on September 14, 2007
When Oliver Stone made Wall Street, he was riding high from the commercial and critical success of Platoon (Special Edition). His father, Lou Stone, had been a stockbroker on Wall Street in New York City and this film was a son's way of paying tribute to his father. Almost twenty years later, it has become one of the quintessential snapshots of the financial scene in the United States and epitomizes the essence of capitalism, greed and materialism that was so prevalent in the 1980s.
Michael Douglas owns the role of Gekko and by extension dominates the movie with his larger than life character. He gets most of the film's best dialogue and delivers it with such conviction. There is a scene between Bud and Gekko in a limousine where he tells the younger man how the financial world works, how it operates and lays it all out, pushing Bud hard to go into business with him. It is one of the strongest scenes in the movie because you really believe what Gekko is saying and how Bud could be seduced by his words.
The culmination of Douglas' performance is his much lauded, often quoted, "Greed is good" speech that his character gives to a shareholders' meeting of Teldar Paper, a company he is planning to take over. He concludes by saying, "Greed is right; greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words -- will save not only Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A." This is one of the best delivered monologues ever put to film as Douglas goes from charming to downright threatening and back again, succinctly summing up the essence of '80 capitalism and greed.
The original DVD did not have many extras but the quality of what was included was excellent. They have all been carried over to this new release (minus the trailers) but do the new extras really merit a double dip?
There is an audio commentary by co-writer and director Oliver Stone. Stone talks about Michael Douglas' early struggles with the huge amount of dialogue he had to deliver and how he dealt with it. The filmmaker is candid with his shortcomings and those of others (i.e. Daryl Hannah, Charlie Sheen, etc.). As always, Stone delivers the goods, offering all kinds of fascinating insights into the making of the film.
The second disc features a new introduction by Oliver Stone that is brief and really should have been put on the first disc.
Another new extra is "Greed is Good," an hour-long retrospective documentary with Hal Hoolbrook, John C. McGinley, Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas amongst others returning to offer their impressions of the financial world depicted in the movie. This substantial doc examines the appeal of Gekko and why he inspired people in the business world.
Also new to this edition is over 20 minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary by Stone. There is a nice little scene with Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller as one of Bud's clients. Also included is an earlier scene where Bud and Darian (Hannah) meet in a bar but Stone cut it because the Hamptons scene at Gekko's house was stronger. The filmmaker puts all of these scenes into context and why there were cut.
Finally, carried over from the original edition is "Money Never Sleeps: The Making of Wall Street," a top-notch, 47-minute making of documentary. There is very little overlap with the "Greed is Good" documentary.
If you're a fan of this film and already own the previous edition, the new extras definitely warrant a double dip. They are quite substantial in nature and shed more light on this excellent film.
on March 19, 2005
To watch this movie in Moscow in 1988 as a student was a liberating and exhilarating experience. Here is the capitalism close-up, warts and all. And we loved it. In three more years the Soviet communism will be dismantled, free market hurriedly introduced, and some of my friends and fellow students will proceed to become very rich people themselves. I did not know then, that Gordon Gekko, a villain who incidentally was much admired by me, was a thinly veiled portrait of Ivan Boesky. Boesky, who incidentally was a son of Russian immigrants, became a center of the biggest insider trading scandal and government investigation in the 1980s, which let to the collapse of junk bond powerhouse firm Drexel Burnham. However, I knew that Gekko must be much more than a villain, otherwise how this ugly character could be so attractive? Of course, a huge part of it was a superb acting by Michael Douglas. But watching this film now, 17 years later, gave me an opportunity to ponder more on the subject from a different perspective. I think now that Gekko's character is archetypal and has the same qualities as Bulgakov's Woland from `Master and Margarita'. He is the Wall Street Mephistopheles, the Grand seducer, not just some greedy upstart and `faux bonhomme'. But one of the qualities of Lucifer is that he `brings out the light', he helps to illuminate things, partly because of his own darkness. Untimely, in the movie it was his turbulent encounter with Gekko, which helped Bud Fox to find his character and, in a way, redeem himself. So in some strange way, the movie is a Wall-Street-version of age-old story of Faust.
on September 30, 2010
2 Disc Set - Insider Trading Edition, released September 7, 2010
Wallstreet was made in 1987 by writer and director Oliver Stone and starring Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Darryl Hannah, and John C. McGinley. A young stockbroker after months of persistence finally bags the big fish, Gordon Gekko, a man whose presence and lifestyle he idolizes. He shuns his blue collar background in pursuit of greed and impatiently engages in illegal insider trading.
