[Let me drop a footnote and state that when working to adapt someone else's work, or work with pre-existing characters, Mamet's talent was often quite impressive; his screenplay for The Verdict transmuted a legal potboiler into something more, and his "A Wasted Weekend" episode of Hill Street Blues was a superb riff on that show's themes and pre-existing characters; I also have a soft spot for The Untouchables. Hannibal sucked, but less remorselessly than the source novel, so Mamet gets a directed verdict of acquittal on that from me.]
His work since the 1980s has, if anything, increased my distaste for Mamet's writing, by adding a generous dollop of misogyny; after seeing and reading Oleanna, it is very difficult to view the self-blaming victims in "Sexual Perversity" as ironic, or merely of the time, or, for that matter, Charlotte Rampling's Laura in The Verdict, who is darker than the character in the book, and much more defined by her sex.
So it's not exactly surprising to read Matt Zoller Seitz on the Mamet written and directed Phil Spector:
It’s an exceedingly strange movie. It genuinely seems to believe its title character, cantankerous, spaced-out record producer Spector (Al Pacino), who’s on trial for blowing a woman's brains out, when he yammers about all of the musical celebrities that lived more sordid lives than he did but were forgiven their transgressions and canonized as pop-culture legends anyway.It's also no surprise for me to read that Mamet has trampled the evidence to posit Phil Spector as innocent victim. Mamet always likes to stack the deck in favor of the man over the woman, even, it seems, if she's dead, ad the evidence points squarely at him.
Spector is thus transformed into an Ayn Rand hero, the Howard Roark of overdubbing, a genius besieged by parasites; incredibly, the movie doesn’t seem to be kidding. The various women who testified to his misogynist mentality, hot temper, controlling personality, and love of guns during Spector’s first trial are abstracted by being shunted offscreen, the better to let Spector and his defense team (led by Helen Mirren’s Linda Kenny Baden, who represented him in his first murder trial, which ended in a hung jury) tarnish them as gutless nobodies who would never have dared to publicly defame Spector if he weren’t already tarred as a woman-hating killer by the press. (“They came out when it was in their interest to come out!” Spector rails.) And the culture as a whole is depicted as appallingly ungrateful for failing to balance Spector’s personal flaws against his achievements as a record producer and … what? Believe his ridiculous story about the victim, nightclub hostess Lana Clarkson, ending a date with him by sticking a pistol in her mouth and pulling the trigger?