Proposed Double Feature: ‘Wall Street’ & ‘Boiler Room’

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Continuing a series started by John D’Amico.

You could watch Wall Street first and then Boiler Room, or the other way around, or be meta and put them both on at the same time and quote the scene where everyone in Boiler Room quotes Wall Street while watching Wall Street.

However you choose, these two movies are way better than The Wolf of Wall Street or that Michael J. Fox one, the one with Helen Slater.

Wall Street is the only movie on my top fifty best movies ever made that never makes me laugh. There are no jokes in Wall Street, no attempts at comedy. There are light moments, snarky moments, sarcastic moments, and dramatic moments—mostly dramatic moments—and that’s it. Wall Street is a classic drama: a Greek-esque, Shakespearean-esque story.

Our hero, Bud, dreams of making it big on Wall Street, but what is he willing to sacrifice? You already know that kind of story—the whole ‘burning your wax wings too close to the sun’ thing. The surface has all the glitz and cheese of Hollywood, but the care and craftsmanship is that of a great work of art. 

Stone has a beautiful compositional and rhythmic style that is tastefully jagged and subtly elegant. It’s very ‘Scorsese’, but very integrated and meshed with its story. The split-screen sequence—which P.T. Anderson homaged in Boogie Nights—is an expertly done scene that montages better than ten Eisensteins. 

For me, this is seminal Oliver Stone, before he lost his mind somewhere around Any Given Sunday. Also, check out the amazing score by Brian Eno and David Byrne.

Boiler Room is one of those late 90s, early 2000s indies, in the class of Aronofsky and whoever else. It was made within the next generation right after Wall Street, so about 12 years later. Now, instead of yuppies, Gen X-ers are the money-chasing entrepreneurs. The characters in Boiler Room worship Gordon Gekko in a tragic irony similar to thugs worshipping Scarface and killing each other.

Forget Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps—Boiler Room is the true sequel to Wall Street. The main character here is slightly inverted—Giovanni Ribisi is tapped, whereas Sheen wants. But their dramatic arcs are literally the same, almost beat for beat.

Boiler Room isn’t quite as good as Wall Street—it’s a little too rough around the edges at times. But, I won’t deny its greatness, and its importance as a spiritual successor.

Wall Street 2 is a pathetic joke of a thing. Don’t bother.

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