Posts Tagged ‘movie’


Watchmen

watchmen4   Back in October, I had the great pleasure of seeing a test screening of Watchmen. It was all very hush-hush; in fact, many people who had received invitations were not allowed in because they hadn’t filled out an online form. Security was tight, my friends. Going in, we didn’t know what movie we would be seeing. All we knew was that it was a “big budget superhero movie.” We might have been the exclusive first audience to the next Punisher movie. Fortunately, it was much better than that.

Since I had to sign a waiver, I’ve been tight-lipped about Watchmen. What I didn’t want was an elite team of Warner Brothers-trained ninjas killing me silently in the dead of night. But now that the release date approaches, I’m sure no one at “The Bros” would mind a lonely blogger speaking about their movie. Especially since it was totally awesome.

I wonder if I was the only cartoonist in the crowd that night. I have read the Watchmen graphic novel; I’m a fan. I have been severely let down by some comic book adaptations, but Hollywood has been getting better at it lately. I don’t know about you, but the original Superman was pretty bad. Sure, Christopher Reeve was undeniably awesome as both Clark Kent and Superman, but on the whole it felt too stately. Spider-Man was probably the first fun superhero movie, and since then you can’t walk into a video store without spotting a half dozen good-to-great adaptations. My expectations for Watchmen, then, were fairly high.watchmen3
Fortunately, Zack Snyder delivered. The movie follows the comic incredibly closely. There were even shots taken directly from panels in the book. Like most long-form fiction, much of the story was taken out for the movie. That didn’t bother me. It didn’t bother me that the ending was slightly altered. What matters most is, if you like the movie you’re more likely to pick up the book. Who wants to see the exact same story in two formats, anyway? What’s the point of spending 200 million dollars to copy what was done already? This is a good adaptation.

The actors are not superstars, but they were obviously chosen because they fit the look of the characters. And I must say, they all did a magnificent job. I’m glad there were no huge stars – it would have just detracted from the story. It does take most of your concentration to follow the story.

Some elements of the story: before the Watchmen, there was The Minutemen. You’ve got two generations of superheroes to keep track of. (It’s like a comic book One Hundred Years of Solitude.) Then you’ve got an alternate history where we won Vietnam and Richard Nixon is still President in 1985. You also have to be aware that the present in the movie is 1985, otherwise you won’t get why everybody is so freaked out about nuclear war.

Oddly enough, I found the “real people” (Nixon, Buchanan, Kissinger) to be more cartoony than the Watchmen. They had meetings in a Dr. Strangelove war room, they talked like they were in a 1950’s war movie. Comparatively, the Watchmen seemed almost everyday in their actions.

The special effects were unfinished. I could usually tell what they were getting at, though, as there was a rough animation as placeholder. They didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. I kind of enjoyed seeing the filmmaker’s process. It also made me use my imagination, something I can’t say I do very much at movies nowadays. (I love sounding like I’m 93 in these posts.) Really, I prefer animation over live-action in general. Cartoonist bias.watchmen2

The soundtrack was unfinished as well but there was a fantastic cue for a scene involving a character called Dr. Manhattan. They used a Phillip Glass piece from the movie Mishima. It worked terrifically well, and I hope they keep it in or use something similar. The song selection was a mixed bag. The opening credits (one of the standout scenes) used Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’. Then they used a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in a hokey sex scene I hope gets cut. Worse still, it wasn’t Jeff Buckley’s version, or even Rufus Wainwright’s. Was there a rights issue?

On the whole, it seemed too much like a grab bag of well-known radio songs. It isn’t that I’m against Sound of Silence, or even Simon & Garfunkel in general. I’m a fan. It’s that I already associate that song with another, very famous, movie. Mr. Snyder needs to dig a little deeper than a Greatest Hits collection for his soundtrack. Hopefully that will be remedied. But keep the Dylan in.