I first watched this movie after a book called "Now Showing" claimed it to be one of the best 25 movies....ever, I guess. I must say, all in all, it was a good movie. I actually really liked Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen's work in it and I believed their relationship. The pull of an actual father and son relationship really added to the authenticity of the roles. I finally got to see Michael Douglas just the way I like him -- being a bad guy, someone getting the best of him, and not seducing women.
Michael Douglas plays a big Wallstreet player who has money falling out of his eyeballs and is idolized by Charlie Sheen's Bud Fox. Fox is taught to bend and eventually break the rules to get ahead and get that cold hard cash. This movie is all about greed. Douglas' character likes to buy out the majority of shares in a company and then liquidate it getting away with a quick buck. When Douglas gets going into a lengthy monologue, he oozes confidence which is amazing considering the pressure he was under. Bud Fox grows a conscience when he sells out his father's company to this same fate and decides to fight against it ruining everything he's worked for. This was one of those roles that really made Charlie Sheen stand out and become a celebrity in his own right and brought the extra challenges of that responsibility with it.
There is an appearance by Darryl Hannah as random home decorating girlfriend who is very comfortable in her way of living and leaves Fox the first time it gets tough. I thought it would be more dramatic and more of a point of her being in the movie, but there really isn't and it ended up being a waste of screen time and just one more thing for him to lose on his fall from grace. She is a symbol of the rewards that can be earned by a fast way of living stepping on others and her substance is very shallow. Again I really loved seeing someone get the best of Michael Douglas, even if they couldn't get away scot-free and had to face the music. Shows the value of time, hard work, and morals over getting rich quick with some family values thrown in too.
Probably an undervalued asset to this film is one of my favorites, John C. McGinley whom you'll remember as one of the Bob's from Office Space and his role of Dr. Cox on Scrubs. Always there to heckle and mock his good friend and has some of the best one-liners in the movie. Actually three of the main five lines people quote from this movie can all be attributed to this character he developed.
This is especially a great movie for men and/or people who love business and stocks. This is one of my husband's all-time favorites and many men can quote it readily.
First, there is a new commentary by director, Oliver Stone. He is a precise fellow! Stories are told of how filming is going on and he isn't even looking through the camera, he is following along word for word in the script to make sure his actors don't miss a moment of his dialogue. Before Michael Douglas, Stone considered Warren Beatty and Richard Gere for the role of Gordon Gekko which both declined when the script was in an earlier form. Apparently Gere still wonders where his career would have gone if he had gotten the script that Michael Douglas got to shoot. Douglas had a heck of a time with the lines. There was so much to his monologues and dialogue and much was shot in long takes. When he finally put in the time and memorized his part better, he was able to put in the performance that was needed. The commentary reveals more behind-the-scenes information as well as Stone's apparently neurotic tendencies. So many times after a line is said, he commented on how so-and-so of some magazine or whatever complained about THAT line but why he justified it being important to the script. If he really was that confident behind each one, he probably wouldn't need to expain, right? He had a LOT of issues working with Darryl Hannah and in retrospect wouldn't have cast her in the role if he could do it over again.
On Disc 2, you can watch the entire film with a Trivia Track that pops up helpful facts like when it's Gekko's birthday that he is a Taurus and other facts that are actually interesting about the making of the film and New York and the stock exchange in general.
"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" is a very short few minute conversation with the main actors in the new film: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, and Josh Brolin about their characters and new situations. "Fox Legacy with Tom Rothman" talks about a generation of men who took up "Wall Street" as something to be quoted and idolized Gekko, whom was intended to be a villain but was a hero to these young, hungry executives.
