Phil Spector

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Terence Gavish


  • K. Harris 2 years ago
    20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Don’t Expect A Spector Biopic! Speculative Fiction That Examines The Nature of Celebrity, The Media, And The Legal System, July 3, 2013
    K. Harris (StudioCityGuy33 at Yahoo dot com) –
    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)

    This review is from: Phil Spector (DVD)
    The fascinating HBO production “Phil Spector” was one of the season’s most pleasant surprises in my estimation, but it might not be exactly what you are anticipating. If you are looking for a traditional legal picture about Spector’s alleged crime and subsequent trial, this might not fulfill your requirements. If you are looking for a standard biopic detailing Spector’s life up to and including his current incarceration, that’s not to be found here either. Playwright David Mamet, the writer and director of “Phil Spector,” does not seem particularly interested in recreating the Spector spectacle. Instead, he uses it as a speculative entertainment, a what-if scenario. A disclaimer at the beginning of the film says that this has no real basis in actual circumstances, but was instead merely inspired by the case. It’s an interesting notion and one that is executed expertly. What we get unfolds very much like a play. Spector (Al Pacino) is confronted by a defense attorney (Helen Mirren) and the two share a heated discourse that contemplates the nature of celebrity, the media, and the legal system itself. Riveting, intellectual, and thought-provoking, Mamet’s screenplay and the work of Pacino and Mirren make this incredibly unusual and slyly powerful.

    Is Spector guilty? Is he innocent? Although Mamet’s personal opinions seem fairly obvious, it really doesn’t matter in the context of “Phil Spector.” Opinions have already been formed and the trial has already been pre-judged. The legal determination is secondary to the popular consensus. Whether or not the eccentric Spector can withstand additional scrutiny through the trial process is one of the largest plot points. Whatever the outcome, he can’t possibly hope to escape the situation unscathed. There is not a substantial narrative to “Phil Spector” or even a concrete ending. It is just a momentary glimpse into the interaction of two people. When, however, they are played by heavyweights such as Mirren and Pacino, there is no tearing your eyes from the screen. Like a fine night in the theater, this film offers great performances, literate dialogue, and fascinating ideas. It is nothing like what I expected, but all the more profound for the surprise. Needless to say, it may not be for everyone for exactly these same reasons. I guarantee that some will see the lack of plotting or open-ended finale as crucial mistakes, but I loved this movie.

    The movie begins after the death of Lana Clarkson has transpired and Spector has already put Bruce Cutler (a fine Jeffrey Tambor) on the case. Cutler brings in legal consultant Linda Kenney Baden (Mirren) to offer assistance and perspective on what seems like a case that is all but open and shut. Initially disinterested (along with being quite sick), Mirren reluctantly agrees to a meet. The first time we see Pacino as Spector is when Mirren meets him on one dark and stormy night. As the night progresses, Mirren begins to understand and appreciate her client and determines a possible defense in the ballistic evidence. But can it be pulled off? A mock trial is set-up (with brief appearances by Chiwetel Ejiofor as the prosecutor and Mamet’s real life wife Rebecca Pidgeon). Can physical evidence overcome prejudice? And is Spector his own worst enemy by not being able to temper his personality to acceptable expectations?

    Again, though, this is never really about a tangible story. It’s about ideas and dialogue. Mirren is absolutely terrific. What would you expect? And Pacino is quite accomplished. I have been critical of some of Pacino’s recent roles, he oftentimes seems to be playing to the rafters in roles that might benefit from some restraint. Here, though, Spector is larger than life. Pacino captures him perfectly. Oddly sympathetic and elaborately grandiose, this is a man that time has left behind. The two play off each other with precision. A definite recommendation. Keep an open mind and you might be surprised at where this takes you. About 4 1/2 stars, I’ll round up for its ambitions and performances. KGHarris, 7/13.

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  • Brenda M 2 years ago
    10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Phil Spector movie is worth seeing, January 12, 2014
    Brenda M (Boston) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Phil Spector (Amazon Video)
    This movie is not what I expected. I anticipated the usual depiction of the crime, trial and outcome. Lana Clarkson is only a footnote in the movie. The movie is really about Phil Spector and explaining why he is the way he is, how he came to murder this actress. It is equally about Linda Kenney Baden the defense attorney who takes the case over from star attorney Bruce Cutler who got John Gotti off. It wasn’t what I expected. For the sliver of the case that is depicted, it is well done. Overall it is excellent in what it portrays about the case. Al Pacino’s portrayal of Phil Spector is flawless and inspiring. I really felt I got what the deal was with Phil Spector after watching it. The music is powerful and beautiful. I wish the movie had more depth about the case but for what it is – all about Phil Spector and Linda Kenney Baden – it is well done.
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