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Library adds Mamet mystery to film screening

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By Kelly Dolejsi

This week, the library will screen David Mamet’s mysterious “The Spanish Prisoner” (1997, rated PG). The plot is a classic, fast-moving confidence game, complete with exotic resorts, airplanes, buses, boats, pretty secretaries and Swiss bank accounts.
Campbell Scott plays Joe Ross, the quiet, trustworthy, brainy protagonist/victim — the “Boy Scout” hero who just wants everyone to do what’s right. He has developed a secret process that will earn untold millions for his company and its investors.
Nervous he won’t receive a fair bonus for his work, he begins pressing his boss for some tangible assurance.
His company’s loquacious secretary, Susan Ricci (Rebecca Pidgeon), supports him wholeheartedly, as does his pensive colleague George Lang (Ricky Jay). Otherwise, he receives little encouragement.
In the midst of his employment insecurities, Ross strikes up a funny friendship with Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin), a rich stranger with a tennis-loving sister that he would like Ross, who is a bachelor, to meet.
Ross is curious about both siblings, and is drawn into a rather elaborate and quickly escalating set of circumstances.
From start to end, the movie is totally engrossing, mostly because the characters are all so fishy. The dialogue is a little “Twin-Peaks”-esque in his obliqueness: every forgettable, mundane phrase seems like a possible clue. This as much as all the cat-and-mouse stuff creates a lot of tension, with zero release until the final scene.
The film, nominated for several awards, including an Independent Spirit award for Best Screenplay, will play at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the upstairs meeting room theater at Mesa Public Library as part of the Free Film Series.
The series offers screenings on the first Thursday of each month thanks to Friends of Mesa Public Library.
For more information, call the library at 662-8240.