Pete has recently got a new job as a vacuum cleaner salesman. His mentor is the veteran Tommy, whose methods are rather rude; his sole target is to be the best salesman in his team and to ...
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Pete has recently got a new job as a vacuum cleaner salesman. His mentor is the veteran Tommy, whose methods are rather rude; his sole target is to be the best salesman in his team and to receive the "Golden Hoover". Their temperaments are quite different and the apprentice days turn wilder and wilder. Written by
Moritz Muehlenhoff <email@example.com>
Near the beginning, the chap with the glass eye proudly announces "Look at me, I made it. And I've got a glass eye". Both eyes then swivel to look at Pete, then away, showing us that it is a contact lens. See more »
The film that made a somber audience laugh hysterically three days after 9/11!
You won't find a much tougher crowd for a comedic movie to premiere to than one assembled just three days post-9/11. That was the fate of a pair of new Danny Boyle movies that premiered at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival, and such is the power of VACUUMING COMPLETELY NUDE IN PARADISE that it was able to evoke convulsive laughter even from an audience this somber.
Boyle, who soared with the British films SHALLOW GRAVE and TRAINSPOTTING, then fell on his face with the Hollywood duds A LIFE LESS ORDINARY and THE BEACH, is clearly back in his element and back in form. It would appear that he's been reborn of the freedom that digital technology affords today's daring (and invariably under-financed) filmmakers. He's obviously fascinated with the limitless possibilities for camera placement, embedding miniature cameras all over the sets to permit individual scenes to be viewed from a rapid-fire succession of perspectives. His editing and music skills, combined with stellar camera-work by noted dogme cameraman Anthony Dodd Mantle, results in a raw, exciting new 'dogme-MTV' type of look that's certain to accelerate the acceptance of digital film-making.
But 'look' alone cannot make a movie. You still need a script to work with, and Boyle is blessed here with an outstanding one from Jim Cartwright. The story is nothing less than a bold and brilliant comedic re-conceptualization of Arthur Miller's DEATH OF A SALESMAN for the digital age. (Note: People with actual sales jobs will be just as helpless to resist from laughing as anybody, but for them, the laughter will be of the 'so that I might not cry' sort - trust me.) Unlike Miller, Cartwright doesn't play coy with what the salesman is actually peddling -- you know right from the start that it's vacuum cleaners.
The 'surrogate' character in this film is a likable young slacker named Pete (Michael Begley) who loves dance music and has some mixing talent, but hasn't been able to carve out any kind of career in the music biz. His girlfriend has to perform strip-o-grams in order for them to make ends meet, and they both want out of this situation in the worst way. The girlfriend's plight gets especially humiliating one night when she performs at a retirement party for a vacuum cleaner salesman, and on a suggestion, Pete decides to pursue a career in this profession as a way out for both of them.
Enter the most blazing, mesmerizing, maniacal lead performance by an actor in many a moon. Pete is made an apprentice to star salesman Tommy Rag, played with incredible over-the-top intensity by veteran Timothy Spall. If there were an ABSOLUTE 'best actor' award for the BEST performance, period, in a given year, Spall would be my hands-down choice for 2001. He makes EVERY ruthless salesman in movie history (Kurt Russell in USED CARS, the gang from THE BOILER ROOM, etc.) look strictly 'soft sell' by comparison. This is truly a performance for the ages, one that's certain to skyrocket Spall's status in the acting community. There just aren't WORDS for it . he's off the MAP here!
You may think that you've seen the 'rookie paired with vet' thing done to death in the movies, both in dramatic and comedic contexts, but I can assure you that you've never seen anything even close to the 'eye of the hurricane' variant that Boyle has come up with here. What he's managed to pack into little more than an hour's running time is astounding ... a fully realized comic tragedy of Shakespearean proportions that manages to be relentlessly and mercilessly funny. Having now seen it for a second time following a near six-month wait since that memorable premiere in Toronto, I can add that it holds up sensationally to a repeat viewing. (Spall speaks with an unfettered Manchester accent, and there's no way that American audiences can absorb ALL of his great lines in one viewing.)
About the title: It comes from Tommy Rag's one moment of quiet reflection in the movie ... when he relates to Pete a very Freudian dream he had after seeing a chilling portent of doom on the previous day. It's a short-lived peek into Tommy's hidden humanity ... but this scene definitely adds resonance to the memorable final scene.
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