Friday, May 7, 2010

FLOORED visits the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange & those who inhabit(ed) it

What with all the sleaze going on of late (yeah, and of early, too), it's nice to get away from Wall Street for a bit, even if the alternative is a visit to the trading floors of the second city.  The new documentary FLOORED, from filmmaker James Allen Smith attempts to penetrate the trading floors and their customs via a little information (not nearly as much as TrustMovies might have wanted, however) and with interviews with a number of the men who are -- or were -- involved in the scene.

Lightning-fast reactions and guts of steel are but two of the qualfications supposedly needed to work on the floor, and yet, as Smith (who is pictured at left) shows us during the course of his 77-minute-but-still-too-long movie, computerized trading has pretty much decimated those floors and the people (almost all male) who worked them.  The most interesting and telling portion of the film, in fact, is an argument between two old friends, one of whom has embraced this computerized mode, while the other refuses to even consider the possibility.

Says one of these interviewees: "The market is a whore who has to fuck as many as possible, as quickly as possible."  Well, OK.  But is this "fuck" a good thing or a bad?  We never really learn the ans-
wer, probably because most of the men have divided loyalties, to put it mildly.  They see the craziness, the nonsense, and also the wealth to be gained.  Given the opportunity, they'd unzip and go at it all over again, and as fast and furiously as possible.

Some of these guys, pictured above and below, are pretty well-
spoken.  They make their points.  One animal hunting trader does seem a little scummy.  With most of them, in fact, you'll eventually feel that a good therapist is definitely needed. (And sure enough, we soon see one at work!)  One fellow seems happy to be inter-
viewed three sheets to the wind, which grows embarrassing fast.

Never boring, exactly, Floored struggles onwards with something interesting or incisive being said now and again but not often enough.  The filmmaker had the opportunity to actually explain to his audience how the stock exchange works.  So rather than just showing us traders doing their bizarre numbers, why didn't he spend a few minutes showing us how they make their trades -- what certain hand signals (or however they communicate) mean, and how shares and the like actually move from one place to another, symbolically, metaphorically, however.

He doesn't do this, and we leave the movie pretty much as ignorant as we came in -- except for meeting a few marginally weird and interesting fellows over a period of a couple of years.  This time lapse allows us to see the guys in the heat of battle and later when the war seems pretty much over. How they handle unemployment, and/or the shift from floor trading to computer trades provides the meat of the movie, such as it is.

Floored opens today, Friday, May 7, in New York City at the Quad Cinema.  Further and past play-dates can be found here, along with the various other ways you can see the movie: in pieces via Babelgum (online and through mobile devices) and with VOD and DVD.  Your move.

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