Generation Wealth

Photographer and documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield gave us an interesting film called The Queen of Versailles about five years ago. It documented the building of the biggest mansion in the U.S., which was never completed.

This documentary….feels like it’s never gotten completed. It meandered all over the place, and never had a cohesive story. It was also kind of annoying to see Greenfield insert herself into the story so much. I find her to be a rather dull character, that herself seems obsessed with “making it” in the arts.

Greenfield started her photography career mostly snapping shots of the wealthy and privileged in Beverly Hills. It was fun to hear a kid in school talk about how Kate Hudson showed up on the first day of school bragging about how famous her mom and dad are (Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, respectively). Once we see Donald Trump walking through huge gold doors, and the Kardashians, I rolled my eyes. Now, that didn’t mean some of the subjects weren’t interesting to listen to. It just never really sheds that much light on anything, or tells us anything we didn’t already know.

At one point we delve into porn stars and topless dancers. One of them had a famous relationship with Charlie Sheen.

We see a lot of gross footage of plastic surgery gone wrong. Again, that’s all stuff we’ve seen before. At one point, I thought I was watching an episode of Botched.

The documentary did get a bit more interesting when we see a lot of these rich folks on the other end, after having lost the wealth (and/or good looks).

It was interesting to see a one-hit wonder in the rap world, as he talks about his life now, and what it was like when he started out. He was from a middle-class family at a rich school. He knew he wanted a piece of the pie, and rap was the perfect ticket for him to get there.

It was interesting to see a hedge fund manager, who smoked cigars like he was making love to them, and the arrogance that spewed from his pie hole. He ended up becoming a fugitive and is now living in Germany. My wife said, “He was so interesting, I could’ve watched an entire movie with just him talking.”

And even though this goes all over the place, you’re usually interested in what you’re watching. I mean, who knew there was a longest limo in the world (it had a swimming pool, and a landing pad for a helicopter, and probably gets 3 miles to the gallon).

It was mildly amusing to see the teenagers Greenfield shot, now in their early 40s, talking about their lives briefly.

I could’ve done without seeing more white trash losers from Toddlers & Tiaras, talking about what they want in life. Especially the 4-year-old girl, wearing make-up, and making me think of the sad state of affairs that ended JonBenet Ramsey’s life.

I still can’t figure out what was more disgusting…some of the plastic surgery mishaps, or a porn star that was with 50 guys on a shoot, and it ended with her having a torn rectum and catching salmonella. Tough business.

It was interesting to see REO Speedwagon singer Kevin Cronin’s son — a former crack addict. He talked about growing up backstage on the road. It’s funny, because as a teenager I was at a Lakers game and ran into Kevin Cronin walking out in front of me. I asked him if he was the singer from REO and he said he was. I asked him to autograph my ticket stub and he did. As we walked to the parking lot together, this 5’7” singer had his arm around a 6’ blonde woman who was gorgeous…I watched as they got into a gold Rolls Royce. I thought how great it must be to be a rockstar. And then, watching his son talk in this, makes you realize just how much the families can suffer. But again, this is all stuff we kind of figured. This documentary doesn’t shed new light on anything we hadn’t already thought about regarding wealth; or eating disorders, which it delves into.

Apparently, Greenfield did a photo and touring exhibit, and this documentary came after that. Although this held my interesting, I didn’t think it needed to be two hours. It also needed to be tied together better.

You can catch it at the Angelika Film Center and Hillcrest Landmark.

2 ½ out of 5.