luni, 22 mai 2017

The Wizard of Lies, with Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer

The Wizard of Lies, with Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer

A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:

The Wizard of Lies had its premiere last night, on HBO.
The local debut.

And it is a very recent film: 2017.
It is also based on facts that took place only a few years ago.

Bernie Madoff took advantage of the reputation he had enjoyed and pocketed billions.
The American Justice system is admirable in many ways.

One aspect that we admire and alas we don't have here is the sentencing procedure.
They add the years for the counts on which the defendant was found guilty.

Here they just look at the longest term for the various crimes and the convicted felon gets away with a much lighter burden than is normal.
From the first scenes of the film it is clear that the protagonist is guilty.

Robert de Niro has the role of the creator of an unbelievable Ponzi scheme.
And I say finally, there is a part that is worthier of the actor who gave as

-          Raging Bull, Mean Streets, Godfather II, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino, King of Comedy and so many more masterpieces.

As Bernie Madoff prepares to turn himself in, he wants to have a talk with his family.
And they are flabbergasted to hear what he has done.

Especially his two sons.
Indeed, one of them would take a dramatic measure.

-          What could you do this to us?!

This is one leitmotif and it will be repeated a few times.
Madoff assures them that there would be a few million left for the family, even after damage control.

This is nevertheless a bitter separation.
The Sons would never make peace with the father again.

When he is able to get out of detention on bail, provided he has four signatures, the sons refuse to sign.
And both they and their mother are confronted by aggressive media, angry investors and others who suspect the family was all the way in and aware of what was going on.

But they did not know.
Bernie Madoff had been so celebrated and acclaimed as the head of various financial institutions that people pressed him to take their money.

Not always.
When the pyramid scheme reached its limits and the Wizard of Lies had to make payments, he had to cajole, threaten investors and would be "clients" to find new money.

But even then, near the end, there is one individual who comes to Madoff:

-          I want you to take my money
-          Impossible
-          50 million?
-          No!
-          70?
-          It means I have to refuse somebody else
-          100...
-          I can't take somebody who was loyal out
-          150
-          ...
-          Tell me how much
-          Well, 400 might do it
-          Ok
-          We have a deal

In other words, there is also the greed of those who wanted their fortune multiplied.

In another scene which was relevant to the profile of at least one man who helped Madoff deceive so many, this other criminal talks about women in a sexist, demeaning way

-          That one is like a Honda
-          The other is like a Buick
-          But this is the Mercedes Benz

-          Wonderful, albeit you will never have one

-          You have to spend, polish it, talk to it...

-          And you are also scared that it might get stolen

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