Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando
Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) instructs Laura Black (Emily Mortimer) on how to defend herself in Redbelt (Sony Pictures Classics)
Redbelt (opening May 9 at Landmark's La Jolla Village Theaters ) was one of the films up for discussion on last month's Film Club of the Air. You can listen to our discussion and hear a clip from the film or read on for my review. The film is the latest from playwright-turned-filmmaker David Mamet. As a playwright, Mamet is known for American Buffalo, Oleanna, Sexual Perversity in Chicago (made into the awful film About Last Night ) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Glengarry Glen Ross . As a filmmaker, he has given us House of Games, Things Change, Homicide, State and Main , and Spartan among others. Although his first films had felt a bit stiff cinematically, as if he hadn't quite left the confines of the stage, his dialogue has always crackled and he has improved his visual style over the years. Redbelt may not surpass any of his plays but it's certainly one of his strongest film works.
Joe Grizzle from San Diego
May 10, 2008 at 10:46 PM
I saw the trailer for Red Belt shortly after reading Mamet's book "Bambi Vs. Godzilla". I was surprised he was making an MMA film, it seemed to be a perfect illustration of the type of films he criticizes in his book. Though, I did have a little faith in Mamet, and knew he had to have a trick up his sleeve. Thank you for validating this.
May 11, 2008 at 12:35 AM
Joe, I never read Mamet's book but thanks for the comment about what he was being critical of in Hollywood. Redbelt makes even more sense based on what you say about his book. Thanks!
May 16, 2008 at 08:40 PM
Yes, it's Mamet about 3/4 of the way. The ending was very weak. What's with all the handing over of belts? That's the most pompous and ridiculous thing ever. I was right there with him until then. On the good side, there is less Mamet speak in this one as I couldn't see how he could have pulled it off with the subject. As a meditation on a man's soul, this works. As a movie, it's not quite there. Spartan covers the same territory with better aplomb and deftness.
May 17, 2008 at 05:43 AM
Yeah, it putters out at the very end. But I did like the way that the end fight -- what a Hollywood film would be all about -- almost happens off screen. To me that's a very Mamet way of dealing with what audiences are expecting to get from an action film. Thanks Max.