There were some beautiful scenes of Dr. Manhattan on Mars. They really seemed to play up his Buddhist nature. How can you detach yourself from the illusory world yet remain connected to all things? There are a few hints of this philosophical conundrum. I also thought the love story was handled well for a movie with lots of explosions. It’s not often you can get the nuanced in with the fist fight.

I give my wholehearted recommendation to Watchmen. Go see it when it opens. It is definitely a Theater Movie, one that has as many ideas, as grand a story, as big a climax as anything you will see on a wall-sized screen.

And if Warner Brothers does send me to a Siberian labor camp for having blogged about Watchmen before it opens, please send me a bootlegged DVD so I can see the finished product.watchmen1

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I Pretty Much Co-Directed Watchmen

smileyThanks to the stealthy nature of this blog, I was not captured by Warner Brothers executives for spilling the beans a week early about Watchmen. Even though I saw the movie before almost anyone else in the universe, I still went last weekend to see it again. It’s that good a movie. Completed, I would say it’s even better.

I noticed a lot of the little details you miss the first time around on a movie like this.
I really dug the Batman posters in the background of one scene that took place in the 1940s.

There were a few scenes that seemed better this time, like the little get-together between the two Nite Owls. Sadly, the second scene with the original Nite Owl was cut for this version of the film. I’m sure it will be back for the DVD. The scenes on Mars, fantastic on first viewing, were even grander with the finished special effects. How did people make comic book adaptations before computer special effects?

There were two suggestions I made after my test audience viewing that Zack Snyder apparently agreed with. The first was about the song, Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. In the test screening, he used a cover version that didn’t sound all that good. I said, why not just use the original? He did.

My second suggestion has to do with a major plot point; a surprise for anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen the film yet. I won’t give it away, but I will say that there is a flashback of sorts near the beginning of the film. Dr. Manhattan puts his hand to Laurie’s forehead and forces her to “see” certain events from her past. In the original cut, you saw something that is meant to be a surprise at the end of the film. It totally ruined the surprise.

I said, why not let that be a surprise? You give away too much, too soon. Zack Snyder totally agreed with me. He said, you’re right Josh, how could I have been so stupid? And I said, you’re too hard on yourself, Zack. And he said, I’m nothing without you. And then we hugged for a really long time, but not in a gay way.

In short, I should have gotten co-directing credit for Watchmen. My fingerprints are all over that movie. I’m not concerned with the money. My foremost concern is that Watchmen be the best movie it can be, and that my name is first on the credits. Not too tall an order, really.

Thanks, Mr. Snyder, for making a great comic book adaptation. I was glad to put my hard-earned money down to see it a second time. Next time you’re making a movie, I hope you remember my essential contributions and give me a ring. You know where to find me. (Right here.)

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Searching for The Shining

shining_jack_stareWhen I’m asked about my favorite movie, there are actually two that come to mind. One of these is The Shining, a film by Stanley Kubrick based (loosely) on a novel by Stephen King. I first saw The Shining with my friend Curtis right after finals our sophomore year of high school.

It was one of those movies that are so culturally ingrained, I thought I’d seen all the best parts already. Who hasn’t seen the still of Jack Nicholson sticking his head through the door he just smashed through with an axe? To my great surprise, The Shining is full of secrets. Like Psycho, The Shining is really, really scary even if you know the key parts. Also like Psycho, The Shining is an unconventional horror story, where many of the scares come after you’ve seen the film.

Jack Torrance, the man charged with taking care of the Overlook hotel with his wife Wendy and their son Danny, is a struggling writer. For him, there isn’t much of a leap from trying to write a novel to trying to kill your family. The main question of the movie is, does Jack imagine all the horrific scenes, or is the hotel itself possessed? There is only one incident that supports the “evil hotel” theory; the rest can be explained by insanity.

And that’s what I like about The Shining: no matter how many times you try to formulate a theory, there’s always something that debunks it. To me, horror is best when it doesn’t quite make sense. You can’t follow a logical path.

