Monday, May 05, 2008

Glengary Glen Ross

How's this for a reason to see this film from director James Foley: Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon, Jonathon Pryce, Alan Arkin and Alec Baldwin. Are those enough reasons? One more—how about if each of these wonderful actors are at the very top of their game? I’m sure everyone has seen this but if not—what are you waiting for?

Based on a play by David Mamet, Glengary Glen Ross (1992) is a profane look into the testosterone fueled world of a bunch of highly stressed real estate salesmen as they try to seduce people into buying property. They are all so fast talking it's as if they are straight up con men, duping these palookas on land deals that aren't worth anything. Boy, would I have loved seeing this on the stage with all these incredible actors.

To make things even a more intense pressure cooker, a big shot salesman (Baldwin) shows up to deliver what is intended to be a motivational speech but is mostly him insulting the others, much to the annoyance of the of the irked crew of salesmen (watch the scene below). Baldwin gives the most blatant pro-capitalist greed speech this side of Wall Street with him basically breaking it down to this formula: wealth = manliness. Quite funny. These are desperate men trying to capture the magic of the close ("always be closing" is their collective mantra) and the low sales total for the month will result in being fired.

This movie is bleak, captivating and full of lots of dark humor. Lemmon's performance in particular is a thing of beauty. His emotions rise as his desperation increases with the looming economic troubles that befall him. I'm doubtful he's ever going to come out of his tailspin and losing streak.

If you have seen Glengary Glen Ross and want to see the real thing, check out the documentary Salesman from the early '60s. The film follows a group of Bible salesmen around as they struggle to make a buck convincing people to buy a Bible when they can't really afford it. It is a heart-wrenching thing of beauty.

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