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Yesterday I saw Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. The acting must have been pretty good because the movie had about 79 serious problems in the “vaguest modicum of plausibility” department that nevertheless somehow did not totally ruin my viewing experience, probably because they chose to preview this thing immediately prior to the screening. There are entirely too many idiotic things about the movie to bother listing, but here is the most preposterous thing I noticed.
Shia LaBeouf works on Wall Street, in some sort of ill-defined banker-slash-trader-slash-surrogate-son capacity, but despite what you’ve heard he is not a total asshole: he has a redeeming quality, and you know it because he consistently talks on a split screen to this goggles-wearing guy in a plant somewhere who is going to save the land by devising a way to generate energy from sea water, which as you know we will all have a lot more of once the ice caps melt.
But his co-workers, being the typical band of myopic bonus-obsessed philistines that actually get jobs on Wall Street, want to take the easy way out and speculate on the shares of some more comfortably rapacious outfit that claims to have discovered reserves in Equatorial Guinea. LaBeouf plows ahead anyway, though, finally soliciting the funds for his hippie treehugger scheme from some wizened Chinese sovereign wealth fund manager, at which point the villain based on JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon (who is it pains me to say actually much better-looking than Josh Brolin, but that’s neither here nor there) actually pays enough attention to Shia’s saltwater scheme to realize he must deliberately sabotage its future, precisely because he knows it might just work.
But long before Brolin destroys Shia LaBeouf’s idealistic plan, it comes under the relentless mockery of a bald guy who can barely get out his lines. It’s one of his first supervisors at a firm (very, VERY) loosely modeled on Bear Stearns, and he’s played by a guy named Thomas Belesis, whom I had the privilege of meeting earlier this year when the firm he founded, a sort of upscale boiler room type outfit called “John Thomas Financial”, hosted a “Wall Street pride” rally that was pretty much the most surreal gathering of total retards I have ever witnessed.
It soon emerged that Belesis was more than just a bit character in the Wall Street sequel; John Thomas Financial was where Shia LaBeouf had embedded himself to learn the ways and lingo of Wall Street! (And to be fair, judging from his performance in the movie, the guys schooled him in a fairly convincing Long Island accent.) And this emerged namely because back in the spring LaBeouf was quoted in GQ touting the stock of a company called InterOil.
InterOil is a company run by some crook with a history in energy scams which claims to have discovered natural gas reserves off the coast of Papua New Guinea. It has no proof of any of this, and in the meantime it funds “operations” by hemorrhaging money and paying guys like Belesis to pump its stock, much to the chagrin of a whole clique of short-sellers and corporate governance advocates. I haven’t paid much attention to InterOil, namely because it doesn’t really begin to approach (or have much to do with) the exponentially larger systemic frauds that gave us the crisis, which Oliver Stone doesn’t really get, probably because for whatever reason he allowed his leading man to be trained by a bunch of Jersey Shore would-bes in four-button blazers. But how weird that, thanks to Belesis, said leading man actually became an active participant in exactly the sort of energy industry con Stone apparently sees as the apotheosis of Wall Street destruction! And how sad that that the bigger frauds that go so underexplored in this movie also continue to go so under-explored by the media for whom it is admittedly a whole lot easier to just write about what movie topped the box office over the weekend, sigh.