March 11, 2009

"Boiler Room"

While reading up on Ameriquest, the top subprime mortgage originator in America before going belly-up in 2007, I was struck by this bit from a 2005 LA Times article by Mike Hudson and E. Scott Reckard:
Many of the ex-employees likened Ameriquest's culture to the rough-and-tumble world of "Boiler Room," a 2000 movie about fast-talking, young stock swindlers who revel in their powers of anything-goes salesmanship.

The comparison is more than happenstance: "That was your homework — to watch 'Boiler Room,' " Taylor said. Managers and employees passed around the film to keep themselves fired up, she and others explained. Kendall, in a sworn declaration in the Redwood City class-action case, said that watching "Boiler Room" was part of his Ameriquest training.

It was all about "the energy, the impact, the driving, the hustling," Taylor said.

So, I rented the 2000 movie. It's well worth seeing, as are so many movies that give you an inside view of some masculine institution.

A movie about the U.S. Marines, for instance, doesn't have to be terribly good to still be entertaining. There's just so much lore the screenwriter can crib. For example, there was a spat over "Jarhead," about a Marine in the First Gulf War, because the author of another memoir about that war pointed out that that a speech a colonel gives welcoming the Marines to the war zone was lifted nearly word for word from his book. Veteran screenwriter William Broyles ("Apollo 13") replied that that, sure, it's the same speech, but it's also the same speech Broyles heard from his colonel when he arrived in Vietnam in 1965. Marines don't let a good speech go to waste.

Similarly, it's fitting that the real life subprime peddlers at Ameriquest all watched "Boiler Room" because the crooked stockbrokers in "Boiler Room" all watch "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Wall Street." They get together in the evening in one broker's giant empty house and watch "Wall Street" on the big TV and see who can do Michael Douglas's Gordon Gekko lines best.

High pressure salesmen watch movies about high pressure salesmen for pointers. The rest of us need could use a refresher in the games they are playing on us. The chief reminder, of course, is that they persuade men to make dumb outlays of money by challenging their manhood.

"Boiler Room" has lots of great lines, although it's a little clunky overall. This is a very young writer-director's first movie (Ben Younger was 27 when it was released) and it shows.

The casting is a little off. I wonder if somebody told Ben Younger that for his lead, the conflicted college dropout who can't decide whether he wants the money or his soul back, he should get, "You know, what's-his-name, that young guy, the pale one with the really Italian-sounding name," but instead of getting Leonard DiCaprio, he got Giovanni Ribisi instead. (Of course, there are a lot of movies that could have gone from half empty to half full just by DiCaprio in the title role.)

Ribisi's quite good in the selling scenes, but he never sold me on the idea that he should be a Hollywood leading man -- he's too toad-like and his complexion resembles the singer's in My Bloody Valentine.

Ben Affleck has the Alec Baldwin in "Glengarry Glen Ross" role as the sales manager who gives motivational speeches. (Here's the Youtube clip of the "group job interview" -- language NSFW.) Affleck is a guy who has shown some talent as a director and screenwriter, and has had enough work done that he looks like a leading man, but he's not really quite good enough of an actor. He's fine here giving motivational soliloquies, but there's fifty guys who could have done them even better.

Vin Diesel plays the one senior broker who is not a total jerk. I like Diesel, and I think he's a rather good actor when he's not talking (his control of his facial muscles is surprisingly delicate). But Diesel has some kind of speech impediment. I'm not sure exactly what it is -- some times it's a lisp, some times something else. But "Boiler Room" is the wrong movie for him: way too talky. Here's a Youtube clip of him reeling in a client where his charisma is locked in uneasy conflict with his speech impediment. (The really odd thing about Vin Diesel is how much his facial expressions resemble those of Jerry Seinfeld.)

With DiCaprio starring, Martin Scorsese directing, and an extra $100,000 of script doctoring, "Boiler Room" would be one helluva movie. But it's still worth seeing to learn some of the tricks of the selling trade, both for playing offense and defense.

Now, Ameriquest, where "Boiler Room" served as a training manual in salesmanship, was owned by Roland Arnall, whom Bush appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands -- after this series of articles in the LA Times came out. And the Senate approved his nomination.

