Mascott’s Movie Rewind – Wall Street

Originally posted September 21st, 2010.

wall_street

WALL STREET
1987
DIRECTED BY OLIVER STONE

It’s human nature to want to move up in society, to have More than you have now. Whether that’s by becoming the greatest hunter-gatherer on your stretch of the Savannah or becoming the President of the United States, it’s written into our DNA to always want More. WALL STREET is a movie about the people who have More, and want even more of it.

The film first introduces Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, who is some kind of “stock guy,” (A broker? I don’t even know, I’m poor.) who cold calls wealthy New Yorkers to gain their business. For the past year or so, he’s been trying to get the business of New York investor Gordon Gekko, played by Micheal Douglas. Bud visits his father, the union leader of a small airline, who inadvertently gives him inside info into the stock game. To get in with Gekko, Bud offers him this inside information, (Which I’m pretty sure is illegal.) and gets pulled into Gekko’s inner circle as his personal broker. Bud gains more and more power, along with the perks of being in the inner circle of one of the richest men in New York. (More angry racquetball, actually.) To keep up with Gekko, Bud is required to skirt the law, and soon enough, tiptoe over it more and more often. As he runs the risks of being caught, he buys a penthouse apartment, awesome dune buggies and some shitty art from Gekko’s  ho, played by Daryl Hannah. The stakes get higher and higher, and Bud becomes more and more ingrained in Gekko’s insider trading circle as the film progresses.

Every 15 minutes or so, the film throws somthing at you that just kind of sweeps you off your feet and whisks you away to get married in Canada. Whether it’s a beautiful shot of Gekko on the beach, or his famous “Greed is Good” speech. These tiny setpieces feed you enough to keep you hooked through a lot of the yuppie lingo that keeps the movie authentic. That’s actually another thing that’s great about WALL STREET – it feels very authentic, very real. Maybe it’s because I know so little about the subject matter, so I don’t know if it’s realistic or not, but if it isn’t, it sure does its best to sell every facet of the reality. Charlie Sheen might not be the best actor on the face of the Earth, but he’s pretty good in this. His  Bud Fox belongs in this world, and fits like a puzzle piece. So does Hannah’s Darien, and Douglas’ Gekko. These characters together lead to a wonderfully self-pacing world for the story to unfold in. (If that makes any sense. (Probably not. (It makes sense to me.)))

I first watched WALL STREET a few weeks ago, for the same reason that I watched it for this Rewind – There’s a sequel coming out, and I wanted to be prepared. In the past month, I’ve watched this movie four times (The third and fourth composing the times I watched it for this article) and each time it’s become more and more clear to me what this movie is trying to say. It’s a political statement, just like Oliver Stone’s BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, just on a slightly different facet of the American government. It’s a commentary presented in narrative, making it one of those movies you have to watch three or four times to really get.

Question.

Why do people think that Daryl Hannah is good looking in this? Because she’s not.

Daryl Smash!

She is not an attractive woman in this movie for one simple reason. Her jawline could cut a fucking diamond, and apparently, there are people who think this is incredibly sexy. It’s really a deal breaker when the woman you’re fantasizing about has a chin like Superman. I’m thinking it was the fault of the makeup artist that she looks like a Neanderthal, because Ridley Scott had her playing a raccoon in BLADERUNNER and she still looked hot.

Yeah, someone fucked up on WALL STREET.

Yeah, someone fucked up on WALL STREET.

So, in the same week that this Rewind goes up, WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS will be released. I don’t know any more about the sequel than you do, but I want to talk about whether or not this movie really needed a sequel. I’ll come out and say what I think, at least going in-WALL STREET 2 sounds like a film industry punchline. WALL STREET 2 is, in my book, just slightly above that script that’s been bouncing around for TITANIC 2. (Ironically, that script is alsosubtitled MONEY NEVER SLEEPS.) WALL STREET, on its own, is really damned good. It’s one of those movies that stands completely and entirely on its own. One of the benefits of doing these Rewinds on older movies is that the hype machine on these flicks is no longer operating, so the films have to stand completely on their own – I didnt see a trailer in theatres six months ago and I didn’t pour over every one of the the movie’s panels from Comic-Con. CLOVERFIELD meant so much more when you were in on the mystery – you didn’t know what the monster was, and neither did any of your friends – watching it today, it’s missing something that it had that first time you saw it, the hype machine that the movie really depended on for its critical success. (I still really like CLOVERFIELD. Despite missing that element, I remember it as the one of the only movies or games I know that has ever lived up to every bit of the hype.) If I did a Rewind on that movie, I would have to mention that while it still had elements of that mystery in the film, it was sans-hype, and not left as well for it. WALL STREET, on the other hand, stands entirely alone. I knew nothing about it when I went to put it on on Netflix other than what the poster looked like in my Instant Watch Queue, and it was a really good flick. The second movie, on the other hand, is a hype machine in motion as we speak, and it make the film itself seem kind of trite.

