The 5:24: If They Pay You For It, It’s Not Love

The 5:24: If They Pay You For It, It’s Not Love

For more than thirty-years, Rich Marin dominated Wall Street, producing some of the most creative investments, making billions for his clients and millions for himself. But it all came crashing down around him five years ago, when the hedge funds he oversaw at Bear Stearns imploded. The rest of the financial world followed within the year. Now Rich Marin wants to build the world’s largest ferris wheel in Staten Island, and New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has just given Marin his blessing.

Before the big recession, nobody outside of Wall Street would ever have heard of him if it were not for the publication of a June 28, 2007, story on the front page of The New York Times Business Section. In his personal time, Marin ran a blog called Whim of Iron, an eclectic mix of notes to friends, ruminations on life in banking, travel writing and a listing of his weight-loss efforts. But most of all, it was home to his movie reviews. Cinema had been a driving passion for many years, ever since Mr. Marin spent some time as a high school student in Rome.

The Times reported that on June 17 of 1997, just as Bear Stearns frantically was trying to bail out two hedge funds that were run by two of Mr. Marin’s traders: “Richard Marin, the head of the Bear unit that ran the troubled funds, ‘stole away’ from the ‘crisis-hedge-fund-salvation-workaholic weekend’ to see the new Kevin Costner thriller “Mr. Brooks.” His advice on the film? Take a ‘pass,’ Mr. Marin wrote in a review he posted that day on his blog.” Rich Marin was out of a job two days after the story ran.

While Mr. Marin may have achieved widespread infamy for blogging about movies while the Bear Stearns division he ran collapsed, he remained unapologetic about his love of cinema, so much so that he even relaunched his movie blog last year. Further, the 1997 financial blogging embroilment was not the first time The Times had written about Mr. Marin’s flare for film. Before blogging, there was his screenwriting.

In 1996, Mr. Marin submitted a script to an HBO competition called Subway Stories, a project produced by Rosie Perez. Out of the thousands of submissions, only 10 were selected for production, and Mr. Marin’s was one of them. “It was the most highly reviewed by both The Times and the Daily News,” he said. In a recent interview, Marin didn’t indicate which of the 10 shorts was his, but it is almost certainly The 5:24, which is about a young banker’s reckoning with a wise old man as they ride the Lexington Avenue subway downtown before dawn.

The Times described The 5:24 as “the most successful example” of “eerie psychological confrontation” that suffuses many of Subway Stories’ series of shorts films, a “succinct study of the traps of financial ambition” starring Steve Zahn as the banker and Jerry Stiller as the wise guy. The 5:24 follows the daily conversations between the wary young banker and the seemingly brilliant, older and allegedly retired financial analyst, who claims that working in an office, although extremely lucrative, would take the fun out his predictive talents. When the older man proposes an investment that appears much too good to be true, will the young banker be able to set aside his fears and gamble his life savings on the older man’s lucrative proposal?

Read more about Rich Marin in The New York Observer here.

The 5:24: If They Pay You For It, It’s Not Love

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Dazed and Confused: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

Dazed and Confused: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

New York Times journalist David Carr made the now infamously scorned Twilight star Robert Pattinson squirm in his seat Wednesday night during a TimesTalks interview that was intended to serve as an intellectual conversation about Pattinson’s latest film, Cosmopolis.

About an hour into the discussion, Carr tried to draw an analogy between Pattinson’s romantic woes with Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart and the famously troubled relationship between England’s Prince Charles and Diana, the late Princess of Wales. “So if you and Kristen have trouble it’s like Charles and Di having trouble?” Carr asked.

Carr’s question wasn’t completely out of context: Pattinson, who often seemed to be intellectually in over his head during the conversation, had to ask for questions to be repeated and admitted to losing track of his thoughts, had only moments before attempted to attribute America’s obsession with fame to the country’s desire for a monarchy.

I think it’s because America really wants to have a royal family,” Pattinson said, then going even further saying that America’s Hollywood royalty are just like the real royalty except “meritocratic.” He quickly backtracked on that somewhat slippery point, but it was too late: the analogy had been cast, and Carr appeared more than content to segue into Stewart.

Pattinson seemed unprepared; waiting a while to answer, it sounded as if he was breathing in backwards for a few moments. “Well, uh, Charles,” the star finally said, after looking down while awkwardly fingering his water bottle. Carr soon moved the conversation forward, stating, “I wasn’t really going there, just so you know.” “No, I wouldn’t go that far,” Pattinson answered.

TimesTalks Presents: David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

In David Cronenberg’s new film Cosmopolis, the Twilight series’ monumentally popular Robert Pattinson utterly lacks any sense of onscreen magnetism. Without the armor of his signature role, Mr. Pattinson’s speech is halting, his face blockishly blank and he seems aware that he doesn’t really belong in the kind of art films he’d like to make.

Yet, while Cronenberg’s film, based on the novel by Don DeLillo, does not feature a strong performance by Mr. Pattinson, he ends up being good for the movie. A more naturally gifted actor would not have served the story, which needs at its center someone who emphasizes the very stilted quality of each line and the whole enterprise’s distance from reality.

