Monday, March 23, 2015

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992)

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Movie"Glengarry Glen Ross"
Director: James Foley
Year: 1992
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

A look inside the workings of a real estate brokerage firm where the brokers are treated like crap and told to either sell or lose their jobs. 

If we had to describe the dialogue of "Glengarry Glen Ross" in three words, those words would be "fuck," "shit" and "leads." LEADS! This film clocks in at 110 minutes, and in that time, the word "fuck" is said a whopping 138 times, "shit" is uttered 50 times, and "leads" is spoken 83 times. That means one of these 3 words comes out of somebody's mouth roughly every 25 seconds. All this lovely dialogue is based on David Mamet's Pulitzer prize winning stage play of the same name and it certainly has a stage play feel to it. In the way the film's scenes are shot, the dialogue and even the cadence of the character's speech sounds more stage than screen in a theatrical and overly dramatic kind of way. The film boasts an amazingly stellar cast of phenomenal actors such as Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, and hell, even Alec Baldwin is in this movie. You would have a hard time finding a finer group of actors in one single film. They all put on solid performances in their roles, though it just so happens that they are a group of rude, mean and deceitful characters who, when they aren't with clients, are almost always yelling at one another or complaining about how much their leads suck or how much each and every other person in the office sucks at their job. That, or moaning about how they need their leads to come through so they can get their name on the board to win a car. There is no real deep or enthralling plot to speak of. This isn't really a character sketch, but more of an industry sketch. Each character fills a role within the industry of sales. Pacino is the arrogant seller who is currently and is probably always at the top of the board. Ed Harris is the rebel-rouser who complains about how bad his job is and how bad the people in his office are treated. Alan Arkin is the more meek and sheepish character. Jack Lemmon is at the bottom of the sales board now, but waxes poetich about the days of yore, wen he used to be the best way back when. Kevin Spacey is the jerk and middle manager, and Alec Bladwin is the mega-uber-asshole upper management peon from downtown. While these actors perform the hell out of their roles with great importance and emphasis, none of the characters are particularly likable and there is nobody to root for in this story. We hear all the words that are spoken by the actors, we watch all the actions going on screen, but we never feel any emotion for anyone or get connected to or moved by any of them, something to which 94% of critics would disagree. Everything feels so uninspired to us, and we have watched this movie on multiple occasions during different times in our lives to see if we felt any differently. Nope, we still don't.

People have said that this film is a must-watch for those who have been a middle-class worker, and, well, that includes BigJ and I, so why don't we identify more with this film? Though some of its dialogue is witty and sharp, most of it is simply bitching and whining from wholly unlikable characters over wholly unimportant events that we are wholly unconnected with. We all complain about work and have gripes about our employers. Jobs, especially in this economy, are a dog-eat-dog part of life and the way of the world. We understand the dire situation some of these character are in as they want to feel like they matter and that they are important in a business that clearly doesn't care about them more than the numbers they produce, but we don't get invested in their struggle, even as lowly middle-class workers ourselves. Some say you must read or see the play to understand and appreciate this film. To us, if this is the case, then the filmmakers didn't do their job because we shouldn't need to go see a play or read a book to understand a film.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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