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Crime, Drama, Biography, History
IMDB rating:
Barry Levinson


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Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff
Mark La Mura as Ike Sorkin (as Mark LaMura)
David Lipman as Martin Flumenbaum
Clem Cheung as Judge Denny Chin
Amanda Mason Warren as SEC Investigator
Sophie von Haselberg as Nicole De Bello
Portland Helmich as Reporter
Nathan Darrow as Andrew Madoff
Geoffrey Cantor as Ostrow
Michael Kostroff as Peter Madoff
Kathrine Narducci as Eleanor Squillari
Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff
Kelly AuCoin as Agent Ted Cacioppi
Hank Azaria as Frank Dipascali
Lily Rabe as Catherine Hooper
Alessandro Nivola as Mark Madoff
Kristen Connolly as Stephanie Madoff
Steve Coulter as Martin London
Michael A. Goorjian as Dan Horwitz
The Wizard of Lies Storyline: A chronicle of 's Ponzi scheme, which defrauded his clients of billions of dollars.
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Better cast but less detail than the earlier TV movie
You may ask why so many TV treatments of the Madoff affair. But the story is so colossal a tragedy that it is fascinating to watch even though you know all the events. Compared to the Richard Dreyfuss Blythe Danner version of events, this is more stylishly directed more serious in tone. The casting is better too. But there is a bit less detail because it's shorter. There isn't much about how he built up the Ponzi scheme it's more about the downfall and the tragic effect on his sons. It is quite sympathetic to his sons portraying them like victims although some of Bernie's victims might not think they were totally innocent. It isn't sympathetic to Bernie but he does give an excuse about the extent of their losses saying he warned people not to give him not more than half to invest. So why people lost everything was due to their own greed.

Robert De Niro looks so much like Madoff there were some scenes I couldn't tell which was footage and which was acting. Michelle Pfeiffer is of course too pretty for Ruth but she acts well and gets that pinched half anorexic Upper East Side look.
Poverty of Spirit
You always have the poor it has been said but it escapes many that this saying doesn't include the poor in spirit as well. We are introduced to a man who lied, cheated & stole proving the point that it works. That's not the problem. Its when you get caught that it all doesn't make sense. Why? Because the light of reality is shined on it. The Truth visits with it and it cannot escape the test of righteousness. Haven't you seen what all rich people do? Its all the same thing! Five star meals, exotic and elegant homes, cars & chauffeurs, parties galore, the best seats, spots and places, every jewel, diamond and ruby with gold trimmings, every whim & want satisfied and of course the biggest prize of all is saved for the end i.e. the common denominator they all share. A false life and identity. They do not know why they are here, what is required or where they are going. The conscience is dulled and everyone looks and acts alike too. If one applies reason, logic or even self-explanation as to why one should have extremely more than what they need, you also have to examine why we die and live for such a short period of time. The Pharoahs tried to take it with them with explanations of an after-life that required riches from here to live there? Today, the story is trust accounts, leaving it to my children and their children and because I can and its there for the taking. Tell me how one million or one billion dollars gives life? Virtue? Character? Inner value? Bernie Madoff represents the grouping and he was surrounded by his like kind that's why it all works. The blind leading the blind but where? Most excellent warning to anyone who is hoarding, coming into their portion through willfulness, underhandedness or ill-gotten gain avenues. The only good explanation for excess is to be rid of it in such a way that someone receives a helping hand until they too can take a stand. One more thing...Every drug dealer, or anyone who breaks the laws of society and conscience does the same old thing. They want to be perceived as normal thus they live the life money can buy but their insides remain the same. Watch this movie and be glad for what you have or can have correctly and for the right reasons. The hell with everything else (literally)
Madoff With Huge RATINGS....
I managed to see this latest in original films from HBO the other night, which I see garnered the highest ratings for the premium cable network in 4 years!?? If you recall, there was a TV mini-series on ABC a year or 2 ago with Richard Dreyfuss as Bernie Madoff, and my sister asked me the other night how this one compared, and I told her, well, it's HBO, so a lot more use of the word "f**K"! LOL

Screen legend, Robert De Niro re-teams w/ Oscar-winning filmmaker, Barry Levinson after "What Just Happened", "Wag the Dog" and "Sleepers". Levinson did a good job a few years ago directing Pacino as Kevorkian in the HBO original movie, "You Don't Know Jack". While I didn't like this movie as well as that one, I did enjoy this.

