It’s New York in the mid-80s. Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a young stockbroker on a permanent high from having the coolest name ever, or at least he would be if he weren’t up to his armpits in debt and trying to make it big whilst stuck cold-calling on a low rung in an average firm. Bud, however, is determined, persistent and ambitious, and he ceaselessly badgers the secretary of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), one of the big names amongst the stockbroker game. Bud’s determination pays off, eventually meeting Gekko and, with the help of some tips provided by his airplane mechanic father (Martin Sheen), Bud impresses, and is brought into the fold. But at what cost? This film was recommended for me to watch by Dylan Fields, creator of Man I Love Films, the LAMB and my predecessor as host of the Lambcast. Continue reading →
Four Years into the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis), the 16th King of the United States of America, has his eyes set on not just ending the conflict, but abolishing slavery – over which the war is being predominantly fought – in the process. In order to do this he must pass the 13th amendment to the United States House of Parliament, which would outlaw involuntary servitude, but there’s two problems. One, he’s twenty votes short, and two, he needs to pass it before the war ends, or else it may never happen. And on top of this he’s got some familial woes too – a nutty wife and bull-headed son who wants to go off and fight for his beliefs.
The first spoken word in this film is “garbage”. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I don’t quite get the big deal of this piece. Centring around four main characters, Andie Macdowell’s prudent homemaker Ann, her promiscuous sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo), Ann’s lawyer husband John (Peter Gallagher) who is sleeping with both of them, and his old college friend Graham (James Spader), this plays out slowly and plainly, with plot points signposted miles in advance. Graham hasn’t seen John for 9 years, but has moved back into town and needs somewhere to stay temporarily, so crashes at theirs. He seems a little off, a little antisocial and distanced from the world, and when Ann goes to visit him in his new apartment, she discovers he has a ‘personal project’ that involves him videotaping women discussing their sexual experiences, and occasionally masturbating. It seems the only way the impotent Graham can become aroused is via a camera, hence this rather literal stockpiled wank bank. The film shows how powerful a camera can be, with the subjects being more willing to open up when staring into a lens than someone else’s face, and Spader’s performance is riveting and genuinely unsettling at times, but watching Macdowell trying to act is painful, and not enough unexpected occurs.
I’ve previously mentioned that I’m not overly squeamish about violence and mutilation in films, but I’m afraid this was more than I really wanted to take. This is a story of a movie producer (James Spader) who, after surviving a car crash, discovers a cult of car crash enthusiasts and proceeds to have as much sex as possible with every member of the cast, predominantly in cars. The sex is far more graphic than it needs to be, and involves, if not is stimulated by, the wounds and scars of the crash victims. Other than joining the club, there is no real narrative drive of the film, as the characters move from one orgy to another. Elias Koteas however is hypnotic as crash club leader Vaughan, but I’m not a big fan of nudity in general, and this film is little short of needlessly pornographic.