'Homicide' audience will say it's Baltimore and not Mametland

October 17, 1991|By Jean Marbella

Everyone knows David Mamet's new movie "Homicide" is set in Baltimore, right?

Well, not the New York Times, which called the film's locale a "generic American city," nor the Philadelphia Inquirer, which merely saw it as any ol' "big city," nor the Los Angeles Times, which went with "this unnamed city (which feels a lot like New York)."

Despite its seeming anonymity in the movie, Baltimore welcomes "Homicide" back to town tonight with a local premiere at the Senator Theatre. A champagne reception at the theater on York Road at Belvedere Avenue at 7:30 will be followed by a screening of the movie at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and will benefit the Theatre Project. They are available at both the Senator and the Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston.

The movie, which closed the New York Film Festival earlier this month and opens nationwide tomorrow, has received generally favorable reviews, although several critics have found the ending unsatisfying. But the performance of Mamet favorite Joe Mantegna -- as a conflicted police detective whose investigation of a murder forces him to confront his submerged Jewish identity -- has been called brilliant with near uniformity.

" 'Homicide' is a model of tightly coiled tension, with so much urban claustrophobia and hostility squeezed into it that the film's very frames seem about to explode," wrote Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times. "Given all that, it is a pity that by the end of 'Homicide' the feeling is inescapable that there is less here than meets the eye. . . . Still, it's a thrilling ride while it lasts . . ."

Neither the film's writer-director nor its stars will appear at tonight's gala premiere, but organizers are expecting producer Michael Hausman.

Film crews spent a couple of months in the Baltimore area last fall, shooting in locations such as the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse downtown, but perhaps Newsweek's David Ansen had the best description of the movie's true location: "It's not quite the real world . . . it's Mametland, that gritty, aggressive, masculine universe that looks like reality but sounds like the theater, where every pungent insult and staccato phrase is savored by the actors like a holy wafer."

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