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Volume 16, Number 11
October 26, 2010

culture

Also in this section:
The Panama News Acrostic
The Movies, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Short fiction: Natalia
The Poets' Corner
Salsa: Luis Thomas and Yaré at the Rayuela
Sparky the Wonder Dog
Cool Internet sites
US public TV and private sponsorship
The God of Carnage at the Ancon Theater
Coming up at the next Panama Jazz Festival


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
a movie review by Marlene Alexander

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Starring: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Frank Langella
Story by: Bryan Burrough
Director: Oliver Stone
Producers: Eric Kopeloff, Edward R. Pressman
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 127 minutes
2010

One of the things I've always loved about some movies is how creative they can get with the titles. In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, it is almost as though the word money has been "personified." It is quite apt --- in the world of Wall Street it is indeed as though money itself is a character --- controlling the lives of the people that work in it and their decisions. Most of us can say that ourselves even if we don't inhabit that world --- maybe that's why some people argue that money, not love, is what makes the world go round. Well, I don't agree with that, but this movie sure does.

In this sequel to Wall Street (released in 1987), we see the return of Gordon Gekko, a character so compelling and mysterious that throughout the film you start awaiting his return onto screen. Michael Douglas's reprise of his portrayal of Gordon Gekko (which is already getting Oscar buzz), is almost a side dish to the other main course dishes in the storyline, but it is such a magnetic performance that you find yourself rooting for him --- even though you're not sure what his plans are. Does he intend good or ill-intentioned? At the beginning of the movie, we get a small scene wherein Gordon Gekko has been released from prison (the movie takes place in 2008, seven years after he is released from jail, right before the brink of the world financial crisis), and his plans are mostly ambiguous for most of the movie. We do become aware, though, that he is still the financial genius that he was before he was sentenced to prison --- captivating audiences in auditoriums and writing a book that showcases his abilities in the Wall Street world that he was forced to leave behind years ago after his sentence.

Another thing that is clearly shown is his desire to reconnect with his daughter, Winnie (played with incredible emotion and depth by the Oscar nominee for An Education, Carey Mulligan), who has been on bad terms with her father since he went to jail. For her part, Winnie Gekko wants nothing to do with her father nor his world. She is happily running her online political magazine --- ironic, too, considering that the man she's in love with works on Wall Street, Jake Moore (played by Transformers' Shia LaBeouf, who is Carey Mulligan's real-life beau).

The movie's direction by Oliver Stone leads us smoothly into a world on the brink of collapse. You always feel as though there's a storm coming: the sky never seems quite sunny, the characters always seem to be plotting against one another, people who were friends (or were they?) are now enemies, and some people who think are friends are in actuality really frenemies. They laugh together in social events, pat each other's back, and yet the whole time something's lurking underneath. That's probably one of the strong suits of the movie. It doesn't reveal itself quickly. It unravels little by little, in no particular rush, building up the tension of the storyline leading to some surprise twists that are indeed quite a surprise.

Although the movie is extremely well-acted (even by the token villain, Bretton James, played wonderfully with simmering intensity by Josh Brolin), its shortcomings lie in the way it insists on getting us all embroiled in its really thick (and I mean, really thick) Wall Street/financial lingo. That is perhaps the only way the movie is somewhat inaccessible, and could be what makes or breaks it at the box office --- although some of us do somewhat understand terms like insider trading --- any deeper than that and you might as well be leading us into a labyrinth (and maybe a headache) --- with no way of finding a way out. The trick is to try to block out all that financial speak and try to focus on the gist of the story by reading between the lines and extracting things from context --- once you do, you'll leave the theater knowing that you saw a pretty good movie --- with some pretty incredible acting, and a pretty amazing director.




Also in this section:
The Panama News Acrostic
The Movies, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Short fiction: Natalia
The Poets' Corner
Salsa: Luis Thomas and Yaré at the Rayuela
Sparky the Wonder Dog
Cool Internet sites
US public TV and private sponsorship
The God of Carnage at the Ancon Theater
Coming up at the next Panama Jazz Festival



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