is going to be a great year for movies. I’m confident of this. Since
we’re in this ride together I figured we’d get ready for the year in a
fun and exciting new way. First, over the course of the next fifteen
weekdays we’re going to highlight one mainstream film a day. Some of
them are slam dunks, some of them have a cloud of trouble floating
above them, but all represent a great way to spend a Friday night at
the movie theater even if it results in you ripping its ass thereafter.

of the things this site is built on is a love of movies. Some folks
think we’ve let some of that go by the wayside. I disagree, but
regardless, I want 2010 to be a year where this site restores some of
that wonder. Though the glass can never truly be half-full in a
business so driven by rehashes and hollow entertainment, we’re going to
have fun with it and prepare you guys with as many tools as possible to
make the moviegoing experience worth it. Especially as the internet
gets more and more bogged down with people who have no right serving as
an authority of film blabbering all over blogs and Twitter and beyond.

There’s a reason you come here.

Day Four

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Michael Douglas, Shia LeBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Frank Langella & Charlie Sheen
Written by Brian Burrough, Allan Loeb, Stephen Schiff

The Gist
Wall Street is many things. One of the best films of the 80’s, One of the most accessible and rewatchable Oliver Stone films. A time capsule of a bygone era, and scarily a more innocent time, which is jaw-dropping. It’s one of the defining movies of my life for sure.

The themes of Wall Street still apply but it’s a much different world today and it’s intriguing to see what the late model Oliver Stone has to offer the concept. Until the mid-90’s he was one of the most beautiful batshit filmmakers the world has ever known. Then he got kinda boring. If his teeth grow back, this could be substantial. Hedge funds, betyrayal, and revisiting the true value of greed all factor prominently as a now tamed Gordon Gekko mentors young Shia through the treacherous world populated by folks good (Frank Langella) and evil (Josh Brolin).

Participants to Watch
Oliver Stone owes us. Even though there have been moments of brightness, he hasn’t evolved like Scorsese or Mann or Malick. He was as incendiary and capable of brilliance as just about anyone in the 80’s and part of the 90’s, even though his love of bloat sometimes overrode the material. Oliver Stone was a brilliant filmmaker. This may be the last time he gets the benefit of the doubt from the people that grew up on his work. Maybe he needs to do some more drugs.

Shia LaBeouf is playing a man. That’s a big step. It took Leonardo DiCaprio several films before you believed him as a grown-up. If he is able to shed some of the mannerisms that made him a star to suit this material, there may be a true passing of the torch. Though he doesn’t play a character who succumbs to the dark side like Bud Fox did in the original, it’s important that he plays the shades of gray effectively. Make no mistake, he’s the star of this film. Michael Douglas is the supporting actor here. It’s Shia’s movie to carry or drop.

Carey Mulligan has been one of those ‘faces to watch’ for a while now. It’s time to deliver. I think she will in spades.

The Buzz
Not great. Apparently the script didn’t have the depth or teeth the concept deserves, and most of the crew returning from the original (don’t expect much from the Chuck Sheen cameo) didn’t develop the project but rather came on after the fact. This is not a work of vision, but rather a sequel that exists more because of timing than passion.

There were rewrites and there are a lot of very talented people involved, but it may be a situation where how we judge the film is wholly dependent on how much residual love for the original the viewer takes into the theater with them.

Best Case
It replicates the quality, entertainment value, and reception of the original. A lot of that depends on the new blood as Stone and Douglas are hardly a lock for good box office or quality material of late. Josh Brolin and Shia LaBouf are the real deal and you’d like to think that they realize they’re part of something with the potential to really MATTER.

Worst Case
It spins its wheels and feels faux. A Boiler Room type of harmless wannabe trying to swim in the deep end. Either way, it’s not going to be a hit because the people that buy tickets today don’t have the same passion for the original that they would for other big films of the era.

CHUD’s Prognosis
Changes look pretty bleak for this being a classic, but it’ll be a fine way to spend an evening. My hope is that it’s at least State of Play in terms of adult-oriented material for a mainstream audience.

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Tomorrow: Flawed brilliance?