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The Big Short (2015) Reviewed By Jay

United States, 14 August 2015


Jay´s Review

This great, great ensemble piece competently teaches us a history lesson about a complex but very important topic! Director Adam McKay ("The Other Guys") with the able screen-writing assistance of Charles Randolph, was inspired by Michael Lewis's book, written about real people and real events (the bursting of the housing bubble and the implosion of the big banks).

We have a guy who seems to have Asperger's, two youngsters barely out of college and two fund management teams, each of whom separately take a look at how the moral and the amoral butt heads on Wall Street. This film is funny, satisfying and educational, although...by the time the "Credit Default Swap" is in full swing, we share our heroes' collective despair. We can see that much of what goes on is a gigantic game of poker: These guys are basically betting AGAINST the future of the American housing market...and we see them as the GOOD guys!

Here is part of this brilliant ensemble:

  • * Brad Pitt ("Fury") is Ben, the grizzled idealist who has quit the game and isn't interested in going back. He angrily paints the most moving picture of what will happen to the average American worker if his young duo has read those financial data correctly.    
  • * John Magaro ("Unbroken") Charlie still lives at home, but at least he graduated from college. He and Jamie think they are onto something gigantic! (The Wall Street Journal disagrees; wait until you hear why.)
  • * Finn Wittrock ("Unbroken") Jamie and his sidekick manage an investment fund, so they try to get a foot in the door on Wall Street. Problem is, their track record and their millions are NOT impressive to the giants on the Street.
  • * Christian Bale ("American Hustle") Michael Burry won't back down. Our brilliant, barefooted nonconformist has seen the light and it tells him the housing bubble is going to burst. This Cassandra at least manages his own fund and can write his own rules.
  • * Ryan Gosling ("Gangster Squad") Jared can see what's coming and is trying to cushion his own fall.
  • * Steve Carell ("Freeheld") Mark is still mourning the death of his brother and is astounded by what he sees in the upper echelons of High Finance. Watch his incredulity when he understands that the three rating agencies: S&P, Moody's and Fitch, are complicit in the catastrophe. He speaks for all of us when he takes on the CFO of Morgan-Stanley! (In my opinion, this is Carell's movie!)

It's a shame to leave out other names and characters, but suffice it to say, many more fine actors deserve special mention, but space does not allow....

Some of the photography and editing is too herky-jerky for my taste but I don't care. They bring to dramatic life the same scenario that made us cringe in the award-winning 2010 documentary "Inside Job." In this new dramatized version, our screening audience laughed as the characters occasionally dropped the fourth wall and made ironic comments directly to us. Look for unusual cameos, plus the usual strip clubs and a barrage of F-bombs (it IS Wall Street!), but the lessons are well taught; now if only some of those bankers would go to jail! By the way, they have started the same scheme again, only under a new name. "If it walks like a duck..."

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