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Wall Street (1987)
I finally got to watch Wall Street after hearing many friends mention it, and a few really praise it. So with expectations a little bit primed, I was underwhelmed by the opening minutes, and then further discouraged as it went, until by the end I was bored. Maybe the sweeping notion of a Wall Street made of day traders and pyramid schemers and run-of-the-mill corrupt young white collar criminals is old hat. Maybe this had meaning in the Reagan years when greed really did seem to be waved like a flag.
But maybe it's not such an amazing movie. It is filmed like a good, night time television series, though with a longer pulse to it (no commercials, oddly enough, given the theme). But it is brightly lit and functionally photographed. The acting is all over the place, but the lead, the younger Sheen, is just plain dull. His character, Bud Fox, is meant to be a hard driven risk-taker, conniving to see the top trader in town and wanting to succeed behind his little computer, but he's kind of an everyman instead, probably so we might sympathize with him. Just from his lack of energy, he drags the movie down.
Michael Douglas, however, pulls it up. He's his usual brash, sharp-voiced, arrogant, rich man (he seems to play parts that require expensive suits). Unlike his father, he doesn't do humble well, but his part as Gordon Gekko requires mostly hubris. And greed. The famous "Greed is Good" speech never actually has him say that--and if you find it and listen just to that moment in the movie, you might get a flavor for the whole thing, because he hesitates on just how to word it. The movie, as a whole, though never pausing in the kinetic sense, is one big hesitation. It lacks depth, and it lacks any reason that we should be compassionate.
Yes, the older Sheen shines (ouch, that was unintentional--Martin plays the father of the Charlie main character). The supporting cast is fair to middling. And the direction, whatever you think of Oliver Stone, is solid but uninspired. It is really the idea that drives the whole enterprise, and the idea is a linear, and predictable, one.
Michael Douglas is so bad that he is so good in his role as Gordon Gekko in
"Wall Street." With this performance, I can see why he is an academy award
Michael Douglas's performance in "Wall Street" made me realize that each role he turns in will turn into gold.
I must give credit to Charlie Sheen for his part of making "Wall Street" a success." This movie was not only his breakthrough film of his career, but the best one to date.
Rounding out the phenomenal cast is Sheen's father, Martin. Martin adds so much credibility to this movie it would take so much time describe what he does. Let's just say Martin Sheen almost steals the thunder from Michael Douglas and his son.
After watching awful movies dealing with the same subject, such as "Boiler Room" and "Glengarry Glen Ross," I didn't want to watch "Wall Street." However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this film turned out to have a different plot. "Wall Street" is a rich film in plot, casting, direction and writing. This truly is a good film.
I hope everyone enjoys this film as much as I did.
Epochal film from the 80's, which has almost unbelievably, in today's
post Merrill Lynch / Northern Rock (depending on which side of the pond
you're on) banking debacles become topical again, so much so that a
same director / same star follow-up is reportedly in the making.
It will have to go some though to beat the shock and awe value of its prototype, with Douglas' larger than life personification of corporate greed, Gordon Gekko, dominating proceedings. Charlie Sheen is the young trader on the make, aiming to aspire, or so he thinks, to Gekko's status and success, trying so hard to please his idol that he not only ends up aping his appearance (slicked back hair, big suspender braces) but even betraying his idealistic union-man father by relaying insider knowledge on the latter's ailing airline employer to Gekko who then moves in to welsh on his workforce-friendly words to asset strip the company for massive personal gain. Sheen's Bud Fox character eventually has an epiphany, augured by the coincidence of real-life and cinema dad Martin copping a heart attack and turns on and indeed turns in his guru to the authorities to bring ultimate closure to the piece.
The film has its faults; I didn't quite buy into Douglas surrogate-father figure appeal to Sheen Jr., the coincidental heart attack of Sheen/Fox Sr is a bit too pat and some of the supporting characters come on like mere ciphers, including Terence Stamp as the UK magnate-cum-nemesis of Gekko and Daryl Hannah as a Gekko cast-off girlfriend/groupie who becomes young Sheen's trophy girl-friend. This leads to a larger criticism on the paucity of female characters in the film at all, but if you can accept that this is a man's man's man's world, to paraphrase James Brown, then this morality tale of its time still packs a punch, especially with the collapse of Communism and the surrender of the likes of Russia, China et. al to the addictive drug of big-bucks capitalism.
