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Financial Crash

The Wizard of Lies leaves the viewer feeling bankrupt


PLAYING BERNIE MADOFF in HBO’s The Wizard of Lies, Robert De Niro occupies a space at the center of the movie much like the one his character occupies at the center of his family’s life. De Niro’s Madof is a glum, forbidding presence who demands respect and banishes all light and joy. He is impossible to avoid, but no one who comes into contact with him expects any real pleasure.

De Niro doesn’t give a bad performance, exactly. But there’s no juice to his acting—not even a hint of pleasure in portraying one of America’s most despised criminals as the deadhearted swine he is. De Niro is not entirely at fault. Neither the script, adapted from the book of the same title by journalist Diana Henriques, nor Barry Levinson’s direction gets very far into Madof. Maybe because there’s just not that far to go.

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THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA James Comey talked too much. He talked too much about Hillary Clinton’s emails. And then he talked too much, too late, about the Russians and Team Trump. Both exercises got him fired. President Donald Trump and his most rabid advisers among them self-proclaimed dirty trickster Roger Stone, according to some accounts felt they had an opening to take down Comey. They thought it would be a clean kill, just like their immigration executive orders. Again, they were wrong.