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(2015)

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10/10
Everyone hates poetry
bementar7 August 2016
Great drama moves you. It excites you. Scares you. Makes you sing. Makes you cry.

The Big Short makes you shake your fist. The Big Short is driven as much by its Iago as it is its Othello, and deservedly so.

The events in the story did happen. Many people still don't care. The Big Short gives you reason to care. That is what separates this film from being merely a documentary and turns it into high drama.

No matter your politics - mark this, like Citizen Kane, as a movie that should be seen at least once. It is not always comfortable to watch. And that is a good thing - The Big Short is a documentary of a real life horror that unfolds in slow motion, and reminds us that even after the fact - no one is listening. Because truth is like poetry.
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9/10
"The Big Short" is educational, relevant and entertaining.
texshelters28 December 2015
Nothing Small about "The Big Short"

"The Big Short" is based on the book with the same name by financial journalist Michael Lewis. It is about collateralized debt obligations, subprime mortgages, credit default swaps and bundling. A snoozer right? Not one bit. "The Big Short" is more entertaining than most films in the cineplex this holiday season. Even if you don't know much about the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-08, you will recognize a quality film and want to know more about the world economic collapse when the film is over.

The film uses a multitude of techniques to tell the story. There are fourth-wall breaking monologues, a model in a bubble bath explaining economics as well as a singing idol and a celebrity chef using metaphors of cooking and gambling to explain the economic crisis. There are jump cuts, slow motion, foreshadowing and flash backs. The filmmakers use any and all tricks to explain a complicated mess of financial chicanery in order to help the audience understand. The banks, mortgage brokers, the credit ratings agencies and the government manipulated people in the nation and world into investing in worthless packages of bonds, and it behooves the director and writer, Adam McKay, to use all cinematic tricks to explain and untangle the financial corruption. The miracle is that the film deciphers the economic melt-down well while entertaining its audience.

The acting is stellar from the stars to the bit players. They aren't just playing a role, they embody characters during a remarkable time in history. My mother thinks Steve Carrell was the best actor in the film, for she did not even recognize him at first. He plays against character and she liked that. However, my mother had never seen Carrell in "The Office." His character, Mark Baum, is much like the boss from that television series. However, in "The Big Short", he plays it straight. He is a boss of a fund under the umbrella of Morgan Stanley (but it's not Morgan Stanley, and his team likes to point out), and he is on a mission to bring down banks, to show them up, and to prove he's been right about the financial warning signs. He is betting against the hand that feeds him, Morgan Stanley.

I preferred Christian Bale's performance as Michael Burry, an unselfconscious, manic math genius. I haven't seen that frightening look in Bale's eyes since "American Psycho", but this time he's only killing the mortgage backed securities market. Meanwhile, Brad Pitt, under- playing another disaffected former banker, Brad Rickert, helps two friends make millions while they bet against terrible investments, or "play short" the mortgage market. His backstory is revealed steadily and in a way that makes us wonder why he briefly got back into the investment "game." Even Ryan Gosling makes his mark in this star-studded cast playing the prescient "Jared Vennett." Remember, all the characters in the film are based on real people. And that is what makes it so remarkable.

The other major players in the film are Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, and a slew of investment houses who at best ignore the coming financial crisis or at worst, colluded in its creation. From the realtors selling the mortgages, to the banks loaning at subprime, to the banks bundling the worthless packages, they were all making too much money to want to stop. This is exactly the kind of over-exuberance that occurred in the 1920s stock market crash, but few payed attention then or in 2007.

"The Big Short" is a dramatized film of true events. And to make sure we understand, the actors break the fourth wall several times to tell us what part is true to the detail and what part is fictionalized to make it more dramatic. But if you are still incredulous, read the book. The events are all sadly true, and we are still paying for it.

Rating: Pay full price (but you might want to see it twice.)

It will take at least two viewings to catch half of what is embedded in this film. This film is entertaining, educational and relevant.

Peace, Tex Shelters
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10/10
An unexpected and necessary masterpiece
Zuranthium15 November 2015
Comedy is tragedy + time, right? We're now over 7 years out from the apex of the American financial crisis, which spiraled outward across the world, and yet what has really changed? People are still making millions/billions off the suffering of others, corporate control reigns supreme, fraud is common and remains largely unknown, wealth continues to be ever more concentrated in the grasp of a few, and the remainder of the populace are treated as proverbial rats and made to feel uncouth should they question the system and question not wanting to live their lives playing this sadistic game. Taking 2 pennies and selling them to someone for a hundred dollars remains a legal activity, just call those pennies by a different name and suddenly it's okay to pass them off as fair market.

