Runstedler’s DVD Pick of the Month: Glengarry Glen Ross

Featuring an all-cast cast ensemble, 1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross is a diamond in the rough. Widely overlooked at the time of its release, it’s grown into a cult classic in many circles. Some have even compared it to another 1992 gem, which is Reservoir Dogs. At the time, Quentin Tarantino himself and others were quite surprised with the comparisons. Reservoir Dogs is an action film about the aftermath of a failed bank heist, whereas Glengarry Glen Ross is about several real estate brokers who are pressured to close their deals within three days, or else. These films are both connected through their dialogue, which is witty, profane and captivating (and that’s why the production crew all referred to the film as “Death of a Fuckin’ Salesman”).

Alec Baldwin plays their manager, who arrives with his lackey Williamson (played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey; you can almost feel the pressure and stress with him), and delivers a cold and ruthless soliloquy to his failing employees. First prize? Cadillac. Second prize? A knife set. Third prize? They’re fired. And so it begins. Clearly, no one wants to buy the land that the brokers are selling, and as time passes the employees become increasingly desperate and hostile. Jack Lemmon is great as an aging salesman who used to be at the top of his game, but time has rendered him impotent and useless. In fact, he inspired the loser character in The Simpsons named Gil, who’s always fucking up and losing his job. I’d feel sympathy for him if he wasn’t so despicable. He’s a backstabbing sycophant, using bribery, corruption and others to suit his own needs. Al Pacino is also great as Ricky Roma I personally think it’s one of his best roles to date), a fiery contender who has the best sales and pursues cutthroat tactics to get where he needs to be, pushing Jonathan Pryce’s character into making an offer he can’t (or can) refuse. Ed Harris is also great as a family man who is also not without fault. In retrospect, Alec Baldwin’s opening performance is a bit superficial compared to the rest of the film. It’s true that the director tailored the part specifically for Baldwin, and while it’s still a powerful performance, it lacks the incendiary depth and intricacy that drives the rest of the film. What I loved most about this film, aside from the acting and characters, is the plot twists and turns. You never know what’s going to happen next, who is going to screw over who, but you can expect something awesome to happen. The eternal rain falling down offers nothing less. The ending is a cliffhanger, but strangely satisfying, and I don’t know how they could have ended it otherwise, although I would have been interested to know what became of the characters afterwards. The film develops that bond with the characters to such a degree that you’re left yearning for more. It’s shot in a very cinematic style as well, despite its theatrical appeal. It’s like watching an action film without the gunshots and bloodshed, but with enough deceit and bloodlust to satiate the hounds’ appetite.

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