December 12, 2013

Uh oh, Martin Scorsese took my advice

While reading about Martin Scorsese's upcoming movie The Wolf of Wall Street (opening Christmas) with Leonardo DiCaprio playing convicted stock swindler Jordan Belfort, I keep wondering, "Didn't I already see this movie?"

Yes. The 2000 movie Boiler Room was also based on Belfort's pump and dump business. In fact, I blogged a quick review of the movie in 2009 in response to the subprime crash:
So, I rented the 2000 movie. It's well worth seeing, as are so many movies that give you an inside view of some masculine institution.
A movie about the U.S. Marines, for instance, doesn't have to be terribly good to still be entertaining. There's just so much lore the screenwriter can crib. For example, there was a spat over "Jarhead," about a Marine in the First Gulf War, because the author of another memoir about that war pointed out that that a speech a colonel gives welcoming the Marines to the war zone was lifted nearly word for word from his book. Veteran screenwriter William Broyles ("Apollo 13") replied that that, sure, it's the same speech, but it's also the same speech Broyles heard from his colonel when he arrived in Vietnam in 1965. Marines don't let a good speech go to waste.
Similarly, it's fitting that the real life subprime peddlers at Ameriquest all watched "Boiler Room" because the crooked stockbrokers in "Boiler Room" all watch "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Wall Street." They get together in the evening in one broker's giant empty house and watch "Wall Street" on the big TV and see who can do Michael Douglas's Gordon Gekko lines best.
High pressure salesmen watch movies about high pressure salesmen for pointers. The rest of us could use a refresher in the games they are playing on us. The chief reminder, of course, is that they persuade men to make dumb outlays of money by challenging their manhood.
"Boiler Room" has lots of great lines, although it's a little clunky overall. This is a very young writer-director's first movie (Ben Younger was 27 when it was released) and it shows. 
The casting is a little off. I wonder if somebody told Ben Younger that for his lead, the conflicted college dropout who can't decide whether he wants the money or his soul back, he should get, "You know, what's-his-name, that young guy, the pale one with the really Italian-sounding name," but instead of getting Leonard DiCaprio, he got Giovanni Ribisi instead. (Of course, there are a lot of movies that could have gone from half empty to half full just by DiCaprio in the title role.) 
Ribisi's quite good in the selling scenes, but he never sold me on the idea that he should be a Hollywood leading man -- he's too toad-like and his complexion resembles the singer's in My Bloody Valentine. 
Ben Affleck has the Alec Baldwin in "Glengarry Glen Ross" role as the sales manager who gives motivational speeches. (Here's the Youtube clip of the "group job interview" -- language NSFW.) Affleck is a guy who has shown some talent as a director and screenwriter, and has had enough work done that he looks like a leading man, but he's not really quite good enough of an actor. He's fine here giving motivational soliloquies, but there's fifty guys who could have done them even better. 

On second thought, that might be a little harsh. It's just that in general, you don't want to get into a head to head acting competition with Alec Baldwin.
Vin Diesel plays the one senior broker who is not a total jerk. I like Diesel, and I think he's a rather good actor when he's not talking (his control of his facial muscles is surprisingly delicate). But Diesel has some kind of speech impediment. I'm not sure exactly what it is -- some times it's a lisp, some times something else. But "Boiler Room" is the wrong movie for him: way too talky. 
Here's a Youtube clip of him reeling in a client where his charisma is locked in uneasy conflict with his speech impediment. (The really odd thing about Vin Diesel is how much his facial expressions resemble those of Jerry Seinfeld.) 
With DiCaprio starring, Martin Scorsese directing, and an extra $100,000 of script doctoring, "Boiler Room" would be one helluva movie.

So I left myself an out there -- if Wolf of Wall Street isn't good, it's because they didn't spend quite enough on script doctoring.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

On second thought, that might be a little harsh. It's just that in general, you don't want to get into a head to head acting competition with Alec Baldwin.

Yeah his acting is really weak, especially in that clip, compared to Baldwin's.

Space Ghost said...

I'd say Baldwin's "Always Be Closing / brass balls" speech is at least four standard deviations better than the linked Affleck performance

Anonymous said...