Something to keep in mind is how Boiler Room operators like Arnall and Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide used political correctness to keep regulators off their backs. Is it any surprise that having made the concept of diversity sacred and above question, it gets exploited by the Boiler Room Boys?

I've quoted before from Mozilo's prestigious 2003 Harvard address in which he promised to lend $600 billion to low income and minority borrowers over seven years. Mozilo's big speech is very similar to Bush's speeches of the same era about how America must create 5.5 million more minority homeowners. Here's a part I didn't get to, in which Mozilo repeatedly invokes the mantra from the Community Reinvestment Act about increasing lending to "low-income and minority borrowers" to argue against anti-predatory lending regulations. It all makes sense if you assume that a big problem in America in the 2000s is racist financial institutions not lending enough money to minorities. I've put in bold the places where he invokes diversity:
The next structural obstacle I would like to address is predatory mania, or to be more exact, the predatory lending legislation that is causing regulatory mania. From my perspective, there is absolutely no question that lending abuses have and are taking place relative to loans to low-income and minority borrowers. These abuses – whether they are loan flipping, the bait and switch, packing of fees, or any other unfair practice – must be addressed so that all Americans who desire to become homeowners will be treated equitably.

There is also no doubt, in my opinion, that we’ve worked together to make progress in this area – exposing many of the worst predators feeding in the sub-prime markets. And at Countrywide, we’re proud to have been the first lender to sign the Declaration of Fair Lending Principles and Practices with HUD in 1994 and the first lender to renew that Declaration in the year 2000. But now we are running the real risk, as the saying goes, of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. During 2001 and 2002, approximately 145 predatory lending bills were introduced by states, cities and various municipalities. ...

I don’t mind the attention, nor do I question the intention. These laws were allegedly enacted to protect borrowers from lenders who abuse the unsophisticated, low-income, elderly and minority communities by charging high interest rates and fees and fraudulently imposing unfair terms. These lenders deserve unwavering scrutiny and, when found guilty, an unforgiving punishment. But while there is a formal definition of what constitutes sub-prime lending, there is currently no formal definition of predatory lending. Thus, the Federal Government, not to mention each state, city, and county, is left to its own interpretation. Lenders are then left with a patchwork of legislation and a pile of regulation that is sometimes contradictory, often confusing, and increasingly, as new evidence is suggesting, counter-productive.

A clear example of this counter-productive phenomenon is the state of Georgia. The anti-predatory lending measure that became law in Georgia last October is so complex, and the consequences of a violation – intended or otherwise – are so severe, that lenders and the secondary market have been forced to stop making or buying so-called highcost loans. As a result, the availability of credit to many families has been curtailed out of the fear of possible lawsuits or other intended or unintended consequences. The immediate result of this unfortunate legislation is that Freddie Mac, a company chartered by the Federal Government, has “seriously” curtailed its mortgage purchase activities in Georgia, and Fannie Mae has promptly followed suit. Their obvious concerns are related to the egregious consequences to lenders and investors who are involved with loans that are traditionally made to low income borrowers, many of whom are minorities. I don’t blame Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae; I blame a system that is spiraling out of control.

North Carolina, the birthplace of predatory lending laws, is another example. It was originally believed by the author of the North Carolina predatory legislation that there was no adverse impact on lending in their state resulting from the passage of the law. But two recent studies – one conducted by Georgetown University’s Credit Research Center, the other by Keith Harvey of Boise State and Peter Nigro of the Treasury Department – show that sub-prime lending in North Carolina is decreasing, not just in the number of loans, but in the number of low-income and minority families applying for those loans. ...

The conclusion we can draw from these examples is that all lenders, and the entire sub-prime lending market for that matter, cannot be brushed with one broad stroke. Sub-prime lending is not the same thing as predatory lending. And there is no way that a reputable, national lender – whether it is Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo, or Chase – can operate under hundreds of laws that bear no similarity to one another apart from the fact that they all contain the word “predatory.” In the end, this patchwork of legislation, or “zoo” as one of the Governors on the Federal Reserve Board described it, will only inhibit lending by major, mainstream lenders, not encourage it. That, in turn, will leave the door open for the true predatory lenders.

