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HBO's 'Phil Spector' is a compelling portrait of Phil Spector's dark and crazy charisma. But did he kill that girl?

In the week leading up to tonight’s premiere of the HBO original movie Phil Spector, the pre-release publicity has all been orchestrated around quotes from the film’s writer-director, David Mamet, claiming that the movie is not a docudrama, that it parts ways with reality — and, in Mamet’s own words, that it is “not about Phil Spector.” The film opens with a title that claims: This is a work of fiction. It’s not “based on a true story.” Got it? What we’re about to watch is so made up that it’s not even related to reality. (You’ve got to love those sarcastic quote marks. Very David Mamet dyspeptic.)

Though it seems likely that Mamet, with the presumed endorsement of HBO, was basically launching a pre-emptive strike at everyone from libel lawyers to critics of the movie who might be tempted to pounce on it for being inaccurate, I have to say that the effect of all this “It’s not about Phil Spector!” squawking was to dampen my original enthusiasm for seeing the film. I began to worry that Mamet would take the fascinating tale of Spector and his 2007 trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson, the troubled starlet who died of a gunshot wound to the mouth in Spector’s house on Feb. 3, 2003, and twist it into some heavily stylized, dead-zone Mamet rant-meditation on men, women, celebrity, media, and other Boring Important Topics. READ FULL STORY

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