Mr. Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a man who works with money in a not-fully-defined capacity: he’s worried about the yuan. Mr. Packer’s eventful day makes up the plot of Cosmopolis, as the young man only occasionally departs his giant limousine. Cronenberg’s body-horror impulse is in full effect here, with the capacious limousine growing ever more claustrophobic and Eric ever more vulnerable to violation and attack.

As he is chauffeured across midtown Manhattan to get a haircut at his father’s old barber, his anxious eyes are glued to the yuan’s exchange rate: it is mounting against all expectations, destroying Eric’s bet against it. Eric Packer is losing his empire with every tick of the clock. Meanwhile, an eruption of wild activity unfolds in the city’s streets. Petrified as the threats of the real world infringe upon his cloud of virtual convictions, his paranoia intensifies during the course of his 24-hour cross-town odyssey. Packer starts to piece together clues that lead him to a most terrifying secret: his imminent assassination.

The interior of the car is brilliantly shot in order to convey a sense of the car’s scope without ever showing its full space. The world Packer inhabits is so unsafe that to leave the car even to urinate is a great risk; so, too, is expressing any passion for the woman he brings into the car for sex. Mr. Pattinson doesn’t even remove an article of clothing for the liaison. When he finally gets the haircut he’s been driving vaguely toward all day long, it’s a half-shaved, half-long mess that looks like a Manhattanite’s idea of a Brooklynite and won’t win Pattinson any new fans.

David Cronenberg’s direction throughout Cosmopolis is impeccable, both inside the limo and out. Mr. Cronenberg keeps you rapt, even when the story and actors don’t. Some of this disengagement is certainly intentional. Taken as a commentary on the state of the world in the era of late capitalism, Cosmopolis can seem almost banal. But these banalities, which here are accompanied by glazed eyes, are also to the point: the world is burning, and all that some of us do is look at the flames with exhausted familiarity.

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (Official Trailer)

Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis: Sex in the Limousine

Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis: The Smell of Sex

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Creative Destruction: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

Creative Destruction: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

New York Times journalist David Carr made the now infamously scorned Twilight star Robert Pattinson squirm in his seat Wednesday night during a TimesTalks interview that was intended to serve as an intellectual conversation about Pattinson’s latest film, Cosmopolis.

About an hour into the discussion, Carr tried to draw an analogy between Pattinson’s romantic woes with Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart and the famously troubled relationship between England’s Prince Charles and Diana, the late Princess of Wales. “So if you and Kristen have trouble it’s like Charles and Di having trouble?” Carr asked.

Carr’s question wasn’t completely out of context: Pattinson, who often seemed to be intellectually in over his head during the conversation, had to ask for questions to be repeated and admitted to losing track of his thoughts, had only moments before attempted to attribute America’s obsession with fame to the country’s desire for a monarchy.

I think it’s because America really wants to have a royal family,” Pattinson said, then going even further saying that America’s Hollywood royalty are just like the real royalty except “meritocratic.” He quickly backtracked on that somewhat slippery point, but it was too late: the analogy had been cast, and Carr appeared more than content to segue into Stewart.

Pattinson seemed unprepared; waiting a while to answer, it sounded as if he was breathing in backwards for a few moments. “Well, uh, Charles,” the star finally said, after looking down while awkwardly fingering his water bottle. Carr soon moved the conversation forward, stating, “I wasn’t really going there, just so you know.” “No, I wouldn’t go that far,” Pattinson answered.

Times Talks: David Carr with David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

In David Cronenberg’s new film Cosmopolis, the Twilight series’ monumentally popular Robert Pattinson utterly lacks any sense of onscreen magnetism. Without the armor of his signature role, Mr. Pattinson’s speech is halting, his face blockishly blank and he seems aware that he doesn’t really belong in the kind of art films he’d like to make.

Yet, while Cronenberg’s film, based on the novel by Don DeLillo, does not feature a strong performance by Mr. Pattinson, he ends up being good for the movie. A more naturally gifted actor would not have served the story, which needs at its center someone who emphasizes the very stilted quality of each line and the whole enterprise’s distance from reality.

Mr. Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a man who works with money in a not-fully-defined capacity: he’s worried about the yuan. Mr. Packer’s eventful day makes up the plot of Cosmopolis, as the young man only occasionally departs his giant limousine. Cronenberg’s body-horror impulse is in full effect here, with the capacious limousine growing ever more claustrophobic and Eric ever more vulnerable to violation and attack.

The interior of the car is brilliantly shot in order to convey a sense of the car’s scope without ever showing its full space. The world Packer inhabits is so unsafe that to leave the car even to urinate is a great risk; so, too, is expressing any passion for the woman he brings into the car for sex. Mr. Pattinson doesn’t even remove an article of clothing for the liaison. When he finally gets the haircut he’s been driving vaguely toward all day long, it’s a half-shaved, half-long mess that looks like a Manhattanite’s idea of a Brooklynite and won’t win Pattinson any new fans.

