The Panic in Needle Park (1971)

Directed By – Jerry Schatzberg

Sceenplay By – Joan Didion & John Gregory Dunne

Based on the Book By – James Mills

Cinematography By – Adam Holender

Starring Al Pacino & Kitty Winn

110 min.

The Panic in Needle Park is a type of film that doesn’t get made anymore. It’s a sad and realistic portrayal of the life of heroin addicts living in Needle Park, New York City in the 1970s. There is no single catalyst or plot line, the movie simply follows a couple into the darknesses of addiction, following their actions and reactions to certain instances that happens to addicts.

Al Pacino and Kitty Winn give scarily believable performances as a pair of addicts slowly finding out what they’ll do for their next fix.

Panic is not for the weak at heart. There are several shots and scenes where needles actually go into arms. These shots are extremely upsetting and will turn your stomach in knots. The realism of this movie is beyond description and make me wonder if the supporting actors (and maybe even the stars) in this cast have actually had experiences with heroin.

What I found to an interesting part of this movie is that for someone like me who was not around in the 60’s and 70’s, this movie served as a sort of time capsule of a different time, with the characters speaking slangs for drugs and sex that I had never heard of before. Panic very much has a documentary feel in that way.

If you have an interest in addiction or a darker side of New York City in the 60’s and 70’s, or you just want to see an excellent film with a brilliant performance by a young Al Pacino then you should check out this movie.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Directed By – James Foley

Screenplay By – David Mamet

Cinematography By – Juan Ruiz Anchía

Starring Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, & Alec Baldwin

100 min.

For some reason I’ve been putting off watching this one for a while. I think it’s because the title seems boring, but in fact this is a terrific film with great acting from the entire cast. The movie, based on the play by David Mamet, has great dialogue for every character and turns out to be a very quick 100 minutes of film.

For those of us born in the 90’s we might not know Jack Lemmon as an acting icon but watch this movie and you’ll quickly get why the guy’s a legend. The rest of the cast is terrific as well. Pacino as the suave hot-shot, Ed Harris as the angry failure, Alan Arkin as the bumbling fool, and Kevin Spacey as the young hardass, everyone delivers. Admittedly, it is Alec Baldwin’s scene stealing performance that sets this movie up for what it is. Baldwin comes in for one scene, kicks ass, takes names, then bails, setting up the rest of the cast to be anxious angry wrecks for the remainder of the film.

Sales has never been portrayed in such a rough and vulnerable light as it is in Glengarry Glen Ross and by golly it deserves to be looked at. Watch this acting tour de force.