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State and Main

  state and main
Sarah Jessica Parker and Alec Baldwin chuckle, recounting career low points like "Striking Distance" and "The Marrying Man."

2000, Fine Line
All Rights Reserved

Nobody likes to parody Hollywood quite like Hollywood itself. There are millions of books, television series, and films themselves that have satirized Hollywood and their business in general. There is a real lust for mockery when it comes to this subject, yet rarely does the public hold much interest in this topic. It seems to entertain Hollywood more than it does the collective. "State and Main" (IMDb listing) is David Mamet's version of the old thumb-in-the-eye featuring Big Hollywood vs. small town. Concerning a film crew as they invade a small Vermont town to film a period piece and eventually turn it upside down through sexual perversity, desperation, and customary chaos, "Main" is typical Mamet. It's coarse, funny, profane, and utterly on the money. It's also naggingly familiar material that cannot seem to shake the memory of better Hollywood jabs that have come before.

Starring Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, and Rebecca Pidgeon (Mamet's wife and star of all of his films), "State and Main" couldn't ask for a better cast. All the actors know exactly what kind of characters they are playing simply because they've been privy to all the juvenile behavior that happens on film sets throughout their careers. The cast has fun lampooning all the Hollywood excess. With Mamet's fantastic dialog, who wouldn't?

Portraying the director of the fictional film, Macy channels all the brat directors mixed with all the veterans he's worked with. These are people who refer to women as "Broads" and have little time for their crew's personal life. "Main" is some of Macy's best work to date. As the stars of the fictional picture within the picture, both Baldwin and Parker don't have much to do compared to the rest of the cast, but they both portray their character's arrogance a little too easily. The whole cast delivers rich, big laughs in that deadpan delivery that can only come from Mamet.

The surprise of "State and Main" is the relationship between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rebecca Pidgeon. This pair wouldn't be my first choices to anchor a love story, but under Mamet's careful direction, their courtship is tender and rather sweet. While all the other actors get to go after big laughs with easy targets, Hoffman and Pidgeon form their own special chemistry.

For Mamet, I guess this film has been brewing for a long time. I've seen snippets of his contempt toward Hollywood in his hilarious monthly cartoon for Premiere Magazine. "State and Main" certainly feels like the work of a man who knows all too well the evil nooks and crannies of the film business. It's a great movie, but I secretly hoped Mamet had higher aspirations for his knives then small town romance, boring caricatures of Jewish producers, and foolish superstars.

Filmfodder Grade: B+

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