During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive partner Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild F.B.I. Agent, Richie DiMaso, who pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and the Mafia.
Three separate but parallel stories of the U.S mortgage housing crisis of 2005 are told. Michael Burry, an eccentric ex-physician turned one-eyed Scion Capital hedge fund manager, has traded traditional office attire for shorts, bare feet and a Supercuts haircut. He believes that the US housing market is built on a bubble that will burst within the next few years. Autonomy within the company allows Burry to do largely as he pleases, so Burry proceeds to bet against the housing market with the banks, who are more than happy to accept his proposal for something that has never happened in American history. The banks believe that Burry is a crackpot and therefore are confident in that they will win the deal. Jared Vennett with Deutschebank gets wind of what Burry is doing and, as an investor believes he too can cash in on Burry's beliefs. An errant telephone call to FrontPoint Partners gets this information into the hands of Mark Baum, an idealist who is fed up with the corruption in the ...Written by
During the end of the Las Vegas trip, the transition scene ends overlooking a highway with a giant billboard of Martin Short. It is literally a "big Short." See more »
In the brief shot of the exterior of The Black Horse pub, a gold pillar box (post box) is visible. Pillar boxes are normally red. Several were painted gold in neighborhoods where 2012 Olympic Gold Medal winners lived. See more »
[of Collateralized Debt Obligation funds]
So mortgage bonds are dog shit. CDOs are dog shit wrapped in cat shit.
See more »
No subject in the world is inherently interesting or uninteresting, for it's always about the communicative method or channel used to promote or inform one about the subject that is either interesting or not. Having said that, some subjects are more alienating than others, and one of those subjects is economics/finance, largely because of its dependency upon a plethora of terminology and jargon that usually cannot be adequately defined without including other terminology or jargon. Before you know it, searching the definition of something like a "Roth IRA" leads you to Google searches about embezzlement and quantitative easing in efforts to try and circumvent and define what you were originally looking for.
Thankfully, Adam McKay's The Big Short assumes the audience is fairly stupid and blissfully ignorant when it comes to the interworkings of what led to the global economic crisis of 2007-2008, which saw record unemployment and catastrophic results for the usually reliable housing market. In true movie fashion, we observe the financial crash, not from an insider standpoint, where sure-fire, grade-A trades and exchanges are being made, but by a plethora of quirky outsiders trying to run away from a boulder that keeps gaining on them until it flattens them and everyone in their tracks. The only ones saved are the ones who didn't manage to fall or stumble when pushing said boulder down the hill in the first place.
We initially meet a quirky hedge fund manager named Michael Burry (Christian Bale), who discovers that the U.S. housing market is based on a series of subprime loans (which, we are told by Margot Robbie as she soaks in a bubblebath whilst sipping champagne, may as well be synonymous with "s***") and is inevitably going to collapse sometime in the second quarter of 2007. Being that the housing market is often viewed as the safest bet in America, Michael begins to go around to different banks to bet against the stability and long-term security of the housing market in efforts to profit from the impending disaster.
Then there's Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), a fairly small-time investor, who winds up putting in his own money to bet against the housing market, along with Mark Baum (Steve Carell), a cynical and depressed banker of many years. The two wind up discovering that the market collapse is further aided by the solicitation of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), basically collections of the aforementioned subprime loans that come packaged together and market as competent and reliable investments.
Finally, there's Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock), two young-bloods anxious to break into the financial market. The inexperienced duo enlist in the help of a retired, conservative banker named Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), who helps them make decisions with their money. Unlike the other more experienced men, both Charlie and Jamie lack the kind of gusto and namesake that allows them into the offices of big name bankers. As a result, they pine for a bigger piece of the pie in a smaller way, largely by lounging in their parents' basements, hunched over their iPads.
The Big Short functions as a competent, satirical anthology that breaks down the financial crisis - that is now nearly a decade old, if you can believe that - enough to be informative and entertaining. Considering this is from Adam McKay, a frequent collaborator with Will Ferrell and Funny or Die, responsible for films like Casa De Mi Padre, The Other Guys, and Step Brothers, this is a huge step in the right direction for him as a name in comedy and satire. Rather than focusing on a bargain-barrel Spanish telenovela satire or a tired, mean-spirited comedy based around who can yell the loudest, McKay sets his sights on peddling information through the most communicable form - entertainment. If you can succeed in meriting consistent laughs while teaching an audience something, you have profoundly succeeded at two things many have a difficult time accomplishing in a separate sense. That alone is worth considerable praise.
While the screenplay by McKay and Charles Randolph is undoubtedly a big part at why this film succeeds, The Big Short is a true testament to brilliant comedic acting on various cylinders, as well. The men of the hour, specifically, are both Bale and Carell, seriously taking on opposite personas that they pull off to a tee. Bale plays confused and downright quirky with just the right amount of edge to make him believable rather than hopelessly incompetent or downright silly, and Carell's sporadic bouts of rage and lack of self-awareness make him all the more watchable screen presence. Other performances, like Gosling's, who serves as the infrequent, anti-hero narrator, is notable for its brash charm, in addition to Pitt, who works largely because he's even more understated and harder to define than in his latest film By the Sea.
The Big Short has a lot of comedic value, but it's nonetheless a frightening depiction of where America is currently at; a depressing oligarchy, controlled and manipulated by those with money at the mercy of those without. We've seen "The Great Recession of 2007," as it's sometimes called, plunge numerous working class and poor families into further states of hopelessness, while those who helped cause and further the effects of the recession have gone on to have a road of many ups and few downs since then. McKay's eye, ear, and talent for conducting satire in a way that's simultaneously uproariously funny, in addition to having the ability to be truly upsetting, is quite marvelous and unexpected, and one can only hope that with proper recognition and compensation for his efforts on this film, he furthers down this path rather than the one he was previously on.
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