Gilbert Speaks on HBO’s “The Wizard of Lies”

22 May


At a time, when our very own president is acting very much like a Con Man amidst rumors of deal making with the Russians and rich corporations while turning a deaf ear to the very people he promised to protect, it was all the more important for me to watch HBO’s cautionary tale about the King of Con, Bernie Madoff. What kind of man willingly bilks thousands of people out of their life savings with his Ponzi scheme? Did Robert DeNiro accurately portray Madoff? Hold on to your life savings and meet me after the jump.

The Con Man

Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison. I personally feel that he should have gotten the gas chamber, but then, so should the other people responsible for the 2008 Wall Street crash that this country is still reeling from. Bernie Madoff offered investors stock with low risks and high returns. It was in reality a Ponzi scheme named after Charles Ponzi, another con artist from the 1920’s. Bernie was the former Chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange before starting his own investment advisory firm.


Madoff victims included charitable organizations, large banks and even pension funds. Surprisingly, even foreign banks found themselves prey to his scheme. He took the life savings of both the rich and poor, then left them penniless. Think about this. Madoff lost $50 billion dollars. How the hell do you lose $50 billion dollars? Madoff founded the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities in 1960 and was the chairman until his arrest in 2008. Here is the list of Madoff’s victims.


It was a family business, but his wife and sons deny knowing that Bernie was fleecing his investors. The fact that this crook was able to pull this massive scheme off without anyone, (SEC or F.B.I.) doing a proper investigation, boggles the mind. Only a small fraction of Madoff’s victims have gotten all their money back. Bernie Madoff was a Con Man and a crook, and the scary thing is that it can happen again, especially with Trump aiming to dismantle the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform. With the Dodd-Frank Reform gone, we are facing another financial meltdown because there is always another Madoff waiting in the shadows…another wolf at the door….

The Wizard of Lies

Was Bernie Madoff a sociopath? We’ll decide at the end of this post. HBO’s “The Wizard of Lies” was the first attempt at Hollywood attempting to understand this crook. ABC had a miniseries on in 2016 with Richard Dreyfuss in the part of Madoff. But, I think that Robert DeNiro played this devil better.


The movie, which is directed by Barry Levinson, is based on the book by Diana B. Henriques, a New York Times reporter, who was eventually able to get an interview after months of trying. Henriques, who plays herself in the film, was able to peel back the layers of bullshit this man had everyone believing until we are left with the monster hidden inside. Is it possible that his family was this clueless to Madoff’s wheeling and dealing? Michelle Pfeiffer plays Ruth as a clueless woman, happy in her life of luxury, never questioning where the money comes from, until the shit hits the fan and she is no longer welcomed into the gilded society of which she was a queen.


Robert DeNiro was able to portray Madoff with all the swagger, class and entitlement you’d expect a wealthy man to own. Madoff was a control freak and DeNiro reveals this with his excellent range of emotions. DeNiro portrayed Madoff for what he is: someone who built a fantasy kingdom with lies, scams and an iron fist. Madoff certainly was a charming man, that can’t be refuted, but you were never permitted to say no to him…even if he grabbed your ass and squeezed tight.


Robert DeNiro is, in my opinion, the only actor powerful enough to portray this sinister man. What kind of man does what Madoff did to the world? At the end of the movie, Madoff asks Henriques if she thinks he is a sociopath. Yes, Madoff…you are! And so is anyone who sets up this country for another financial disaster. Can you hear me Mr. Trump?


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