Baldwin isn't a great actor, but he's perfect for certain kinds of roles.

His role in GLENGARRY was classic and memorable but, in some way, overstated and unnecessary. It's like it was put in there as a kind of 'movie's theme for dummies'. It's like the ending scene of PSYCHO where some guy overacts to spell out WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.

Whiskey said...

I would say Baldwin is limited. He can play himself, I.e. assholes, but sensitive or intelligent or conflicted he can't play. Affleck, or Bat-Ffleck was good as Daredevil and good in Argo.

Ahole role? Get Baldwin. Need some vulnerability? You'll need someone else.

Dave Pinsen said...

He's a great actor in part because he's great in different kinds of roles. Watch him on 30 Rock.

Steve Sailer said...

The most striking thing I've seen Baldwin do is his De Niro impression where he turns his face into De Niro's enough to pass for him at a glance.

Anonymous said...

"I'd say Baldwin's "Always Be Closing / brass balls" speech is at least four standard deviations better than the linked Affleck performance."

Yes, and it was written better.

But for socio-moral purposes, here's why Affleck's performance is more meaningful.

Baldwin did it so well that it's more a performance than a glimpse into reality. It's tour-de-force, the sort of thing that doesn't exist in reality. It's like Gekko's 'greed is good' is solid gold as performance but unreal as a representation of the people who play games on Wall Street. So is Tony Montana's big talk in SCARFACE. Spectacular but only in the movies. Baldwin may be an a**hole in GLENGARRY but he's an a-hole you LOVE to hate. He became an instant icon of the 'bad to the bone' mofo, a kind of Terminator of salesmanship.

But here's the thing: reality is really filled with Afflecks trying to be Baldwins than with actual Baldwins. (All those guys at ENRON were Afflecks who saw themselves as Baldwins. They came to believe in their own myths as super tycoons but they were real people just the same.)
Real people are not picture perfect and don't give perfect performances where every word and gesture hits the bull's eye.
Real Gangsters are not like Montana or Corleone. Real commanders are not like George C. Scott's Patton(even Patton wasn't like that) or Colonel Kilgore of APOCALYPSE NOW. Rather, they are people with flaws trying to be tough, cool, and etc, but rarely hitting all the marks.

The point of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS is that the salesmen wanna be the perfect 'bad to the bone' super-a**hole salesman--the kind of person that Baldwin is--, but such a person is more myth than reality, which is why the role was made up for the big screen; it wasn't in the original play. By actually presenting such a character, the movie undermines its own message and indicates that such a mythic figure can really exist in reality.

When an actor plays the a-hole or 'bad guy' role to perfection, it has the effect of icon-izing the role to the point where it doesn't matter whether he's a bad guy or son of a bitch. He's proven his coolness and superiority, and we end up admiring him(against our better judgement; same thing with Hannibal Lecter, which is why so many people became fans).

Affleck's performance comes nowhere near to Baldwin in fireworks. He isn't so much a Baldwin or a Gekko but a real-life a**hole trying to impress others that he is a Gekko or Baldwin. So, we see the hollowness, the phoniness, the tawdriness; the act comes across as an act. So, on the socio-moral scale, his performance is more effective. We see his attempt to be 'bad' and cool than a perfect icon of such qualities.

Consider Kilgore in AP. He's supposed to be a psycho, but Duvall played the role to such perfection that we end up loving him. He isn't so much a human character playing god(and acting nuts in the process) but a genuine god on the silver screen. That is no way to make an anti-war movie.

Dave Pinsen said...

Baldwin has had a better late period than De Niro so far. He nailed that supporting role in The Departed, and it's hard to think of anyone who could have done a better job than him on 30 Rock.

I think De Niro's last great role might have been in Heat in 1995.

Anonymous said...

"He nailed that supporting role in The Departed"

I hated that movie but I loved the line, "thank God for the patriot act".

Dave Pinsen said...

It's pretty hard to make an anti-anything movie for young men. That's one insight of Boiler Room's Wall Street scene, and it's based on reality. Wall Street was an anti-Wall Street movie loved by young guys on Wall Street. For years after it came out, there were unironic employment ads in the NYT classifieds saying, "Wanted: Bud Fox".

