I've always known he was a good actor, but he truly flaunts his knack for acting and taking risks in this role. It figures that playwright Mamet would assemble a group of fine character actors, instead of simply casting people who "look good on camera." That's one of the advantages of having a playwright as a director.

The script is wildly original and kept me laughing. There are many interesting, memorable quotes. And this is just a fine adult comedy (Thank God!!). With the explosion of teen gross-out comedies, I'm sure audiences will cherish a comedy like this. It works in all aspects. Not only is it well-performed, but it's well-written (lots of comedies only contain one of those factors). And it's all done in good taste. So those of you expecting cheap sex jokes and low-brow gags involving bodily functions--sorry to disappoint you! There are no cliches. This movie is an explosion of Mamet's gift for creativity. Take for example, the relationship between Hoffman and the beautiful Rebecca Pidgeon. They don't have a sex scene. Most of their screen time is spent talking and getting to know each other, sharing their thoughts on writing, researching the town's history, finding out how much they have in common. Do we still see that in the movies? Character development in romance? In the scene where Hoffman is in the hotel room with Sarah Jessica Parker lying on the bed naked, and Pidgeon knocks on his door to greet him with a bouquet of flowers, there's no predictability. You would assume she would take one look at Parker's naked body and punch him in face. I'm not going to give away what happens, but that moment stuck in my mind, because it is the first film I've seen to go a different route with the whole "girlfriend catches you in bed with another girl" premise.

"State and Main" is pleasant, light-hearted, funny, original comedy and it's one I'd definitely recommend. If you want to see great performances and laugh at good, tasteful humor--you can't go wrong!

My score: 7 (out of 10)

7 / 10

David Mamet takes a change of pace

If you know Mamet's film history, you'll realize often, he writes about lowlifes and depressing (though good) subject matter such as the Untouchables, Glengarry Glen Ross and The Winslow Boy. But now, Mamet turns to light comedy and succeeds, even if as times it's a little too light.

The film is mainly supported (besides a clever script) by it's cast including William H. Macy delivering some good laughs as a director who comes off like he did in Fargo, only more like you would see a director. Phillip Seymour Hoffman makes good as a writer, Alec Baldwin brings some sly humor as a big movie star who can't get away from 14 year old girls (though Julia Stiles doesn't look 14), Sarah Jessica Parker is actually sexy here, and David Paymer is stunningly funny as a go for broke producer. At points, one could compare this movie to the brilliant Bowfinger from last year and they might be right, but Mamet also adds in stuff about small towns as well. Enjoyable to say the least. B+

8 / 10

Light but intelligent

Rebecca Pidgeon (Mamet's wife) has never been so winsome, nor Philip Seymour Hoffman so innocent. It is light fare, but the dialogue, thanks to Mamet's talent, nonetheless has an edge and intelligence missing from most romantic comedies.

The Hollywood crew, post-Entourage, seems almost dated, though David Paymer does a good job of seeming tough while remaining surprisingly vulnerable. Clark Gregg, on the town side, does an under-appreciated job of playing the jilted fiancé and future corrupt politician.

Contrasting this 10-year-old film with nonsense like (500) Days of Summer, you can see the difference between good light comedy and bad light comedy. Pidgeon and Hoffman at least hint at complexities of character that make their relationship an interesting prospect.