So really when it boils down to it, this version is just to make a few bucks with the new movie coming out and does not provide much that the 20th anniversary edition didn't out-do.
on May 4, 2003
While the subject of the stock market and trading on Wall Street doesn't interest me in the least, I loved how Oliver Stone made it interesting is "Wall Street". It stands as one of his most intellegent and accomplished films, with a smart (if overly-technical) script and superb acting.
Charlie Sheen, the quintessential 80's heartthrob, takes on a new role as Bud Fox, an ambitious young stock trader. He works his days selling stocks, all the while hoping to be a player in the same league as the big guys. One such big guy is Gordon Gekko (Michaek Douglas, in a standout performance), a millionaire tycoon who makes his living buying out companies and liquidating them for profit. He takes Fox under his wing, gives him a taste of the wealth and power, and Fox becomes insatiable. So much that he makes some wrong decisions, not realizing that this new power and wealth comes at a higher cost, one that he cannot afford.
The 80's was characterized by hotshot young executives looking for the quick and easy buck, and Oliver Stones portrayed that very well here. Gordon Gekko is the benchmark corporate villian, someone who one see's the world only in shades of green. The acting in this movie is first rate, especially from Michael Douglas. The long lines of dialogue, the speeches, and the emotional undertones are a challenge for any actor, and all involved here did an excellent job. I often watch "Wall Street" just for the acting.
The DVD is not a full-blown Special Edition, but it's a quality release nonetheless. Oliver Stone's commentary is insightful and articulate, even though he rambles and speaks in an annoying deep voice. The "Making Of" documentary is a real treat. Simply titled "Money Never Sleeps", it is over 1 hour of new interviews with the cast and crew, discussing all major points of the movie and the stories behind the scenes. It is one of the better DVD-exclusive documentaries I have seen.
Whether or not you find the subject interesting, "Wall Street" is a great movie in almost every way. While the script wanders off into technical stock jargon, it is one of the best scripts I have ever seen put to film. The acting is top notch, and Oliver Stone directs with panache and style. A must have.
on July 16, 2010
I thoroughly enjoyed "Wall Street" when it first came out 25-odd years ago.
I was looking forward to the BD version, thinking it would look spectacular compared to the DVD copy - was I wrong! The transfer to BD looks herendous - in fact, it looks like you are watching a DVD copy of the movie, not some digital remastering at 1080p.
Save your money - buy the DVD copy and enjoy.
"Wall Street" is a movie that seems to spark much debate. Basically, it is the working out of a moral struggle within young Wall Street trader Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) between the values with which he was raised of hard work and success through actual creation, versus those of his mentor Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) who succeeds through corporate raiding and "creative destruction". From Bud's viewpoint his dad's (Martin Sheen) roadmap for success and happiness seems old-fashioned to the point of being prehistoric compared to Gekko's, until Gekko sets his sights and his wrecking ball on his father's company, and Bud is forced to choose. Many people associate this with a liberal versus conservative viewpoint on business, a wild-west economy versus a planned economy and relegate this film to 1980's era nostalgia, like the now humorously giant cell phone Gekko is talking on as he walks along the beach. It is said that neither extreme works and that we've gradually settled towards something in the middle. However, the Gekkos of this world are smarter than that, and over the past 20 years have set up an economic system that serves them well. What we now have is a situation where the haves and have-mores have a planned - almost Soviet - system in which the rules stratify them at the top. I cite the changes in bankruptcy law as exhibit A. The labor force that serves them, however, are in the wild-west economy that was once advocated for everyone. Some will rise to the stratified top in this situation, but the vast majority will remain at the bottom shooting it out with each other - for scarce good jobs, good health care, education, etc. Thus, to me, Wall Street is just an opening chapter in the saga of how economic forces and attitudes toward them have changed, not the portrait of a 20 year-old fad that has come and gone. Currently the extra features are not shown in the product description, so I list them next:
Disc 1: Main Feature
Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation
English DD4.0 and DD5.1 Surround
French and Spanish Mono
English and Spanish subtitles
Commentary by Director Oliver Stone
Disc 2: Extra Features
Introduction by Oliver Stone
Deleted scenes with optional commentary by Director Oliver Stone
All New "Greed Is Good" Featurette
"Money Never Sleeps: The Making of Wall Street" Featurette
on May 21, 2001
Real-life bigtime investment banker Jeff Beck not only advised Oliver Stone when he made 'Wallstreet' but also stars in this film for a few minutes playing himself at a climactic meeting of topdog-lawyers and bankers. He delivers one of the many exhilirating monologues in this Epic tale of greed, pride and innocense lost. "Now your boss will really start thinking he's Gekko the Great!" He shouts at Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) who plays a struggling young stockbroker who's desperately trying to get on the fast-track to becoming a "player".
