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August 27, 2009


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How about that ending, huh? Both hard to swallow, and dead-perfect. I feel like I need to see this again before I can really offer up much that's worth while to a discussion, but I do think it's a great film, and the best thing Mamet, the director, has ever made.

Steve Winer

I remember seeing "Homicide" in its initial release. As I watched, I kept wondering why the clipped deadpan Mamet dialogue spoken by two detectives sitting in a car struck me as so familiar. And then it hit me..."Dragnet"!
Seriously, dig up an old episode and compare -- not that I recall Sgt. Friday digging too deeply into anti-semitism but...

Aaron Aradillas

"It's either a piece of cake or a slice of life."

"Do your job. Do your job. Do you have the proud for that? Do your job, or else..."

"What the fuck you do that for? What the fuck you do that for?"

"What the fuck I ever do to you?"

"F.B.I. couldn't find Joe Louis in a bowl of rice."

"Shoot the dog, man."

Finally, the ending is perfect. Bobby Gold relaizes what we've known all along: He's an outsider. The whole point of the movie is acknowledging your identity and then deciding not to be defined by it. The mysterious organization Bobby gets involved with are brave and strong. They know exactly what they stand for. He doesn't.


The world can be divided into two tribes.

Fuck the idea of 12 tribes:

There are only two:

Those who value loyalty over truth and those who see it in reverse.

Mamet we can respect for going so deep into the question:

Folks like Tarrantino we can not.

Guess who clocks the most bills?


Mike D


Mr. Tarantino is supposed to delve deeply into Jewish self-identity in his movies in the same fashion as Mamet? Who the fuck are you, his producer? Do I visit your workplace and tell you how to do your job?

Fuzzy Bastard

I hadn't realized Homicide revolved around the old anti-Semitic "dual loyalty" canard, but on the pro-canard side. Not an untypical stance for Jewish conservatives, but I hadn't been aware he made it so explicit.


Though both have their own separpate postmodernist approaches to anti-naturalism with a penchant for snap-crackle-pop dialogue, it's odd to watch their films and realize that Mamet only believes in the lines on the page while QT sketches out biographies of his characters. Having said that, QT also said on Charlie Rose he refuses to think about subtext when he's writing and shooting. I suspect, however, Mamet does through carefully constructed minimalsim. (Although as pointed out here one could argue Basterds has its own minimalistic approach by way of 16 scenes in 2.5 hours. Hell, BLOW-UP had 26 in 110 min.)

Nonetheless, I'm anxious to revisit the film Criterion-style.

Bruce Reid

I like Mamet's straightforward, just-the-facts titles, as if you'd find Heist or Spartan or The Spanish Prisoner shelved in the generic section of the supermarket, blue titles on white space promising exactly what you get with no need for photos or plot summaries. But Homicide is the only title that haunts after the fact, underlining that brutal ending Bill and Aaron are right to praise where Mantegna, after descending into a world so much more twisted and covert than he'd imagined, is brought back to the surface and learns to his heartbreak that sometimes things really are that fucking simple.

A personal favorite; if Tarantino makes his portrait of Jewish self-identity universal by translating it to the broad, pop strokes of pulp fiction, Homicide appeals because the details are so specific they work as a map for any cultural/racial in-betweener. An inside job, as you say. I've mentioned on other film sites that as a mixed Hispanic without a word of Spanish, no scene in movies cuts me to the quick like Mantegna's library encounter with the young Orthodox: "You don't speak Hebrew? What kind of Jew are you?" You see? You see?

Also, the most brutally final death scene in the movies. "Hey, remember that girl who--"


God, I love this movie so much. After reading these comments, I may have to break out my old VHS copy, even before the Criterion disc hits.

How about a word in favor of the score by Alaric Jans? It's one of my all-time favorites.


I saw this movie for the first time after drinking my face off in Matamoros, Mexico in 1993. We'd recrossed the border and collapsed into our hotel room in Brownsville, TX when I flipped on HBO. I watched the whole thing, fascinated and in spite of my inebriation. I'm looking forward to the Criterion treatment.


Love this underappreciated movie. Always found it fascinating that he basically took the exact plot of House of Games and turned it into something so much emotionally richer. Definitely my favorite Mamet-directed movie.


I stared at the screencaps on DVDBeaver and thought "This looks like Roger Deakins."

And so it is.


Ah, the halcyon days of Mamet's filmmaking.

"Gimmie the fuckin' - GIMMIE THE FUCKIN LIGHT"

"We tail 'em, we nail 'em, we turn 'em over, we shake 'em, HE gives us Randolph."

"- Don't forget your gun.
- For what, to protect myself?
- That's right."

" - Job's changed. It ain't the same job."
- Job's the same.
- Yeah?
- People dyin." People killin' em. "

I could go on, but I'm going to wear out my VCR...


It's tempting, in light of Mamet's recently strict approach to his Jewish identity, to credit this film as being an indictment of Bobby, Joe Mantegna's character, and playing into the "canard of dual loyalty." It does treat Bob rather harshly as a self-hating Jew, but in the end, (as you suggest Glenn) it is quite ambivalent about just what would be the right course of action.

The shadowy Jewish organization treats Bob very badly; in the end, they've been just as abusive as the police, if not more so. This strikes me as a particularly Mametian take on tragedy - Bob is ultimately stuck between a rock and a hard place, undone by a capricious world in which all loyalties are suspect. Whoever you cast your lot with, you are never totally safe from betrayal or rejection. Bobby will never be fully respected as cop (because he's Jewish, and thus a pussy, good for empathizing with crooks but not much else) and he will never fully be embraced by the Jewish saboteurs, who treat him as a pawn more than anything else. Pretty dark stuff.

Aaron Aradillas

The thing is, Bobby's decision early on to not acknowledge his Jewish heritage is his downfall. He doesn't realize he's a Jew until that moment in the study in the dead woman's home and hears himself for the first time. His awakening is what trips him up.

If he had accepted what he is, then he would have the confidence to choose not to be defined by it. His late arrival to the party clouds his judgment. The shadow organization projects a level of confidence and bravery--a swagger-that Bobby envies.

They're almost as badass as Eric Bana in Munich.

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