On Friday, April 25, Redbelt, a riveting David Mamet cops-and-con-men drama set in the world of professional jujitsu, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The cool table at the after-party, held at the Honey nightclub on West 14th Street, included Mr. Mamet and his wife, actress and chanteuse Rebecca Pidgeon; author Salman Rushdie; the actors Joe Mantegna and Ricky Jay, who are in the movie; and comic genius, novelist and playwright Steve Martin, wearing a fedora.
Mr. Rushdie said he loved the film. “I just think it’s so unusual now to have a real story that somebody really wrote,” he said. “Films seem to have simpler and simpler and simpler narratives.”
Which Democratic candidate is playing better political jujitsu?
“It’s been quite a bout. You started off thinking Obama’s a lightweight, Hillary’s a heavyweight, then it all turns the other way around, and now it’s turned back a little bit.”
Next, Mr. Martin, whom we’d last seen in 1985 outside a movie theater in East Hampton, with Paul Simon and Chevy Chase, when he’d given us the same skeptical squint we were getting now. Is there a line from Redbelt that encapsulates the Mamet code?
“There’s always a line that’s either this line or similar to it in a Mamet movie that says, ‘You didn’t ask for the money? You didn’t ask for the money!’” he said. “All right.”
The “all right” meant the sound bite had been granted and the conversation was over.
We made our way over to Mr. Mamet, who has a purple belt in jujitsu. Our last conversation, in 1996 at the Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble, had not ended on a positive note. We apologized for the incident, which he didn’t recall, and told him how much we dug the movie.
“That’s great!” he said. “Well, it’s about a guy who goes on the journey that every hero goes through—he goes from a safe place into a dark place and has to suffer to achieve some sort of enlightenment.”
On the fringes of the table was a lit’ry contingent: Mr. Martin’s Kirsten Davis-resembling wife, writer and former New Yorker staff member Anne Stringfield, and the novelist Paul Auster. Mr. Auster expressed no interest in having a chat.