Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Money Never Sleeps But Audiences Do

When the credits finally began to roll on Stone's latest cinematic endeavor, my dad summarized the entire feeling of those of us in the room with a quiet groan and stretch combo, capped off by "well, there's two hours I'll never get back." I decided it would be nice tongue and cheek to point out that 'you never get your two hours back' but I couldn't help agreeing with his summary of the film. Despite a promising beginning, with the death of one of the film's main characters, the Money Never Sleeps dies as well.

And the more I've thought about it, the more I believe Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is indicative of all the flaws Oliver Stone has gained over the years. The most predominant: No Direction. I don't mean direction in the sense of what he does behind the camera, I mean in his handling on the stories. Alexander, W., and Wall Street 2 all suffer from simply having nowhere to go. They don't build up to anything. They don't examine anything. They simply meander through a series of passably interesting events, and then stumble onto some sort of conclusion before sprinting towards the credits.

It seems to me that Stone has lost his edge. That sharp point which echoed throughout much of his late '80s and early '90s works which brought him to fruition. Even with all that is going on in the world of banking, Money Never Sleeps finds nothing to really attack. Stone settles for tip-toeing around issues, and only dealing with them in minute contexts that have nothing to do with the greater picture.

This is a massive shame considering the wide spread talent involved. Douglas feels like a watered down version of his former Gecko self. Shia Lebouf is there to pad out a lacking younger demographic, but offers very little. Susan Surandon's character could have been written out without the film batting an eye. Hell, by the time the credits roll Eli Wallach has been reduced to a whistling, 'why the hell is he talking about birds?' buffoon. The rest are just there, going through the numbers in a film that should be creating entirely new calculations to make those numbers illuminate!

Ah well, all is not lost. At least Stone will always have his heyday. I just hope he doesn't delude himself into thinking that this is it.

4 better thoughts:

Rich said...

I'm looking at his IMDB profile and I've noticed that the last movie of his I went to see when it came out was 'Nixon.' Nothing he's done since has interested me enough to go see theatrically (though I did see a couple on DVD or on TV, including 'W'). I think you're right in that he's lost something.

Andy Buckle said...

Tell you what, Wall Street 2 had no idea what it wanted to be. It kept throwing in blatant references to the 21st Centruy, like "your like Russell Crowe in Gladiator" (wow!) but it seemed to be stuck back in the 80's (featuring a soundtrack by Talking Heads). It just meandered, as you say. When I worked at the cinema, I often questioned whether I had the two hours spare to watch the film. I didn't care that I could see it for free. But could I sit through it?

Castor said...

Terrible movie, it was so incredibly bland and pointless. It's not just the lack of direction but also the over-indulgence of a director well past his prime. This runs for over 2 hours and 10 minutes when it could have easily been condensed down to 90. Indeed, I won't get those 2 miserable hours back :(

Univarn said...

@Rich I'm wondering if studio and monetary pressures don't have some sort of influence on him.

@Andy I concur - but I think that was a side affect of Stone trying to bridge two eras without concentrating on the story and hoping we'd get some sort of 'things never change' subtext that the movie just doesn't offer.

@Castor The sad thing about this movie is: You could easily cut any of its plot lines out and it would still hold. The relationship, axed - still works. The evil banker, axed - still works. The mom - way too easy. Heck, if you took Gecko out of the film it would still work. Not saying it would be good, but nothing affected anything else to make it engaging.

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