The Big Short
There are few 21st century events in this country that have been as destructive as the collapse of the mortgage market in 2007/8 and the resulting financial suffering it triggered. Author Michael Lewis described the tangled processes that led to this calamity six years ago in a book which has now been made into a film of the same name by Adam McKay, the writer/director whose collaboration with comedian Will Ferrell has produced such moronically successful films as Step Brothers,Talladega Nights and Anchorman 1 & 2. The results here are a two-fold surprise: (1) that Lewis’ idiosyncratic book could be made into a comprehensible movie and (2) that it could be co-written and directed by McKay, whose previous efforts give little indication of the skills required to creating a movie worthy of an intelligent adult audience.
In the early years of this century, our nation’s leading financial institutions began to pursue an astoundingly reckless and irresponsible pattern of residential home lending. In his book, Lewis shrewdly summarized the inevitable financial meltdown by focusing on a few investors sharp enough to realize what was really going and to detail the degree to which they were prepared to buck conventional wisdom and by betting millions of dollars on the outcome.
Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt star as the principals in a trio of small financial firms that independently came to the same conclusion: by 2007, America’s financial institutions, rating agencies and Federal oversight watchdogs had fallen victim to a contemporary version of the Dutch tulip bubble of 1637. So with vintage film clips and vividly incisive dialogue, McKay and his habitually profane cast demonstrate, over and over again, the truth of the admonition that “trees don’t grow to the sky”.
Modest in budget and already a substantial critical and box office success, The BigShort takes gleeful potshots at those who contributed to this calamity, making this convulsively entertaining movie a grim expose of Wall Street greed and big bank pomposity.
The Verdict? A sarcastic and sobering display of financial chicanery, told in a dizzying style worthy of The Marx Brothers’ best.
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