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The Boston Globe


Television Review

‘Phil Spector’: Pacino in wigs

Of course Al Pacino is flashy in David Mamet’s “Phil Spector.” Think Pacino in clown wigs, spewing a rockslide of words by Mamet, and you can just imagine. Whether or not Mamet and Pacino’s vision of the legendary music producer is accurate, it is a somewhat entertaining spectacle of ego, bombast, and vampiric torment. They give us a loud guy who, in some twisted, narcissistic way, is both a powerless little boy and a decrepit, world-weary grumbler about fame and human nature.

About 20 minutes into the HBO movie, we first see Pacino’s Spector, wandering around his darkened mansion in silk pajamas like a rock ’n’ roll Miss Havisham. As his new lawyer, Linda Kenney Baden (Helen Mirren), watches and listens, he strokes his memorabilia and brags about his mementos — including the white piano on which John Lennon wrote “Imagine.” He expounds on his own mythology, saying, “The Jews didn’t invent the music business, I invented the music business.” Pacino is Pacino, hammily spitting out his lines as usual, but this time he’s steeped in Gothic grandiosity and opulence. He’s Tony Montana from “Scarface” inside Norma Desmond.

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