Same thing with anti-war movies. When I was in infantry training at Fort Benning, Platoon was the equivalent of Wall Street.

Beefy Levinson said...

Strangely enough, Baldwin's Glengarry character was credited as "Blake" instead of "F*** You."

kaganovitch said...

Ok somebody has to say it ... If only Scorsese had cast Paul Walker instead of Dicaprio ,Walker might be alive today

Steiner said...

Still waiting for the Madoff story to hit the big screen...you remember, Bernie Madoff, biggest crook in history, Wall Street swindler extraordinaire, billions lost, regulators fooled for over a decade? You'd think there was a marketable screenplay there somewhere...you'd think.

couldn't care less about stupid new flick said...

I was bored of this movie after 5 seconds into the first commercial I'd seen. It would prob be more interesting to see Steve's review of the Mary Poppins one (particularly Hanks's lousy take on mimicking Walt Disney's well known speaking style, of which I believe recordings exist)--that's how much I hate The Wolf of Wall Street. Undoubtedly to be foggily remembered in the great DiCaprio melange: "Gatsby Unchained"; "Gangs of Boston"; "Howard Hughes's Basketball Diaries"; etc. ad nauseum. They're all movies in which he plays the role of Leonardo DiCaprio to great middle-aged-housewife acclaim.

Anonymous said...

OT: Bill Gates' 2013 reading list has quite an impressive Scotch-Irish:everyone else ratio.

tarswi 626 said...

My favorite Alec Baldwin part is Pete Schweddy.

Interested to see how American Hustle does and whether WoWS beats AH in either/both box office and awards. So far AH is ahead in the various awards (which have proliferated along with boxing titles) but the only thing that really matters is Oscars.

If David O. Russell gets beaten by Scorsese, he will be very very pissed. And a pissed off David O. Russell is an ugly sight to behold.

Anonymous said...

There are sales managers as good or better than Baldwin at that sort of public speaking, you just need a big enough depth of field to find one that is enough standard deviations to the right. If you could put a hidden camera on the wall when such a sales manager was giving such a speech when he was in the zone, you'd have a better performance than Baldwin's.

This is how R. Lee Ermey got his start. As I'm sure you would know, Ermey was the Marine Corps drill instructor advisor to Kubrick who ended up getting the part over the actor who was originally paid to play the part. If you can find a better actor to portray a drill instructor than Ermey and a better director than Kubrick to direct him - well, you might have some sort of chance to displace the image that comes to mind when the general public think "Drill Instructor". But even as great an actor as Clint Eastwood is - he could only ever be a pale facsimile of Ermey, the real deal.

Not everyone with great acting, great performance skills or exceptionally magnetic charisma becomes an actor. Not all of them have the desire, not all of them would make that gamble. And when this caliber of person has spent a career trying to get to the point at which they have gotten to in their calling - it is unlikely that an actor can eclipse their performance.

Another case in point - Hitler. Every actor who ever portrays Hitler is, to some extent, going to end up looking like Affleck aping Baldwin. And while Ganz was great, certainly when it comes to Hitler aping actors he is the GOAT without question - but in your heart of hearts you know that if there could have been a hidden camera on the wall of Hitler's bunker, Hitler would have done it better.

Anonymous said...

http://www.thelocal.fr/20131210/photo-of-the-day-french-caf-charges-extra-for-rudeness

Wait a minute. I thought the French loved being rude.

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/393475-7-headlines-you-wont-read-anywhere-else-today-dec-11/

Anonymous said...

The Onion film critic's new review of The Hobbit is pretty good. Judged by the "Those who can" rule of movie journalism, it might be his most accurate attempt so far; AICN ought to buy out this guy's contract pronto.

Power Child said...

OT, Steve I noticed you and John Derbyshire used the word "sclerotic" within a few days of each other. Before that I don't remember seeing you use it for at least the few years I've been reading.

This was my first time seeing the word "sclerotic" ever, which is why it stands out. (Still haven't looked it up; context made it clear that its meaning is something like "slow and curmudgeonly.") But I do appreciate that experience of having a nice word in the old vocabulary that I used in the past but for whatever reason stopped using for a while until I see someone else use it and then I decide to start using it again, so I quickly find a place for it. Expanding one's vocabulary is fun, even if it's actually just a re-expansion.