And it will ultimately shut the door to homeownership for hard-working, low-income and minority families. If mortgage credit dries up in Georgia, in North Carolina and elsewhere, not only will the reasonable parity in homeownership rates [among the races] become a pipedream, but there will be an inevitable slowdown in other sectors of our industry because of the sequential nature of the homebuying cycle. We cannot allow that to happen. To make sure it doesn’t, we must work together – politicians, lenders, and community groups alike – to encourage preemptive Federal legislation that clearly defines predatory lending by addressing the real, rather than the imagined abuses. We must, in other words, keep our eyes on the prize: helping the American people – all the people – move along the road to homeownership at the lowest possible cost. Plainly put, we should be removing barriers, not creating new ones.

There's a Kabuki theatre aspect to these ritual controversies over predatory lending. Community reinvestment activists complain about predatory lending to low income and minority borrowers until such time as they all agree that low income and minority borrowers will get even more money loaned to them. To the Man from Mars, this "solution" of more lending sounds like the exact opposite of what was being complained about (too much lending).

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

26 comments:

king obama said...

Yeah, "Boiler Room" is ok, but it pales in comparison to "Wall Street" and "Glengary Glen Ross." To me, it seemed like a low-budget, hybrid remake of those two great films.

However, movies about business and/or business men (even if they are crooked) are pretty rare (I am not including lawyers as business men), so, in that sense, maybe the film is good for just that reason.

My question is why does Hollywood make so few movies about business and/or business men? Is it that they dislike capitalism or is it that business is inherently boring and thus not a good concept for a movie?

Steve Sailer said...

Lots of businessmen are cast as murderers, superspies' and superheroes' archnemesises (archnemeses?), and so forth, but there aren't many about the mechanics of businesses, especially about honest businesses.

Most businesses are too specialized to film well, but real estate is especially strangely overlooked considering how near universal interest in the subject is. Certainly, everybody in Hollywood is obsessed with buying and selling houses. Heck, Cher pretty much gave up her movie career after winning the Oscar in 1987 to concentrate on buying and selling luxury fixer-uppers.

Anonymous said...

My question is why does Hollywood make so few movies about business and/or business men?

Hollywood LOVES to make movies about the movie business, but these movie-movies almost always feel phony, full of cartoonish ogres and over-the-top, unconvincing satire. They're such hacks they can't even write believably about what they know.

WIth the possible of exception of real estate, I doubt they know anything about how most businesses really work. Since they have so much trouble making convincing movies about movie-making, how likely is it that they'd make convincing movies about businesses they know nothing about?

So, the details of a business are kept vague and businessmen are used as mere tokens to indicate Greedy Bad Guy or Stiff Conformist Drone in the usual dreary PC dramas and thrillers that flow non-stop from the Dream Factory.

Antoine Zhang said...

I much preferred "Boiler Room" to Stone's "Wall Street" - I found the latter far too histrionic and cartoonish - the general traits of Stone's bombastic style of movie-making. For example, that scene with Michael Douglas on the beach talking to Charlie Sheen on the phone about the grandeur of his vision - it's as bad and cheesy as Balzac.

Boiler Room had its flaws, but it's far more convincing than "Wall Street", and serves much better as an instructional guide to the seedier side of today's business world. The characters were great as well.

Steve, you are right about Diesel being a nuanced and subtle actor - such a pity that the one guy who had the potential to depict tough guys with depth and sensitivity ended up wasting the peak years of his career with generic, macho-man vehicles, better suiting roided-up former pro-wrestlers (see "A Man Apart", which I believe he specificlly chose).

The strangest thing about Vin Diesel is that he plays uber-masculine types, but has an extremely weak chin.

"Most businesses are too specialized to film well, but real estate is especially strangely overlooked considering how near universal interest in the subject is."

