29 September 2017

Review & Giveaway: The Wizard of Lies (HBO Movie & Book)

On December 11, 2008, at the end of an already disastrous financial year, investment icon Bernie Madoff was arrested for fraud and for what would turn out to be the largest Ponzi scheme ever exposed. Not only did Madoff bilk his savvy investors but he also bankrupted his family, charities, companies, and thousands of people's retirement funds and legacies.

In 2011, financial journalist Diana B. Henriques published her well-received book The Wizard of Lies, which tells Madoff's story and how his crimes undermined the country's trust in our financial system and devastated the lives of his victims. Henriques, an experienced investigator, combined research with interviews to uncover not only Madoff the master criminal but also Madoff the man.

What emerges is a mixed picture of a convicted criminal who appears to have little to no remorse.

The 2017 HBO original movie The Wizard of Lies (directed by Barry Levinson) is based on Henriques's book and stars Rovert De Niro as Bernie Madoff and Michelle Pfeiffer as his wife, Ruth. The Madoffs' sons, Andrew and Mark, were played by Nathan Darrow and Alessandro Nivola, respectively. I was able to watch the Blu-Ray edition of the movie thanks to HBO's publicists.

I have two primary takeaways from the film production. First, the acting is outstanding. De Niro and Pfeiffer are riveting; they are believable, look comfortable in their parts, and have a great chemistry. Darrow and Nivola add a layer of emotion--anger, sadness, disbelief--to the movie, drawing viewers in.

Second, I was left with a disturbing and creepy feeling of seeing Madoff in two lights. He is absolutely a horrible man who seemed not to care about the people he scammed. What's more, he made no effort to clear the names of his sons, wife, and brother, and as far as I could tell, he made no sincere apologies to his clients and friends.

The Wizard of Lies also shows the charming side of Bernie Madoff, which I'm sure he used to dupe so many people out of so many billions of dollars. When I saw what happened to his children and his wife, I started to feel sorry for him. Very tricky how De Niro's acting and the work of screenwriters Sam Levinson, John Burnham Schwartz, and Samuel Baum were able to create a thin veil of sympathy before I remembered how many lives were destroyed by the Ponzi scheme, and I got a hold of my senses.

Note that The Wizard of Lies is not about the investment world, it's about Bernie Madoff and focuses primarily on his arrest, his family, and the aftermath of the scandal. Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro are a joy to watch as their lives and future unspool before their eyes.

The Blu-Ray / DVD edition of The Wizard of Lies will be released on October 3 and includes a key for watching via digital download. Take a look at the trailer:

The Giveaway Thanks to the nice HBO publicists I'm able to offer one of my readers a copy of the Blu-Ray/Digital HD edition of HBO's The Wizard of Lies and a copy of Diana B. Henriques's book (movie tie-in edition). All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to have a USA mailing address and to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via a random number generator on October 12. Once the winner has been confirmed and his or her address is passed along to the publicist, who will mail out the disk and book, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck.


bermudaonion 9/29/17, 8:44 AM  

That looks excellent. Thanks for the giveaway!

Karen B 9/29/17, 9:27 AM  

The two faces of evil. Creepy and disgusting. Still, I want to read and watch!

Karen White 9/29/17, 9:54 AM  

For a great book on how the Madoff story played out, I highly recommend Too Good To Be True by Erin Arvedlund. It was a real eye opener to me! http://amzn.to/2fDh1BW

(Diane) bookchickdi 9/29/17, 2:24 PM  

I can't believe I haven't seen this movie yet.

Vicki 9/29/17, 3:33 PM  

Sounds fantastic! Thanks for the giveaway!

Carl Scott 9/29/17, 6:57 PM  

DeNiro's been a favorite for a long time. I look forward to his performance in this film. Thanks.

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