Anonymous said...

http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201312/the-worlds-smartest-people/whats-the-smartest-country-in-the-world

Anonymous said...

You've got that right about Marines. Any story I tell about my time in the USMC is automatically inflated by listeners by at least one grade point simply because of the backdrop.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but DiCaprio is immensely overrated. He isn't terrible, but when you strip away his good fortune that Scorsese took a liking to him, there isn't really all that much there.

He can't hold a candle to Christian Bale. (And to think that DiCaprio was originally slated to play Patrick Bateman.)

And Steve, the casting for Boiler Room was not the film's problem, and DiCaprio would not have made it any better, and could have made it worse. (Nicky Katt, a very underrated actor that I wish I could see more of, was excellent in it). The whole "my daddy didn't love me" theme was what sunk that movie.

DCThrowback said...

@DavePinsen is killing this thread...and infantryman to boot. Bravo sir. Baldwin has range, is funny and never mails it in. See his portrayals on SNL (Pete's Schweaty Balls, etc.) for further evidence. I think he's a must view.

Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker was similar. Lewis has commented multiple times that his book served as a recruiting tool for Ohio State undergrads who wanted to know from Lewis how to get to Wall St rather than the damning portrayal of egos and BS that Wall Street really was.

peterike said...

I, for one, am sick to death of DiCaprio and really don't care to ever see him in anything ever again. But then, I've always had a thing against him since he was in the Worst Movie Ever Made, namely "Titanic."

Generally speaking, DiCaprio has made a career of staring in well made garbage.

Anonymous said...

http://anti-gnostic.blogspot.com/2013/12/our-chilling-future.html

Anonymous said...

But Steve, isn't that what you meant a few posts back 'We'll work it all out in post-pro?"

If after one hundred grand they still haven't worked out all the kinks and problems...well...

And the timing of the film is obviously for Oscar season.

Of course, it hardly looks as though anyone can beat that juggernaut, 12 yrs a Slave.

Sulla said...

I find Ben Affleck to be somewhat one dimensional. He doesn't convince when he has to play a character with some emotional depth.

Of course movie stars are often just playing themselves, it's just that some are a LOT better at it than others. The great comedic leading man James Garner comes to mind in this regard.

sunbeam said...

The more people take their cues for what a society is supposed to be like, and how they are supposed to behave from movies, the more cartoon like our society becomes.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXZxipry6kE

White males are so over. White girls grow up listening to this.
And white boys weep over 12 yrs a Slave.

So, this is how a race dies.

Sad.

Looks like 1200 a Master over defeated white boys.

808 UCToms said...

The Oscars have nothing to do with quality, it has everything to do with whether the stars are aligned in your favor.

And I agree that Christian Bale is far better actor than Di Caprio. He even would have been better in Titanic. (He was up for the role but Cameron couldn't cast two Brits as the leads.)

One of those great historical "what ifs". If Christian Bale had played Jack in Titanic.....

Anon87 said...

May seem OT, but this is so supremely ST (Sailer Topic).

Simmons and Gladwell email exchange

And Wolf of Wall Street is mentioned. Apparently Simmons has not seen Leo's sell-out commercials from Japan. Star struck as always.

Lex said...

Vin Diesel -> F&F -> Paul Walker!

pat said...

Alec Baldwin played essentially that same character - the despicable egomaniac - in several other of his early films and he was always terrific. He played a scary and deadly civil servant in 'Mercury Rising'. He was much the same as a scary evil radio station manager in 'Talk Radio' and the evil doctor in 'Malice'. Later we learned that that was pretty much his real personality so while it may not have been acting, it was certainly entertaining.

I went to these Baldwin movies to see his 'star turn' as Snidely Whiplash in yet another setting. Ben Affleck, alas, just lacks the natural internal wickedness to pull this off. He must rely on acting ability - as you say, not his strong suit.

I watch 'Glengarry, Glenross' every time it comes on. At several times in my life I have worked in commissioned sales. Many of themes in the movie are familiar although it is not really realistic. I watch Rigoletto every time it plays too but no one really believes in the reality of those characters either.