Get ready though, this movie jumps all over the place, but mainly rotates between the stock market crash of 2008, and when Bernie finally was sent to prison in 2009. It's been awhile, so I'm not quite sure I remember, but I "think" the ABC movie mostly had a straight-up linear story-telling approach. Correct me on that if I'm wrong, someone who saw it. LOL

I got a kick out of watching De Niro as Madoff; I mean he's still De Niro! -- sometimes I felt like I was watching the "Goodfellas" or "Raging Bull" version of the whole thing -- like the scene where he complains to the waiter about how his lobster was handled!?? LMAO And kudos to Michelle Pfeiffer, who did a good job playing his wife, and Hank Azaria, who I guess played his real "partner in crime".
Great acting from de niro....
I am not going to talk about the movie itself. I found it a little complicated specially if you don't know the whole background story of bernie madoff. But as a de niro fan, his acting made me emotional to the point that i shed some tears. (i am 40 years old) It was very refreshing and relieving to see him back at top of his game. The man was amazing and i know now for certain that he will also shine in The Irishman. Mr deniro if you read this, i love you man and the golden globes for best actor is definitely yours.
Super Disappointed
I am fascinated by the Madoff story and couldn't wait to see the movie based on DeNiro and Pfeiffer being cast in the staring roles. This movie was so bad that I started painting my nails within the first 20 minutes. This is one of those films that you keep on watching HOPING that it will get better. It didn't. The casting was all wrong and the movie lacked an identity. Flashbacks/Old Lifetime movie/Documentary with a strange drug trip thrown into the mix - the script never made up it's mind about how it was presenting the information. The language, drug trip, and P conversation was completely unnecessary. It's as though the writer was trying to copy Wolf of Wall Street (which was horrible too). HBO needs to get back to quality. DeNiro will win an Emmy because he is DeNiro but he didn't fit the part at all. There were two scenes that reminded me exactly of his performance in Casino. He brought nothing new to the party. It feels like he took this part for the check.
As always, Robert De Niro is in top shape by playing manipulator and thief extraordinaire Bernard Madoff. He is ably assisted by Michelle Pfeiffer who turns in the best performance of her career by playing his totally dependent wife. With her nasal intonation, which by the way was shared by many of the women in the film, Pfeiffer showed a vulnerability that we really have never seen in her.

The film really takes off once Madoff is behind bars and we see the ultimate destruction of the family and how they eventually alienate themselves from him.

The part where the Madoffs contemplated a double suicide was inane. Hank Azaria is quite effective as common but fast-talking guy in the office who is Bermie's accomplice.
Mediocre Lost Opportunity - Ridiculous Casting of Non Jews in Jewish Roles - Worst Michelle Pfeiffer
Totally boring mediocre story that should have been compelling. The juxtaposition takes all the meat out of the story. Amateur dreck. The editing is jumpy, the scenes too short to have any impact. The casting absurd. The voice-over minimizes the drama rather than furthering it. I know nothing more about the true story after watching this than I did from the media accounts. The character development is totally absent.
De Niro's performance is reason enough to watch.
The Wizard of Lies chronicles the infamous Wall Street meltdown that was Madoff's Billion Dollar Ponzi scheme in Barry Levinson's woefully flawed but still engaging film. Starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pffeifer, The Wizard of Lies features a strong cast of seasoned actors that give their best on screen. De Niro particularly is very strong here and gives his best performance in close to a decade. However, the film suffers from a broken and jumbled script that leaves for a somewhat confusing watch.

The film begins with an interview between Madoff and the subsequent author of his unofficial biography. He begins telling the story at the end of the meltdown on the eve of his arrest and starts from there. From here on out, we're told the story in chunks and pieces, from one perspective to another and totally abandons all formality regarding coherent storytelling. Instead, Levinson creates a deeply personal character study that paints Madoff as a sociopath and a white collar criminal mastermind who would rather blame the victim than himself. While it is engrossing to see De Niro as Madoff, it is barely enough to sustain its bloated runtime.

The film is engrossing to watch. There's no denying it but as the minutes ticked by, it all started to feel redundant. It was more so just dragging the entire Madoff family through hell for the remaining hour of the film and it becomes exhausting after awhile. In a way it was very much a Greek tragedy of epic proportions that just didn't seem to end and by the time it decided it wanted to, you were already checked out 10 minutes prior. Despite this, the ending is satisfying for those wanting to see karma at its best or a tragedy at its worst, whatever way you want to look at it.

Overall, The Wizard of Lies is a missed opportunity more so than not. While it is great to see De Niro and Pfeiffer in top forms, it would have been nice to get a more coherent script from a story that literally writes itself. While anyone expecting a film in the vein of The Big Short will be let down by this, The Wizard of Lies benefits from being a deep character study that shines a (small) light of one of the most tragic mysteries of the 2008 financial crisis.
Not what you think (probably)
After reading a couple of negative reviews about this movie, I get the impression that the people who found it insufficient or boring completely lost the point. Levinson didn't try to pull a "Fincher" with this one. In other words, "Wizard of Lies" is not a documentary, touching on each and every aspect of this infamous case in every detail. This is more of a psychogram (i.e. character portrayal) of the members of the Madoff family. With that in mind, the movie touches wonderfully on the dynamics of an ultimately patriarchal family; the "castration" of the sons, the absolute dependence of every member of the family on the father, and on what happens when this father goes down in a big, BIG way. If you are interested in learning about the greatest financial fraud in the history of the USA (some say of all time), then visit the Wikipedia page or watch a documentary. This movie will not cover your needs. If you want to watch a beautifully directed, acted and edited psychological drama, then "The Wizard of Lies" is right up your alley.
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