It is sort of strange that one of my favorite movies has such strong ties to two places that I’ve lived: Colorado and Oregon. I never set out to live near The Shining. I want to say right now that I am not, nor will I ever be, as crazy as Jack Torrance. Ask my wife or any of my friends: I’m a peaceful guy. Think of it this way: neither the author of the book nor the director of the movie were bad people. So it goes with me. Okay, there’s my disclaimer.

The book was written by a guy my parents went to college with: Stephen King. You may have heard of him. He’s written a couple bestsellers. As the story behind the story goes, Stephen King was staying at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado and trying unsuccessfully to write a book about an evil rollercoaster. One day he looked around and realized, why not make it an evil hotel?

All the elements for a spooky setting were there. Estes Park is a wonderful little town; it backs right up against Rocky Mountain National Park. Here is the view King had from the front of the Stanley.stanley-hotel-019

And here is what the Stanley looks like from the front.stanley-hotel-038stanley+hotel+front
Although not as isolated as the Overlook, the Stanley itself is quite creepy.room+217
The blood-red decorating scheme, the antique furnishings, the dark, dark nights: once King had the setting, I bet the story fell right into place. Well, I’m sure it took him a while to write it, but geez, the guy must write like 100 pages a day or something. He makes writing hugely successful novels look like picking up the mail.stanley-hotel-098

stanley-hotel-101An indisputable law of nature: every Stephen King book gets made into a movie. The interesting detail is who bought the rights to this particular novel: Stanley Kubrick, director of such non-horror movies as Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, Lolita, and Barry Lyndon. I wasn’t there, but I imagine nobody expected a conventional slasher flick.

And unconventional is what we got! Kubrick undercuts horror cliches at almost every turn. There is never a pop-out moment, when Jack surprises Wendy (and the audience). There are incredibly long tracking shots, relatively few special effects, and lots of dialog. I haven’t counted, but I bet there is more dialog in The Shining than in every single Friday the 13th movie combined.

Though still set in Colorado, Kubrick filmed most of The Shining in England. There is one brief shot in Boulder, Colorado, where Wendy and Danny are staying before they leave for the hotel.timberline3 timberline4 timberline1 timberline2

The hotel Kubrick used is called the Timberline Lodge, located near the peak of Mount Hood in Oregon. The Timberline fulfilled the requirements of the Overlook from the book: it is fairly isolated, about an hour from the nearest sizable town and so close to the roof of Oregon you can hike there in the summer. Also, due to its altitude, there is snow on the ground almost all year. The Timberline boasts year-round skiing, which sounded impressive until I went at the beginning of September one year and saw the comically small amount of “snow” on the ground (it had been packed into ice during the course of the summer).mt-hood2

Though today the Timberline has lost a lot of that isolated quality it had back in 1980, I could still see the draw of using as an exterior.

There was a TV movie of The Shining made about ten years ago. For some reason beyond the comprehension of us mortals, Stephen King hated Kubrick’s The Shining. Is it possible to find nothing wrong with one terrible adaptation after another, but to detest one of the best adaptations of your work ever made? For Stephen King it is. King wrote the screenplay for the TV movie, and they even filmed it at the Stanley. Unfortunately, it is bad. The best part about watching it was that, when you turn on the DVD commentary, you can hear some of Stephen King’s stories about writing the book. I won’t say any more about it than that.

It has been a pleasure to be able to visit the locations of The Shining. It makes watching the movie even more of a visceral experience. I’d love to visit the location of my other favorite movie, but I don’t think the island of Waponi Woo actually exists.andy+ghost


the shining book cover

The world has been waiting for my take on The Shining, and here it is.
shining-book-cover-josh-shalekIt automatically gets disqualified as a real book cover because the weapon of choice in the book was a croquet mallet, not an axe. However, I get bonus points as I used the Stanley Hotel as the model for this rendering.


i will never watch The Wolfman

wolfman-poster My wife Isis and I were watching television one evening when a commercial advertising the movie The Wolfman came on.  It was moody, and action-packed, and had a dude who turned into a werewolf.