Michael Douglas who plays 'Gordon Gekko' (not 'Gecko' as the Amazon review suggests, the name can be seen in the scene where Charlie Sheen turns on his computer in the morning and finds out it's "Gekko's Birthday") puts on such a mindblowing performance he really can be dubbed 'Gekko the Great'. The character is right up there with Don Vito Corleone, Tony Montana, Popeye Doyle and some other members of that elite group of high-octane male movie-characters that will long outlive the actors that created them.
Gordon Gekko is a high profile corporate raider that was probably modeled after Ivan Boesky (the biggest corporate raider of the 80's who eventually went behind bars for insider-trading), Michael Milken (creator and unchallenged 80's king of the high yield or junk-bond) and John Guttfreund (CEO of Salomon Brothers in the 80's who'se extravert and bizarre behaviour is documented in the classic books "Liar's Poker" (Michael Lewis) and "Barbarians at the Gate" (John Helyar).
Michael Douglas seems to have been born to play this part and from the moment he is introduced ("Lunch? whaddaya kiddin' me, lunch is for wimps!") to the moment we viewers have to part from his hypnotic character ("I gave you Darian, I gave you everything!") he reduces any leaps of faith that his character may present us with to tiny hops due to his powerhouse presence. In fact, whenever I see Michael Douglas in another movie I have the strange feeling that Gordon Gekko is trapped inside and might burst out at any time to hose us down with sardonic one-liners. ("Love is just an old lie created to keep people from jumping out of windows.")
Gekko is truly the "mother of all high-rollers", and his performance alone more than warrants the purchase of this film.
Charles Sheen plays a believable 'Bud Fox' but one wonders what a late 80's Tom Cruise or Kiefer Sutherland might have done with the part. Charlie never really creates the electricity that Douglas shocks the audience with.
I won't get into the details of the story here but will post some comments on the general themes in the movie.
There's the theme that Stone had already explored in 'Platoon' of two fathers fighting for the soul of their son. In Platoon it was Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe battling for custody of Charlie Sheen's spirit. In Wallstreet it's Douglas and Martin Sheen representing the 'exciting but evil' and 'wholesome but tedious' ways to go for Charlie Sheen's character. This theme introduces some good tension in the storytelling.
The other theme that Stone put into this narrative is the bleeding heart "Capitalism is bad and unfair" jingle. "I don't produce anything...I own..." Gekko confesses at one point. "How many boats to waterski behind do you need? When is it enough?!" cries a shocked Bud Fox. The moral comments on succesful capitalists come accros somewhat naive and in my opinion don't really work. I won't go into the details but most people I've met who've seen the movie don't even remember what it was about Gordon Gekko that was so wrong. All they remember is the classic "Greed is Good" speech and ironically most of them agree with Gekko on the issue. The fact that Oliver Stone lets Gekko initiate industrial espionage is the reason I gave the movie only four stars instead of five.
I personnaly think this was a real blooper. A man in Gekko's position doesn't need the aggravation of blatantly breakin the law. There's a good plot-line concerning a fictive company 'Bluestar Airlines' that Gekko has his own plans with to make himself rich and get scores of hard working people fired that adds enough suspense to the tale. It seems as though Stone was so set on painting a negative picture of egoistical an a-moral Wallstreeters that he went one bridge too far.
