The Big Short

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Terence Gavish


  • Paul Donovan 2 years ago
    309 of 323 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Equally important and entertaining, December 25, 2015
    Paul Donovan
    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)

    This review is from: The Big Short [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
    Nine Things About the Film “The Big Short”

    1. This movie is based on the book of the same name, and is about the almost impossible levels of corruption and stupidity that caused the world-crippling financial crisis from 2007-2010.

    2. The movie is funny, fascinating, and deeply depressing. If you’re not cynical about the world yet, you will be after this movie.

    3. The story follows a few different groups of people around 2005 who stumble onto signs that big investment banks are selling bonds made of home mortgages that were trash. They decide to bet that the bonds would eventually fail, which would make them rich.

    4. It’s a complicated subject that involves a lot of moving parts, distant connections, and economic black magic. The movie does a really good job of explaining the main parts of what happened, and makes things more understandable to regular people. But if you want to know the details of what happened and why, you will either need to already be an expert on the situation, or else do additional research on your own.

    5. One of the themes of the movie is that regular people had no idea what was going to happen because they were too distracted by other things and weren’t paying attention to their own circumstances. This theme is illustrated by periodic montages of pop culture and media that interrupt the flow of the ever-deepening sense of dread building up in the main story.

    6. The cast is a great mix of unknown actors as well as well-known ones. Christian Bale is amazing once again, playing a socially awkward investment manager that trusts his math over other peoples’ advice. Ryan Gosling plays another version of most of his characters, but he’s good at it, so that’s fine. And Steve Carell continues to show that he is not just a great comedian, but one of the best actors today.

    7. The movie was co-written and directed by Adam McKay, who directed “Anchorman”, “Talladega Nights”, and “Step Brothers”. It’s pretty obvious that he has a working partnership with Will Ferrell. “The Big Short” is his first real shot at making a more dramatic movie – and it’s the first movie he directed that didn’t star Will Ferrell. McKay does an excellent job here, finding humor in a situation that really isn’t very funny.

    8. The film has a unique visual and narrative style – the camera kind of freewheels through situations and time periods, making the whole thing very kinetic. The characters often break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience; sometimes they tell us whether a scene really happened or was made up for the movie.

    9. This is a smart movie that requires a lot of concentration. But the talented cast and the careful script make it easier to follow. This is a socially important movie if you want to keep informed about what’s really going on around you. Just remember, this is a true story, and you already know that there is no happy ending.

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  • Paul Allaer 2 years ago
    77 of 85 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    4.5 stars… riveting, and revolting, look at how Wall Street rigged the system, December 25, 2015
    Paul Allaer (Cincinnati) –
    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)

    This review is from: The Big Short (DVD)
    “The Big Short” (2015 release; 130 min.) looks at a small group of people who came to realize that the housing bubble building up in the early and mid-2000 was unsustainable, and that the various financial products issued by Wall Street eventually would collapse. As the movie opens, we ge a short introduction on how banking evolved from a boring people’s industry back in the 1980s to the hot shot market it would become in the new century. We then get introduced to Dr. Michael Burry (played by Christian Bale), a socially awkward fellow who loves heavy metal music and has an uncanny nose for spotting new trends in the financial markets. We also get to know Mark Baum (played by Steve Carell), an investment manager recovering from his brother’s suicide and bent on calling out BS whenever he sees it. At this point we’re 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you’ll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

    Couple of comments: first, this is the latest movie from pretty much the same production team that brought us “Moneyball” a few years ago, also based on the book by Michael Lewis, with Brad Pitt’s “Plan B” production company being the main driver. Pitt, a central player in “Moneyball” here plays a smaller role. Second, “The Big Short” is directed by Adam McKay, best known for the “Anchorman” movies. In fact, there is a certain sense of irony and implausibility that is common to both “Anchorman” and “The Big Short”. Not that “the Big Short” is a comedy or funny in any way. On the contrary, “The Big Short” is dead-serious in its assault on all things Wall Street, and rightfully so. You will revolt at the shady, and worse, practices that are going on. “An atomic bomb of stupidity and fraud” is how Steve Carell’s character sums it up. Third, the acting performances are top-notch throughout, none more so (in my book anyway) than Christian Bale’s tour de force as the socially awkward Dr. Burry. Ryan Gosling is also noteworthy, but the single biggest surprise is of course the cameo appearance by Selena Gomez, who pops in to explain the latest financial instrument (“synthetic CDO”) in lay-man’s terms. Yes, we literally get schooled by various celebrities (also appearing is Margot Robbie, among others) on what all the various financial products that the banks concoct mean in language that we can understand (not that it mattered, I still don’t understand them). Lastly, please note that the camera work is quite rough, with endless super close-ups and/or out of focus shorts. It is the only aspect of an otherwise perfect movie that I’d call “an action movie for the brainiac”. Also, if you wonder whether Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks” (which played prominently in the movie’s trailer) is featured in the movie, no worries: it plays over the end titles.

    “The Big Short” just opened in theaters and I couldn’t wait to see it. The evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati on Christmas Eve was very well attended, I am happy to report. Given the critical acclaim the movie has been getting, I’m thinking this has all the makings of a solid Christmas season hit that will continue to build as it gathers steam in the upcoming awards season. In a sense, this movie is the perfect antidote to the new “Star Wars” movie, proving there is room for both. “The Big Short” is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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  • Jay B. Lane 2 years ago
    22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    “If It Walks Like a Duck…”, December 22, 2015
    Jay B. Lane (Seattle, WA USA) –
    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)

    This review is from: The Big Short (DVD)
    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 in the screening audience. 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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