Tag Archives: Clark Gregg

State and Main (2000, David Mamet)

Something unfortunate happens during the last third of State and Main… Mamet realizes he needs a story.

He goes so long without traditional narrative elements—the film has, at best, a roaming protagonist and Mamet doesn’t do much establish the ground situation as hint at one for smiles. Mamet doesn’t go for belly laughs in the script, he goes for nods and smiles. It works better, since he’s dealing with cynical Hollywood types in small town America.

Of course, it’s small town New England, so he can make sure the town’s residents are all quite literate.

For the most part, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s independent playwright turned Hollywood screenwriter is the protagonist. State and Main, the non-comic parts, is about his relationship with townsperson Rebecca Pidgeon. It’s a good on-screen romance… very classical. Mamet doesn’t know how to really finish it, turning Pidgeon into a nice Lady Macbeth at one point, but it’s otherwise excellent. Both Hoffman and Pidgeon are great.

But there’s no bad acting in the film. William H. Macy’s, Alec Baldwin, Julia Stiles, David Paymer, Lionel Mark Smith, Patti LuPone… everyone’s great. Mamet—doing a really mellow story—does exceeding well directing his cast.

Oh, and Sarah Jessica Parker? Great. I always forget she can be really good.

Clark Gregg’s small town slime bag’s fun too.

Very appropriate score from Theodore Shapiro.

The only complaint, besides the finale, is Mamet’s lack of establishing long shots. He never sets up the small town besides on street level.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Written and directed by David Mamet; director of photography, Oliver Stapleton; edited by Barbara Tulliver; music by Theodore Shapiro; production designer, Gemma Jackson; produced by Sarah Green; released by Fine Line Features.

Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman (Joseph Turner White), Rebecca Pidgeon (Ann), William H. Macy (Walt Price), Clark Gregg (Doug Mackenzie), Sarah Jessica Parker (Claire Wellesley), Alec Baldwin (Bob Barrenger), Julia Stiles (Carla), Charles Durning (Mayor George Bailey), Patti LuPone (Sherry Bailey) and David Paymer (Marty Rossen).


RELATED

Advertisements

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (2011, Leythum)

The first one of these “Marvel One-Shots” (starring mild-mannered Clark Gregg on side adventures) was pretty lame, but A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer is pretty darn good. It’s a little short (the end credits are almost longer than the short) and the licensing department missed out on a golden Hostess Fruit Pie opportunity, but it works.

The story is slim—Gregg breaks up a hold-up at a desert gas station—but Gregg makes Funny Thing work in his first close-up. Another problem with the previous one was how slight Gregg’s presence was in it; not here. Here, Gregg’s able to sell even bad production ideas (his character listens to big band—at the beginning, it fails, after Gregg takes over, it succeeds).

I’m not sure Gregg could sustain his own movie, but a superhero sitcom series with him might be fun.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Leythum; written by Eric Pearson; director of photography, David Myrick; edited by David Brodie and Gabriel Britz; music by Paul Oakenfold and Howard Drossin; production designer, David Courtermarche; produced by Kevin Feige; released by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Starring Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Jessica Manuel (Clerk), Jeff Prewett (Robber 1) and Zach Hudson (Robber 2).


RELATED

The Consultant (2011, Leythum)

So if you’ve been desperate to find out what happens after Robert Downey Jr.’s cameo in The Incredible Hulk, The Consultant would be the bridging short for you.

It’s an interesting concept—little Blu-ray specials to flesh out side stories—but it only runs two and a half minutes, including lifting the cameo in its entirety. No, Edward Norton doesn’t make an appearance.

The short ostensibly follows Clark Gregg’s character from the Marvel movies around (retroactively inserting him into Hulk… kind of) but he doesn’t do anything but drink coffee in a diner and talk. If Eric Pearson’s script were funny, it might have worked. If it were a sitcom take on Gregg’s bureaucratic adventures (with superheroes)….

But, it’s not. Instead, it’s awkward and underproduced.

Even worse, Maximiliano Hernández has a lot more personality (as Gregg’s sidekick) than Gregg does himself.

The concept’s interesting but this execution fails.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Leythum; written by Eric Pearson; director of photography, David Myrick; edited by David Brodie and Gabriel Britz; music by Paul Oakenfold and Howard Drossin; production designer, David Courtermarche; produced by Kevin Feige; released by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Starring Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) and Maximiliano Hernández (Agent Sitwell).


RELATED

Choke (2008, Clark Gregg)

Choke working at all is kind of something special. The film’s got a major twist at the end, but it’s a silly one and isn’t, with any thought on the matter, particularly feasible. The film’s got a major plot point for Sam Rockwell–his mother’s diary reports he’s the half-clone of Jesus–and, eventually, he believes it himself. The film never gets the character to the point he could, conceivably, believe it. There’s also the problem of treating a dramatic character study of a sex addict like a Farrelly Brothers comedy. Having Rockwell, strange as it might seem, doesn’t really bolster the film’s prospects. Anjelica Huston’s contribution is far more important (while Rockwell gives a great performance in Choke, it’s the kind of thing he can sleepwalk through), because Huston’s able to combine insane disengagement with genuine concern. Even though the film’s funniest scenes are the ones Huston isn’t in, her scenes are the best.

The credit goes to Clark Gregg, who both adapted the novel, directed the film and appears in a small role (as the film’s only–semi–villainous character). With a miniscule budget and excellent casting, Gregg makes Choke into a limited success. The film’s potential is hard to gauge–it doesn’t shoot particularly high and, even with its curbed ambitions, fumbles in the end. A lot of the problem comes from the twist, which is throwaway. It occurs in the last five minutes of the film (Choke only runs ninety minutes; five is a not insignificant period) and never gets resolved with the principles. It gets resolved off-screen, as Choke changes gears into the affable dirty comedy again, so it doesn’t have to take responsibility for being absurd. Choke‘s characters can be absurd–the two main settings are the mental hospital where Huston is committed and Rockwell’s job, a colonial America theme park–but it never can go off the deep end. To get the ending, it goes swimming way too close.

Where Gregg doesn’t work is the music. Gregg relies heavily on it and his choices are off. Their choosing doesn’t imply any inspiration–and in a film filled with flashbacks starring Anjelica Huston… it’s hard not to remember Wes Anderson and his superior choice of music. The flashbacks are another problem with Choke. They’re essential, sure, but they just reveal the story to be unremarkable. Huston and Rockwell have some good scenes together–but not enough–and they raise it. But Choke‘s rather conventional.

The script doesn’t give the supporting cast much content, so when Brad William Henke is excellent, it’s an achievement. Kelly Macdonald ought to be great, but she isn’t. She’s fine, but nothing more. It isn’t really her fault though. Gregg’s script doesn’t give her much to do.

Choke fails to turn its elements–the mother and son story, the addiction story, the con man story–into a cohesive, feasible comedic character study. It tries real hard and does a lot of good things and maybe reveals these elements to be mutually exclusive, but it comes up a little short. It’s a fine film and a fun viewing experience, but there’s the implication it’s going for more and it never gets there.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Clark Gregg; screenplay by Gregg, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk; director of photography, Tim Orr; edited by Joe Klotz; music by Nathan Larson; production designer, Roshelle Berliner; produced by Beau Flynn, Tripp Vinson, Johnathan Dorfman and Temple Fennell; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Starring Sam Rockwell (Victor Mancini), Anjelica Huston (Ida Mancini), Kelly Macdonald (Paige Marshall), Brad William Henke (Denny), Jonah Bobo (Young Victor), Paz de la Huerta (Nico) and Gillian Jacobs (Cherry Daiquiri).


RELATED