Stone's camera is constantly on the move, capturing the frenetic-ism of dealers on the trading floor as market frenzy takes hold, with the dialogue razor-sharp throughout, so many of the phrases of course having become clichés for that era, almost entering common parlance the language, such as greed is good, lunch is for wimps and more.
In the end, young Sheen would have done well to be careful what he wished for, but if he's the Little Red Riding Hood to Douglas' Big Bad Wolf, this particular out-sized fairy tale reaches its conclusion fittingly and satisfyingly, opening up a seamy, selfish world that you know is out there still, now more than ever.
I did think that this movie was pretty good. I was quite excited when I
went into this movie as I was aware of the mostly positive reviews that
it had received over the last two decades. I must say that I do not
believe this film quite lives up to the hype and all the positive
things that I had heard about it.
The performances of Douglas and the Sheens are very great, but again, I'm not sure as they were as mind blowing as all the hype leads one to believe.
The plot was a bit ho-hum for me. It is a good story to see someone who is young and hungry but at the bottom of the barrel rise through the ranks to become a sensation, but for me the way that it was carried out in "Wall Street" could be a bore at times. If you compare this situation to Ray Liotta's character in "Goodfellas" I think you will really see how this could have been better accomplished.
I don't mean to be too harsh with this movie because as I said with my first sentence, I did like it, I just don't think it is quite as good as one might think it to be.
As Bud Fox in Wall Street, Charlie Sheen knows only one thing, he does
not want the life his blue collar father and real life father Martin
Sheen has. He's a child of the Eighties and wants to make money fast
and live the good life.
Inpatient with working in a brokerage house where he's barely breaking even paying for his yuppie lifestyle in Manhattan, Sheen wants to swim with the big fish. So he looks to ingratiate himself with the biggest fish of all, speculator Gordon Gekko.
For Michael Douglas, Gordon Gekko has been the career role of his life, netting him the Best Actor Oscar for 1987 that eluded his father Kirk in three tries. Douglas is at once, charming, egocentric, shrewd, and ruthless. When he talked about his City College background and his father's background which seems remarkably similar to Sheen's it reminded me of Fredric March from Executive Suite. He also had a night school diploma, but rose to the top of his company through hard work and being completely ruthless.
When Sheen brings him information about the airline that his father works maintenance for, Douglas makes a bundle and brings Sheen into his circle. But he's playing him like a piccolo as we soon find out.
Darryl Hannah has a nice role as the trophy woman Douglas fixes for Sheen, but the performance I like is that of Terrence Stamp as the British tycoon who has a no holds barred rivalry with Douglas. He ultimately proves to be the key to the solution to the problem of the speculating wolf of Wall Street.
Oliver Stone supplies us with a not to flattering look at the capitalist system. It should give one pause for reflection. Just imagine what it was like before the New Deal brought in the Securities and Exchange Commission and it was completely unregulated.
It was the stuff the Stock Market Crash was made of. Though the thought of Gordon Gekko selling apples on the street is a pleasing one.
`Greed is Good': Oliver Stone's satire-cum-documentary on the superficial
world of Wall Street bank is among his best. After his success on `Platoon'
which he won an Oscar for, this is a brilliant follow-up. Giving the rather
complicated subject matter, this isn't one for those with short attention
spans. But if you want something complex, then this is the one for you.
The script is well timed and consistent over the two-hour plus running time. The directing styles are typical of Stone's earlier work, and there are even some nice camera angles and appropriate cinematography. For the most part of the film, there is no soundtrack and no music plays. This adds to the documentary atmosphere and increases the overall effect. The film opens to a beautiful montage of a Manhattan morning showing `suit-and-ties' on their way to work on a typical day.
The cast is on top form aswell. Charlie Sheen is sufficient as the naïve rookie learning the tricks of the trade. He's better and more comfortable at comedy (Spin City) but he still does a good job. Giving he's third credited, Martin Sheen doesn't receive much of the limelight and doesn't have many scenes. Nonetheless, he proves that he can play American President Jed Bartlet and a mundane factory worker with equal oomph. But Michael Douglas steals the show and shows tremendous colour as the corrupt, backstabbing corporate shark, Gordon Gekko. He was well deserving of the Oscar he won for his performance.
