Movie Mom

Movie Mom


State and Main

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Profanity:Some very strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and situations, including statutory rape
Alcohol/Drugs:A lot of drinking and smoking
Violence/Scariness:Accident with injuries (offscreen), fish hook injury (on screen)
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:2000

“Shoot first — ask questions afterward.” That’s the motto on the lucky pillow carried to location by director Walt Price (William H. Macy). This is actually the second choice of location, a last minute substitution for the original small New England town in Vermont. That site did not work out, partly because the town was asking for more money, but partly for another reason that Price will only reveal in a whisper. They have now come to Waterford, New Hampshire, in part because of a brochure about the town’s historic old mill, which would be the perfect setting for one of the movie’s most important scenes.

The cast and crew arrives and takes over the town’s small hotel and they are almost ready to go when they find out that the old mill pictured in the brochure burned down in 1960. Price is unflappable — he tells screenwriter Joe White (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to rewrite the scene. The stunned look on White’s face may be explained as the camera pulls back to reveal the title of the movie they are about to shoot: “The Old Mill.”

Meanwhile, Price and the movie’s producer, Marty Rossen (David Paymer), have to cope with an array of problems from charming the town’s mayor into giving them a permit to shoot on Main Street to persuading starlet Claire Wellesley (Sarah Jessica Parker) to do a nude scene and keeping Hollywood hunk Bob Berrenger (Alec Baldwin) away from underage girls. Joe White, beguiled by Ann Black, the local bookstore owner (Rebecca Pidgeon), has to keep producing rewrites on demand. And the cinematographer has to figure out a way to shoot around the antique stained-glass window in the town’s historic firehouse.

Writer/director Mamet clearly relishes the chance to skewer some of the people he has met on his previous movies, but it is done with a light, even romantic, touch. White and Black find a way to communicate despite the chaos around them. In one of the movie’s funniest scenes, Mamet turns the most well-established conventions of farce upside down as, for once, a character behaves sensibly and trusts another character instead of believing the circumstantial evidence. Then, just to make sure we don’t take anything for granted, he has another character do the same thing and be completely wrong.

Mamet does not make this a story of city slickers taking advantage of country yokels or of crafty country people triumphing over the corrupt city folks. Both sides have a range of characters with a range of motivations and moral compasses.

White keeps saying that his movie is about purity and second chances. So is this one, with a lulu of a second chance for one character who really needs it. Consistent with Mamet’s duality throughout the movie, other characters who do not deserve second chances get them, but those are probably just “a second chance to make the same mistake again.”

Parents should know that one character is attracted to underage girls and has sex with a girl who, despite clear indications that she approached him, is too young to legally consent to sex. There are other sexual references, including a character who takes off all her clothes as a way to seduce another character and a discussion about whether Claire will do a nude scene, as provided in her contract. Characters drink and smoke and use strong language. Many make moral compromises that parents will want to discuss with teens who see the movie.

Families who see this movie should talk about the characters’ priorities and choices. Walt and Marty just want to make the movie, and will do anything to get it done. White is trying to keep his story’s integrity (and his own). Claire takes what appears to be a moral stance, but is willing to back down for more money. Another character backs down from an apparently moral stance for money and a chance at power. White is given a choice between his honor and his career — what helps him decide? Families might want to talk about some of the characters’ names. Why is the director named “Price?” Why does the mayor have the same name (George Bailey) as the Jimmy Stewart character in “It’s a Wonderful Life?” What about the names “White” and “Black?”

Families who enjoy this movie might also like Mamet’s version of “The Winslow Boy,” also starring Pidgeon (Mamet’s wife). They will also like the cult classic, “The Stunt Man.” Be sure to stay throughout the credits (“2 animals were harmed in the making of this movie…”) and check out http://www.oldmillmovie.com/ for a hilarious parody of movie promotional websites.



Previous Posts

Does PG-13 Mean Anything Anymore?
The Washington Post has an article about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies," with some disturbing conclusions about parents' ability to make good decisions about the impact some media may have on their children. This is not

posted 8:00:58am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Is E-Reading to Kids the Same as Analog Reading?
The New York Times asks, Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of th

posted 8:00:40am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Todd and Jedd Wider about the Bullying Documentary "Mentor"
Producers Todd and Jedd Wider generously took time to answer my questions about their documentary, "Mentor," the story of two teenagers who committed suicide following relentless bullying. The film, which received Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival th

posted 3:56:57pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Clip: Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ApzHJhZz2JQ" frameborder="0"] The latest in Disney's animated Tinkerbell series adds Ginnifer Goodwin to the cast. Coming in March of 2015, it explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity

posted 1:23:59pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: "Avatar" Villain Stephen Lang on Playing a Good Guy Coach in "23 Blast"
Stephen Lang is best known for playing the villain in "Avatar." But in "23 Blast," based on the real-life story of Travis Freeman, a high school football player who lost his vision but stayed on the team, Lang plays a good guy, the coach who encouraged and supported him. I talked to Lang about actin

posted 5:56:30am Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.