I though "American Beauty" to be a shallow and self-satisfied vanity piece, but Warren Beatty's wife did a great job of depicting the frustrations of a failed suburban real-estate agent. I've been watching "The Real Housewives of Orange Couty" - suburban real-estate seems the job of choice amongst idle and frustrated trophy wives.

Ivy said...

So I watched "Boiler Room" a few weeks ago (finally) and a few months ago I saw "Wall Street" along with "Glengary Glen Ross".

I actually much preferred Boiler Room to the both of them. But I have a minute attention span, so this shouldn't be surprising.

But my question is, what other movie would fit into the relevant category? I need to update my NetFlix list.

Anonymous said...

Vin Diesel is always sold as "Italian," and somehow audiences believe that. I just don't see it. His hair would be darker and thicker (look at eyebrows) for one thing.

He looks half Jewish and half (lighter) Black to me.

Not that it's any of my business, but I have a pet peeve about inaccurate type casting in movies, and Hollywood does it all the time. It makes the whole story unbelievable for me and ruins the entertainment if it's really excessive. European and Asian companies have been putting out better movies lately (Taken, for one), where the script and casting actually match reality.

Pat Shuff said...

Countrywide's 'Man from Tan' Mozilo: A clear example of this counter-productive phenomenon is the state of Georgia. The anti-predatory lending measure that became law in Georgia last October is so complex, and the consequences of a violation – intended or otherwise – are so severe, that lenders and the secondary market have been forced to stop making or buying so-called highcost loans.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A number of states passed laws restricting the bad mortgage lending practices.
The national lenders like Countrywide, WaMu, Wachovia,
all of whom are now bankrupt, bailed out, taken over...successfully battled the restrictions all the way to overturning in the Supreme Court.

"The nation's highest court sided with the Bush Administration, ruling in April 2007 that the OCC had exclusive authority over Wachovia Mortgage. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for a five-member majority, pointed to the potential burdens on mortgage lending if there were "duplicative state examination, supervision, and regulation." In a dissenting opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens said that it is "especially troubling that the court so blithely preempts Michigan laws designed to protect consumers."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Efforts in Georgia to rein in unwise lending provoked a particularly fierce federal reaction. In 2002 the state passed a law that imposed "assignee liability" on the mortgage-finance process. Understanding the significance of this requires a little background.

One of the forces that accelerated the proliferation of dangerous home loans was the Wall Street business of buying up millions of mortgages, bundling them into bonds, and selling the securities to pension funds and other investors. Securitization, which grew to a $7 trillion industry, meant the lenders could pass along the risk of default to a huge universe of investors. Many of those investors, in turn, relied uncritically on reassurances from fee-collecting investment banks and ratings agencies that mortgage-backed securities were high-quality. When many of the reassurances proved hollow, the securitization market collapsed this year.

Assignee liability would radically reshape that market by making everyone involved potentially responsible when things go bad. Investment banks that created mortgage-backed securities and investors who bought them would be liable for financial damage if mortgages turned out to be fraudulent. The financial industry opposed assignee liability, maintaining that it would cripple the market for asset-backed securities. Major ratings agencies later agreed that allowing unlimited damages would be disruptive. The agencies threatened to stop evaluating many bonds tied to mortgages covered by the Georgia law.

Comment: You can see why Mozilo fiercely opposed these state laws. They would have held Countrywide and others responsible for their lending practices.

The entire article is a good read. It details the involvement of the powerful agencies (OTS, OCC), the administration,
the housing advocacy groups. Sad enough in this debacle is the governmental enabling, the promoting, the greenlighting, the lax oversight and looking the other way. More sad is when the bad lending was being restricted and increasingly outlawed at some state levels, government at the highest levels pursued and succeeded in making good lending practices illegal wherever it arose and bad lending required
and enforced nationwide.

Both sides of the aisle, both ends of the mall, spilling from the judiciary...skeletons stacked to the ceiling in every room on every level.
There will be no pursuit
of the institutional role
played because that involves self-investigation. Just whitewashing(ton), diversion and distraction.
That leaves it to the Fourth Estate to tell the story in a way all can see and hear, but which can't seem to find a bone to pick from a governmental mass grave of skeletons stretching from DC to California.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They Warned Us About the Mortgage Crisis

State whistleblowers tried to curtail greedy lending—and were thwarted by the Bush Administration and the financial industry

BusinessWeek In Depth October 9, 2008

http://tinyurl.com/5xxlud

Mark said...

