Today! Because I can go out there tonight with the materials you’ve got and make myself $15,000. Tonight! In two hours! Can you?
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Directed by James Foley
Starring Jack Lemmon (x4), Al Pacino (x3), Ed Harris (x2), Alan Arkin (x4), Kevin Spacey (x2), Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce (x3), Bruce Altman
Hey, surprise back-to-back Jonathan Pryce movies! Now in the past I’ve mentioned some stage-y films (say, Noises Off) and really stage-y films (Rhinoceros), but then we’ve got Glengarry Glen Ross, which is one of the stagiest goddamn motion pictures ever made. Seriously, it’s what, 80% in the office? Maybe more than that? Sure, they broke some moments out into the rain or that bar, but it’s almost a unit set film, and that set isn’t anything all that striking or cinematic. So how do they counteract this? Towering, screaming performances, that’s how!
Enjoy this one room, suckers!
Today! Because if you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating –
Directed by Terry Gilliam (x3)
Starring Jonathan Pryce (x2), Kim Greist, Ian Holm (x3), Michael Palin (x3), Robert De Niro (x4), Katherine Helmond (x3), Bob Hoskins (x2), Peter Vaughan, Ian Richardson, Jim Broadbent (x4), Barbara Hicks, Gorden Kaye, Simon Jones, Charles McKeown
Terry Gilliam’s dystopian, bureaucratic hellscape has very little obviously to do with the country of Brazil. Allegedly, in some deleted scene or old script treatment or something, the bug that falls in the printer at the beginning of the film that kicks off the whole misidentification caper is seen traveling across the globe from Brazil, thus the title and the modified usage of the great old tune “Aquarela do Brasil” as the theme song.
I also think of Brazil as the ultimate Gilliam movie, coming as it does after Python and his more fantastic adventures Jabberwocky and Time Bandits, but before the somewhat more realistic goings on in The Fisher King and Fear and Loathing (somewhat is the key there). It merges the two eras neatly – not unlike Twelve Monkeys would later – bridging pure fantasy/sci-fi with relatable human issues in a bizarro satirical context. It’s funny while being frustrating and horrifying in the world they’ve created, while also not being all that far afield from the mundane drudgery of working and living in an even remotely regimented society. Jonathan Pryce’s Sam Lowry being shifted between interchangeable government jobs under paranoid, crazed bosses and sharing a desk with a co-worker in another room all sort of makes sense once you’re out in the workplace for a bit. This is a movie I’ve long loved, for the weirdness and futurism, but have only really appreciated the underlying struggles as the years since college have piled higher and deeper. Continue reading
Today! Because oh, what I’d give for a hundred years, but the physical interferes –
Directed by Alan Parker
Starring Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce, Jimmy Nail
Look, I get it, theater people – in a lot of ways, this movie is a jumble of bungled nothing. Like many modern musicals, it had to cast stars just to make the film, and movie stars don’t tend to have the voices to pull off even moderate singing, never mind borderline operatic Andrew Lloyd Webber/Stephen Sondheim type shows. The 2012 Les Miserables barely missed this list, it’s still sitting out there as #401 – I really like that movie, and it actually has a bunch of decent singers, but the Russell Crowe Javert just kills me. Same deal with Sweeney Todd, my favorite stage musical of all time, is just gutted by the warbling.
However, somehow, I think Evita manages to transcend this problem. First off, the production values are terrific – they really manage to pull this show off the stage and make it a movie. The opposite is a more prevalent problem with filmed versions of musicals (and a lot of plays) than not. Second, for what it is, Madonna’s voice works okay. Sure, if she didn’t have Banderas opposite her she might’ve looked worse, but because they’re both okay singers performing at around the same level, it stays a pretty steady, nice film. Continue reading