Archive for February, 2011

wall street: money never sleeps

Wall_Street_Money_Never_SleepsI witnessed a filmic tragedy this past weekend.  Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is the sequel to Wall Street (no colon).  Unlike the original, Money Never Sleeps has no apparent point of view and no guts.
It is a mess of ideas that never really resolve; I weep for the waste of it all.

There is often no artistic reason for a movie sequel.  Usually sequels are done for the sake of cold, hard cash.  Sometimes, however, a sequel is creatively justified.  I can’t think of a more apt example of this than Oliver Stone’s Wall Street.

The original Wall Street was a hyperbolic and highly entertaining romp through the stock market and those swaggering fools who rode the wave throughout the 1980’s.  Michael Douglas had the signature role of Gordon Gekko, a man for whom greed is good.  Charlie Sheen, in a role that obviously taught him nothing about real life, played a stock market newcomer who grows a moral conscience after trying (and failing) to play by Gekko’s rules.

Wall Street is a sharp, incisive film that not only entertains, it has a strong opinion about money, markets, and the corrupt creatures who thrive in that world.  It is a darn shame that its sequel has none of those qualities.

When the markets crashed in 2008, those craven braggarts who nearly drove our country into financial seppuku should have all gone to jail.  They didn’t.  Instead, they got the government to bail them out just in time to receive their year-end bonuses.  It would be nice to see them tried and hanged on the movie screen, if not in real life.  Wall Street was due for a continuation.

Money Never Sleeps takes place around the time of the market crash.  Gekko has been released from jail and has now written a bestselling book.  His daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), claims to hate Gekko but 1) is dating a guy (Jake, Shia LaBeef) in the same field as her dad and 2) stands to inherit one hundred million of his ill-gotten dollars.

Oliver Stone obviously loves the environment, and he wants us (dear viewers) to know it.  Winnie, that trustafarian, works for a nonprofit blog and Jake dreams of using seawater to create a fusion power plant.  Did you know we’re exactly one hundred million dollars away from clean fusion power?  Oliver Stone does.

Money Never Sleeps doesn’t have a clear plot, although it does have a bad guy in the form of Bretton James (Josh Brolin), who gets lynched at the end of the movie.  No, wait. Bretton does get a stern talking-to. And LaBeef and Winnie get to see Gekko reformed, and LaBeef’s mom (Susan Sarandon) gets out of her crooked real estate business selling McMansions, and Frank Langella gets to appear as a ghost. Everybody gets something in Money Never Sleeps, which is what movies are all about.

Or are movies about opinions, and thought?  Money Never Sleeps is a mess of conflicted messages and never comes up with anything resembling a logical narrative or character arc.

And what did I get from Money Never Sleeps?  A waste of nearly two and a half hours, and this blog post.

friday robots

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no chief of mine

For the last two years President Obama has been quietly and steadily fulfilling his campaign promises, not the least of which is the first major health care act since Medicare, and the very first to include those of us under 65.  Despite a Republican majority in the House I’m confident Obama will continue that good work he was hired to do.

Lately, though, I’ve been feeling a heaviness in my chest.  It isn’t a physical problem, although if it was I am one of the fortunate few to have health insurance provided to me by my employer.  No, the heaviness comes all the way from Washington DC; specifically, from the douchebaggery at the Supreme Court.

If Obama’s Affordable Care Act is argued before the Supreme Court, I am nervous Chief Justice John Roberts and his cronies will strike it down as unconstitutional.

I have reason for my worries to be justified.  Roberts struck down a bipartisan campaign reform act, co-written by that liberal bastion John McCain. Why?  You can actually see a piece of McCain’s soul dying in his remarks about the callous way the Court struck down his bill.

Chief “In”Justice Roberts* has decided that his tenure at the Court will be marked by conservative activism.  Activism has long been a swear word Republicans have lobbed at liberal judges, but now we see conservatives love to play the game they claim to hate.

There is absolutely no good reason to take health care away from the people of this country.  There are parts of the law that can be modified (see: Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address), but it is in no way unconstitutional.

John Roberts: I hate you, and I hope you live long enough to regret every bad ruling you’ve ever made.  But there is hope for you yet!  Like Ebeneezer Scrooge there is time for redemption.  These chains you see do not have to be in your future!  Tiny Tim can be cured, but only if you don’t take away his health care.tiny-tim


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who’s got four paws and hates ronald reagan?

This cat:sambora-cat-reagan

Sambora, the cat I live with, agrees with the late President Ronald Reagan not one bit.  Seriously: foreign policy, the national debt, military spending.  Sambora is Reagan’s political opposite.

On this hundredth anniversary of the old coot’s birth, Sambora and I both mourn the fact that neither of us were able to vote against him.

We take consolation that we’ll be able to vote for at least two Obamas.

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when robots attack

In the not so distant future…

Robots are coming, and you’d better get the hell out of Staples unless you want to meet a sour demise.

Also, stay out of school unless you want a robot to teach you a lesson you’ll never forget.SKOREA-PHILIPPINES-ROBOT-EDUCATION-TECHNOLOGY-OFFBEAT

I’m beginning to feel like the dinosaur who looked down at the small mammals at his feet and thought, “I’m not long for this world.”