When I was in sales I used to enjoy watching salesmen trying to sell us on some dubious proposition like Baldwin does in the movie. I never sold real estate but I am very familiar with the concept of quality 'leads'. In my experience the quality of the leads was everything. So when I see those scenes where they keep complaining about the leads, I always think - why don't they just quit? If you can support yourself in commissioned sales you don't have to take all that guff from Baldwin or anyone else.

It's not as if those guys had any great investment specialized real estate knowledge. Most companies have trouble keeping their sales force. Send in Baldwin like that, and half the sale force would just walk out and go sell cars.
With bad leads no one is going to succeed anyway.

At one sales job I had just out of college I did well because I managed to convince the boss that I deserved access to the good leads. The others in the boiler room phone operation struggled with the not-so-good leads while I kept setting sales records. I had sold the boss on the idea that I was a super salesman thus initiating a self fulfilling prophecy.

Albertosaurus

Dave Pinsen said...

Albertosaurus,

"When I was in sales I used to enjoy watching salesmen trying to sell us on some dubious proposition like Baldwin does in the movie. I never sold real estate but I am very familiar with the concept of quality 'leads'. In my experience the quality of the leads was everything. So when I see those scenes where they keep complaining about the leads, I always think - why don't they just quit? If you can support yourself in commissioned sales you don't have to take all that guff from Baldwin or anyone else."

This is why the setting of Ben Affleck's speech during a group interview in Boiler Room was more realistic. It sets expectations and it's a challenge to them. You're right that Alec Baldwin's speech to a group of experienced commission sales reps that are struggling makes little sense.

If they're all struggling except for one guy (Al Pacino's character), and they've been successful in the past, then the problem probably isn't with them, but with the product or the leads or something else beyond their control. And threatening to fire them isn't much of a threat if they aren't making any money there anyway.

"At one sales job I had just out of college I did well because I managed to convince the boss that I deserved access to the good leads. The others in the boiler room phone operation struggled with the not-so-good leads while I kept setting sales records. I had sold the boss on the idea that I was a super salesman thus initiating a self fulfilling prophecy."

Selling the boss successfully demonstrated that you were a better salesman, so you probably did a better job with the good leads than the boiler room guys would have. A big part of being a successful salesman is successfully selling yourself to management so you get the best jobs/territories/leads, etc. And it builds on itself: if you make a lot of money in sales, you get offered jobs at better companies with better products that invest more in their salesmen. Which is why a top salesman in real life would never work for a Glengarry type of shop in the first place.

long live reggie w said...

Albertosaurus - I am strangely cheered that you think there are any actors at all - or even people - who lack internal wickedness. To the anonymous who apparently posted about his dislike for rap music, cheer yourself up and buy a One Direction record.

Anonymous said...

Re the crap leads issue. "The leads are weak."

Ive never quite followed the logic of this part of GGR. If the leads really are crap then whats the point of them? Whats the point in Mitch & Murray sending out the sales guys on fruitless missions using these leads? All the time they waste on that is time they arent earning for the business.

I do realize Im being overly prosaic here.

Anonymous said...

The more people take their cues for what a society is supposed to be like, and how they are supposed to behave from movies, the more cartoon like our society becomes.

I spend a lot of time arguing with left/libs online (and neo-con/rinos too). Ive noticed how quickly the left/libs will resort to referencing or citing movies/TV etc.

They really do seem to think they are making a point or even more tellingly winning the argument.

We need black immigration because - Children of Men.

'White suprmacists' bad because - Chris Rock routine.

I mention those because they are actual real life arguments Ive been presented with recently.

Of course one can illustrate one's point with fictional cases, its a useful shorthand. But not to actually use those as your whole argument. Jeez.

sunbeam said...

Anonymous wrote:

"I spend a lot of time arguing with left/libs online (and neo-con/rinos too). Ive noticed how quickly the left/libs will resort to referencing or citing movies/TV etc.

They really do seem to think they are making a point or even more tellingly winning the argument.

We need black immigration because - Children of Men.

'White suprmacists' bad because - Chris Rock routine.

