Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wall Street Money Never Sleeps (2010)

Money might however be advised to down a demitasse or two before sitting through Oliver Stone's Wall Street refresher.

As you'd expect Shia LaSnooze is present in a number of the scenes which feel like attending a late afternoon business meeting on Friday.

Cast as a sensitive version of the dealing room greed-merchant, his underpowered aura works quite nicely in the (almost) affecting scenes with Carey Mulligan — and Gordon Gekko is surely tailor-made to play off well against an impressionable straight guy — but it's completely out of place the moment he's required to swing his dick with the really big players in the boardroom.

To some extent the strand of the story through which Michael Douglas struts maliciously is predominantly engaging, though Gekko does seem to have been given an awful lot of exposition to be getting on with (Tulipmania etc.), such that his character sometimes comes across suspiciously as Oliver Stone in a rubber suit. The old sheep in wolf's clothing ploy.

Stone does actually show up in a brief cameo. And one of the biggest jolts of the evening came with the sudden uncredited appearance of Charlie Sheen, briefly reprising the role of Bud Fox from the original Wall Street. (Well, in truth he was reprising the role of Charlie Harper, the only one he seems capable of in either art or life these days. )

The whole thing smacks of an exercise the director conceived of having read and more or less understood* a series of well-researched articles about the crash of 2008. So what you have is a kind of dramatisation of those events with some pretty sketchy protagonists, who only really come into their own in the final third once Gekko — who up until then is like a stand-alone dramatic personage loosely attached to this chapuz of a tale — flares out a bit, and the rest of the cast are left with the part of the story where character takes precedence over the rather didactic plot.

Bizarrely Stone seems to think that this rather limp emotional surge entitles him to shoot a concluding, credit-overlaid scene that had me wondering whether I'd just finished watching some sort of romantic comedy.

Grade: B

* Stone can't help showing off the buzzword he's picked up from all this reading: moral hazard. Several characters use it in circumstances you just know nobody really would, until finally Stone decides to fill in the less erudite members of his audience by setting up a meet cute at a book signing between Gekko and a little old lady for whom this term is a bit of a mystery.

Michael Douglas keeps mentioning cancer as well.

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