Sunday, January 29, 2012

Money never sleeps, but 'Wall Street' slips into coma

A lot has happened over the course of 23 years since the original, and it starts out promising enough, blatant ode to the Blues Brothers aside; I guess Frank Oz was unavailable to reprise his role. It's a good thing I saw the original first; otherwise, I might not have appreciated what ... sorry, SPOILER ALERT... what Charlie Sheen says to Gordon Gekko at the big function they both attend. Unfortunately, Charlie seems to be less reprising his role as Bud Fox as he is appearing as Charlie Sheen, the hotshot actor with a babe under each arm. Oliver Stone gives himself a juicier cameo than last go-round.
Then of course, we get to Shia LaBeouf. I guess this might explain his motorcycle accident he had. We'll try to leave that alone for now. I'm probably not giving away a whole lot by revealing that Shia's just a guy who happens to be sleeping with Gekko's daughter. Good plot construct. It also worked in The Paper Chase, but it seemed a little more genuine. Shia is a Wall Street hustler trying to raise capital for a nuclear fusion plant. For God's sake, the guy's name is Masters! What more do you bastards want? Since Shia plays a Wall Street guy who's trying to be a green energy crusader AND make a little money, let me just take a second here to defend solar power. Actually, I don't really need to, as the deal that transpires in the movie is more reflective of a big oil man's interest in solar, pun intended. I've been through worse on my thesis: "Sun sets on solar power", "Solar industry in eclipse," etc. Literally tens of them! So even though Solyndra may represent the industry as a whole for lots of Americans, I've studied the industry enough to know their big breakthrough is at hand: Nanosolar, hot carrier cells, salt-thermal storage, don't get me started.
Gekko this time around is a little bit shorter on aphorisms, but I did like the exchange he had with Shia about money in the subway. Marrying money, sleeping with money... ah, to be rich and paranoid. Otherwise, the movie seems to be less of an oracle and more of a reveler in the trappings; some might call it "possesso-porn," but I won't go that far.
Now, there's an episode that happens that threatens to tear Shia and Gekko's daughter apart forever and ever, but by that point I lost interest and started thinking about how I would have written the scene. For some reason, I wanted Shia to say "Okay, fine. You know what? The whole Gekko family is NUTS!" and storm off. But as always, that says more about me than anything, as I haven't been a father yet. As we all know, men don't leave. Of course, not even a man as hardened as Gordon Gekko is immune to the prospect of being a grandfather. His heart is softened, and he offers to stake the kid with a very large sum of money. If only Mary Matalin or Grover Norquist were on hand to scream "Redistributionist!"
Frank Langella does what he can in a role meant for Jackie Mason. I was also reminded of his turn as the editor of The Daily Planet in Superman 5. But once again, the names of the phony firms here are a tad clunky. Churchill? Please. Rodrigo Prieto ASC does what he can to hide the digital video, but it's not enough, damn it. Like Angry Smurf, I HATE the blurry pictures! In the music department, Stewart Copeland is out, and David Byrne and Brian Eno are in! They do what they can.
So, to summarize, maybe I'm just a jaded sophisticate, but the sequel doesn't seem as good or as predictive as the original. Maybe, given some time, it'll be up there with Inside Job or even Too Big to Fail, but it can at least boast a theatrical release. The screenwriters seem to have done some of their homework, but not enough. At least Gekko seems to have paid more dues than Jack Abramoff... or, at least, saved a hell of a lot for that rainy day.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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