#1: In The Company of Men

In the Company of Men (1997)

One line synopsis

Two misogynist businessmen (one played by Eckhart) cruelly plotting to romance and emotionally destroy a deaf woman.

Why Should You Watch It?

Not to be confused with the recent, decent Up In the Air-light The Company Men starring Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, and Coach from the 90’s ABC sitcom “Coach,” In The Company of Men is is the of genesis of two notable careers in film. Aaron Eckhart and director/writer/playwright Neil Labute  met at Brigham Young University.

Eckhart’s role of scheming Chad is the perfect exhibition of hiss acting skill, a role that requires the perfect amount of charm with possibly the healthiest dose of nastiness-per-moment-on-screen. Eckhart has gone on to a wide array of roles from Erin Brockovich to Thank You For Smoking to this weekend’s Battle of L.A. but every time I see him pop up on-screen the first thing that comes to mind, “I should watch In The Company of Men again.”

Scene from In The Company of Men

The man who supplied this perfect role is Mr. Labute. Originally performed as a stage play, Labute took two weeks on a $25K budget and created celluloid gold coming in at a brisk running time of 97 minutes. I think it’s about time for a clip. (Note: this clip has quite a filled with off-colored language but it still fucking hilarious.)

Labute followed this film up with a few interesting and entertaining productions such Your Friends & Neighbors with Ben Affleck and Eckhart again as well as the overlooked Nurse Betty with Renee Zellweger. How quickly things can a promising start can turn to crap?

Labute is still making movies although none that most people would want to watch unless your idea of a good time is watching Nicholas Cage in a remake of The Wicker Man or Chris Rock in an even less unnecessary remake of Death at a Funeral. Maybe one day Labute will come back from the dark side but at least there is one gem in his filmography.


Some More Thoughts (mostly random mental connections):

– My hopes for Labute’s career were very high coming off this film but after some entertaining and interesting work on his follow-up

The film seems heavily influenced by David Mamet’s fantastic Glengarry Glen Ross, which also was a stage play adapted to the screen. If you’ve seen the film, try to remember back how many sets there were. Off the top of my head I remember the office and the bar outside of those two the film takes has a few random exteriors. It’s story driven by dialogue and character. Note to aspiring filmmakers, the best way to make an excellent film on no budget is take notes from Men and Glengarry Glen Ross. Here’s a famous clip from the movie. If you can write something a monologue like this, and get someone to masterfully deliver it like this much-younger version of Alec Baldwin, then you’re already on your way to stardom. Good luck with that.