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The Greeding of America

Boiler Room's first-time director follows the money.

Is Boiler Room derivative? Yeah, a little bit. The guys we meet here are the Sons of Gecko and, with a few more years of disappointments on them, they would feel right at home in David Mamet's tattered real estate office. Is the movie already dated? Oddly, it is. The SEC says it's redoubling its efforts to shut down sleazy brokerages, but online stock trading -- every investor his or her own broker -- has probably taken a bigger bite out of such operations. Not only that, even old Uncle Herb in Des Moines has learned the ropes -- after four or five years of playing the markets, he can compute a price-to-earnings ratio and properly read a prospectus.

Despite its faults, however, Boiler Room deserves a careful viewing. As the expression of a certain moment in American social history -- drenched in envy, devoid of moral stricture, driven by youthful arrogance -- this pitch-perfect, richly detailed portrait of raw greed works very well.

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