I mention those because they are actual real life arguments Ive been presented with recently.

Of course one can illustrate one's point with fictional cases, its a useful shorthand. But not to actually use those as your whole argument. Jeez."

Yeah. Joe Bageant probably isn't too popular here, because of his politics.

But he nailed things in an essay of his that had hologram in the title. Basically American society is an illusion (okay one exists, but it is irrational, artificial, and not stable) created and maintained by a 24/7 media immersion bath.

And the sad truth is it wasn't designed by intellectuals who were trying to remake society exactly. Though that has been a hugely successful side effect.

It was done by people who were trying to sell more cheetos and soap.

It's not an epic, it is a farce, but no mistake it is a story.

1756 taistrt said...

It is interesting how many of the comments here concern Alec Baldwin, which is an indication of the forcefulness and power he projects/embodies.

Alec tends to dominate conversations, doesn't he?

If you want a guy to communicate passion and alpha-maleness in all its pigheaded glory, Alec's your man.

Anonymous said...

"I've never quite followed the logic of this part of GGR. If the leads really are crap then whats the point of them? Whats the point in Mitch & Murray sending out the sales guys on fruitless missions using these leads? All the time they waste on that is time they arent earning for the business."

Yes, it's a catch-22 and Mamet, being Jewish, probably has a cast of mind not unlike that of Joseph Heller.

It's like the guys are set up to fail. To get good leads, they must work with bad leads, but bad leads are deadends and produce no sales, especially when times are tough. So, it's like a infinite loop of failure.

So, how can they make it work? It's what separates the hacks from the miracle workers. Maybe for the real good hustlers, the leads(good or bad) are merely a prop. Maybe they go looking for prey in their own way and with their own initiative. Roma(Pacino) almost bagged a big kill, and he didn't rely on any lead at all. He just got to talking very smoothly to someone he met. He knows how to turn water into wine.

Jews understood this because many of them began on the bottom against seemingly impossible odds. It was peddlers competing with peddlers, everyone eking out a living and living in the same poverty-stricken neighborhoods. And socialist Jews would have thought NO ONE can succeed in such a dog-eat-dog world. And yet, some did succeed and beat all the odds. So, the 'leads' are not where the real game is at. They are merely a front for those who really know the true nature of the game. The real hustlers make their own rules and play their own game and find their own prey. They must go beyond the leads, be creative, do their own thing, break every rule, etc. (In a way, the robbery of the office was the logic outcome of office policy. If indeed the true nature of the game is dog-eat-dog, then why not rob the office? Hey, it was initiative. If guys are sent out and told to win at any cost, then why shouldn't they cannibalize the company?)

And the real hustlers know that the real art is not about selling the product but about selling the 'you'.
"Sure you've got a great product, Earl. But you have to remember what you're really selling. Yourself." What a salesman needs is the art of making himself seem both superior and at-the-mercy of the would-be buyer.
Human nature makes us want to look up to and serve the superior man. But another side of human nature makes us feel sorry for those in need. Thus, the salesman has to fool the buyer that he is a superior man of intelligence and drive. The much impressed would-be-buyer would then want to do a favor for the seller to win his approval. But too much of superiority-showing-off may intimidate the buyer. So, the seller also has to make the buyer feel like the he(buyer) is doing a big favor for the seller(who really needs to make this sale cuz times are tough and, gee, he's working so very hard, the poor sod). This is the trick that Mantegna pulls in HOUSE OF GAMES. On the one hand, he makes the woman admire his talents; he makes himself the superior man. But he also pulls at her heart-strings like he really really needs her help.
A lot of Jews operate this way. They know that their verbal skills and wit impress gentiles who come to admire Jews as superior in intelligence and ability; but this can lead to envy and resentment. So, Jews play the 'poor victim of antisemitism' card and tug at your heartstrings, and so, people feel that they must help the poor poor Jew in need.

The Negro guy in SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION plays the same shtick. On the one hand, he acts like the superior alpha kid who is so full of wit and charm; but he also plays the victim(of a stabbing and, of course, history, even if it's unstated). Funny thing about SIX DEGREES is that, even as it sees through the BS, it still endorses it.
And of course, Obama sold nothing but the 'yourself'.

