Tag Archives: Kevin Spacey

90 of 366: Glengarry Glen Ross (and a surprise.)

ross
Kevin Spacey and Jack Lemmon.

Well I now know I could not work in a real estate office after watching Glengarry Glen Ross this week. All the phone calls to try to get sales and Alec Baldwin yelling, not to mention constant pouring rain, would just be too stressful for me.

It was even a little stressful just watching the movie, which shows the skill of David Mamet (who also wrote the play it’s based on) and director James Foley to make the grind of a highly competitive — and shady — real estate office feel, well, real.

Baldwin is only in one scene early in the film, in which he rails on the real estate team about the “leads” they need to pursue and sets to tone for the anxiety and stress I was talking about. His speech ultimately causes the characters to go to all lengths to make their sales quota and get to work on the best leads.

Kevin Spacey is the boss of the office, John Williamson, who controls the leads his team receives only if they are successful on other sales; presenting a true psychological test of their will and trust between all the characters.

At first the team, Shelley “The Machine” Levene (Jack Lemmon); Ricky Roma (Al Pacino); George Aaronow (Alan Arkin); and Dave Moss (Ed Harris); seems simply earnest to do their work but it doesn’t take long for some to turn on each other and the office as a whole to get their hands on the best leads.

As the rain continues and the characters toggle their time between the office, the restaurant across the street, phone booths and house calls to customers seemingly at all hours of the night, it is eventually robbed and causes an investigation into who on the team could be responsible.

While there were several more locations in the film than could be used in a stage production, it still felt like a play to me with the intense focus on individual characters in various scenes and their dialogue.

The intensity only builds throughout the film until a final showdown between Shelley and John that exemplifies another of its strong points; the acting. Lemmon especially had a stand-out role because of the mystery of his character, but the entire cast had performances that made it hard to pick a favorite.

Glengarry Glen Ross has many layers that make it a solid play-turned-film and just remember, “Coffee is for closers.”

ricky
The Story of Ricky

I also watched a surprise film this week as movie #91 thanks to what may be my new favorite thing at my new favorite place, Tape Freaks at the Trylon Microcinema.

The hosts pick a film each month based on a theme and give away clues on their blog leading up to the screening. This month’s was a movie you know based on seeing clips on YouTube. I couldn’t think of anything that would be, and didn’t know about the clue factor until I went to my first Tape Freaks screening, so I was truly surprised. The chosen presentation was Riki Oh: The Story of Ricky, a 1991 martial arts film about a man in prison using his superpowers, essentially, to fight rival prisoners and guards for the greater good.

Ricky’s powers allow him to severely injure or kill fellow prisoners, even without weapons, and any wounds he sustains will heal so he can continue to fight the injustice in prison. It is a combination of campy/gratuitous violence that overall turns the film more into a dark comedy within the horror and action genre.

It was fun to have no idea what I was in for with Tape Freaks and The Story of Ricky is such a film that, even if you plan to watch it one day, it pushes the boundaries to present an unexpected, entertaining story.

That is all for now.

“And it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe.
It will never do anyhow.”

Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.

 

 

 

 

American Beauty

Hey hey, I’m on vacation and free from my cube at work for a week.

1234557128_2

I am taking full advantage of my vacation, I guess, since I was awake at 4:30 this morning. At least that left time for me to find another podcast to listen to during my road trip to Wisconsin today.

As far as movie podcasts go I really enjoy the Indiewire episodes  and The Flop House (I really hope they review my recommendation of Career Opportunities soon) and Rotten Tomatoes is my newest fave. Each episode features various critics from the site talking about movie news, new releases and a certain genre of film before answering listener mail, you know, all of my favorite things.

I recommend the Rotten Tomatoes podcast when you can pull yourself away from Serial, but I’m really not here to talk about podcasts (as much as I love them.)

american_beauty_small1I have a lot of new (and not so new anymore) movies to write about, but then I watched American Beauty again.

It’s definitely a film that shaped my love of cinema and, unlike (at least on the surface) its characters, I think it’s a flawless movie.

The development of Lester Burnham’s character over the course of the film, primarily through his own personal realizations and interactions with his family, is what stands out from the film and shows how a simple story can be really powerful.

Lester’s (Kevin Spacey)  narration throughout the film presents the question of whether you should feel bad for him because of what happens in the end or because he seems to be happy in his life again before it happens.

The film explores the concept of happiness through all of its characters. Lester’s daughter Janie (Thora Birch) is going through the struggles of being a teenager; her friend Angela (Mena Suvari) thinks there is nothing worse in life than being ordinary when that may be what she is (and there is nothing wrong with it); and Lester’s wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) struggles in her career and has pushed Lester and Janie away through the process. Did she really want to become a real estate agent because she wasn’t happy in her family life or did that make her unhappy in her family life?

All of these questions are left open for interpretation by the viewer and that’s another one of my favorite things about American Beauty. It’s thought provoking, but doesn’t go so far as to spell out (or try to spell out) how you’re supposed to feel about the film and the characters.

Director Sam Mendes, writer Alan Ball and the cast managed to create a dark film about happiness (one that won five Oscars) and it works. It might not fall under the lighter holiday fare to watch this time of year, but American Beauty is worth another look.

Then you can watch A Christmas Story for 24 hours, I know I will be.