I was reading the Wall Street Journal the other day and B-Grade filmmaker legend Roger Corman was quoted as saying that Jaws killed the B-movie, because it basically was a B-Movie with real actors and budget. "When I saw Jaws ," Corman said, "I thought, I've made this picture. First picture I ever made was Monster from the Ocean Floor... but Jaws was better. This was the first time a major (studio) had gone into the type of picture that was bread and butter for me and the other independents. Shortly thereafter, Star Wars did the same thing."
Corman also points out that the disappearance of drive-ins also helped kill the B-Movie, probably because B-movies are weed-smoking flicks and it's a lot easier to blaze a pipe in your 1975 Chevy van than a "hardtop" theatre downtown.
Of course, the argument could be made that Hollywood is mostly making expensive C-Grade films now but fans of the B-Grade can rejoice in knowing that the Heavy Hitting B-Grade Horrorfest is alive and kicking right here in Whistler. Set your calendars for Oct. 30 and keep reading this column for ticket details.
But back to Wall Street, the non-Journal kind. Remember back in 1987 when Michael Douglas, as Gordon Gekko, proclaimed, "Greed is good!" - remember? Remember how nobody got the joke (it was supposed to be a cautionary tale, not a mantra to live by) and then the financial sector kicked greed up a couple notches and basically took over the government? And then there was that huge crash a few years back where the government bailed Wall Street out with public money and I started getting mutual fund statements that read like a kick in the nuts? I remember that. Oliver Stone does too, which is why he made Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps opening this Friday at the Village 8.
Wall Street 2 is set in 2008, just before the big economic meltdown, and Gordon Gekko is back, fresh out of prison and claiming, "Time is the most valuable commodity." Shia "the Beef" LaBeouf stars as the idealistic young trader with a penchant for alternative energy who falls for Gekko's charm, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Gekko's estranged daughter.
The Beef, like the audience, senses the upcoming financial crisis and he wants to do something about it, so amidst motorbike racing and leather-clad lakeshore dialogue scenes that reminded me of Prince's Purple Rain , he takes a job with the bad guy (Josh Brolin) and uses Gekko's advice to get the one-up. Gekko plays nice because he misses his daughter and in amongst all this is a bunch of financial talk - and then all of a sudden there is just a ton of on-screen crying happening. (Shia LaBeouf is a big-time actor now but crying is the chink in his armour.)
In the end Michael Douglas is fantastic and Oliver Stone delivers a watchable film. The rub, however, is that Stone has no answers to the problems of Wall Street, although he implies that if time truly is the greatest commodity maybe it's time people did something about the blatant robbery the financial sector is still pulling off. Maybe it's time to take to the streets and throw some Molotovs rather than watch a movie and discuss this quietly amongst ourselves. Maybe it's time to cue the revolution, so long as they have refillable popcorn.
Here's a couple good links for people who want to learn more about the real swindlers in the financial sector. My source is not the Wall Street Journal , it's Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair -way less douch-y, don't cha think?