10 / 10

One Of Mamet's Best

It's difficult to write an objective review about a film that I'm so enthusiastic about, but there's no getting around it-- I haven't been this excited about a movie in a long time, so I'll just forge ahead. The film is `State and Main,' written and directed by David Mamet, and arguably his best effort since 1987's `House Of Games.' When a movie company invades the sleepy hamlet of Waterford, Vermont, for a location shoot, complete with big name stars Bob Barrenger (Alec Baldwin) and Claire Wellesley (Sarah Jessica Parker) in tow, it creates quite a stir; and before it's over many of the townsfolk, as well as a few of those connected with the film, have learned some things about themselves-- and others-- they never knew before. Things about honesty, purity and the moral flexibility inherent in many of those who reside here on planet Earth. As a setting for the making of the film within the film-- which is about purity and second chances-- Mamet takes a page right out of Americana, complete with a Main Street, an historic firehouse, a quaint hostelry and even-- `maybe'-- an old mill on a stream. And in making a film about making a film about purity and second chances, he's made a film about purity and, well, second chances; a terrific character study that is forthright and sincere, and which rings with truth from beginning to end. It's as honest as it is real, and so accessible that it makes an instant connection with the audience. There are characters and situations here with which everyone will be able to identify in one way or another, all presented refreshingly and quite unpredictably. Just when you think you see something coming from a mile away, you're treated to one of those famous Mamet `twists' that take you exactly where you didn't think you were going. And Mamet does it so well that it's not only highly entertaining, but invigorating as well. The cast he put together for this film is superlative, beginning with William H. Macy as Walt Price, the director of the movie. A Mamet regular, Macy creates a character infused with that magic Mamet realism that helps establish the credibility of the film from the outset. Baldwin is perfectly cast as the `star' with certain insatiable appetites and recreational needs, as is Parker, as the actress with a sudden case of `issues' regarding her contractual obligations. And David Paymer does a solid turn as Marty Rossen, the producer of the film. But the two actors who really make this movie tick are the charismatic Rebecca Pidgeon, and the versatile, multi-talented Philip Seymour Hoffman. Pidgeon is absolutely captivating as Ann Black, the local who runs the book shop and directs the town's drama group (which includes just about everybody in Waterford, it seems). She's winsome and charming, with a directness and vigor that is stunning; and she captures the very essence of Ann-- the intelligence and the compassion-- and conveys it convincingly to the audience. It's a memorable performance, and one of the strengths (among many) of the movie. The real star of the show, however, is Hoffman, as Joseph Turner White, the writer of the movie. He gives an introspective performance filled with nuance and subtlety that is so real-- so pure-- that he single-handedly takes the film to a whole new level. Like Meryl Streep, Hoffman has that chameleon-like ability that enables him to be anyone and everyone, yet always unique; it's a quality with which few actors are endowed, and he uses his gift to full advantage here, with his memorable portrayal of White. Simply put, it's a great performance by a great actor, and one that should earn him an Oscar nomination. The supporting cast includes Charles Durning (Mayor George Bailey), Clark Gregg (Doug), Patti LuPone (Sherry Bailey), Julia Stiles (Carla) and Ricky Jay (Jack). Mamet has a style that make his films uniquely his own, and `State and Main' is one of his best. Exceptionally well done and delivered, it's intelligent, funny and entertaining; an honest and succinct examination of human nature with an integrity at it's core that makes it a truly great film. This is a prime example of what the magic of the movies is all about; a film that absolutely should not be missed. I rate this one 10/10.

10 / 10

PLEASE PAY ATTENTION BEFORE POSTING

The reviews of this film seem to be mixed and I am confused on how that can be? This is one of my favorite movies ever and may be the best (not slapstick, Chris Farley-esque comedy, but smart) comedy. You must pay attention to this movie to get the jokes, because most of them are running (as in recurring) jokes that pick up on items that may have been just mentioned once ("Go you Huskies!") and again and again and again and then are explained later as a tag-on in the dialogue. This basic comedy technique works on an early Mel Brooks type level and makes for a movie that should be watched many times in order to pick up everything, but is still (maybe even more) enjoyable after each viewing.

The writing is unquestionably the best comedy screenplay since those early Brooks films. It's just funny, but you have to pay attention. If you aren't listening to every line of dialogue, you will miss jokes, it is that simple. Each line is crucial to the script either as a story/plot building device or as a joke building device or both. There is not one wasted word in the script.

The cast is classic. Rebecca Pidgeon, Mamet's wife, plays the matter-of-fact-talking girl perfectly. She is the heart of the film and deserves praise for being able to perform that well. The other person that deserves high praise is William H. Macy. His performance is on par with his Fargo performance. He emits this sense of control as everything falls apart around him and delivers some excellent lines.

Baldwin gives a better than average performance, as does Durning and Hoffman and the rest of the cast is quite good.

The direction is great. The movie seems to last 15 minutes because it is that interesting and fast paced. The perceived fast pace is created by the actors saying their lines so quickly and crisply. This can only occur with a director that knows the script but since the script was written by the director, the point becomes moot. Everything else also flows so well and the credit for that has to be given to Mamet's directing and writing ability.

I really like this film. I like the way "The Old Mill" mirrors the actions of the actual film and how deep the film goes. This is like one of those classic novels that can be dissected in every way for symbolism and thought, which is quite rare in today's cinema. The film may be too smart for it's own good and may have overshot the general movie audience, but makes for a gem of a movie to watch. Mamet pulls no punches making fun of Hollywood by comparing it to small town America or more importantly Hollywood "values" to small town American values. Watch this movie if you want to think and be entertained, and if that doesn't sound appealing, please go find another movie to watch.