Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Great World of Sound

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Crooked Talent Scouts Fleece Naïve Wannabes in Black-White Buddy Drama

Clarence (Kene Holliday) and Martin (Pat Healy) are a couple of job seekers who meet at a seminar offering employment in the recording industry. The company, Great World of Sound, misleadingly bills itself as an independent music label interested in signing promising talent to lucrative recording contracts.
Though a little suspicious of the shady character (John Baker) opening up what looks like a fly-by-night operation in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, Martin and Clarence accept positions as talent scouts, since they both sorely need the money. Only during their training do they come to see Great Sound for what it is, namely, an elaborate scam to fleece as many local yokels as possible before high-tailing it out of town.
Here’s how the illegal enterprise ruse is run: First, Great World places classified ads in the papers, encouraging aspiring stars to come to a hotel room for an audition in front of its executives. The trick is that everyone who shows up is told they have promise and offered a contract. Then, they’re pressured on the spot to fork over several thousand dollars as proof of a serious commitment and a willingness to invest to their own careers.
Truth be told, Great World has no intention of producing any CDs or promoting any of its artists. Instead, the sleazy owner simply plans to pocket all the checks and to pay his con men a commission for any sucker they’ve signed.
Martin, who is white, and Clarence, who’s black, are paired as partners for this unsavory endeavor, with the former’s good cop persona serving as the perfect counterpoint to the latter’s bad cop routine as the pushy bully who closes deals via the hard sell. And their awkwardly co-dependent relationship supplies the raison d’etre for Great World of Sound, a character-driven buddy drama featuring a palpable chemistry between these Willy Loman-like losers.
Kene Holliday, who many might remember as Andy Griffith’s African-American sidekick on the TV series Matlock back in the late Eighties, revitalizes his career here with a nonpareil outing which ought not be forgotten come Oscar time. Equally noteworthy is the fact that, ala Borat, the bulk of the auditioning support cast had been hoodwinked into believing that they were actually getting a shot at of fame and fortune in front of reps for a real record company.
Consequently, these wannabes exhibit a desperate intensity which could never have been coaxed out of actors consciously going for the same sort of earnest super-realism. Kudos to first-time writer/director Craig Zobel for successfully crafting such a daring debut.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 106 minutes

Studio: Magnolia Pictures

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