Oliver Stone’s Wall Street is certainly one of the quintessential films of the 80s. Its depiction of the bulls and bears behind the economy was incredibly influential, though maybe not in the best of ways. Its addition to the list seems to be as much a statement on current economics as it is a statement on the economic system the film unamusingly skewers, and to that end, I guess I can understand how it made it. In terms of the film’s merit, however, this really isn’t above and beyond so many other popular films, 80s and otherwise, that didn’t make the list, so then why this one?
Charlie Sheen, back when he could be taken at least semi-seriously and fresh off his starring role in Platoon, plays Bud Fox, a stockbroker with a modest financial company who longs to be one of the greats, like his role model, the infamous Gordon Gekko. After finagling his way into an office meet-and-greet with Gekko, Fox gives him a good insider tip about a stock, and future talks between the men allow Fox to grow on Gekko, and the mogul takes the young buck under his wing, to show him just how the business of Wall Street really works and what you have to do to make it. After this was over, I went over my list of comments I’d written during the film. There weren’t any. Now, this could mean one of two things; either, I was really engrossed in the film so much that I didn’t bother to break my immersion in the film to write small comments, or the film was that unremarkable that there were no real comments to be said. After much deliberation and revisiting the film in my head, I’d have to go with the latter; everything is standard and nothing more, with a couple notable exceptions, one good and one bad. The good is of course Michael Douglas, who creates one of cinema’s sleaziest and underhanded villains, and does it all with a wink and a smile; he won the Oscar for Best Actor for this role, and I’m not complaining. The bad is the cinematography; even with the low quality of the film I watched, it looked like the film had been shot on videotape. It was all grungy and staticky, with no real care as to how the film looked (though there were a couple shots or scenes or so that made innovative use of lighting that I did catch). Of course, as with all foibles, this could’ve been intentional, but for this one, I ain’t buying it.
I mentioned in my review of Slacker that you weren’t supposed to like those people, but that nevertheless wannabes popped up in the wake of the film, trying desperately to be like the people featured on the screen. I likened it to this film, where so many financial stockbrokers and analysts cropped up from the woodwork wanting to be like Gordon Gekko, when all along the viewers needed to understand that he was exactly the type of person you shouldn’t want to be like. That was my experience watching this film; I couldn’t get over the potential fact that the film was trying to get across to me – that this is actually how Wall Street operates, right down to the personal threats and under-the-table dealing. Whether it really is or not is a question I can’t answer, and frankly, neither can you unless you’ve worked there yourself, so don’t bother starting a political or economic discussion about it with me, because that is one worm I’d rather not have trolling around in my pond. It’s this dirtiness that makes Wall Street such an unpleasant experience to watch; it may be one that more people need to see, but don’t be surprised if you feel like you need a shower or two afterwards.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10