Monday, December 19, 2005

Little Shop of Horrors: Boiler Room

For every honest stock broker who works 15 hour days to boost his clients' portfolios and inflate his own commissions, there are those who toil in chop shops, where the workload is equal but clients less fortunate.

On Sunday, we gave 2000's Boiler Room another watch.

"Did you ever see Glengarry Glen Ross?" asks Greg of his broker trainee Seth.

Not only is it soon obvious that Seth and every other hotshot in Boiler Room have seen Mamet's vignette of a saleman's straits, but they've got Oliver Stone's Wall Street committed to memory, too.

This isn't a movie about high pressure sales -- it's a collage and tribute to the 2 greatest business films of all time, a veritable tale about the Darwinian hustles of the securities industry.

Boiler Room condemns avarice as much as it embraces it - the junior brokers of JT Marlin - the brokerage house at the center of this film - emulate Gordon Gekko, the satanic arbitrageur whose grandiosity characterized our Reaganomicized 80s.

The Wall Street Boiler Room shows us is a hypercompetitve ecosystem in which ambitious young men ride the wave of fall and redemption until they crash for good.

Unadulterated capitalism can be quite seductive.

In its close attention to the hard-sell ethos of mendacity, illicit transactions, and bloated compensation, Boiler Room uncovers those characteristics of Wall Street that most of its practitioners would rather see swept under the rug.

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