Hollywood’s Top Ten Movies about Corporate Greed — II
5. Blood Diamond (2006)
Director Edward Zwick’s top-notch adventure takes its title from jewels sold to fund murder and mayhem in conflict zones. It opens our eyes to the corporate malfeasance, bloody brutality of civil war and the training of child soldiers. Di Caprio plays a tough diamond smuggler drawn against his will into Djimon Hounsou’s search for his son, who has been kidnapped by Sierra Leonean rebels. But what Leo really wants is the massive diamond that Hounsou has hidden in the jungle. This gripping tale of corporate exploitation is a part social-issue film about the trade of conflict diamonds and part a sentimental father-son melodrama. It’s also a typical old-fashioned Hollywood adventure, in which message, action and art gels perfectly. “Blood Diamond” might make you think about those lost African souls, when you see a posh jewelry shop showcasing diamonds.
4. Michael Clayton (2007)
Director Tony Gilroy’s tense corporate thriller simultaneously plugs us in the gut and in the cranium because it never sacrifices the thrust of the narrative to its moral posturing. It isn’t convenient thriller. You need to invest your patience and the return doesn’t cop out with a cheap twist. Clooney stars as Michael Clayton, a New York City lawyer, who works a ‘fixer’ in big-bucks law firm. He has all the inside corporate knowledge, to fix a problem of any kind (legal or otherwise). Gilroy ratchets up the tension in an unnoticeable manner. Even though the movie exposes the greed of a chemical company and its pitiless lawyers, it is also about the Michael’s story of redemption. Watch “Michael Clayton” more than once, since each viewing might bring something fresh and insightful, not the least being the discerning performance by Clooney.
3. Wall Street (1987)
Director Oliver Stone’s morality tale is an eye-opening behind-the-scenes glimpse at an almost alien landscape of a very competitive marketplace. It gives us a whirlwind tour of Manhattan wealthy geeks. The story revolves around Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), a young, ambitious stock broker and his mentor and multimillionaire corporate pillager, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Stone, a radical American director shows an uncanny knack for exploring the much-publicized inside trading scandals of the mid-1980s. Even now, it’s not just a film; it’s a philosophy that will help us to do some deep thinking about ethics, white collar crime, corporate culture, and the moral bankruptcy behind today’s money society. ‘Greed is good… greed works,’ Gekko chants famously in “Wall Street”, and it was meant to be a shocking pronouncement at that time. In the globalization era, that’s the attitude which has become a mandatory.
2. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Director’s James Foley’s acidic world-view is a sharp look at the surreal world of real estate sales. It’s a soulful drama about how the human spirit is violated in the work arena. If you love sharp dialogues and a stinging social rebuke, then you can’t miss ‘Glengarry’ in your life. The movie tells the story of four salesmen working in a New York City real estate office: Hot-shot Roma; Old-timer Shelley Levine; tough-talker Dave Moss and nervous George Aranow. They all face a crisis, when Blake, a suited-corporate guy announces that two of the four salesmen are about to get pink slips. The cast includes Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin — actors, whom have accumulated an astonishing 25 Oscar nominations and five victories. Each words spoken in this film takes flight with the speed and impact of bullets. “Glengarry Glen Ross” is a unique motion picture and has lost none of its power or relevance in this avarice world.
1. The Insider (1999)
Director Michael Mann’s fascinating Whistle-blower (based on a true story) is a sobering examination of corruption, courage, cowardice, and the catastrophic costs of telling the truth. Lowell Bergman (Pacino) is a CBS reporter, who pursues the ex-head research biologist of a tobacco company, Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe) to spill what he’s found out about their knowledge of the addictive nature of tobacco. Wigand’s life is ruined by death threats and he loses his family, but is determined to tell the truth. Will the truth ever get out? The movie poses us a difficult moral question — how much private contentment should a person be expected to sacrifice in the service of a greater good? Everyone who has daily ethical concerns with their job can appreciate the fairness with which the film handles both sides of the debate. After watching the movie it’s hard for us — smoker and nonsmoker alike — to walk away without a deeply felt sympathy for its hero, Jeffrey Wigand. “The Insider” is the best film, because it’s not just about corporate greed. It’s a story, where truth triumphs in the end.
Notable Omissions: “Erin Brokovich”, “Resident Evil – I”, “The Informant”, “The Whistle-blower”, “Promised Land”, “The East”