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The Big Short (2015)

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A wildly entertaining film about the property crash that devastated most normal people in the western world? Surely you jest! Not at all. That’s precisely what comedy maestro Adam McKay – of all filmmakers! Not Ken Loach (whew…) – serves up here in a ruthlessly educational tell-all about how the sub-prime mortgage business in the US was built on NINJA loans (No Income No Job…), the unsustainable loans were bundled into bonds and sold all over the world (Ireland’s credit union movement’s entire investment was in one German bank that lost everything in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and was bailed out secretly by the German government summer 2006 – not that anyone wants you to know…) and how a bunch of crazies foresaw the crash and made millions betting against the farm, as it were. Since I come from one of the PIGS countries destroyed not merely by the crash but by coverups by the banks and journalists (nobody’s gone to jail here either, dudes) and we’ve just been stuck (despite the election non-result) with the same Minister for Finance backing the bankers and investors and gamblers against the citizen-owners, this taps into a righteous anger that is still real and seething and has 75 home-owners in court every 2 weeks in every small town all over this country trying to save their homes from the rapacious devils. I digress. McKay and Charles Randolph adapted Michael Lewis’ book. You may remember it was his book Moneyball that Brad Pitt shepherded into production and Pitt is involved here, behind and onscreen, as a sort of guru to two young garage-based wannabe hedge funders (sorta like Apple geezers but for money products), while Christian Bale is the offbeat hedge fund manager Michael Burry, a one-eyed seer, Steve Carell is hedge fund manager Michael Baum, the moral overlord who gets the truth from a multiple-home-owning Florida stripper and Ryan Gosling is trader Jared Vennett, our narrator, whose pieces to camera are just one facet of the brilliant breaking the fourth wall digressions that punctuate the overwhelming horror story (helpfully explained in a bathtub, a casino and several typed-out definitions). Stop it already! You had me at CDO!!! Great lines aplenty but one of the best is Gosling’s reaction to the American Securitisation Companies meeting in Vegas, teeming with parasites backing a disaster, when he declares, It’s like someone had a pinyata for white people who suck at golf. We all know the result. But what an achievement this is. A film about an important subject that manages to make you laugh till your sides hurt? Wow. This is sensational.  And angry? You betcha. And this reminds us that the word banker begins with W. We should all read the newspapers’ financial pages – and learn to read between the li(n)es. Otherwise it’s business as usual.

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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