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Movie Recommendation

Spotlight on: Glengarry Glen Ross

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Glengarry Glen Ross DVD Cover James Foley's Glengarry Glen Ross

When I read other people's opinions on Glengarry Glen Ross (especially those of amateurs like myself), I invariably hear the same statement: "This is the film that really made me appreciate acting."

Nothing could be truer. Glengarry Glen Ross has one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled, comparable even to that of JFK. Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Alec Baldwin--these are names that resonate with cinema fans everywhere, and they are all at the top of their games in this adaptation of David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play (adapted for the screen by Mamet himself).

The setting is a real estate office (presumably in Chicago) located under an elevated train. The train roars by at expected moments of tension. Blake (Alec Baldwin) has been hired to come in as motivational speaker because sales are down. Only Ricky Roma (Al Pacino)--former student of Shelley Levine (Jack Lemmon)--seems to be closing any deals and is notably absent from the proceedings.

Baldwin then spouts the films most memorable line:

"We're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives.

Third prize is you're fired."

Actually, this whole scene is dynamic. Plus, we get to see great actors reacting, instead of acting. That's half of the game, making your reactions seem like you're actually listening to the other person (instead of thinking of your next line).

As far as subtlety goes, Lemmon is the standout here. Sure, he already had two Oscars, but he should have been at least nominated here (certainly instead of Pacino in Scent of a Woman -- that's not acting, that's overacting).

Glengarry Glen Ross never transcends its stage roots; it always feels like a filmed play. But when the writing and directing are of this caliber, who cares?

(The DVD's extras are plentiful, but range from lame [director Foley's commentary] to awesome [Kevin Spacey on Inside the Actors' Studio]. Of all the commentaries, Baldwin's is the most interesting, but none of them are full-length. Get the DVD only if you love the film.)

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