Monday, April 02, 2007

"Glengarry Glen Ross", "Blades of Glory", and Oprah Liked "The Road" Almost as Much as I Did

Hey, it's been a lil' while. I hope that Caketown "300" parody was funny enough to keep you laughing all through that hiatus.

Last week was chock full o' doing stuff. Fixing cars, re-reading my own writing, drawing projects, seeing plays, moving sheds from one side of the in-laws' house to the other, etc. More stuff than I'm used to doing certainly. The play I speak of is "Glengarry Glen Ross". The Alliance Theater staged it at their little black-box Hertz Theater and we saw it Tuesday night. Good stuff. Though the actor's were age appropriate, I didn't like their "Glengarry" nearly as much as I did the NCSA production of Mamet's play I was lucky enough to see back in '98 or '99. That was some good stuff. "Glengarry Glen Ross" is kind of a weird play. At the same time I'm enthralled by it I'm also annoyed by Mamet's mannered and anti-naturalistic dialogue. It kind of rides that line the whole way through. But Mamet's treatment of the subject and what he has to say about working in America (not to mention some of those brilliant lines), trumps all of Mamet's hyper-macho staccato delivery bullshit.

One of the interesting choices the director made was casting an African-American to play the Ricky Roma part. The actor, Neal A. Ghant, was much more physical in the part than I'd seen in the NCSA production or in the film adaptation (in which Al Pacino played Roma). When Ghant first appeared he was standing behind one of those tall tables you often find in a bar. While Roma's speaking to his mark, Lingk, who was sitting beside him on one of those stool chairs, you could see the actor playing Roma channelling, faintly, a Gospel-style Baptist preacher. His cadence, his swagger, all of that. An interesting choice but I didn't like it. And when Roma and Williamson have their set-to at the end, Ghant's Roma actually lunges for Williamson and nearly decks him. Bad choice, I thought. These men do battle with words. That's kind of the point. The idea that Roma, the salesman with the sharpest tongue in the whole play, would resort to violence doesn't make sense. I know they were trying to do something new with the material, but I think they overreached . Blah. Whatever. Regional theater.

I also saw "Blades of Glory" over the weekend. I thought it was a lot of fun. I didn't think it was as funny as "Talladega Nights", but it was good wacky fun. Jon Heder has more to work with here than he did in the execrable "School for Scoundrels" but I have yet to see him prove himself beyond "Napoleon Dynamite". A lot of the comedic actors he's been working with lately had an opportunity to hone their chops in improv troupes or on shows like Saturday Night Live. The fact he's never had time to work on being funny limits him comedically, I think, and makes him somewhat timid on-screen. I hope he breaks out of that before the roles start drying up.

Finally, fairly big news in the lit world last week. Oprah chose Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" as her latest Book Club pick, and the privacy-valuing (some might say reclusive) Cormac has agreed to his first-ever television interview to discuss the book. I was pleasantly shocked by the news. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic future and follows a man and his son as they trek across the wasted American landscape without much real hope of survival. Not the standard Oprah Book Club fare. I'm sure the fact of the book's excellence overrode Oprah's concerns about the general bleakness of the story, how palatable her viewer/readers would find it. It's impressive then that Oprah would choose this book. Selecting "The Road" doesn't quite make up for the fact that she's championed the awful and dangerous book/DVD "The Secret" as a legitimate and worthwhile thing, or that she has on numerous occasions given a platform for Bill O'Reilly to spout his awful awful bullshit, but choosing "The Road" means she's got some sense left. Or at least her producers do.

1 comment:

harwell said...

That would explain why I saw numerous paperback copies of "The Road" displayed prominently at Target this weekend. I didn't even notice if they had the Oprah stamp on the front, but I'm guessing they did or will soon. So when did she go back to featuring new fiction in the book club? I thought she had stopped that for a while and was just doing "classics"? Either way, here's hoping the interview will be wonderfully awkward.