Sunday, June 12, 2011

David Mamet: Brilliant Filmmaker, or Just Plain Stupid?

Updated 2/1/13 for clarity, spelling, by Days Like This
Special thanks to an anonymous poster who left a comment on my last entry regarding David Mamet's latest statements about his HBO film. Sprocket.
David Mamet was recently interviewed by John Gapper for an article appearing in Mamet talked about his love of Sarah Palin and his upcoming HBO film about the eccentric music producer, Phil Spector.
Spector, to be played by Al Pacino with Bette Midler as his lawyer, Linda Kenney Baden, was jailed for murder in 2008 after being convicted of the killing of Lana Clarkson, an actress, at his California mansion. "I don't think he's guilty. I definitely think there is reasonable doubt," Mamet says briskly when I ask what interested him about the case. "They should never have sent him away. Whether he did it or not, we'll never know but if he'd just been a regular citizen, they never would have indicted him."
Did the Chicago-born Mamet, a man who claims he is "no longer a brain-dead liberal," lose too many functioning brain cells during his time as a member of the Hollywood elite? That's my conclusion.
Mamet has previously stated in the press that he didn't care about the trial when it was happening.
Mamet based his current opinion on Vikram Jiyanti's lopsided love-letter film The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector. It should be noted that Jiyanti has publically stated the single individual he interviewed for his documentary was Phil Spector.
One must be mindful on how Spector's story evolved. Jiyanti spent many months with Spector during his first trial, often showing up at court (but only during the defense case) and publicly hugging him in full view of the media. The initial "story" the truth, doesn't make for a good flick. The movie Mamet is making is revisionist history, not borne out by the legal record or the investigation; he is taking the new victim's side totally. I'm reminded of another revisionist history film, JFK by director Oliver Stone. That film had nothing to do with the way things really happened, but as time went on, and conspiracy theories festered, so grew the story . . . and so grew the grassy knoll/two shooters story.
Mamet's opinion is blatantly myopic. The California Court of Appeal, unanimously rejected Spector's attempt to get his verdict overturned. (You know, the appeal that was supposed to be the best appeal presented before the court since the invention of sliced bread; tongue in cheek here.) The Appellate Court also stated in their recent rejection of a re-review request by Spector's attorney Dennis Riordan, that in their ruling there was "... overwhelming evidence against Spector..."
Mament's knowledge and understanding of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office is seriously lacking the application of any properly firing brain cells if he truly believes that Phil Spector, having been just a "regular citizen" would not have been indicted when Lana Clarkson was found dead in his Alhambra mansion. What a complete insult to the L.A. Co. DA's office, as well as dedicated career prosecutor, DDA Alan Jackson, who tirelessly worked through two trials to convict Spector of second degree murder. (Not to mention all the hardworking staff at the L.A. County Sheriff's Crime Lab and the hundreds upon hundreds of man-hours Dr. Lynne Herold put into analyzing the blood spatter evidence.)
Let's look at this for a moment. Alhambra Officers arrive at the scene. Officers are called to the scene not because this "regular citizen" called police to report a suicide in his home, but because his fill-in driver, Adriano De Souza (after personally observing Phil Spector exiting the mansion with a gun in his hand, heard him confess: "I think I killed somebody,") did the right thing and immediately called 911.
1. So right away, a 911 call comes in with De Souza telling the operator Spector's statement, "I think I killed somebody."
Now to interject here, does Mamet believe the "regular citizen" would have done the exact same things Spector did post-incident? For this exercise, we can only assume so because Mamet doesn't mention anything else that would be different in the article, just that no indictment would have occurred if Spector was a "regular citizen."
Back at the scene, officers are interviewing De Souza at the gates to the mansion. He's describing what he saw when he briefly looked into the mansion beyond Spector and saw Lana Clarkson in the low-legged vintage chair, looking like she was lying flat, her long legs stretched out in front of her. The officers don't know if there is anyone else on the property. They plan a strategy of how to approach the house.
2. After reaching the house, they see Spector through a second story window pacing. Later, Spector exits the rear entrance of the house. Police address Spector, giving him commands. Spector doesn't follow the officers commands. He's obviously drunk. When officers finally enter the home, Spector resists arrest and has to be tasered and eventually tackled.

3. This "regular citizen" in the process of being subdued, makes a statement at the scene, that was overheard by Alhambra Officer Bea Rodriguez "What’s wrong with you guys? What are you doing? I didn’t mean to shoot her. It was an accident." (Statement is from Bea Rodriguez's Grand Jury testimony.)