The next structural obstacle I would like to address is predatory mania...

Freudian slip?

Hollywood LOVES to make movies about the movie business, but...

I hate self-referential movie shit; art about art; the book/movie/musical about the struggling artist striving to express himself. As Tom Lehrer once said, 'if you can't express yourself, then shut up!'

But Ribisi was good. Way more believeable than the pretty boy DiCaprio.

Anonymous said...

Now, Ameriquest, where "Boiler Room" served as a training manual in salesmanship, was owned by Roland Arnall, whom Bush appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands

Yeah, Bush did that with a real estate mogul here in Utah, John Price, who was appointed ambassador to some banana republic shortly after getting sued for fraud. Sailed right through.

luke o'farrell said...

'the conflicted college dropout who can't decide whether he wants the money or his soul back'

There's a word missing here. It's the J-word!

Anonymous said...

One little-known, but very good, business movie is 2004's In Good Company, starring Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace. It has a fairly predicable vaguely-leftist negative slant on the corporate world, but the characters have a great deal of humanity.

One interesting aspect of In Good Company is that it is one of the few films to address the issue of inter-generational relations between Generation X and Baby Boomers. Topher Grace, who like is 25 or something, winds up becoming Dennis Quiad's boss after a series of mergers.

Most Hollywood productions would have the representatives of the two generations "learn from each other" -- Quaid would be the voice of experience and wisdom, Grace would be energetic and tech-savy, etc. But the movie doesn't portray the characters in that way at all. Grace kid is mostly clueless, he doesn't know squat about sales or publishing, and most of what he does know -- the latest corporate fads -- are ridiculed as BS. He just sort of imitates the "dynamic" and "entrepreneurial" style of the older tycoon executives. At one point he gives this PowerPoint presentation that is hysterical because it is so true to life; he does nothing but spout corporate buzzwords.

Dennis Quaid has to teach Grace everything, he sort of takes the kid under his wing and shows him the basics, but even then there is no way to teach all of the lessons learned from 20 years of experience. While Grace does become a better salesman and executive but he is still nowhere near as good as Quaid. Most Hollywood movies would not be so respectful of experience and wisdom, especially not in a business setting.

However, Grace is wise beyond his years when it comes to the harsh realities of life. He knows what it means to fire people, and get fired, and he understands the emotional and psychological pressures of the corporate world perfectly. He's not on a power trip, and he knows exactly how other people feel about him and relate to him. This allows him to manage Quaid perfectly. This is also surprisingly accurate -- most Gen-X'ers are used to being laid off, many have crushing burdens of student loan debt, etc., so they have a far more realistic view of how the world actually works than the Boomers had at the same age. Again, it is surprising to see this kind of accuracy in a Hollywood movie.

Anonymous said...

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for a five-member majority, pointed to the potential burdens on mortgage lending if there were "duplicative state examination, supervision, and regulation...

Ha! Even when that bitch writes a pro-business opinion she's wrong!

Half Sigma said...

Boiler Room: the story sucked. But it's the only movie I've seen that accurately portrays how young salesman are trained. The only problem here is that the movie suggests that this is unique to "boiler rooms," but the very same high pressure sales techniques and the same training would be found at any mainstream brokerage house with a respectable name like Merril Lynch of Smith Barney.

Half Sigma said...

In contrast to Boiler Room, Wall Street doesn't really get into an accurate portrayal of high pressure cold calling, but the story is way better, and Michael Douglas truly deserved the Oscar he won for best actor.

Wall Street isn't really about Wall Street, but rather a young man torn between two fathers: his blue collar dad from Queens, and the rich father he wished he had in Gordon Gekko.

albertosaurus said...

Hollywood doesn't portray businessmen based on any kind of reality but it does portray businessmen based on cripto-Marxist stereotypes.

