Oliver Stone’s attempt to tackle financial excess falls prey to an inconvenient truth
After the Great Financial Calamity, everyone is feeling duped. The bad guys with their bad deeds left us in turmoil. With good hearts, we rescued them from the repercussions of their misdoings only for them to thank us by going back to the same old evil ways. Our leaders are not helping much either, with their feeble rebuke and insisting on sustenance of their mastery. We need to decipher what has become of us, to put the people responsible behind bars and bring us closure.
Question remains, who?
Oliver Stone knows how to mythologise epic stuff and he has the Oscars to show for it. He managed to wrap up the Vietnam tragedy and provided the best take on the big screen on how disastrous Bush was. His Hugo Chávez suck-up implied encouragingly lefty leanings. Over and above that, he gave us Wall Street, that unparalleled movie about money. Then comes a time when we really need him, a time when we are looking to him not to fail us, but he goes ahead and does just that.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps has been a huge disappointment.
Stone himself attests to the fact that the film is supposed to constitute “a reckoning with what happened” yet nobody seems to think it does. Yes it offers us revenge drama, a tinge of romance and some much needed macho grudge matches. However, the intended theme seems to slip through its fingers.
The financial system’s implosion seemed, at the time, very thrilling. Unfortunately it does not seem thrilling enough for Stone who feels forced to inject extraneous excitements while disregarding reality. The minds behind our downfall were without a doubt the terrible villains who look not to be motivated by personal vendettas. Neither do most of them reach to the heights they are at by stealing from their daughters.
Far from condemning their behaviour, this film bathes it in an enticing attraction. You might think that being rich is a tad bit tedious.
Who on earth would want to waste their time and money on fancy charity events?
If anything was able to convince you of their charms, it would have to be the gala benefit lovingly created by production designer, Kristi Zea, in the majestic Great Hall of Cunard’s former headquarters. If you need persuasion that your life is pointless if you don’t own a Ducati superbike or the like, this is the movie for you. The most wicked of filthy rich men, Josh Brolin’s Bretton James, gives off a strong sex-vibe like a light house.
The burden of downplaying all that falls on the slim shoulders of one of their own, Carey Millgan. As Gordon Gekko’s exploited daughter Winnie, she is cute, prissy, whiny and sanctimonious to say the least. She works in some right-on website and she knows exactly what she wants in life and also what really counts. Her role here is to try and convince us that there’s more to life than wealth, that love and babies are more important. However, she without a doubt, fails to do that, instead succeeds in the very matter in doubt.
It goes without saying, we have been here before. It was Stone’s belief that the Original Wall Street was “a tale on morality”. It famously became the anthem of a get rich quick generation. Traders adopted Gordon Gekko’s braces. Brylcreem read his favourite book, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, and watched his theatre exploits over and over.
As a matter of fact, that film may have played its part in putting us in our current troubles.
You have to question though why both movies have proved counter-productive. The title, which is in itself clumsy, is taken from a sonorous caution made by Gekko to his son-in=law, Jake. He say, “Money never sleeps. She is jealous, needs your attention. If you don’t pay close attention to her, you will wake up one morning and she will be gone for good.” It does not at all sound true. Jake must struggle to satisfy Winnie, who dumps him after he fails to do so. Money, unlike a woman, reassures and waits for you while you rot away behind bars. It solves life’s problems, including those like Winnie who purpose to despise it.
Greed is Good
The claim by Gekko “greed is good’’ is what really resonates. He goes on to add that it is not only good, but also right. He claims, in Wall Street, that it works, it clarifies. He said to us: “Greed in all its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind.” We know that this is entirely false, that we should not concur. But who does?
Back to reality. People will always thirst for more, however much they deny it and claim that they are done. Maybe that is the reason why we are letting bankers get back to business as usual, knowing that our future enrichment prospects depend on theirs inescapably. This is the reason why Stone’s movie is a complete opposite of its intention. As they say, the camera, however much it tries to lie, can never.