“I’d like to rent that when it comes out on DVD,” I said casually.  I must emphasize the coolness with which I said this, because I was not hungering for The Wolfman.  I was not, in any way, lusting after the delicious, tender celluloid on which The Wolfman had been filmed.  I was merely, in my calm way, mentioning in passing that I’d someday be interested in viewing the movie that appeared so gracefully before us.

Isis’ reaction could not have been more surprising.

“WE ARE NOT GOING TO SEE THAT MOVIE,” she screamed.  “I’m tired of wasting my life watching terrible movies!  No more!  I’ve got better things to do than waste precious hours sitting in front of dreck like that!”

Stunned, I turned to look her directly.  Her face had transformed into something hideous.  Filled with rage, my wife had changed before my eyes.  I quickly checked the sky: nope, it was not a full moon.  What in that minute-long ad had turned my easygoing life partner into a vengeful monster?

I made the mistake of asking her that question.

“I’m just sick of wasting my life!” she said.  And that, it seems, was that.  I dropped the subject as other, less awful things were advertised.

I have not seen The Wolfman to this day.  I kind of wish I could.  What about that particular movie inspired such a violent reaction in Isis?  Was it the subject matter?  A man turns into a werewolf and terrorizes the locals.  She likes the Warren Zevon song Werewolves of London.  She likes dogs and real-life wolves.  I don’t think she has any problem with the actors in The Wolfman, and I know for a fact she likes scary movies.

Maybe the latter is the clue.  Isis likes scary movies, and we’ve seen a lot of them.  But we’ve made missteps.  Some of those movies have been bad.  Boring, or poorly edited, or uninspired, or all of the above.  Maybe Isis sat through her personal limit of bad movies, and if she sees one more, she will turn into a zombie.  We all have our limits.  I can’t eat tuna fish anymore, and I used to eat tuna sandwiches all the time.  Isis is afraid that The Wolfman will be her breaking point.

I’m content to let the issue slide, mostly because The Wolfman wasn’t a huge hit and wasn’t reviewed very well.  I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on a cultural touchstone.

Now, when they make a movie called The Wolfman Breakdances With Rashida Jones and Zooey Deschanel, there’s not going to be a discussion.  We’re seeing that in 3D.lonchaney_jr-wolfman


falling rock: the movie

What cartoonist hasn’t thought about who should play their characters on the big screen?  Movies, or films, or “moving filmed pictures,” have long held a fascination with me.  Sigmund Freud said that movies fulfill our subconscious desire to sleep with Thomas Edison.  Whether that is true or not, I remain an avid movie-watcher.

So who should play each character in the inevitable Welcome to Falling Rock National Park movie?  Here are my suggestions.

Ranger DeeZooey Deschanel

Zooey-Deschanel-park-ranger Zooey_Deschanel_park-ranger-2Everybody’s favorite park ranger is sometimes called* the heart of the comic.  Who better to play the emotional center of Falling Rock: The Movie than the girl who stole M. Ward’s heart?

Carver – Jason Schwartzman

jason_schwartzmanCarver the cranky owl needs a wry voice tinged with world-weariness.  Rushmore introduced us to a young Jason Schwartzman as a world-weary high school student.  Fantastic Mr. Fox proved he has the chops for voice work, and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World proved he can play a great antagonist.

ErnestoTony Hale

tony-haleWho better to play the lovable clothes-wearing lizard than the actor who partly inspired him?  Tony Hale is better known to the world as Buster Bluth on the short-lived TV show Arrested Development.  I’m not actually sure why that show got canceled because everyone I know has seen it.  Timid, somewhat stunted, yet with the potential for catastrophe, Buster Bluth could easily pass as Ernesto’s human cousin.

Pam –who else? – Lauren Bacall

lauren_bacallPam, the chain-smoking retired schoolteacher, can’t be played by just any dame.  Pam needs to be played by a wiseacre, a mystery, a worldly woman.  I can’t think of anyone better than the living embodiment of noir: Ms. Bacall.

