Oliver stone has found his messiah in the second installment of the expose on the eponymous street that caused the world to pause in 2008.
Gordon gekko is a Shakespearean brooder with a fledgling growing moral conscience, post jail, in this film filled with stockbrokers with a heart and new york cut and cinematographed to look like central london.
Heck Carrey mulligan is even allowed to slip back into brit every second sentence and the Metropolitan museum of art is made to look like a london museum in a mute appeal from one of Capitalism’s biggest detractors for the return to familiar capitalism in a world run by chinese money and Indian Investment bankers.
The High on style but low on mythological narrative drama gives us a clue into how little Stone understands the nature of Wall Street…of capitalism, and of the current financial crisis.
The Ideal Wall Street film would, in my opinion be written by michael lewis(to whom this film pays tribute, by copying the opening sequence of Liar’s Poker..if only they had KEPT ripping of the novel, which was about a currency hedge fund making a lot of money from scratch) and directed by (oh all right , I’ll say it…) Me. There is no other way an insightful film that comes away as doing justice to the major institutions of the capital market(the markets, the Fed, the investment bankers, the foreign money players) and still be interesting, real and deeply insightful.
Stone struggles on bravely(being neither Me, nor Michael lewis) to understand second hand descriptions of such things as collateralized mortgage obligations, Moral hazard(which the film glibly describes as anybody using someone else’s money), The role of the fed, and why, precisely Lehman Brothers went under.
His understanding of what approaches a resolution to the current crisis is somewhat of a caricatured cross breed between the Godfather’s Family values and the fellowship of the ring. (Gekko is Gandalf and the ring is..like..I don’t know! this whole thang!)
But more shocking than stone’s born again defense of capitalists (whoda thunk!) is his woodyallenesque worship of Lower Manhattan and the Wall Street pier..twin towers area. the camera makes love to the crosswalks and reflections off buildings.
There is a modern seventies feel to the night club and the charity events and balls of the city. (didn’t the seventies end in the eighties (shiver)? ) There is no attempt to examine people’s motivations. Most of them are Shakespearian – Greed, revenge, honor, love – the highest ideals are endowed on to the wall street banker and his hippie girlfriend.
Oliver, let me tell you a little bit about how it really works(Im no expert…but noone is). Wall street? It doesn’t exist any more. The place is full of Indian outsourcees implementing software upgrades in the head office. Most I bankers are now really kids one or two years out of school living up the lower east side and village nightlife with nary a clue as to where money is made and traded. All secondary market transactions happen in rapid trades out of offices of hedge funds all over the country/world. anyone with the right screen can be wall street right at his house. Money moves so rapidly, specially if there are profits to be had, that its usually impossible to tell who’s winning for more than a few seconds. So even if you filled the place with good old long Island kids, they’d see no action because hedge funds in the caymans, Boston , London and barbuda are doing the moving of the market. The demise of Investment banks was a sign of this shift, not as you seem to conclude, some kind of shenanigans within the palace. and you didn’t even reach towards pricking the real estate bubble dude! The mortgage crisis was but background noise in your movie.
Still as George Bernard Shaw said about a dog walking on two feet, its not about how well he does it, as much as the fact that he does it at all.
C- for effort.