Thursday, September 17, 2009
The great cinematographer Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men), best known for his collaborations with the Coen Brothers, contributes some of the most essential cinematography in David Mamet's oeuvre with his work on Homicide. I say essential because in Mamet's work it is his clipped iambic pentameter that is usually front and center, even when the film falls into the "con game" subgenre he often explores. Unlike one of the more prominent examples of that genre, The Spanish Prisoner (1997), Homicide is an unusually personal film for Mamet in that he confronts some deep-seated issues with his Judaism through one of his favorite alter egos, actor Joe Mantegna. The cast is also heavy with many of his repertory players like Bill Macy, Ricky Jay, and Rebecca Pidgeon. However, I was mystified by the end. Maybe I wasn't watching closely enough, but I'm usually attuned to Mamet's con games. So why did the ending go over my head? Did I blink and miss something? Did Mamet fumble it? If any of my readers will take the time to explain it to me, it would be very much appreciated. In the meantime, those familiar with the movie will find much to reward them in the Deakins camerawork with Criterion's fantastic new DVD, as the screen grabs below prove. Pay particularly close attention to the way the shots have recurring images that build chronologically to form layers of symbolism and thematic concerns worth explaining.