In The Bonfire of the Vanities, an upper-middle-class white Wall Street investment banker who thinks he is on top of the world discovers that his fragile world is in imminent danger of destruction from within. At age thirty-eight, Sherman McCoy is near the peak of his career. He is married and has one young daughter whom he loves but rarely sees because of his hectic double life. In addition to being absorbed in business, he maintains an adulterous relationship with a sexy blonde who is having fun while waiting for her elderly multimillionaire husband to die.
Crisis! A Film Series
Using classic and contemporary films and expert commentators, Crisis! engages the community in a discussion about the global economic crisis. Each screening begins with a panel discussion which includes experts from Buffalo State’s faculty and the community. Bonfire of the Vanities begins with a panel including Dr. Albert Michaels, Professor, History and Social Studies, Ted P. Schmidt, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Finance, Bruce Fisher, Visiting Professor + Director all of SUNY Buffalo State and Geoff Kelly, editor of Artvoice.
Bonfire of the Vanities
In the 1980s, the obscure business of the bond trader suddenly became a new center of economic, political and cultural power. Yuppie financiers fancied themselves “masters of the universe” as their pay, privileges and partying reached heights not seen since the 1920s. Yet right up the street from this new zone of excess risk and empowered irresponsibility, persistent poverty shaped the lives of millions. Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman star in this Hollywood version of Tom Wolfe’s piercing social satire of the excesses of Wall Street’s new era. Or at least its early days. 2 hr. 6 min.
Thus, THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES ultimately fails as coherent satire, and, in so failing, it fails as a film. Though funny in spots, if the movie indeed wanted to make a statement about decency, perhaps it should have started with the more than 100 instances of obscenity and profanity that profusely litter the dialogue.
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