Fact is that, if anything, this movie is like a recruiting video for Investment Banking. What "Top Gun" did for Naval Aviation "Wall Street" has done for Investment Banking. Big corporate banks have never had to complain about the amount of interested well educated young hopefulls but nowadays there's probably not one person sitting in any dealing room anywhere in the world who has not seen Wall Street. I am currently a trader in Amsterdam and I am convinced that if it wasn't for the scenes that have the camera following runners and stressed out yuppies yelling "How about those september 40's!" I wouldn't have been in this racket.
The dealing room-scenes are some of the most exhilirating scenes in the history of cinematography. Spielberg sucked in audiences with his scenes of Normandy's beaches in '44. Stone creates the same spellbinding grip on the audience without getting anybody shot or brutally maimed. That alone is a great achievement for any director in Hollywood. More so for the man who made a career in gory cinematic violence with 'Scarface', 'Platoon' and 'Natural Born Killers'.
Al Hail Gekko the Great! See this movie again and again. It's full of catchy one-liners that will make you not only the toast of any party but might provide you with more of an energy boost than any Tony Robbins video ever will. "Life all comes down to a few moments...this is one of them."
on April 3, 2005
Few movies capture the mind and heart as this movie. It is basically about Bud Fox, a sales manager in Wall Street. He deals mostly low-key shares and he is aiming for the big time. He seeks the opportunity to work with Gordon Gecko, a multi-billionaire investor who is smart as he is ruthless. Meanwhile, Bud Fox is also facing his father's criticism about what he does for a living..."Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of other people's money", his father says. I admit, I am addicted to this movie. Every few months, I have to slot in the DVD and watch it. It is a delight to watch every single time. This movie deals with many important and all too real issues. Everybody wants to be rich, but how far would you go to achieve that goal? Is it worth betraying the people you love? Changing your morals and values in life? And when you do make it big, who can you trust? How sure are you? These are just some of the elements Oliver Stone delved into in this movie. Using Wall Street and the share market as his backdrop, he has created a masterpiece.
The first thing that immediately grabs you is the acting. Superb performances from some of the most talented but often misused actors in Hollywood. Michael Douglas has always been one of my favourite actors and in this movie, he IS Gordon Gecko. He is the epitome of corporate power. The way he speaks, and acts....classic stuff. One of my favourite scenes, is when he gives the speech during the shareholder meeting of Teldar Paper. Unbelievably good! He won a truly deserving Oscar for his portrayal of Gecko. Because of Douglas' fantastic acting, it tends to overshadow another actor who is as deserving of praise, Charlie Sheen. To be honest, I am not a fan of Charlie Sheen and found his acting mediocre in many movies, which was why I was pleasantly surprised with his acting here. He was really very good as Bud Fox, looking up to Gecko as his mentor, never overacting and having the coolness to pull off lines like "You get out that door, I'm changing the locks". He plays the part of a young man not knowing exactly what he wants in life once he achieved his idea of success perfectly. And the supporting cast, Martin Sheen (playing Bud Fox's dad with pure emotion, it seems like he's saying what he really means to his son) and Darryl Hannah (as Bud Fox's love interest) does not disappoint.
Kudos to Oliver Stone for writing such a powerful script. This is not the usual garbage Hollywood likes to dump us with...this is a brilliant screenplay with great dialogue. "Greed will not only save Teldar Papers, but that other malfunctioning corporation known as the United States", Gecko says. Heck, even at home, I felt like giving a standing ovation to that. And the camera angles were also something I found fascinating in this movie. For example, when we're first shown Gecko, we don't get to see him immediately. Oliver Stone teases us with a Fortune magazine cover, and then by a shot of his office, when someone enters his office, the door opens and closes just enough time so that we get a glimpse of Gecko and hear his voice but never really getting a good look of him, right until Bud Fox meets with him. And towards the end, when things go wrong, a dark shadow falls upon the office. Beautiful!