Daryl Hannah isn't a very good actress and she was a bad choice in this film. While she does an average job of her part, it could have been done so much better. In her second time working with Daryl Hannah, (Blade Runner) Sean Young is adequate as Gekko's wife. The rest of the supporting players include James Spader, Terence Stamp, Saul Rubineck, Hal Holbrook and John C. McGinley. They don't give award-winning performances, but they're good as the `decorations' that hold the film together.
Perhaps in some scenes, `Wall Street' is a bit too techno-talk, mumbo-jumbo but that aside, all of the good things are hard to ignore. The film amounts to a tough-but-fair, but overall satisfying conclusion, which was probably the best way to go.
The film that shattered the American Dream, `Wall Street' is another great film from Oliver Stone. It's a real 80's classic and one that lives up to its hype. I give it 7.6/10.
Wall street is one of those movies you can watch over and over again.
While it might not be as appealing to those who are less interested in the fields of economics and business, it's still worth a watch.
The acting is mostly outstanding, Michael Douglas makes a legendary appearance in his role as Gordon Gekko. There's one issue I have on the casting side of this movie, Charlie Sheen. To me, he dragged down the movie a bit, he just wasn't right for the part, now it might be due to his role as Charlie Harper in Two and a half men but a lot of my friends who hasn't been watching Two and a half men agree with me.
The story is good, however it's not the most original plot at it's core, but they way it's played is what makes it special. It's a story of manipulation and betrayal, and stocks...
There will most likely be a bunch of words in this movie which the average viewer won't understand, this might hurt the immersion of the movie but probably won't detract you too much from the story.
One thing that makes this movie so rememberable is the characters, the acting and ofcource some of it's dialogue, it's really hard to get tired of watching Gordon Gekko delivering his at time inhumane lines.
Too sum it all up;
-The Acting is (aside for my dislike of Sheen) top-notch
-The story, while not original is played out in a rather different fashion.
- The Dialogue which is also top notch.
- The characters in the movie are all rememberable
-A lot of "Wall-street" words, which some might not understand, which can make the movie less immersive.
- Charlie Sheen
After making "Platoon" in 1986, film director Oliver Stone decided to
once again cast Charlie Sheen as a youth caught up in loyalties between
two conflicting father figures. Only this time instead of caught
between two opposing sergeants in the jungles of Vietnam, he's a Wall
Street broker and his opposing sides he must choose between are his
father played by his real-life father Martin Sheen and a conniving and
greedy corporate executive played by Michael Douglas, who won the Oscar
for Best Leading Actor the following year.
"Wall Street" shows Oliver Stone's skill and craftsmanship as a filmmaker. There's not a bad-looking or badly-done moment in the entirety of the running time. And we have some great performances, especially by Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. However, "Wall Street" is not as good as "Platoon" simply because I'm afraid, the subject matter is not very interesting and the story is basically a standard rise and fall cliché.
I have some strong praises for "Wall Street", however a lot of complaints as well. Apart from being able to predict the story a little too easily to be shocked or absorbed, I also didn't become so drawn into the story because I didn't feel a real connection between Charlie Sheen and either Michael Douglas or Martin Sheen. As a matter of fact, between him and the latter, the relationship seemed kind of watered down. He has no connection at all to his love interest played by Darryl Hannah; their scenes just fill up time and slow things down. But my biggest complaint is that although the movie is about greed and pride preceding the fall, frankly the business of stock broking is a little uninteresting to the casual viewer such as me. Maybe if Oliver Stone had chosen to explore a more human side to the story outside of the company walls strengthen the relationship between Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen and Darryl Hannah then he would have had a better film.
Nevertheless, in the end, I do give "Wall Street" a marginal recommendation. It's a professionally-made movie and it does hold out as an entertaining and certainly interesting picture, however the premise does wear out rather quickly. Let's put it this way: I enjoyed the picture, but I'm in no particular hurry to see it again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As with Platoon (1986), director Oliver Stone captures the horrific
essence of an environment and transfers it to us without the need for
prior knowledge. Wall Street is dazzling film-making, and features
Michael Douglas as a wealthy, unscrupulous corporate raider and Charlie
Sheen as a young stockbroker desperate to succeed.
The film is a very 1980s morality tale, with Sheen's Bud caught between hard-working collective decency embodied by his father and the irresistible glamour of financial wheeler-dealing. Inevitably, the devil has all the best lines, and Douglas seizes the role with relish. Guiltily, we side with Gekko, if only it means seeing more of Douglas chewing the scenery. Wall Street has come to be seen as the archetypal portrayal of 1980s excess, with Douglas's character advocating that "greed, for lack of a better word, is good".
