Today I saw Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and I finished reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom.
Wall Street was entertaining, occasionally messy and slapped-together, but also electric and eccentric. Stone does certain very minor but nonetheless interesting formal things that take you by surprise, like augmenting simple passage-of-time transitions with jarring inserts of subways cars rushing by, up close, as if you're about to fall under them and die (as one character does, early on). Michael Douglas, Josh Brolin, Shia LaBeouf, and Frank Langella all do pretty well for themselves -- especially Douglas in his "Oscar clip" scene on the Met steps. Eli Wallach, too -- not the only Sergio Leone connection in the movie. There's a weird third act reversal that doesn't entirely work, and some of the soundtrack choices are agreeably strange... yeah, so. It was good. I recognized scenes shot one day when I was walking home from work last year, on the real Wall Street -- just west of William Street. The whole crew was blocking my building. I snapped a phone picture and just found it still in my iPhoto:
Freedom is, as so many reviewers have said more eloquently than I can now as I'm about to fall asleep, a masterpiece, a work of genius, a great novel... whatever phrase you prefer to use... it's the sort of big and comprehensive social novel that Tom Wolfe is always trying to write, except a thousand times better and made infinitely more durable by the addition of what feel like the most psychologically realized characters you could ever hope for. I can't think of any novel that's better captured the excruciating vicissitudes of sexual/romantic desire: wanting somebody very badly, then not wanting them as soon as you get them, then wanting them again even more as soon as they're gone, and so on forever, and always weighing what has to be sacrificed or what opportunities have been missed. It's such a pleasure to read a novel that you feel like you're actually living in, however briefly. Except for going to the movies, reading it was basically the only thing I did today. Some reviewer or other said that it was a good example of David Foster Wallace's observation that the best fiction serves to make readers a little "less lonely." Yes -- that.