6.10.2009

Mmmm, Mamety...

I haven't read/seen all of David Mamet's plays, but the films I've seen written by him seem to follow this formula: semi-innocent guy gets mostly screwed by the hands that feed him; psychological turmoil ensues. These include last year's Redbelt, Glengarry Glen Ross, and the Spanish Prisoner, which we watched on Netflix last night. I really liked this movie and wanted Peter to see it, but I had forgotten about one thing: the overwhelmingly leaden performance by Mamet's wife, Rebecca Pidgeon.

Google searches weren't de rigeur in 1997 when I first saw this movie and was blown away by Ms. Pidgeon's bizarre acting choices, but now that I have the world's opinions at my fingertips, I decided to see what other folks had to say.

From my Google search for "Rebecca Pidgeon BAD actress," I snaked this commentary from Fametracker.com;

Most people aren't sure whether Rebecca Pidgeon, wife to David Mamet, is a good
or bad actress, because they've only seen her in Mamet films. She shows up on
cue to speak robotically like Actresstron 3000. The truth, though, is that she's
performing perfectly. Mamet, who's famously wary of actorly flourishes, wishes
that all his actors spoke that way.
From my Google search for "Rebecca Pidgeon WORST actress," I got this:

The worst actor in modern film history, IMO, is David Mamet's wife, Rebecca
Pidgeon. She's hysterically bad, bad to the point that you begin to wonder if
she's kidding.






Watch the preview and see if I'm overreacting. However, aside from WeirdyMcActresson, The Spanish Prisoner is a pretty gripping mystery, especially if you love to hear about scams.

Are there any actors/actresses whose mere existence is like nails on a chalkboard to you? I'll give you a few more of my dealbreakers for inspiration: Leslie Nielsen and Charles Grodin, They aren't even bad actors, I just plain don't like 'em.

14 comments:

Anna Gilmour said...

I always thought her annoyingness in The Spanish Prisoner was on purpose but was arguably giving her too much of a benefit of the doubt. In a way I thought she was trying to do a school teacher and naive version of Melanie Griffin's roboticism, esp. as can be seen in Shining Through. Also, I thought with that hairdo she had to be like that - like how could she be any different?! Or anyone who would choose the hairdo of course would be like that. Chalky...
Great movie though!

anna said...

Whoa, guest appearance from Anna G! Hi there lady!!
Pols I remember when we watched this movie and had this whole discussion about how she either ruined the movie or just made it more appropriately surreal. I am ordering it from Netflix now, will weigh in after a reviewing.

anna said...

PS Imagine how weird it would be to be married to David Mamet.

pollyanna cowgirl said...

I know, it's really confusing. In my memory of the movie, she made more sense, but watching it again got me all riled up. How can she be so weird?! And I totally agree with the Fametracker guy that Mamet likes it that way; thank god most other actors can't help but emote like regular people.

I would have liked to see her on Broadway doing Oleanna, a role where her weird distant freakiness might make more sense. Also, maybe it works on stage.

vjacyno said...

I always loved her that movie, i was on edge through the whole thing because she is so freaking awkward.

Worst, most stony, boring actress ever - Scarlett Johansen. She is stunning, but very very dull to watch.


But that is just me.

anna said...

I couldn't agree more re: Scarlet Johannsen. I feel like as a lady, I'm now allowed to talk smack about her though, because she's apparently the world's sexiest woman and it looks like jealousy (but just watch her try to smolder onscreen! Embarrassing! Total boner-killer, if you excuse the expression). Two otherwise fine movies ruined by ScarJo: Match Point, The Prestige.

anna said...

Oops, pls. sub "not" for "now" in second sentence. Carry on.

pollyanna cowgirl said...

Re: ScarJo: Yes, she is boring. And way too aware of her own supposed hotness (see: any red carpet photo of her, vamping). Mindy Kaling from The Office does an awesome stand-up bit about ScarJo and Julia Stiles together at an audition. HA! Another supposed sexy that I don't care to see is Angelina Jolie. Blar.

celeste said...

YES YES YES! So glad to hear that I'm not the only one who thinks Scarlett Johannson is the most boring thing on a screen today. I don't think boring is sexy. I really don't get it. Anyone seen Vicky Christina Barcelona? I kept praying for Penelope Cruz to walk on camera. I'd rather watch her file her nails than watch Scarlett try to act.
As for Rebecca Pidgeon, I'll have to watch for her. I'm not a big Mamet fan in general - just saw a live performance of American Buffalo, and while the acting was very good I was left with the feeling that I had just lost two hours of my life for nothing. I kept expecting something to happen, but no. If I wanted that I would have seen Waiting for Godot, which I actually like.

pollyanna cowgirl said...

I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of David Mamet, but he has some interesting ideas about theater for sure. They don't always translate into something I want to watch, though. There's a big part of me that finds his dialogue totally annoying and ridiculous, and another part that likes something so stylized and specific.

I think ScarJo worked in "Ghost World" because it was before she decided she was the world's sexiest sexpot.

pollyanna cowgirl said...

Oh yeah; I don't know why the block quotes in this post came out all poetry-ish. I can't fix it, but it's kind of cool anyway. :)

Anna Gilmour said...

Is that Anna B.?! Hey Anna B.! [It won't let me open up your profile so I'm only guessing.]

Anna Gilmour said...

Oh, actually, funnily enough, it was indeed opening, just not in sight, as a tab behind this "window". So now I have about five anna profiles open. One of them should do the trick... I'll check out your blog!

jack said...

I first watched Spanish Prisoner on IFC back in 2000 and had the exact same experience. Loved the movie but thought that Ms. Pidgeon was way out of her league. Just saw it again last night and decided to see if anyone else felt this way. Frankly, I'm glad I'm not the only one that finds her annoying. Her acting style conjures up images of someone who would remind the teacher that he forgot to assign homework. The fact that she's married to Mamet explains a lot.