Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Big Short: Movie Review


   


Fast-talking, fast-cutting cheat-sheet look at the US financial crisis.
The Big Short is a fast-talking, fast-cutting cheat-sheet look at the US financial crisis. Ryan Gosling narrates this movie, and no, it’s not surprising that studio Plan B, Paramount Pictures, and director Adam McKay decided to use one of the most handsome, ridiculously charismatic and most popular actors on the planet to introduce us to the world of banking, mortgages and houses defaulting. Highly technical finance and economics leading to a tragic ending can only be entertaining with people like Gosling, Christian Bale and Steve Carell. 2015

Directed by: Adam McKay

Screenplay by: Charles Randolph, Adam McKay
Based on the book by Michael Lewis

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling

There’s of course the famous scene where Margot Robbie takes a bubble bath and talks directly to the camera to explain mortgage bonds. Many critics are praising director Adam McKay to know that that’s the type of scene this movie needs to have – an audience isn’t going to listen to a finance diatribe otherwise, and Margot Robbie in a bubble bath is the only thing they’ll pay attention to. I will agree that McKay really isn’t talking down to the audience but finding a common middle-ground. We all like hot movie stars, and here’s the financial reality. However, it needs to be pointed out that people are only going to remember Margot Robbie covered in bubbles, not what she actually said. It does however get the audience more fully invested in the movie, and that’s probably the bigger point.

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short
from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises. Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk © 2015 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
The most interesting things accomplished by this movie were the characters that we’re following around. A main character is Christian Bale’s Michael Burry, a very socially-awkward money manager. Can’t lie, doesn’t understand most social interactions, is honest, but uncaring, and he’s a genius with finances. Bale really opens the audience up to him. This is a smart guy, who isn’t going to pull any punches, and his bluntness is endearing, not off-putting. Obviously he’s our protagonist, and one that we’ll happily root for, but keep in mind that he’s one of the guys profiting from the common man’s misfortune. To balance that, Steve Carell plays another banker profiting from the housing collapse but he’s very aware of and concerned by the moral implications of that.

This is a fast edited film; lots of quick, jumpy shots which frustrated me greatly before we got into the characters. It is clearly meant for the short attention span crowd, and yet it still worked. It’s a smart movie, it’s a funny movie, and it’s an entertaining movie about the entertainment crisis.