HBO’s ‘Phil Spector’: Eh, Mamet’s Done Worse

Last month we were all aflutter about the potential for HBO’s Phil Spector, starring Al Pacino as the bizarre music legend and Helen Mirren as the ailing attorney defending him on a murder charge, to be something so ridiculous that we couldn’t look away. Actually, it’s an okay if surprisingly unambitious film—and certainly not the worst thing for which writer/director David Mamet can claim credit.

Sorry, I think I’m still just angry about the politics of Wag the Dog. What were we saying? Oh yeah. Phil Spector suffers from that problem playwrights have where they film things that probably belong onstage: Mirren following a ranty Pacino around his castle and occasionally provoking the next riff with a plain statement of fact or bluntly phrased question. Drama!

Seriously it’s like, Pacino: [lengthy diatribe about “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” being the “best song ever released,” even though it was more than four minutes long]. Mirren: “Did you kill that woman, Philip?” Pacino: “THEY HATE ME BECAUSE I’M ESSENTIALLY JESUS CHRIST.” Pretty entertaining at first and then, wait, isn’t this just The Devil’s Advocate, somehow?

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