Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley, 1992) [9]

On many occasions, it may seem when reviewing films, that I spend more time talking about arcane ideas like form and composition of images. Story and acting are never really that important when talking about auteur theory and aesthetics. This film is all dialogue and performances and I happen to think it's exceptional at those areas. If you want to talk about it as a film, it isn't much more than a filmed stage play but after all, that's all it was. This isn't real James Foley's film, even though he does a good job of standing back and letting his actors chew their meaty roles. (Side note: James Foley is the only notable director that I've ever met; it's not important to the review, I just wanted to get it out there.) David Mamet and his dialogue are still the stars of the film. It crackles with sarcasm, profanity, desperation, and an utter lack of candor. Even though it's big and loud, the dialogue is all we know of the salesman and their world, the phantom (?) properties, and what is exactly going on. It's never clear whether this whole real estate business is a scam, and whose these people really are beyond their bluster. It's never really that important in that the whole film is in the now, not concerned with any past. The film really hinges on the actors' performances and really they couldn't be much better. Pacino, Harris, and Baldwin are perfect for their parts but no discussion can go on further without Jack Lemmon as Shelley. Clearly the basis for my favorite Simpsons character, Gil, Lemmon plays Shelley with a mix of desperation, envy, and failure that sums up everything about the film. Shelley constantly lives in the past, touting himself as 'the machine', of bragging of past accomplishments mostly because he has no where else to go but to the absolute bottom. It's really what these characters are grasping for; fighting to accomplish something (a Cadillac, good leads, the feeling of success) in order to stave off the stench of failure and total defeat that looms over the entire picture. It's a fight that by the end ends with its expected outcome.

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