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Money Monster–A Wall Street Trick-or-Treat

In this 2016 sleeper directed by Jodie Foster, we see cocksure television financial guru Lee Gates (George Clooney), a television huckster hosting “Money Monster”, (similar to  “Mad Money with Jim Cramer”.) Gates specializes in helping the small-time investor by recommending stocks that are a sure winner, “better than your savings account”.  Evangelizing stocks for the amateur  looking into the action from outside,   Gates recommends Ibis Clear Capital, which inexplicably craters, losing an astronomical $800 million in one day’s trading. 

A distraught young investor, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), who has lost his mother’s entire inheritance with the Ibis stock tip,  takes the TV star hostage.  The broadcast becomes spellbinding.   “Money Monster” producer, Patty Fenn (Julie Roberts), earplugs and mic at the ready, tries to de-escalate both Gates and Budwell from inside the studio control room. And since Ibis’s CEO, Walt Camby (Dominic West from “The Wire” and “A Family Affair”) has mysteriously disappeared– incognito– on a business trip to Switzerland, the company’s public relations exec, Diane Lester (played by Caitriona Balfe of “Outlander) is tasked with negotiating to save Gates’s life.

Money Monster is another thriller in the genre of  “The Big Short”, “Margin Call”, “99 Homes”, and “Arbitrage”.  Not quite as tightly woven, but with the star-quality performances one has come to expect from George Clooney and his muse, Julia Roberts, we get a dramatic and easily watchable film.  It is a further expose of widespread financial corruption, collusion with the institutions which are supposed to insist upon compliance with the law.  Most of all, Money Monster is  a portrait of an entrepreneur’s sense of impunity and confidence that the legal and financial systems will comply with his greed, not indict him.  

Availability:  Netflix DVD

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