Gubbler of the Society of Reformed Chechenistics said...

"So when I see those scenes where they keep complaining about the leads, I always think - why don't they just quit? It's not as if those guys had any great investment specialized real estate knowledge. Most companies have trouble keeping their sales force. Send in Baldwin like that, and half the sale force would just walk out and go sell cars."

It could be that the company doesn't care if they leave. Maybe the company wants to get rid of them. Indeed, Baldwin tells them that they better make a sale or they are all fired. I have a feeling that things had been much better in yrs prior to the action in GLENGARRY. In really good times, even second-rate and third-rate workers can make sales. Consider the housing boom. Even schmoes working for subprime companies were making sales all over the place and pulling in commissions. But then, the crunch came, and lending institutions either let go of a lot of their workers or didn't care if they lost them. Only the best, the craftiest, most valuable, and the most ruthless survived.

So, the guys in GLENGARRY may have had some good yrs during boom times, and they are still hoping for the return of that kind of luck. (It's like during the dot.com bubble, everyone thought he or she was a financial wizard.) But times have changed. It's like during bloom-boom yrs in nature, lots of animals have plenty of water, food, and etc. During the rainy season, hippos are in heaven. But when the rivers dry up, it's a real contest and many die. Same with bears and salmon. During peak salmon season, every bear has some salmon. But once the season passes, only the toughest bears hang on while the weaker one starve.

So, there may have been a boom time when the workers we see in GLENGARRY had a pretty good job. But they are now in the lean yrs, and they can't rely on easy sales to people with plenty of cash/credit. And the company WANTS to lose the workers but still holds out some hope for a few of them who might have the skills to turn water into wine, and Roma is one of them; others are not.

Suppose in good times, there's a loaf of bread for every person. But in lean yrs, there's only one loaf for ten people. The guy with the will and talent to get the loaf survives; the other nine die.
What seemed impossible for nine people was possible for the one person who made off with the loaf.

Dave Pinsen said...

The Jew stuff is throwing you off a bit, but you did have one nugget in that riff.

My father had a book about dressing for success that was written in a more forthright decade. Much of the book was focused on salesmen and included tips for how men of different sizes and complexions should dress. It also included a tip for larger salesmen that went beyond how to dress.

The book said that it wasn't an issue for women buyers, but men would not buy from a salesman who intimidated them. So one top salesman who was a big man (a former athlete, if memory serves), would pretend to accidentally drop his papers when selling to a man. Then the prospect would no longer feel intimidated and would help him pick everything up.

Mr. Anon said...

"808 UCToms said...

One of those great historical "what ifs". If Christian Bale had played Jack in Titanic....."

It still would have sucked, and I still would have spent the whole movie wanting to see him die. The whole movie was a stupid conception on Cameron's part. To take all those great special effects and use them to show one of the greatest maritime disasters in history, but then to waste all that by making the actual events subordinate to a stupid, cheesy, banal puppy-love story.

BTW, I disagree with you. I can't say anything about Bale - I only saw him in that stupid comic-book movie, Batman. However, I think that DiCaprio is a very good actor - probably one of the best ever. I found his portrayal of Howard Hughes to be quite convincing. Of course, like almost all Hollywood people, he's a mushy-headed liberal.

Mr. Anon said...

"sunbeam said...

The more people take their cues for what a society is supposed to be like, and how they are supposed to behave from movies, the more cartoon like our society becomes."

Well said. Quite true.

Anonymous said...

The casting problem with Boiler Room was that the female romantic lead was unattractive. In Wolf of Wall Street Margot Robbie is hot.

dsgntd_plyr said...

Jon Hamm auditioned for Baldwin's "Jack Donaghy" role.

Anonymous said...

I probably wasn't going to see this movie any year soon but skimming a handful of new reviews hasn't exactly changed mind. David Denby compared it to a satirical-cynical Broadway musical with no story arc, Variety said it's like a startlingly precise counterfeit of Classic Scorsese Films of yore (hmm). Interesting that they praise the acting and visual technique as consistently good-to-excellent quality, except that the subject matter -- a bunch of voluble a-holes, basically -- gets so tiresome at 3 hours' duration.