It doesn't sound funny at all, but The Big Short succeeds in turning this demented and corrupt circus into something improbably hilarious and probing. The power of comedy is its ability to let us see something from a different viewpoint, allow us to process it in ways we wouldn't have been able to otherwise. As we might laugh at children for the hilariously unaware things they say and do, so too will humankind in the future hopefully laugh at how completely pathetic and ignorant our present society has been. Martin Scorsese opened the flap up into the circus entrance with "The Wolf of Wall Street" and, while making good points, was perhaps a bit too concerned with his own technique and had a bit too much indulgence, reveling in the frivolity of it all. The Big Short completely blows the top of the circus and dissects it in every way, starting with the widespread fraud and greed in business, and then examining how it has seeped into our entire existences. Even the good guys here are ultimately out there to make money, lots of it. Isn't that what society tells us we must to do, in order to be valuable? It's sick.

McKay's approach here is "throw everything in, including the kitchen sink" and that creates an energetic, brilliantly matched representation of the subject matter. This does not mean he is lacking control, however. The story being told includes so many facets and characters that it easily could have fallen into disarray, but McKay makes every single character memorable and illuminates every piece of jargon that could be confusing from the outset. It's a huge accomplishment and a far more important one than might seem apparent. The things that were allowed to happen in the realms of business, finance, and banking are absolutely INSANE and unbelievable. It has to be largely comedic because there's no other way of delivering this vast amount of information and complete failure of our entire society and make it all snap into place so continuously, without being ripped apart by the overwhelming darkness of it all. This isn't simply circumstantial and theoretical and mysterious to a degree, as in Oliver Stone's "JFK", but the cold hard truth.

It's not enough to even ask for the truth anymore and ask for answers, we need to question the entire system, a whole web of poisonous bonds that have tightly wound themselves so entirely around us. The work of the film itself is allowing us to project our thoughts, our fears, our anger, and our confusions into this convoluted conundrum. All while being told the truth, so that we at least have a place to even start down the correct path of understanding. It's acting as our own investigative journey in a time when actual news and journalism has become a tiny spec of its former self. We now have more information than ever available to us, yet it's often so shrouded and twisted as to become unrecognizable. There are still those who fear education for what it would do to their own position in life, how it would challenge their own reality. We are still held under the thumb of "greed is good", "thinking you're inherently better is good", "vanity is good".

The shiny mainstream hallmarks of a typical Hollywoood commercial product - the agreeable lighting and manicured actors and tidy locations - are so perfectly representative in this film of the emptiness within the characters and indeed in our entire society. After all the progress we think we've made towards world peace and human rights and medical advances and the stability of the human race, have we lost sight of what a fulfilling life and a world of justice should really be? Aren't we still captive to the same pointless rituals and superficialities, doesn't a veritable monarch and royal court still control most everything? We are now living our lives working for something that can be wiped out with the stroke of a keyboard. We are told something of monetary worth that is non-existent, for all intents and purposes, is something we should strive for. Making a bet on the outcome of another bet is a whole industry. The non-existent and ridiculous and pointless directly hurts the lives of many.

The Big Short is one of the most important films of this era and one of the best. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. It is an illumination, a magical pairing of a director's sensibility to exactly the correct form that most fully allows it to blossom and hold water. It is water which the film warns us will be the next basic human necessity to be denied by those few who hold power.
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9/10
Two-Sided Look at a Great Film
A_Different_Drummer24 December 2015
First for newbies, the events here took place prior to the Kevin Spacey film Margin Call (2011). So the Spacey film would have depicted events near the end of this film. Both are superb movies.

Back to the review. This film is very unusual in that the producers have shown fierce determination in taking a serious topic and making it as user friendly as one possibly can. Multiple techniques are used to this end and they all work well. In fact in places the film has a Monty Python quality. Why was this done? One can only assume that the producers understood the multiple studies showing that the modern city-dweller becomes uncomfortable when confronted with any facts which suggest that he or she was not paying attention when bad things were happening. After all we live in a democracy so the voters should have been more alert? Isn't that their job? The techniques mentioned attempt to appeal to our SESAME STREET side and make the whole thing as pleasant an educational experience as possible. But make no mistake, this is an educational movie.

One that should be mandatory for adults. Like getting a driving test before a license. How about learning about Wall Street and the banks before you invest with them...? Carell steals the film and may finally get the attention he deserves. Great actor.

Finally the message. The film suggests not only that Wall Street is corrupt but that the corruption extends to the agencies mandated to supervise Wall Street and (possibly) to Washington itself. The implicit message, conveyed in the end credits, that unless we deal with the problem at the source the symptoms will keep happening over and over and over.

Duh!
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9/10
The rich get rich and the poor get evicted. Ain't we got Fun
tkn1001514 November 2015
Don't know how Adam McKay made deplorable humans, blinding fear, gut-boiling outrage and gleeful shaming so much fun to watch. He brought along his bag o' laffs but planted them in such rich soil so we had to hack our way through the thick underbrush of tainted greenbacks and marked decks.

