From the December 11, 2000 Chicago Reader. — J.R.
Writer-director David Mamet emulates Kaufman and Hart. A Hollywood film unit prepares to shoot a feature in a small town in Vermont, occasioning the sort of comic mishaps found in The Man Who Came to Dinner, though without comparably juicy characters. What Mamet serves up are a generically crass director (William H. Macy), a principled screenwriter (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who becomes romantically involved with the woman who runs the local bookstore (Rebecca Pidgeon), a starstruck mayor (Charles Durning), a lead actor who lusts after teenage girls (Alec Baldwin), and so on. I laughed a lot at the anti-Hollywood humor and generally had a fine time, in spite of the holier-than-thou hypocrisy that makes this movie easily and even intentionally Mamet’s most Hollywoodish picture to date. With Patti LuPone, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Paymer, and Julia Stiles. 106 min. (JR)
… Read more »
Joe Gould’s Secret
This charming and evocative period piece about Greenwich Village in the 40s is also a subtle cautionary tale for writers against the danger of losing all your work in talk. The delicate and wryly witty screenplay by Howard A. Rodman, perhaps best known for his work with Steven Soderbergh, tells the true story of shy southern New Yorker editor Joseph Mitchell (Stanley Tucci, who also directed) discovering and profiling the legendary Joe Gould (Ian Holm in a career-defining performance). Gould, a homeless bohemian and raging lunatic–kind of a Mr. Natural before the fact–professes to be writing something called “The Oral History of Our Time,” but it never quite materializes. The fact that Mitchell himself retreated into silence after writing a second Gould profile in the 60s suggests either that Gould’s dissipation had a snowball effect or that Mitchell became Gould’s doppelganger. Either way, this is a movie to savor, not one to scarf. With Patricia Clarkson, Hope Davis, and Susan Sarandon. Fine Arts.
–Jonathan Rosenbaum… Read more »