Honestly, everything about this movie seems to work perfectly, which is why the 5-star rating. This is one of my all-time favourites and I highly recommend this movie to anyone, whether you're involved in the share market or not, because the scope of this movie extends to so much more than that, that I'm sure different people would appreciate it on different levels. A definite must-see!
on August 14, 2014
What makes a character legendary? Is it the actor, the script, or is it due to some sort of movie magic? Is it an amalgam of all three? What makes a character immortal?
Maybe it's an illusion. Maybe it's Gordon Gekko.
Oliver Stone's Wall Street is superb. After the jungles of Vietnam, Stone set his focus on the concrete jungle of New York. This film is wildly good, sensationally so. A masterpiece. Many reviewers try to charge this film negatively for being a product of its era, as if a film made in the '80s is inherently awful because of the staples intrinsically aligned with the period. This is a baseless criticism and only serves to identify the reviewer's snobbish bias. It's as if people don't like the '80s more than they don't like this film. Each decade has their own qualities that age poorly and to say that the '80s are unique in this aging process would be both arrogant and uneducated. The film has aged perfectly well, I see no faults in the wrinkles on its skin. As critics and film historians, we must be able to watch films of any era with maturity, not with generational apprehension. These new reviewers have attempted to disregard this film as mere by-product of the '80s. Well, in a major way it is. In what other age of excess and greed could something like this ever have been made possible?
This is essentially a film about the rise and fall of a starry eyed young man as he stakes his claim on Wall Street. He has two father figures who attempt to mentor him, one nudging him towards honor and respectability and the other pulling him into the high gravity world of materialism and avarice. One of whom is his own natural father, the other being none other than Gordon Gekko. This brings us to the first theme I would like to cover, the two embattled fathers of American culture. Represented by Martin Sheen is integrity through hard work and honesty in fair business. Sheen is the symbol of a diligent America, of an America where blue collar workers are united in solidarity and friendship through hard work and toil. For the sake of analyzation, we shall refer to him as 'the worker'. Gekko is emblematic of the new American dogma, he is representative of greed and calculation. He stands for everything the worker fights against. From blue collar solidarity to white collar crime, out with the old and in with the new, welcome to the jungle. The father figure theme is a fascinating one. The youth of America are all born with these two opposing ideological patriarchal beliefs. One is infinitely more attractive than the other. It is easy to be seduced by greed, this is a characteristic inherent of the twisted modern social condition. The young are forgetting all about hard work as they set their sights on the easy money of a quick scheme. The worker stands for dying institutions of thought that have failed to adapt to the new pyramid-based economic climate of buyouts and liquidations. The worker is a creator, the industrious artisan of a bygone morality. Gekko is the new capitalist ethos of buying and selling trades, materials, and stocks. There is a certain flaw ingrained into the new economic system of greed by means of commerce, it is the flaw of unimaginative inaction. Men posing as sharks, workers bleed out. A shark will not go hungry. A shark will get its fill. Welcome to the abyss.
Every once in a while when I am really amazed and moved by a performance, I tag the review under 'best acted'. The actor is then inducted into my personal hall of fame. I would like to welcome Michael Douglas into this coveted collection. As Gordon Gekko, Douglas was a beast. A perfect performance in every conceivable dimension. THAT LOOK in his eyes. I have never seen an actor communicate so much with his eyes. THAT GRIN that says a thousand things. Douglas was flawless, a performance of calculation and execution. A performance based in seduction. That was his job, his task was to seduce the audience. He succeeded in every possible facet. I really mean it, Michael Douglas was immaculate, he was otherworldly. Whenever they say an actor was born to play a certain role, they're talking about Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko. This is the epitome of exemplary skill. Not a single frame is wasted on him, not one single moment in his presence is allowed to occur without his positive magic and genius. A brilliant, unbeatable exhibition of prowess and unsettlingly potent pathos. If you wanna talk about the best of the best, you found it. Michael Douglas crafted a legend, a mythic screen character. One of the most feared, revered, admonished, and beloved. More than an archetype, he was passion in its truest shape. A mind-blowingly perfect and incendiary role. A perfect actor, a perfect character, perfect magic.
