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Phil Spector

3.7 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Academy Award® winners Al Pacino and Helen Mirren star in a new HBO Films production written and directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning and Oscar®-nominated playwright David Mamet. Phil Spector is Mamet's exploration of the client-attorney relationship between legendary music producer Phil Spector (Pacino) and defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden (Mirren), who represented Spector during his first trial for murder. The film is executive produced by Academy Award® winner Barry Levinson and David Mamet and produced by Emmy® winner Michael Hausman. An HBO Films presentation of a Levinson/Fontana Production, the film also stars Emmy® nominee Jeffrey Tambor and Golden Globe nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor. In the hands of celebrated playwright, screenwriter, author, director and producer David Mamet, Phil Spector is a mythological story, and he approaches it as a mythological story, rather than as a news story. Mamet begins his film with the card, "This is a work of fiction. It's not 'based on a true story.' It is a drama inspired by actual persons in a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome."

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Korean
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: HBO
  • DVD Release Date: September 10, 2013
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00DGCIZD8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,782 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on July 3, 2013
Format: DVD
The fascinating HBO production "Phil Spector" was one of the season's most pleasant surprises in my estimation, but it might not be exactly what you are anticipating. If you are looking for a traditional legal picture about Spector's alleged crime and subsequent trial, this might not fulfill your requirements. If you are looking for a standard biopic detailing Spector's life up to and including his current incarceration, that's not to be found here either. Playwright David Mamet, the writer and director of "Phil Spector," does not seem particularly interested in recreating the Spector spectacle. Instead, he uses it as a speculative entertainment, a what-if scenario. A disclaimer at the beginning of the film says that this has no real basis in actual circumstances, but was instead merely inspired by the case. It's an interesting notion and one that is executed expertly. What we get unfolds very much like a play. Spector (Al Pacino) is confronted by a defense attorney (Helen Mirren) and the two share a heated discourse that contemplates the nature of celebrity, the media, and the legal system itself. Riveting, intellectual, and thought-provoking, Mamet's screenplay and the work of Pacino and Mirren make this incredibly unusual and slyly powerful.

Is Spector guilty? Is he innocent? Although Mamet's personal opinions seem fairly obvious, it really doesn't matter in the context of "Phil Spector." Opinions have already been formed and the trial has already been pre-judged. The legal determination is secondary to the popular consensus. Whether or not the eccentric Spector can withstand additional scrutiny through the trial process is one of the largest plot points. Whatever the outcome, he can't possibly hope to escape the situation unscathed.
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This movie is not what I expected. I anticipated the usual depiction of the crime, trial and outcome. Lana Clarkson is only a footnote in the movie. The movie is really about Phil Spector and explaining why he is the way he is, how he came to murder this actress. It is equally about Linda Kenney Baden the defense attorney who takes the case over from star attorney Bruce Cutler who got John Gotti off. It wasn't what I expected. For the sliver of the case that is depicted, it is well done. Overall it is excellent in what it portrays about the case. Al Pacino's portrayal of Phil Spector is flawless and inspiring. I really felt I got what the deal was with Phil Spector after watching it. The music is powerful and beautiful. I wish the movie had more depth about the case but for what it is - all about Phil Spector and Linda Kenney Baden - it is well done.
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This was a story that mesmerized entertainment junkies several years ago, but I found it vaguely unsatisfying in a lot of respects. Pacino and Mirren were outstanding in their portrayals of the principals, but the program wasn't long enough or deep enough to really show how these people got to where they were. The dissection of Phil Spector's character was interesting, but who was Linda Kenney-Baden that she was sought out for her contribution to his defense? And who was Lana Clarkson and how did she end up dead in that mansion? Helen Mirren can do just about anything on stage or screen, including look frumpy and deathly ill without self-consciousness. I liked her performance, but it was basically limited to the immediacy of that investigation and trial, and I would've preferred more. That's not her fault -- or for that matter Pacino's, who can also inhabit any character -- but maybe a longer, deeper production would've better suited my expectations. Nevertheless, I'm glad I watched it.
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Format: Amazon Video
I paid little attention to the death of Lana Clarkson or Phil Spector's trials when these events were happening. I didn't have much expectation for the film, but when Helen Mirren won Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Actress - Film or Miniseries, I decided to keep an open mind and watch the film.

Thrilled with the film and it was simply marvelous. The acting by Al Pacino (Phil Spector) and Mirren (attorney Linda Baden) were extremely convincing. The writing is also excellent.
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I have always been a huge David Mamet fan but, to be honest, his films of the last several years have left a bit to be desired. (The dialogue and scripts were too choppy; the plots, a bit weak.) Here, though, we have a Mamet film that really has Mamet doing what he does best - creating really good, forward-moving dialogue around a really intriguing plot.

The plot centers around the first murder trial of Phil Spector, seen through the eyes of Spector's defense team. This intriguing angle is largely responsible for the film's uniqueness. Helen Mirren does a fantastic job as the lead defense lawyer who, at first, does not want to take the case, but gradually sympathizes with Spector and fears that without a good defense, a jury might convict him for his eccentricities alone. She and her defense team are determined not to see that happen, so they develop a defense not only based on (their interpretation of) the facts, but allowing the jury to learn about the human side of Spector. The question up until the very end of the film: put the unpredictable Phil Spector (played by an impeccable Al Pacino) on the stand?

I found the film quite riveting. Mamet creates a forceful forward motion with his rapid-fire dialogue punctuated by emotion-filled monologues (usually by Spector). The plot is both an interesting who-dunnit as well as a psychological exploration of Spector. All in all, a really good film that (at least to me) finds Mamet recapturing some of that "Glengary Glenn Ross" magic.
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