Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 3, 2014

Con men movies–the audience is also conned

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 6:29 pm

Counterpunch Weekend Edition January 3-5, 2014
When Scorsese Imitates Scorsese

The Confidence Men

by LOUIS PROYECT

In addition to sharing the inside track for a fistful of Oscars in January, both David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” feature confidence men as antiheroes. They also are based on actual historical events, with the late 70s Abscam sting of American politicians featured in Russell’s film, and the rise and fall of penny stock swindler Jordan Belfort in the late 80s dramatized by Scorsese. Although both Abscam and the Belfort tale are ripe for social commentary, the primary goal of these two “prestige” directors is to make entertaining films that dance around the social problems they should address. Finally, both films are imitations of Martin Scorsese, a director who has seen better days. “American Hustle” borrows liberally from the tricks of the Scorsese trade and so does Scorsese himself, who in his 25th film since 1972 ends up plagiarizing “Goodfellas”.

read full: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/03/the-confidence-men/

7 Comments »

  1. Louis (hi CP),

    Good review Lou. My father was a Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney broker in the 50s – 70s, and I learned a little bit about all that. Back then the brokers estimated that the bankers were the worst crooks (right, weren’t they?).

    Nice touch the letter you quoted at the end of your article; that lady put it quite well.

    On your larger point: “the audience is also conned,” I would have to say that for most of them the audience wants to be conned. I’m afraid the fascination with plunderers, and the fantasy of imagining oneself luckily becoming one of them, is an irradicable and terminal mental virus of our species.

    Your earlier article on Melville’s “The Confidence Man” has spurred me to consider reading that book (I already have a pile of books awaiting me).

    Most importantly: Happy New Year! I wish you interesting thoughts, stimulating work, good health, and enjoyable company.

    Manuel

    Manuel Garcia, Jr. http://manuelgarciajr.com

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — January 4, 2014 @ 1:02 am

  2. With correct spelling. (I HATE the fucking automatic shit on these asinine computers!!!)

    Manuel Garcia, Jr. http://manuelgarciajr.com

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — January 4, 2014 @ 1:03 am

  3. Good review Lou. My father was a Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney broker in the 50s – 70s, and I learned a little bit about all that. Back then the brokers estimated that the bankers were the worst crooks (right, weren’t they?).

    Nice touch the letter you quoted at the end of your article; that lady put it quite well.

    On your larger point: “the audience is also conned,” I would have to say that for most of them the audience wants to be conned. I’m afraid the fascination with plunderers, and the fantasy of imagining oneself luckily becoming one of them, is an ineradicable and terminal mental virus of our species.

    Your earlier article on Melville’s “The Confidence Man” has spurred me to consider reading that book (I already have a pile of books awaiting me).

    Most importantly: Happy New Year! I wish you interesting thoughts, stimulating work, good health, and enjoyable company.

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — January 4, 2014 @ 1:05 am

  4. “It goes along with an almost religious dedication to showing how people dressed and what furniture they owned. This faithfulness to period detail smacks of AMC-TV’s “Mad Men” and most Scorsese films.”

    A minor point, but I think that this has always been overrated. I remember watching Imamura’s “Vengence is Mine”, and there is a scene towards the end where the police are chasing the serial killer in a late 1970s European style minivan. The only problem was that the film was set in the early 1960s. Of course, I doubt that the audience noticed, and it may well have been a joke by Imamura.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 7, 2014 @ 1:24 am

  5. Scorsese basically makes snuff films. The guy loves violence, he dotes on it and the people who dispense it. All in the name of “realism”, of course.

    Comment by jeff — January 7, 2014 @ 6:57 am

  6. Scorsese plagiarized… himself? Are you saying that Scorsese literally uses the same lines and same plot points, or just that Scorsese is revisiting the same style and subject matter as he did in “Goodfellas”? You know these are different things, right?

    Comment by Joshua — January 10, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

  7. It was not plagiarism in the strict sense. It was what happens a lot in academia when a professor keeps submitting the same basic article to multiple journals. In academia this is considered a form of plagiarism.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 10, 2014 @ 6:05 pm


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