Fall Guide: Oliver Stone Issues the Initial Public Offering of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Return of the greed creed

Even before our current economic slump, the financial world and its institutions had mutated over the years since corporate raider Gordon Gekko touted that “greed is good” in Wall Street, director Oliver Stone’s landmark 1987 drama. Returning to the scene of the crime, Stone and his Oscar-winning star, Michael Douglas, have invested right-here, right-now relevance into their follow-up, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. I spoke with Stone by phone about his first-ever sequel and this mess we’re in.

Who knew you would ever make a horror flick? [Laughs.] It’s actually a fun movie. A tough subject like that is best covered in a satiric manner. I wouldn’t get too heavy with the blame, because it’s very hard to focus it in a way that’s understandable for the present audience. Trust was lost between banks. When trust is lost, the system cannot work. So it is a George Romero fucking horror show, and nobody trusts anybody, like in Night of the Living Dead. That’s a good idea! I should have made the bankers into zombies and called it Day of the Living Dead. There are a few good bankers left, but they get venom into their system and start to crack up.

Was it hard to find a place in this modern world for Gordon Gekko? Yeah, he gets out of jail, and that’s the hook. Who was he? There was some identity loss in a sense. His older son committed suicide in his absence, and his youngest daughter is alienated by him. His wife is gone, so he has no family. He’s got nothing. Zero. Outside the game. He’s not a player anymore. How does he get back in? I won’t give that away.

What can you reveal? All I can say is we tried to tell a great story. I like his movies very much, but it’s not a Michael Moore movie. It’s about Gekko, his daughter [played by Carey Mulligan], and a young investor/trader [Shia LaBeouf] who is trying to do some good in this world. Josh Brolin is a surprise as one of the big institutional investment bankers, and Frank Langella is an older mentor of Shia’s. It’s the story of those five people and how it plays out against this two-year period. If you work in this environment, how do you maintain your values as a human being? That was the fundamental question in the original, because Charlie Sheen’s values were threatened by Gekko. The same question applies in a more sophisticated way now. And it’s a love story, believe it or not.

In the long view, are we all just screwed? That’s why we end the movie in a question mark, because I don’t know. You gotta break up the banks. All these bankers, when they went in front of Capitol Hill, had no solutions: “Let’s continue as before. There will be periodic ups and downs, but don’t regulate us too much.” We supersized everything and steroided banking, but it can’t go on like this. Steroided athletes die early, don’t they? This guy, Sandy Weill, super-marketed up the whole goddamn thing. He took brokerage, insurance, American Express card–type companies and banks, and merged them into a huge thing called Citicorp. Nobody’s figured out what the fuck that is, and nobody wants to, because nobody wants it! [Laughs.] It’s very funny. You can’t take this too seriously, because it’s the demise of capitalism at this rate—which is what Lenin and Marx predicted: that we’d hang ourselves with our own rope. But I’m going into too much detail. You wanted a movie preview here, and I’m talking economically.

’Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ opens September 24 (20th Century Fox), wallstreetmoneyneversleeps.com

Fall Film Picks

‘Kings of Pastry’
September 15–28

Having grappled with tricky subjects like Bob Dylan and U.S. politics, esteemed documentarians D.A. Pennebaker (Dont Look Back) and Chris Hegedus (The War Room) unexpectedly discover World Cup-–size thrills, tension, and glory in the Meilleur Ouvriers de France culinary competition. Over a three-day endurance contest, 16 pâtissiers pour their marzipan, sweat, and tears into gastro-porn so mouthwatering and jazzily presented that it makes the Food Network look like reheated leftovers in comparison. Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, filmforum.org

‘Enter the Void’
September 24

Irreversible provocateur Gaspar Noé unleashes another avant-garde assault upon audiences in this deliriously wicked, undeniably daring acid trip through Tokyo’s neon-splattered underworld. After young American stripper Paz de la Huerta’s drug-dealing brother (Nathaniel Brown) is gunned down by cops, the camera takes the p.o.v. of his disembodied spirit as it floats over buildings, through walls, down sewers, and even inside a fallopian tube. If you’re prone to seizures, anxiety, or staying in your comfort zone, might we instead recommend Kings of Pastry? IFC Films, in limited release, ifcfilms.com

48th New York Film Festival
September 24–October 10

Rarely does the city’s most prestigious fest offer a world premiere on opening night, which means director David Fincher’s The Social Network—starring Jesse Eisenberg as billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg—might be NYFF’s most hotly anticipated film in years. Other must-sees include Cannes faves like Lee Chang-dong’s quietly devastating Poetry, 101-year-old auteur Manoel de Oliveira’s The Strange Case of Angelica, and the enigmatic masterwork Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives—winner of the Palme d’Or. The Film Society of Lincoln Center West 65th Street and Broadway, filmlinc.com

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