Everyone's in top form. Didn't recognize Brad Pitt for awhile. Ryan Gosling funniest. Christian Bale let us feel his pain and lonely genius. Steve Carell dug deep and came up with a real mensch.

Nice to see Marisa Tomei, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Rafe Spall, Finn Wittrock, Max Greenfield and talented others working at a solid level.

I walked out of the Westwood Bruin Theater in awe and mad as hell.
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8/10
Smart Greed
JackCerf28 December 2015
Harry Knowles once wrote a review of Das Boot that said the movie was so well made that you'd find yourself rooting for Nazi sailors trying to sink American ships. So here. You find yourself rooting for clever "outsiders and weirdos," as one of them puts it, who saw what nobody else wanted to see -- that an immense structure of mortgage based securities was doomed to collapse because it rested on the backs of subprime borrowers who couldn't support the weight and should never have been loaned the money. We have been taught by generations of fiction to identify with characters who are outsiders and rebels. Because these guys are smart, because they are antisocial and because they were laughed at by smug fools who believed the conventional wisdom, you identify with them, and you wait anxiously for their vindication. Then you realize that their vindication means the collapse of the American economy. They were the guys on the Titanic who knew what the iceberg meant.

Michael Lewis, from whose book the movie was adapted, got his training at Salomon Brothers in the mid-80s, as mortgage based securities were being invented. (There's an early shout-out to Lew Ranieri, the Salomon trader who invented them.) As anyone knows who's read Lewis's memoir of those days, Liar's Poker, the culture at Salomon was that your job was to be smarter than everybody else in the bond market, understand values better, and know what other traders were going to do before they knew it themselves. If you were smart enough, you deserved whatever you took away from somebody less smart on the other side of the trade. That's why Lewis admires his protagonists and that, despite a thick coating of moral outrage, is the heart of the movie. The guys who shorted the housing market weren't any more virtuous or less greedy than the great majority of complacent, conventionally minded bankers who believed that the trees would keep growing all the way up to the sky. They just saw more clearly and had plenty of nerve and faith in their own judgment. If they had been wrong, as shorts often are, they and their clients would have been wiped out. When they turned out right, they took the money and kept it, even if some of them felt guilty about it.

I know somewhat about this area, having litigated some of the aftermath. The celebrity cameo explanations of subprime debt, collateralized debt obligations, and synthetic CDOs are not only simple but accurate -- the two involving Anthony Bourdain and Selena Gomez are downright elegant. The key concept of the credit default swap comes out nicely through the dialogue -- a chance to buy fire insurance on the house down the street just before it catches fire. There are a couple of more points that could have used the same thing, especially when people start talking about "FICO scores." It could also have been a little more clear that the eventual collapse was delayed because the smarter investment banks like Goldman finally woke up, saw it coming, unloaded their CDO inventory on investors who were still asleep, and cut their losses by buying swaps themselves. But this is a smart, entertaining telling of an outrageous true story. It deserves all the praise it has gotten, and maybe an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. If it teaches people without a financial background a little of what went on, it will be more than a momentary entertainment. But it will certainly entertain.
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9/10
One of 2015's best films
Ross62223 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Adam McKay's "The Big Short" is the best financial movie I have seen since watching Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" (1987), but the only difference between these two movies is that this movie was based on true events. The film takes place before and during the recession of 2008 in which some aspects of this movie are pretty funny if you ask me. The movie was adapted from the book by Michael Lewis and it basically starts off with Dr. Michael J. Burry (Christian Bale) who was the first person to predict the housing market crash by actually betting against the housing market before it actually happened despite everyone else thinking that he was a crazy person. Then 20 minutes into the film we see a banker named Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) talk to a Morgan Stanley employee named Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and his coworkers and Vennett tells them that not long from now the economy is going to collapse and that nobody was even talking about it. also during the movie and in between all of the financial conversations Baum is going through a personal tragedy that I will not reveal in this review for those people that haven't seen the movie, and Baum is getting comforted between phone calls and at home by his wife (Marisa Tomei). The screenplay for this movie by McKay along with Charles Randolph took home the Oscar last year for best adapted screenplay and I had a few minor gripes with it here and there but then again it was directed by a man who normally does comedies. Then later in this movie we see 2 other men in the finance world (John Magaro and Finn Wittrock) end contacting a retired trader by the name of Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) who is the fourth person to predict the collapse of the housing market. the only major problem I had with this movie was the shaky camera angles which could have been improved on, and also I think that Adam McKay could have been more impartial instead of openly mocking the corporations but then again that is just my opinion, but otherwise the performances from Bale (who got an Oscar nomination), Gosling, Carell, and Pitt are top notch, as well as Marisa Tomei's. This is one of last year's greatest achievements in film, and I stand by this review.
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9/10
Four "outsider" Wall Street entities capitalize on an impending financial collapse of the US financial system.
HollywoodGlee13 November 2015
Reviewed by Larry Gleeson. Viewed during the AFI Filmfest 2015.