Gordon Gekko is the only thing holding the two films together (As far as I know – Charlie Sheen isn’t in the second movie) and he’s simply been placed into a new economy. I hesitate to say it, but the lead in to the second movie almost reminds me of some harder-core fantasy stories, or even – *God forgive me* – The Lord of The Rings. Gekko is a bad guy – You know this – But he’s been trying to redeem himself, proving his dedication by predicting the collapse of the economy. (Something he does in the second film.) When the economy does go bad and no one chose to listen to him because he was in prison, they now kind of owe him, and soon after, he’s released, and gets himself put right back in a position of power. Is he a good guy now? Of course not – but . Trade money for magic and jail for a crystal prison, and I know that I’ve heard that story before.

I like that I can make and almost reason out a comparison which is that insane.

More seriously, Gekko is a character that may have existed in just a few people in the 1980s, but today there are more and more men poaching companies out of existence for their own personal gain. It’s like a whole lot of people watched WALL STREET and thought it wouldn’t be a such a bad idea to be a multi-million dollar douche. Watching it today is almost like an ominous warning that we kick ourselves for not taking a bit more seriously.

Also, have you noticed that a whole lot of 80s franchises are being turned into a “MEET THE MONSTERS” franchise with Shia Lebouf? SHIA LEBOUF MEETS THE TRANSFORMERS, SHIA LEBOUF MEETS INDIANA JONES, and now SHIA LEBOUF MEETS GORDON GEKKO. (I don’t trust you to have seen THE BATTLE OF SHAKER HEIGHTS, so you’ll have to just trust me – He hasn’t always been so dedicated to this genre.)

Favorite Part –The last 20 minutes or so are absolutely riveting, despite the fact that I had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on.

“Oh, so he’s buying. Oh, wait, they’re all buying. Everyone is buying – and now they’re selling. He’s selling. They’re all selling. Everyone is selling. Okay!”

OR, MORE LIKELY:

The famous “Greed is Good” speech. (Source)

 

Most Thankful For – John C. McGinley’s character, Marvin.

Bwah!

God, it looks like a poster for The Shining.

McGinley plays Bud Fox’s coworker, and is left behind as Bud moves up in the world. He’s a fun guy, and fun to watch, and he is what reminds you of just how meteoric the rise of Bud Fox is. When he’s left behind, you can’t help but feel a twinge of guilt for this working stiff.

Best Actor – Micheal Douglas, hands down. I probably wouldn’t be the first person to say that Gordon Gekko was the best role that Micheal Douglas has ever played, and it’s probably true. He absolutely becomes Gordon Gekko to play this role. (I also really like him in FALLING DOWN, but Gekko is a much more relatable character.) He’s the big guy that’s pissing on the little guy. Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas do a fantastic job of making you afraid of him, based on the fundamental fact that he’s the guy that could decide whether you keep or lose your job.

What Date You Should Watch This On – This isn’t really a date movie. It has an ambiguous ending which couldn’t be defined as either happy or sad. It’s got too much technical jargon being thrown around every few seconds which can throw off the interest of anyone that didn’t have a desire to watch the film in the first place.

On the other hand, if she gets bored enough, she might just want to hook up for the duration of the film and indulge a sexy power fantasy. Let’s call it a calculated risk for the fifth date.

While I Was Watching This Movie, I… – was trying to pin down how I feel about Oliver Stone. I’m still not sure. See, the first Oliver Stone film I saw was actually W., in 2008, which had Stone’s directing hidden behind about 30 things that he wanted you to notice first. More recently, I watched BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, which had Stone’s directorial style front and center. That style is also present in WALL STREET, showing that Stone’s style is what makes an Oliver Stone movie.

On the other hand, I hesitate to call him an Auteur Filmmaker, because he makes movies about America, not those cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

While I Was Writing This Article, I… – Received my Roku in the mail, and re-watched the film on it. (A joy.)

Most Overused Adjective in This Article – “Incredible.”

Recommended? – This movie does require a certain amount of dedication, a willingness to wade through a lot of concepts that aren’t as dumbed down as Hollywood movies are today. You need to find something to be hooked on in the first 20 minutes or so or the rest would just be a chore. If you can appreciate Oliver Stone’s great filmmaking, or Michael Douglas’ fantastic acting, or Charlie Sheen’s somewhat charming and often flexible moral sensibilities, you can absolutely enjoy this.

You can email Mascott at mascott@infamouskidd.com, or follow him on twitter attwitter.com/mascott.

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