During the Internet bubble I found myself managing a team of software developers. At that time the "Matrix" appeared in the theaters. Early in the film Neo is late for work and is chewed out for being late by his up-tight businessman boss. The coders worked in a modern office highrise. Every coder wore a suit in the movie.

I think Neo was twenty minutes late. This was a hoot for me. I had a tardy employee too - instead of arriving at eight he never came to work before ten. My boss the CTO wouldn't let me discipline him but he did make this guy promise to get to work by at least nine. The next day he showed up at three in the afternoon.

I had another coder who came to work on time but slept all day on a sofa. My boss claimed this guy worked at night. I did eventually fire both these guys (and my boss too).

This particular Internet startup was a little extreme but not all that different from a lot of Bay Area software startups where I managed coders. I've never seen a Hollywood movie begin to capture the reality of business. For example, I've never seen a coder who wore a tie much less a suit.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

Sailer,

If you thought that Leo-one-note would have been an improvement over Ribisi, you just dropped a couple of notches.

I've known guys who ran bookie operations out of their dorm rooms and the casinos out of their houses (like Ribisi's BR character). Eventually, they'd end up in a lucrative, legitimate sales gig and were millionaires before 30. All of them were a whole lot more Ribisi than DiCaprio. Mildly booksmart but deadly streetwise, ALWAYS thinking about how to play the angles for more money.

The scene where Ribisi gives the NYT telemarketer a sales lesson over Saturday breakfast was great. Leo couldn't have done it.

Anonymous said...

I hate self-referential movie shit; art about art; the book/movie/musical about the struggling artist striving to express himself. As Tom Lehrer once said, 'if you can't express yourself, then shut up!'

I wasn't thinking so much about the "struggling artist" story as those ridiculously lame satires of itself that Hollywood is always turning out. They think they're being bold and self-critical, but their satire is so ludicrous and so unrelated to reality that it's basically toothless. You know the ones I mean: movie producers who wantonly murder people and get away scot free, mafia goons who blunder into filmmaking and turn out to be brilliant writer-directors, that kind of crap.

Danindc said...

Dicaprio is the best in the business. Didn't anyone see him in Revolutionary Road- tour de force...

silver said...

I much preferred "Boiler Room" to Stone's "Wall Street" - I found the latter far too histrionic and cartoonish - the general traits of Stone's bombastic style of movie-making. For example, that scene with Michael Douglas on the beach talking to Charlie Sheen on the phone about the grandeur of his vision - it's as bad and cheesy as Balzac.

I enjoyed Wall St (enjoyed it -- heh, I was downright inspired by it). But I agree that Stone's main point was to bash the Michael Douglas character (the delightfully named Gordon Gekko).

I can't remember the scene you're talking about but a mentor taking aside his protege and filling his mind with his vision for the future doesn't strike me as lame.

It was the over-the-top ruthlessness of Gekko that I didn't buy. Maybe corporate-raider big wigs really wore their emotions on their sleeves and were so open about their indifference to economic upheaval in the greed-is-good 80s but my suspicion is that fear side of greed-and-fear would have had them playing cover-your-ass by coating their machinations thick with euphemisms even in private.

Other than that, the movie did a good job of portraying the forces sending America hurtling down the road to self-destruction.

But it's the only movie I've seen that accurately portrays how young salesman are trained. The only problem here is that the movie suggests that this is unique to "boiler rooms," but the very same high pressure sales techniques and the same training would be found at any mainstream brokerage house with a respectable name like Merril Lynch of Smith Barney.

I actually sat my "team" down to watch it, pausing it periodically to elaborate on how the film demonstrates what I had been hoping to get across to them. It's Hollywood, so they don't (can't -- boring) get all the details right. But what it does get oh so very right is how self-deluded salesmen are and how scarily capable they are of believing their own lies.

Anonymous said...

Boiler Room is a salesman movie not a "business movie". It seems to me that the salesman film genre is well populated.

silver said...

but there aren't many about the mechanics of businesses, especially about honest businesses.

"Disclosure" (Mike Douglas, Demi Moore) works as an about-business movie.

It's meant to be a thriller about sexual harrassment so the business side isn't overwrought.