4. Then, back at the station in custody, Spector is still drunk and belligerent. He's spouting off and motioning with his hands for police an impossible explanation of how Lana died. (Spector, unable to tell police Lana's name, demonstrated with his hand that Lana put a gun to her temple and shot herself.)

5. In addition to the confession and other post-incident statements and behavior, fourteen weapons were found on the premises.
6. Later, detectives learn of the various establishments Spector visited and the alcohol he drank prior to Lana Clarkson's death. The scientific evidence of his blood alcohol level is obtained.
7. The forensic evidence of high-velocity blood spatter on Spector's jacket placing him within two to three feet of the blood letting event. The forensic evidence at the scene of a "cover-up" with the bloody diaper and the movement of Lana's head from one side of her body to the next. The forensic blood spatter evidence on the chair. The partial print found on the weapon "in blood."
Of course this "regular citizen" would have been arrested!

Take that same "regular citizen" with Spector's history of gun violence, and he would have, most likely, already been locked up. "Regular citizen" Spector already has a record: two convictions for brandishing a weapon.
In addition to those convictions, consider Dorothy Melvin's testimony and her call to police who arrived at the scene. Consider Stephanie Jennings testimony and her call to 911, terrified in that NY hotel room that Spector was going to kill her. If Spector was just a "regular guy" he would have been arrested in both those instances and CHARGED.

Maybe he would have gotten off on one or both of those charges, but being a regular citizen, maybe not. With one or both of those additional charges on his record (including the two prior convictions for brandishing a gun) of course this "regular citizen" would have been arrested!
So who do you think Mamet is getting his "story" from? Has Mamet been lunching with the trial bride or Jiyanti? Or could it be the newly nip/tucked spouting head on TruTv, Linda Kenney Baden?


Anonymous said...

Sprocket, my guess would be "all of the above"! I still can't and probably never will be able to understand how an attorney can look at this evidence and truly believe that Spector didn't do it. I can understand an agressive defense, but not the overlooking of the obvious truth and expounding upon his innocense!


Sandy said...

I'm casting my vote for "stoooopid!" Anyone who has more than one gun in his or her house, IMHO, has intent to use it. How it is used, when it is used, is up for conjecture, but all the training classes tell you "Guns are meant for one purpose - to shoot something."

I would never waste my time seeing, buying, renting or borrowing a movie by this fool about the other fool.

Anonymous said...

My vote would be all of the above. If he didn't watch the trials how would he even begin to know how she behaved as an attorney towards Phil S. Unless there is surprise scene between Linda K Baden and Phil S. it sounds like a dud of a plot to base a movie on. Here he has a vibrant character (and victim) such as Lana, Phil in his own right could hold a crowds attention. The days leading up to their meeting and the night portrayed as accurately as the evidence shown would make a better movie. No quick casting and big announcement for who will portray Rachelle the duitiful wife? Maybe Mr. Mamet isn't as impressed with that story.

Sprocket said...

Mamet is basing his information on the other film that only told Spector's side/story.

Think of Mamet's upcoming film in that context, Spector's point of view of Lana, of his attorneys, of how he felt going through the trial.

Like CaliGirl9 said to me, in Mamet's mind, Spector's view as "victim" would make a better story.

So that viewpoint might go like this....Lana Clarkson was a weak flawed person who did not make the positive contributions to entertainment that Wee Phil did; the world is a lesser place with Phil not able to produce his "art."

Doesn't matter how beautiful a person Lana was inside and out and how her death affected so many people; doesn't matter how horrible a person Spector was to others he worked with....or his prior wives and children. It's my belief that according to Mamet, the loss of Spector and his "art" is greater than the loss of Lana. That's my take.

Anonymous said...

Hey sprocket,
Just found out about this movie. Mamet's quotes are sounding a lot like someone who knows nothing about the actual trial. I was at the trial, you were at the trial, we know of all the evidence points in one direction. And then there is all of that information that the jury was not allowed to hear for very specific reasons. Guess Mamet forgot to look it ALL over!

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 11:53 am Aug 3rd:

Mamet has publicly said he did not follow the trial (evidence). He has said the only information he knows about the case comes from the film THE AGONY & ECSTASY OF PHIL SPECTOR, by Vikram Jiyanti.

Jiyanti only interviewed one individual for that film: Phil Spector himself.

Taking that information into consideration, it's clear why Mamet's understanding of the case is very lopsided towards Spector's interpretation of the events of February 2nd & 3rd, 2003.