Artisan has come through with a well-executed 10 Year Anniversary Edition of Glengarry GlenRoss. Well-executed, yes. Exceptional, no. The highlights of this set are definitely the DTS audio track and the new Widescreen transfer. Both are so exceptional as to make this set a “must purchase” for any fans of this movie or its cast. Beyond these two features, there is nothing particularly compelling about this set, however. Special features contain no standouts, and the second disc is largely the filler of a widescreen t…ansfer.
I approached this release without having seen the movie previously and was somewhat disappointed, given the media acclamation. Screenplays adapted from plays generally result in movies that hammer the watcher over the head with whatever message the movie is trying to communicate over and over and over again. Such is the case with Glengarry GlenRoss, and it quickly grew boring. David Mamet is undoubtedly a genius writer, but as we all know, that doesn’t necessarily translate into an enjoyable cinematic experience. Here’s my thought: In a play, the director, playwright, and cast have little to work with beyond dialog and some set design. In a movie, the director has full run of setting, special effects, weather, etc. As such, if the director doesn’t tone down the screenplay, allegory and heavy handed morality while perhaps subtly communicated on stage become a chore to watch on screen. In GgGR, the continual darkness, rain, and borderline pedantic dialog were all a bit too much for my taste.
Widescreen: The video for the widescreen is absolutely fantastic. This is a fresh transfer, and while it is not HD, and mountain of effort has been made to clean it up. Colours are crisp and clear, and reds and blacks are deep and solid. There’s no grain, scratches, or dust damage to be found anywhere. Congratulations to Artisan on a flawless restoration. Watch for another release in due course combining the DTS audio with an HD transfer.
Fullscreen: Also a good transfer, but not as crisp or as clear as the new widescreen. Really though, who’s going to be watching this?
The widescreen transfer features a DTS audio track that is truly exceptional in its rendering of voices and overall fidelity. In dialog-driven movies such as this one doesn’t usually expect too much out of the audio; this track, however, goes to show what a good mastering job can do with voices and ambient sounds. Start it up in the DTS track, then switch it to the 5.1, and listen to how flat and lifeless it sounds. Amazing!
The fullscreen disc is restricted to 5.1. The audio is competent, but doesn’t stand in the same room as the disc one DTS.
These two discs contain a respectable but not amazing number of special features for an Anniversary Edition. Most of the features are extraordinarily dry, approaching academic in nature. Without slighting the production staff of these features, I would say that they got a little bit carried away with the minimalist Mamet-ness of the movie.
Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon: This release includes a tribute to the deceased Jack Lemmon. Unfortunately, an opportunity for a funny or poignant tribute is squandered for a sterile white room full of tributees in dark colours, voicing their recollections of Jack. Its interesting to hear what they have to say, but the tribute is damned meticulously stylish it makes you sick. Jack deserved better than these faux bar-stool reminisences!
James Foley Director Commentary: Just because he’s the director, doesn’t mean he’s qualified to do commentary. The only saving grace in this commentary is that the movie’s volume is turned back up during the 10 minute gaps in the commentary. I completely forgot that I was listening to the commentary track and was startled when Foley piped up again. In all fairness, Foley does have interesting things to say, he just doesn’t say enough of them.
ABC – Documentary: This documentary is a somewhat interesting academic exercise that drags out a group of real life high pressure sales people to discuss movie characterizations of themselves. Interesting for a few minutes, but ultimately a bit too dry and academic for my taste.
Interviews: I didn’t get far into the interviews, but they look promising. Good turnout from the cast and good discussion. Again, this play/movie seems to take itself a bit too seriously, taking away from the enjoyability of it all.
This two disc set provides one of the finest examples of audio and video remastering available. I can strongly recommend it to Glengarry fans, and fans of cirticially acclaimed movies. Jack Lemmon fans will also find value here from the tribute documentary.
Special Features List
- Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon
- James Foley Director Commentary
- ABC – Documentary
- Commentary by director James Foley
- Scenes with bonus audio commentaries
- Production notes
- Clip archives