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Glengarry Glen Ross(1992)
An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.
For more about Glengarry Glen Ross and the Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray release, see the Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray Review
Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey
Director: James Foley
» See full cast & crew
Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 7, 2012
Nominated for Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, James Foley's "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors ITV Studios Home Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include original theatrical trailer for the film; audio commentary with director James Foley; an episode of the Charlie Rose Show with Jack Lemmon; selected-scene commentaries by cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, production designer Jane Musky; and a lot more. In English, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
They make phone calls to sell properties no one wants to buy. They all remember the good times but do not believe they are coming back. Part of the problem is that the good leads have stopped coming in. But there is also something else, something that worries them all – they used to compete with different firms, now they have to compete with each other.
On a cold and rainy night, Blake (Alec Baldwin), a cocky agent from downtown, announces that there will be a new sales contest. First prize is a Cadillac. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is walking out the door and never coming back to the office. The big guys in the firm have had enough with the little guys and this is their last chance to prove that they deserve to work for them. The losers will have to go.
Shelley "The Machine" Levene (Jack Lemmon) immediately panics because he hasn't had a good sale in ages. He used to be one of the best, closing impossible deals all the time, picking up great commissions. He can still do it, but the leads have to be better. If they are, he will sell and prove that he deserves to be on the team.
Dave Moss (Ed Harris) has grown tired of the business. Now he also genuinely dislikes the guys he is asked to compete with and isn't afraid to tell them right in their faces how he feels about them. He could easily walk away without being asked and won't miss the job. But this new contest could be the perfect opportunity to prove to everyone that he is and always has been the best.
George Aaronow (Alan Arkin) used to trust the guys he works with, but not anymore. Now he is always careful because he has realized that they are all predators. He is seriously disillusioned and sad that it has become this bad. He never saw it coming.
Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) has been red-hot as of late, and everyone, even John Williamson (Kevin Spacey), who handles the leads, knows that Roma's streak has nothing to do with luck. He is just a great talker and an excellent closer. He is the type of salesman no one wants to compete with.
At the end of his speech, Blake shows the salesmen a pair of brass balls and announces that they must stop underachieving and start closing if they want to keep their jobs. With the pressure on, the men begin making calls.
Based on the play by the great David Mamet, James Foley's Glengarry Glen Ross is without a doubt one of the great films of the '90s. It has tremendous energy, it is perfectly lensed, and it tells a story that keeps the viewer on the edge of his seat until the final credits roll.
This is also one of a select few films where there are virtually no secondary characters - everyone, including the soft buyer played by Jonathan Pryce, has a very specific and very important part. This remarkably perfect balance makes it incredibly difficult to guess in what direction the film is heading and why.
The message of the film is about the erosion of morality amongst salesmen. The men are not necessarily bad - in fact, throughout the course of the film it becomes obvious that some of them are not - but the new environment in which they are placed and asked to survive gradually transforms them into egocentric predators. They hunt for clients and eventually turn against each other.
The overwhelming majority of the film is notably depressing. But not because it is difficult to watch, rather because the type of mentality it studies is nowadays very much part of everyday life. There is so much in that cynical speech Baldwin's character delivers that is so true. Also, there are occasional splashes of humor here and there, but the overall tone of the film remains somber.
Unsurprisingly for a film based on a Mamet play, the dialog is fantastic. Truly, there isn't a single line in the film that is wasted.
The cast, arguably one of the best assembled in a modern film, is terrific. Watching Pacino, Spacey, Baldwin, Harris, Arkin, and Lemmon clash with such remarkable intensity is a very, very special spectacle.
Note: In 1992, Glengarry Glen Ross won Golden Ciak and Volpi Cup Awards for Best Actor (Jack Lemmon) at the Venice Film Festival.
Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.34:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, James Foley's Glengarry Glen Ross arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of ITV Studios Home Entertainment.
Aside from the fact that sharpness levels appear to have been ever so slightly elevated, the high-definition transfer is indeed quite good. There are large portions of the film that are somewhat dark and subdued, but detail and clarity are always very pleasing. Image depth is also very good, especially during close-ups. Generally speaking, contrast levels are stable. Color reproduction is convincing. The neon lights, and in particular the thick reds, blues and browns look far stronger than they have on previous DVD releases. Edge-enhancement is not a serious issue of concern. There are no traces of problematic degrainig corrections either. Some extremely light compression artifacts, however, pop up here and there. Lastly, there are no large scratches, cuts, debris, or stains, but a few tiny flecks can be seen. All in all, I like the presentation quite a lot as there are dramatic improvements in every single area that we typically address in these reviews. If you currently own the R2 2DVD release of Glengarry Glen Ross which Grenada Ventures produced some time ago, do not hesitate to upgrade. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record, ITV Studios Home Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The lossless 5.1 track is a good enough reason to recommend an upgrade. Though there are only a few sequences where its presence is truly felt, the difference is indeed very obvious when one compares what the lossless track accomplishes and what the lossy track from the DVD release does not. The dialog, which most of the time is very intense, also benefits a great deal. All in all, the energy in the film is now far more impressive. For the record, there are no problematic audio dropouts or distortions to report in this review.
Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
James Foley's Glengarry Glen Ross is one of those films that is just too perfect to be true - it is based on a fantastic screenplay by the great David Mamet, it has a phenomenal cast, and a style to die for. It is the type of film that will always be watched and admired because it really is that good. Unfortunately, at the moment it is only available on Blu-ray in the United Kingdom. If you could play Region-B "locked" discs, you absolutely want to have this film in your collections. (In addition to the standard release herein reviewed, there is also a SteelBook Collector's Edition available for sale. See our listing here). VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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