Make no mistake, Wall Street is a film written by men; made by men;
about men and for men. It's a study of conflicting egos and the
dog-eat-dog mentality. Wall Street also seems to double up as a 1980s
version of 'dawn of man' cavemen attempting to get 'one up' on their
rivals and closest friends. You can just see primate males billions of
years ago scuffling over meat from the latest kill or challenging one
another over territory. Wall Street is this sort of ego dominated,
cut-throat, quick buck here and there look of one-upmanship only with
skyscrapers instead of caves and stocks and shares instead of the
Wall Street unfolds in a concrete jungle of sorts. Towering skyscrapers, desks lined with state of the art (for the time) computers, screens and masses of information shooting across digital news tickers. Do we know what these numbers and fractions mean? Are we ever told what they all mean? Do we need to know? I don't think we are but I do think we are supposed to trust the lively and young Bud Fox (Sheen) as he translates their meanings and digits in double quick fashion. Then there are the scenes that occur within Bud's apartment as it towers over the rest of the city. It is a postmodern space that would have its wallpaper in a 'mock' style of a dull brick wall. It is a space in which Fox and his partner will just stop and look at their meals before eating them because they are able and it is a space in which we will witness Bud purchasing; not because he is but because he can and I think that is the idea behind the film.
But like I say, the film is male dominated. Women exist in the film's world to either look pretty, act as secretaries or be there to make love to epitomised by the character of Darien Taylor, played by Daryl Hannah who incidentally picked up a Razzie award. But then again it's not her fault as any actress playing this role would probably have won. This is because the film adopts such a male based approach that it comes close to resembling a gangster film of sorts. The film is about one man's rise through a selected hierarchy. The protagonist wears suits; mingles with those more powerful than he is; wines and dines expensively; will soon not have to worry about money and of course the women in the genre are a distraction, they are best seen and not heard which is exactly the case here.
So I would be very selective as to who I would recommend this to. I, as a white male living in the 'Western' world, had no problem with the film and thoroughly enjoyed every twisty, turning, developing curve that the film presented to me. Others on the other hand might not be so impressed. I think it is because I like the gangster genre that I liked Wall Street so much. The development of Bud is also enjoyable as is the way Sheen's father Martin plays Bud's father Carl in much the same way that suggests 'anchor role'. Carl is the voice of reason and if Gordon Gekko (Douglas) thinks greed is good then Carl despises the very idea. Perhaps there is no coincidence Carl and Gordon's surnames are both animals: A gekko is a lizard which suggests creepy, crawling and a slithery presence whereas a fox (at least in English folklore) suggests cunning, pride and smarter than your average. These characteristics are epitomised by both men who share the respective qualities with Bud (being a Fox) being dragged more toward the 'Gekko' mentality.
So Bud is a man with a mission; he wants to elevate himself from the desk job and does so threatening to loose best friends and family members in the process: his father, his partner and his buddy who works behind him. Bud is a man whose quest is just the other end of the phone as he talks to rich 'made it' guys about the possibility of buying into some unknown stocks. He wants to be on the other end of that phone call. The greed and obsession to do well and become someone briefly turns Bud into a stalker as he follows Terrance Stamp's Sir Larry Wildman, himself a man of great power and wealth no surprise that he is an English character being played by an Englishman as this role usually demands some sort of 'leveller' with the narrative's antagonist (if not then the Englishman is the antagonist himself). For some reason Hollywood see it fit to do this and it is best demonstrated in films like The Silence of the Lambs and Die Hard (Hopkins and Rickman, respectively).
So Wall Street develops and develops into a cat and mouse tale revolving around an airline. What can we tell from this? Well, airlines run aeroplanes (obviously) and the aeroplane is, I think, a metaphor for being 'above' everyone else. This company has become the centre for the film's finale and it deals in transportation that 'elevates' its customers above a certain ground level (much like Gekko's skyscraper and Bud's apartment). It is also something both Bud and Gordon are in direct competition for. Like 'The Long Good Friday', this is close to England vs. USA at business/expansion round two. Round one was in London and instigated by Harold Shand, round two is in New York and involves Gekko, Fox and Wildman but while the antagonism is never there between the two sides like it was seven years earlier, so much more is and whatever is there is close to genius.
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