David Cronenberg’s direction throughout Cosmopolis is impeccable, both inside the limo and out. Mr. Cronenberg keeps you rapt, even when the story and actors don’t. Some of this disengagement is certainly intentional. Taken as a commentary on the state of the world in the era of late capitalism, Cosmopolis can seem almost banal. But these banalities, which here are accompanied by glazed eyes, are also to the point: the world is burning, and all that some of us do is look at the flames with exhausted familiarity.

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (Official Trailer)

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Occupy Wall Street: One Hundred Portraits from the Occupation

Occupy Wall Street: One Hundred Portraits from the Occupation

Photography by: Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

One Hundred Portraits from the Occupation is a photo-documentary by New York City street photographer Joseph O. Holmes. It is a beautiful collection of photographs that brilliantly encapsulates the blend of cultures represented by people participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests at New York’s Zuccotti Park.

Holmes describes his work here as an attempt to present his photographs without editorializing, as an effort to capture the portraits in Zuccotti Park with as little political content as possible. The balance for which he seems to strive is one that allows empathy for his subjects to shine through, but without making the portraits in any way his own political statement. His portraits vividly capture the humanity of these people, countering the hostile and dismissive portrayals with which they too often are labeled.

Occupy Wall Street: A Documentary of Humanity and Diversity

Slide Show: One Hundred Portraits from the Occupation

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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AIG Greed Redux: John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

AIG Greed Redux: John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

A national outcry of public outrage has forced the Obama administration to take action on the large bonuses that AIG has given to a group of its executives. The bonuses that AIG has distributed went to the very group of employees whose risky trades brought the company to the brink of collapse. “It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” Obama said at the outset of an appearance to announce help for small businesses hurt by the deep recession. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat,” the president said.

The whole debacle of the greed displayed by AIG, as well as by some large banks that recently received large sums of bailout money from the government, is reminiscent of the simultaneous collapse of both the French trading arm and royal bank in the early 1700s. That collapse has been described as “John Law and the Mississippi Bubble.” John Law was a Scottish economist who believed that money was only a means of exchange that did not constitute wealth in itself and that national wealth depended on trade. During the reign of Louis XIV, John Law set up France’s Banque Générale Privée (“General Private Bank”), which developed the use of paper money. Many have considered Law to be little more than a colorful con man, responsible for the Mississippi Bubble and the chaotic economic collapse in France.

Richard Condie’s 1978 animated short film, John Law and the Mississippi Bubble, offers up a history lesson about that sensational get-rich-quick scheme, which took place in France over 200 years ago. The film won the Best Film Award at the 1980 International Short Film Festival in Tampere, Finland. With economist John Law at the helm, the plan was to open a national French bank and exchange bank notes for gold at wildly inflated share prices to mask the fact that the country’s gold had been depleted in the building of Louis XIV’s palace. In the film, when the inevitable rush to cash in the notes takes place, poor John Law is left broke and broken-hearted.

It was one of the most sensational get-rich-quick schemes heard of in a long time, but it eventually burst over the head of its originator, John Law. This “rags to riches to rags” story, in which the plan was to open a bank and exchange banknotes (paper!) for gold at wildly inflated share prices, ends when John Law, having been cleaned out as a result of a rush to cash in the notes, is left broke and broken-hearted.

John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

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A Photo Haiku: Wall Street Battered, Bailouts Fail and CEOs Get Rich

A Photo Haiku: Wall Street Battered as Industry Bailouts Fail

Wall Street Has Greatest Decline Since the Great Depression

Yesterday, The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal all led with front page stories about yet another horrible day for stocks that sent one clear message: Investors are freaked out. Another grim milestone was reached yesterday as the broad Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index plunged 6.7 percent and reached its lowest level since 1997. The Congressional bailouts have failed miserably.

The S&P 500 is down 52 percent from its high reached a little more than a year ago, which marks the “sharpest decline since the Great Depression,” noted the LAT. The WSJ pointed out that if the index were to finish the year with yesterday’s numbers, it would mark “the worst annual percentage drop in its 80-year history.” And today’s not looking any better!!

While America’s Corporate CEOs Laugh All the Way to the Bank

Now in Japan, the CEOs of failed and bankrupt banks and corporations take shame very seriously. When Japanese CEOs make mistakes, they’re expected to make a big show of tearily flogging themselves in public (figuratively). But what’s going on here in America? American corporate CEOs get to screw up as bad as they want and walk away with millions, with nary a tear nor even a nice tip to the bellhop on the way out the door. They problem is that in this country, CEOs are only too happy to trade the scorn of the public for a pile of money. We can bitch all we want about golden parachutes that can top $100 million for executives who didn’t do shit except lose shareholder money the entire time they were employed, but that CEO will chuckle to himself, have his flack issue a statement, and then go enjoy his millions and millions of free dollars on a private island somewhere, full of untold numbers of prostitutes.

What the F**k: It’s Just a Recession!

We Should Send These Greedy CEOs for Some Frontier Psychatry :

The Avalanches: Frontier Psychiatry

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Wakes: September Was a Bad Month

Wakes: September Was a Bad Month

September was already a dark month for New Yorkers. It started out with observances for the seventh anniversary of 9/11. Then the stock market went and crashed. This documentary short-film focuses on the memorials at the World Trade Center and at Wall Street.

Wakes: September Was a Bad Month

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