The Light from the TV Shows: Giving HBO’s “Phil Spector” a spin

When it was announced that Al Pacino and David Mamet, who proved to be a formidable combination of actor and writer/director on 1992’s “Glengarry Glen Ross,” would be reteaming for HBO’s original movie about Phil Spector, reactions of giddiness and uncertainty seemed to be in equal measure. Sure, Mamet’s awesome, and he’s obviously proven that he can get a great performance out of Pacino, but surely there’s substantial chasm between the fiction of Ricky Roma and the reality of Phil Spector, isn’t there?

Actually, you might be surprised.

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If you haven’t seen “Glengarry Glen Ross” recently, maybe you should see how Roma’s described on Wikipedia:

Although Roma seems to think of himself as a latter day cowboy and regards his ability to make a sale as a sign of his virility, he admits only to himself that it is all luck. He is ruthless, dishonest and immoral, but succeeds because he has a talent for figuring out a client’s weaknesses and crafting a pitch that will exploit those weaknesses. He is a smooth talker and often speaks in grand, poetic soliloquies.

Those who’ve read about Spector’s brusque, often downright crazed interactions with musicians in the studio, his turbulent relationship with ex-wife Ronnie Spector, and a notorious obsession with firearms which—no matter how you spin the story of the night a woman named Lana Clarkson ended up dead in his home—was directly responsible for his eventual incarceration will certainly see some immediate similarities between him and Roma. After seeing HBO’s “Phil Spector,” you will see even more of them. What you will not see, however, is a movie that matches “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

But, then, you probably didn’t expect that, anyway.

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Gangster fan alert: “Scarface” Blu-ray hits the mean streets today

It’s true. You can say hello to Tony Montana’s little 1080p friends and their DVD buddies in stores nationwide as of right now and, naturally, the gangstery promotional wheels have been turning. We were lucky enough to be invited too a DVD release party at which fans of director Brian De Palma and writer Oliver Stone’s 1983 gangland spectacle got to view a pretty interesting Q&A featuring producer Martin Bregman and “Scarface” cast members Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham, Steven Bauer (who turns out to be something of an unembarrassed fanboy for the film which largely launched his career), and a distinctively, er, regal Al Pacino.

For a limited time, you can actually check out the complete Q&A from the event for yourself via Livestream.

A couple of interesting thoughts from the Q&A. A lot of props were given to hip hop artists for their part in turning “Scarface” from a movie with a mixed reputation — many of the initial reviews were far from positive — to a movie very many regard as a classic. (The event was followed by a performance by rapper Ludacris.)

A moment this film geek appreciated was when Mr. Pacino recounts how he says the genesis of his “Scarface” began when he saw Howard Hawks’ 1932 “Scarface,” starring Paul Muni as a gangster inspired by Al Capone, at the old Tiffany Theater on the Sunset Strip, at the time one of L.A.’s best revival houses. After the flip we have a short video from the event and maybe a clip or two from the both “Scarfaces.”

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