Even the villainous Donald Sutherland is believable as a money hungry CEO, but honestly so, trying to finagle the best outcome out of a hairy predicament, even if he has to mess with a few lives to do it, and just what is Michael Douglas so indignant about anyway.

The only character I was a bit iffy about was Demi Moore's attorney during the arbitration session, who was just a bit too slick, but it worked wonderfully in building up the tension.

Michael Crichton combined scientific and technological literacy with a promising willingness to transgress taboos, which made for some interesting reading/viewing. I wish we'd seen more "Disclosure" and "State of Fear" (which was just a vehicle to cram as much enviro-sanity as he could) and less "Prey" (hugely interesting subject matter ("emergence")/inane storyline) and "Sphere" (completely inane).

lovingthelaw said...

Not quite sure how "In Good Company" got made, really. It's over arching theme really is contrary to the Hollywood leftist worldview. (Maybe Quaid is closet conservative or something?)

Anyway, the move does take a dim view of the powerfully dislocating and destructive aspects of pure capitalism (but that is mostly in the background and, as the proverbial Gen-X'er who came of age in the post baby boomer paradise, I am not unsympathetic to that argument).

On the other hand, the protagonist, Quaid's character, is a pure middle class (and middle aged) white guy in middle management. And despite not being an old asian or black man, is potrayed as having knowlegde and wisdom that his young protege does not (which is a pretty anti-progressive message no matter how you slice it).

Morover, Quaid's character's life has been about sacrificing to provide for his family, and create a warm, meaningful, and bountiful life for them. Top it off, he's also proud of the business he helped build. When things get tough, he doubles down and doesn't give up, and go work at Burger King.

"In Good Company" is the mirror opposite of "American Beauty", which is the Hollywoodland vision of the hellish squaresville existence of the rapdily vanishing white middle class.

As an added bonus, Topher Grace isn't even annoying! Also, Scatlett Johannsen played Quaid's daughter (double bonus!)

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

Dicaprio is the best in the business. Didn't anyone see him in Revolutionary Road- tour de force...

I did see him - and I enjoyed the movie. It's one of the few films I've seen in the past year that I was still thinking about a week afterwards. And, he was good in it, but...

I just don't understand why this guy is regarded as such a superlative thespian. He always plays more or less the same guy: the talented, passionate loner. It's a more angst-ridden version of the guy Tom Cruise has played for the past 25 years.

Mr. Anon said...

One movie I can think of that dealt with business was "Goodfellas" - it was perhaps unique among crime stories in actually dealing with the business of organized crime.

It actually showed how the mafia made money (by stealing stuff and shaking people down) rather than just being a vehicle for operatic soap-opera (like the Godfather).

Jun said...

From Chas. Murray's '2009 Irving Kristol Lecture' @ the AEI's annual dinner:

"When I began to work on this lecture a few months ago, I was feeling abashed because I knew I couldn't talk about either of the topics that were of the gravest national importance. ... Regarding the economic crisis, I am not an economist. In fact, I am so naive about economics that I continue to think that we have a financial meltdown because the federal government, in its infinite wisdom, has for the last two administrations aggressively pushed policies that made it possible for clever people to get rich by lending money to people who were unlikely to pay it back."

Ha!

cn said...

Vin Diesel is always sold as "Italian," and somehow audiences believe that. I just don't see it. His hair would be darker and thicker (look at eyebrows) for one thing.

He looks half Jewish and half (lighter) Black to me.

Got it in one. Vin Diesel’s mom is Black and his father is Italian. His hair texture is as much a give away as that of Wentworth Miller and the rumored Black man Shia Leboef. Doesn’t Shia look a lot like Sabrina Le Beauf from the Cosby Show?

Darwin’s stufflistMildly booksmart but deadly streetwise, ALWAYS thinking about how to play the angles for more money
My dear, this is any highest level drug dealer to a T. Think Stringer Bell(the Wire). People underestimate how important it is to be slick or cunning if one wants to be successful on the floor. High IQs with little people skills work in the back rooms while the bright but not genius folks, work on the floor making more money and enjoying all the spoils of life.