This is absolutely, positively, without a doubt in my mind the best performance of the '80s. Sure, there are others that can compete (Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers immediately comes to mind) but no other portrayal is as emblematic of '80s America than that of Gordon Gekko. A delineation of time. Not a likeness nor a rendition of the '80s ethos but rather the very existence of its character. In a spirited tour de force, Michael Douglas encapsulated everything that the '80s stood for. It is the best performance of the '80s because of talent, skill, genius, charisma, and time. Because the film, like the characters it depicted and like the era it was borne of, was opportunist in nature.
The Gekko illusion. He speaks often of illusions, about the physical properties of them and their effects on society. That the mass belief in an illusion of promise is capitalism as its finest. Could we also assume that Gekko himself is a carefully constructed illusion? We are given small fragments of soul, of heart, in slivers of Gordon Gekko. In looking longingly at a tranquil, all-knowing sunset or by the sour revelation of being betrayed by his protege, Douglas expresses the deepest pathos I have ever felt. He also reveals the secret of Gordon Gekko. That, like the capitalist illusion, he is also a composite of delicately crafted fabrications. That everything about his demeanor and success is an illusion, he's shielding himself from something darker. For an invincible titan, he is plenty vulnerable to personal hurts as caused by betrayal from others and by the deception of others and of self. Gordon Gekko is an illusion, a mirage of masculinity and superiority. What of the man inside? Something tells me that this driven man was once incredibly weak and that, in some ways, his spirit was already crippled to begin with.
Oliver Stone directed this film astonishingly well. His brief use of split-screen (proving he's the best at the technique after Brian De Palma) and his off camera prodding of the actors work for the film to a phenomenal degree. It's his camerawork that dazzles me. So much of it is handheld and whizzing back and forth, it's brilliant, intimate, and intense! He also uses the camera's behavior as a means of communicating subtext within a scene. For instance, there is a conversation between Charlie Sheen and James Spader that occurs during Sheen's transformation from a naive dreamer into a legitimate wall street player. The camera's conduct communicates this transformation better than any line of dialogue could. To represent Sheen's evolution into corrupt avarice and stretched morality, Stone's camera is constantly in motion, moving in and out, close and far and close again. Almost as though losing focus, as if the camera lost the ability to frame his new state of mind. This is not an overt technique, Stone proves with his expressive camera that he is very capable of subtlety. Scenes like these abound, they make up Stone's masterpiece for it is truly lyrical storytelling. A conscientious camera, expressing pathos and plot lines by its behavior just as articulately as the dialogue of the actors it films.
"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good."
A theme or a motto? The era provides it with credence. In a masterfully written and consummately acted monologue, Wall Street perfectly sums up the modern enterprise of monopoly and fortune. Spewed back in the face of its disciples, this monologue is now the stuff of widely quoted legend. I will not go into whether or not I think greed is good, the film's purpose is to seduce you by means of Gekko into applauding his disturbing sentiments. And you do, every time. Expressive of just how easy it is to be swept away by charisma, promise, and opportunity. How fast the illusion can become real. Gekko lives on, forever in the hearts of young men at the crossroads of existence.
In closing, I would like to praise Wall Street for being such a great film. An absolute masterpiece of '80s filmmaking and one of the best films ever made.
on January 22, 2001
WALL STREET has always been one of my favourite Oliver Stone films. it crackles with the same intense, acerbic dialogue as SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. from his "Greed is good" speech to the way he handles day to day deals with ruthless efficiency, you can see how Michael Douglas nailed this role of the ultimate amoral insider and deservedly won the Oscar that year for Best Actor.
after watching this film on a crappy pan and scam VHS tape, it is so gratifying to finally see this film given a proper DVD treatment. the transfer is crisp and clear with good sound but the real selling points are the fascinating documentary -- which features Douglas and Charlie Sheen and their views and thoughts of the film after all this time -- and Stone's informative and candid audio commentary. for someone like myself who has seen this film a zillion times, listening to Stone's observations on his movie was a real treat. great stuff. along with GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, this is one of THE best films about money, greed and the people who ruthlessly pursue it.