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Daily Archives: March 4, 2011

It’s 1992 and it’s also the year of Glengarry Glen Ross.

The 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross is based on the 1982 play written by David Mamet. The play shows parts of two days of four desperate Chicago real estate agents who will engage in any unscrupulous or illegal acts to sell junk real estate interests to ignorant buyers. Apparently the play is in part built on Mamet’s own experience when he was employed in a Chicago real estate office in the late 1960’s.  The title of both the film and the play comes from the names of two of the real estate ventures being hawked by the salesmen, Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms.  The film, like the play, is infamous for its use of profanity and, according to actor Ed Harris, led to the cast renaming the movie “Death of a Fuckin’ Salesman.”

 

In the film the salesmen become shell shocked when corporate sends a “motivator” (Alec Baldwin) to announce that, in one week, all except the top two salesmen will be fired.  The top two salesmen will keep their jobs: first place gets a Cadillac and second place gets a set of steak knives.  Though Baldwin would have “fired their asses because a loser is a loser.” Baldwin’s “motivating speech” is, in my opinion, one of the greatest scenes in film history and almost won Baldwin an Oscar.

 

The movie has a star studded cast: Jack Lemmon as Shelley “The Machine” Levene; Al Pacino as Ricky Roma, the most successful salesman in the office; Ed Harris as Dave Moss, a loser loudmouth salesman; Kevin Spacey as John Williamson, a milquetoast insignificant, mealy-mouthed office manager; Alan Arkin as George Aaronow: playing the aging salesman with no self-confidence; and of course Alec Baldwin as Blake the corporate “motivator.”  The film had a thin budget of 12 million dollars but still managed to lose money—grossing only 10 million.

 

Having read several David Mamet plays, I am of the opinion that once you’ve seen/read one of his plays/films you have seen/read them all.  Many of you high falutin’ literati types who drool over every Mamet play will obviously disagree with me but I stand by my statement: once you’ve seen one Mamet play you’ve seen them all. Every Mamet play is based on the same plotline: a greedy average guy (or gal in the case of Oleanna) shows his or her utter lack of ethics. These characters aren’t the larger than life kind of evil that we get from Darth Vader – in fact, they aren’t even truly evil – they are simply selfish jerks who would step over their own mothers to get ahead. How many times do you need to see that? Maybe you literary droolers, who love nothing more than a chance to get depressed while snarfing popcorn, enjoy watching humans crawl through their own filth, but personally I’d rather see something at least different. And for once I think American audiences agreed. A holier-than-thou type will watch a movie like Glengarry Glen Ross and think, “I’m so much better than that – and not only that, but I must be pretty intelligent to appreciate a downer like this!” But a compassionate and caring person will think, “there but for the grace of God go I – and I just hope I don’t end up there someday too.”

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

Dr. H Explains His Oscar Prediction System: Mr. Weinstein Goes to Hollywood

My friends and many of our site’s regular contributors have complimented me for predicting the Oscars more accurately than most accomplished professional pundits. I am no genius or clairvoyant but as I wrote earlier, there was a method to the madness, an absolute science at work.
All I needed to know was the lobbyist and the name that popped up was Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein is no Howard Hughes. But he knows and abides by one single law of Hollywood Inc. The runner up is a loser that everyone remembers and Weinstein is no loser. In 1998 he singlehandedly took a little remembered movie, Shakespeare in Love, to Oscar glory beating (check this out) Saving Private Ryan, one of the most realistic war dramas ever produced.
When I learned that he is personally in charge of King’s Speech, The Fighter’s supporting cast and Natalie Portman, I knew the rest didn’t stand a prayer except for categories where he had no vested interest.
Person had commented that they have a new voting system. Yes, it is a fair system where you rank the nominees, so technically you can have a 2nd best nominee win if the number 1 nominee gets a significant number of lower rankings at the same time. In other words, if you vilify the favorite nominee, you can still have the second best nominee win. It sounds outrageous and improbable. Who would go to such lengths for a trophy that has lost its sheen?
Except that is exactly what happened. Serious movies were ignored to satisfy a company’s lust for ill-deserved prestige. In Hollywood, money doesn’t just talk, it screams – at times, obscenely.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 
 
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