MelissaAni DiFranco

Ani DiFranco

Melissa the mountain lion was a difficult character to cast.  At first I thought Nicole Kidman.  Then my thoughts turned to singers.  Norah Jones?  Cat Power?  I heard Ani DiFranco interviewed on the Sound Opinions podcast and realized her voice would be perfect for the mellow but fierce cat.

Featuring a theme song written and performed by Bob Dylan, Jack Johnson, and Jeff Tweedy (under the name Wilbury & Sons), Falling Rock: The Movie will surely rake in Tom-Cruise-in-the-early-90’s money.  Oh, and it will definitely be in 3D.

*only by me


ernesto: the movie

A while back I mentioned my choices for a Falling Rock movie.  Well, dear readers, Hollywood has truly come through.  My friend (and fellow cartoonist) Reid alerted me to a new animated film starring a lizard wearing a goofy shirt:

Johnny Depp is, I must say, an inspired choice.  Not only is he good at doing voices, he’s one of those actors who has a face for radio.  Better to use him for his vocal talents alone.

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good king/bad king

Stephen King has had good movies made from his books and some really bad ones.  Someday I’d like to discuss why this is so, but I think the main reason is simply the vagaries of the movie business.  When you have as long an IMDB list as King, you’re bound to have a few gems and a few duds.  Just in time for Halloween, here is a quick rundown of some of King’s best and worst cinematic adaptations.


THE GREAT


The Shining (1980) – Easily the best of all Stephen King’s movies.  The fact that King has disowned this movie in favor of a far inferior version (see below) baffles me.  Stanley Kubrick took one of King’s scariest books and made it into something weirder and more profound.  Jack Nicholson’s signature role.

The Mist (2007) – Frank Darabont, who cut his teeth writing the screenplay for Nightmare on Elm Street 3, loves Stephen King like almost nobody else.  And thank goodness King has a fan in Darabont.  The Mist, based on King’s short story, is claustrophobic fun.  People get terrorized by monsters from another dimension.  Be sure to watch the black & white version, which completes the monster movie feel.

Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Another Darabont adaptation.  Based on Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Darabont turned a somewhat hokey story about a jailbreak into a meditation on friendship and the nature of Truth.  This movie coined the phrase “Shawshank Redemption good.”

Christine (1983) – Who’d’ve thought a car could be so scary?  Christine, the titular car, takes hold of all-American nerd Arnie Cunningham and warps him into a sadistic greaser.  Christine the movie is made great by a virtuoso performance of Keith Gordon (as Cunningham).  This guy has been in only a few movies, but in Christine he showed us how it’s done.

Cujo (1983) – About halfway through this shaggy dog story I thought Cujo was one of those throwaway King adaptations.  But when mother and child (played by Dee Wallace and Danny Pinaturo) become trapped in their car, look out.  Cujo proves that horror doesn’t have to employ alternate dimensions, demon spirits, or massive CGI to work.  Horror, like any good story, works best when it is told on a human level. 


THE OKAY

Carrie (1976) – Brian De Palma directs and Sissy Spacek gets doused with pig blood.  Besides that seminal scene and the final fright, there isn’t a whole lot going on here.  Still, not bad.


Pet Sematary (1989) – Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall makes this movie worth watching.  “Sometimes, Louis, dead is better.”  I swear the TV version of the ending is scarier than the gross-out unedited version.

THE BAD


The Shining (TV miniseries) (1997) – 17 years after King tried to fire Jack Nicholson, he finally got The Shining he wanted.  King wrote the screenplay for this craptastic farce.  Watching the dude from Wings and the chick from The Hand That Rocks The Cradle bicker their way through a haunted house is about as scary as an episode of Divorce Court.  Throw in another in a long line of terrible child actors, cheesy make-up, and the fact that they filmed the Boulder scenes in Denver, and you’ve got one of the worst movies I’ve ever had the pleasure to forget.

