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State and Main

A Hollywood movie company invades a folksy small Vermont town, and wacky hijinks ensue. Hardly a fresh concept — yet David Mamet's State and Main is so literate and shamelessly amusing that it just doesn't matter. Seeking a location for a film titled The Old Mill, director Walt Price (William H. Macy) settles on Waterford, Vermont as a replacement for their original choice after being run out of town by angry locals — it seems that their lead actor, Bob Berenger (Alec Baldwin), has an unfortunate weakness for underage girls (his standard explanation for his behavior — "Everyone needs a hobby"). At the story's center is writer Joseph Turner White (Philip Seymour Hoffman), whose script needs constant revisions — especially after the movie's leading lady (Sarah Jessica Parker) refuses to remove her top and the crew discover that Waterford's Old Mill burned down over 30 years ago. Joe finds a spark of romance with Ann Black (Rebecca Pidgeon), bookstore owner and leader of the local theater group, who's engaged to a politically ambitious lawyer (Clark Gregg). Add a teenage coffee-shop waitress (Julia Stiles) with her eye on the leading man, and a town mayor (Charles Durning) whose diva wife (Patti Lupone) is redecorating her entire house for one night's dinner with the film company, and soon the artfully crafted script has the entire film production teetering on the edge of disaster. State and Main is Mamet Lite — David Mamet by way of Billy Wilder, with crackling dialogue delivered by a cast of solid pros who manage to make Mamet-talk almost sound like regular language (Joe: "But it's absurd." Ann: "No more absurd than the Electoral College, and yet we all vote.") The one off-note in the entire production is Pidgeon — Mamet's real-life spouse — whose unblinking, emotiveless delivery style seems more suited to a David Lynch film. But that doesn't matter. State and Main is chock-full of brilliant comedic moments, a high percentage of them provided by Macy — as a director who has no ethics, loyalties, or thought beyond getting his film made — delivering lines like, "Who designed these costumes? It looks like Edith Head puked, and that puke designed these costumes!" New Line's DVD offers sparkling anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and full-screen (1.33:1) transfers, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 Surround. Also on board is a commentary from actors Macy, Parker, Gregg, Lupone, and David Paymer, the theatrical trailer, and cast-and-crew notes, while additional DVD-ROM content includes an interactive "script-to-screen" screenplay and the original "Old Mill" website. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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