Glengarry Glen Ross vs. JFK
"That watch costs more than your car. I made $970,000 last year. How much you make? You see pal, that's who I am, and you're nothing. Nice guy? I don't give a shit. Good father? CINECAST! you! Go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here - close! You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cocksucker? You can't take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit? You don't like it, leave."
This was my first viewing of Glengarry Glen Ross. Going in, all I knew to expect was a lot of cursing and Alec Baldwin. I was rewarded on both counts. Alec Baldwin is truly awesome in this small part. Without him the movie is a ho-hum character study, but with him, he perfectly sets up the high-pressure situation that ultimately impacts every choice made by the characters.
The entire cast really sold me (no pun intended). I was transfixed by Ricky Roma's (Al Pacino's) introductory monologue; I was heartbroken by Shelley Levene (Jack Lemmon). I felt every rejection and the painful slide of each character. Even Kevin Spacey did his part as the disconnected office manager.
My only complaint, is the same as that echoed in other reviews: the movie is less a movie and more a play. This does take the dialogue to center stage, but it also puts an odd slant on the visual elements.
"The Warren Commission thought they had an open-and-shut case. Three bullets, one assassin. But two unpredictable things happened that day that made it virtually impossible. One, the eight-millimeter home movie taken by Abraham Zapruder while standing by the grassy knoll. Two, the third wounded man, James Tague, who was nicked by a fragment, standing near the triple underpass. The time frame, five point six seconds, determined by the Zapruder film, left no possibility of a fourth shot. So the shot or fragment that left a superficial wound on Tague's cheek had to come from the three shots fired from the sixth floor depository. That leaves just two bullets. And we know one of them was the fatal head shot that killed Kennedy. So now a single bullet remains. A single bullet now has to account for the remaining seven wounds in Kennedy and Connelly. But rather than admit to a conspiracy or investigate further, the Warren Commission chose to endorse the theory put forth by an ambitious junior counselor, Arlen Spector, one of the grossest lies ever forced on the American people. We've come to know it as the "Magic Bullet Theory." This single-bullet explanation is the foundation of the Warren Commission's claim of a lone assassin. Once you conclude the magic bullet could not create all seven of those wounds, you'd have to conclude that there was a fourth shot and a second rifle. And if there was a second rifleman, then by definition, there had to be a conspiracy. "
It isn't hard to get wrapped up in this real life detective story. The mind gets carried away with all the possibilities the movie has to offer. I had not seen the movie since it's theatrical release, so it was interesting to go back.
The editing is really the star here and Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia deservedly won an Oscar for it. What a huge task to successfully weave together the complex body of new and old footage. Ultimately though, the editing does create a dilemma for me. Combining the new and old footage muddles the historically facts in a way that leaves me wondering how I should approach the movie itself. Is the movie legitimately trying to present a valid theory on the assassination of JFK or is the movie historical fiction. I am sure it is somewhere in between, but I never really felt comfortable and I am still unsure what my attitude is toward the ways in which the information is presented.
The supporting cast does a lot with what is essentially excessive exposition, but I ultimately wished the information could be brought down more quickly to a distinct theory. I think Basil was right when he said the there isn't enough consistency in the revelation of evidence to create escalating suspense and that's really where the movie loses me. If the bulk of the movie could have an ounce of the suspense, intensity, and directness as those last few scenes of the movie, I could love this movie.
JFK is both wonderfully crafted and a total mess at the same time. I know past reviewers have given more weight to the former, but I'm leaning toward the latter: a bit of a mess. Glengarry is on a much smaller scale, so it is hard to compare the two, but ultimately I would go back to Glengarry long before I would go back to JFK.
Glengarry gets it.