Thinner (1996) – I hardly remember this one.  A fat guy hits a gypsy with his car because his wife is giving him a BJ.  The gypsy curses him to become thin, which is awesome at first (free stomach stapling!), then gets scary because he keeps shrinking!  The ending has completely eluded me, but I think he accidentally kills his wife.  Whatever.  This sucked.

Firestarter (1984) – Almost bad enough to be good.  Drew Barrymore in the role that made her famous.  She starts fires with her mind!  They made a funny SNL skit about this: Firestarter Sausages.

It (1990) – Another TV miniseries best forgotten.  Good job casting Tim Curry as Pennywise the evil clown/spider/demon/whatever.  When a group of childhood friends begin dying as adults, they must return to the sleepy Maine town they all left as soon as they could.  This is the Big Chill of horror movies, except the Big Chill was good.  Maybe if they had used the cast from the Big Chill instead of Harry Anderson and John Ritter.  Also: the only member of the group to stay in this tiny Maine town was the black guy?  He was the only black guy in town!  Of course the evil clown will find the only black guy in town!

The moral here is to not be so slavish to the source material.  King has an amazing imagination.  He has written some plots, the scope of which are unparalleled.  In order to make these stories into movies, some things need to be left out.  Some things need to be changed.  You cannot make a cohesive movie if you’re following an 1100-page book to the letter.  That said, I do find myself enjoying almost every King adaptation for one reason or another.  They’re never boring (except Thinner).

Here’s to many more years of Stephen King movies.  Happy Halloween, everybody!

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tiny reviews

MOVIES

The Expendables– Sylvester Stallone and Zooey Deschanel star in this quirky little romantic comedy, directed by Rob Reiner.  Lots of explosions ensue.  Look out for the glorious (and totally not gay) fist bump at the end of the movie.
Nightmare on Elm Street (the remake) – How can a horror movie about a burned dude who goes into teenagers’ dreams and murders them be so boring?  The director took all the fun out of the original.  Slickly produced bloodbaths are not interesting.

Get Him To The Greek – Jonah Hill really needs to lose some weight.  We’re getting worried about him.  Seriously, don’t turn into the next Chris Farley.

Scream 1 – I know I saw this movie before, but I barely remembered any of it.  Neve Campbell has awesome bangs.
Scream 2 – Surprisingly, much better than the first.  Better chase scenes and a somewhat less convoluted backstory.  After the first Scream was such a hit, part 2 was a parade of celebrities.  It might have been distracting had the whole series not been so dedicated to being “meta.”

Scream 3 – Darker than the second installment.  Somehow they manage to keep a consistent backstory through all three movies, filling in more sordid details as the series goes on.  Courtney Cox has a weird haircut in this one, and she bears an uncomfortably close resemblance to Skeletor.  Hollywood is not kind to aging women.

True Grit (2010) – This is how you do a remake.  Might be one of my favorite Coen brothers movies.  I only wish they had filmed Jeff Bridges’ beard in 3D.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead – This is my top recommended movie from 2010.  It’s just your average Shakespeare-mixed-with-vampire love story.  This indie was funny and surprising.  If you love vampires and hate what Twilight did to them, consider this a palate cleanser.  With a soundtrack by John Lennon’s kid (Sean, not Julien).

BOOKS

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke – A tale of two magicians doing real magic in the early 19th Century.  I listened to the audiobook, and narrator Simon Prebble is one of the best readers I’ve yet heard.  Funny and tense, literary and breezy, chock full of historical detail and character and mythology.  I’m so glad I finally got to this one.

The Corrections and Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen – While The Corrections managed to be a comical tale of tragedy, Freedom was just depressing.  I can’t recommend Freedom, even though I appreciate how well-written it was.  The Corrections, on the other hand, had a dose of unreality that tip-toed towards magical realism.  Franzen should go further in that direction.  It was hard to read Freedom because I didn’t like any of the characters, and the realism was served up hard and cold.  Instead of reading Freedom, go rewatch It’s a Wonderful Life.  Same deal, but with Jimmy Stewart.

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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.