"The Big Short," directed by Adam McKay, based on the book by Michael Lewis, was adapted by McKay and Charles Randolph and made its world premiere Thursday, November 12, 2015 at the historic TCL Grauman's Chinese Theater as the closing night film for the latest edition of the American Film Institute's AFI FEST film festival.

The film's narrative is driven by four cynical, fringe Wall Street entities disgusted with the large banking institutions' overriding greed for profits. They make the decision to capitalize on the ensuing housing market calamity and the financial meltdown of 2008 upon discovering the market frenzy is being driven by worthless collateral debt obligations.

McKay chooses to inject a significant dose of humor in the early scenes to condition the audience receptors for what they are about to experience. Utilizing the Martin Scorsese docudrama style in a similar setting with "Wolf of Wall Street," a strong narrative voice dominates particular moments. Several of these deliberately break the 'Fourth Wall" in the style of "Wolfie," Jordan Belfort, as the characters, including a hilarious cameo by Selena Gomez, speak directly into the camera to explain the complexities of Wall Street finance. The overall effect adds additional humor and adds another layer in creating a sense of authenticity and truth about the film's subject matter.

After a rather lengthy dizzying, yet delightful, character introduction, the film picks up pace as the drama begins to unfold. Dr. Michael Burry, an eccentric financial analyst, with complete autonomy of an investment fund, uncovers variables in his economic forecast indicating a massive housing market collapse. He informs his higher up, Lawrence Fields, played convincingly by Tracy Letts, of his discovery and creates a financial prospectus. In essence, he creates a commodity of selling short on bundled mortgages.

The bankers laugh as they willingly sell Burry all the "insurance" he wants. Word quickly spreads of Burry's perceived madness in a after-work cocktail scene. With interest piqued upon overhearing the Wall Street gossip of the day, Jarred Bennett, portrayed by Ryan Gosling, scoops up the essence of Burry's move. Soon, he sells a group led by Steve Carell's all-too-human, Mark Baum to buy in.

As the debacle is in full free-fall, Baum struggles with disbelief as he and his group have bet against their own umbrella entity, Morgan Stanley. The final team that has uncovered the impending financial crisis, made up of two Wall Street neophytes and veteran Ben Rickert, played by one of the film's producers, Brad Pitt, also struggles with the imploding financial system caused by corporate greed and indifference.

With a mammoth cast, McKay draws on a plethora of talent in the likes of Hollywood A-listers including Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Selena Gomez, Christian Bale, Karen Gillan Steve Carell, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo and Finn Wittrock. McKay and Randolph create characters with witty dialogue coupled with complementary cinematography provided by Barry Ackroyd. The soundtrack carries a similar tone of "Wolf of Wall Street," with a compilation of classic rock anthems. Nicholas Britell widely recognized for his work on Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave," where Britell composed on set the on-screen violin performances, work songs, dances and spiritual songs rarely misses a beat this time out. Much like another AFI FEST 2015 film, "The Clan," Argentina's official entry to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Best Foreign Language Category for Oscar, "The Big Short," musical score is often in juxtaposition to the the narrative and mies-en-scene adding a deeper visceral quality to the viewing experience.

In its most basic essence, "The Big Short," builds on the visceral truth of Scorsese's "Wolf of Wall Street." It depicts a not-so-long-ago present where a noble ideal, making home ownership a reality for Americans, is bastardized by the indifferent market forces of capitalism. Probably not what Adam Smith had in mind when he penned his treatise, "The Wealth of Nations." Warmly Recommended.
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8/10
A delightful merging of information and comedy
StevePulaski29 December 2015
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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10/10
Right on the Money and on the Fraud
jakob1313 December 2015
'The Big Short' is a winner. Based on Michael Lewis book of the same title, it tells the sorry story of the fraud and deceit practiced on the American people, nay, on the world by Wall Streets finance capitalism. We know the culprits: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Lehman Bros., Morgan Stanley, Citibank, Wachovia, Crdit Suisse, UBS and on and on who invented financial instruments such as CDO, credit swaps and other fancy unintelligible names, based on mortgages, with the connivance of the credit agencies--Dow Jone, Standard and Poors and Fitch. 'The Big Short' with a light seriousness is a crash course on the duplicity of Wall Street investment bankers who earned large fees on junk bonds with triple A ratings; who bundled junk to palm off on an unsuspecting public looking for big gains by pandering to the snake oil exilir of getting rich quickly; and who feed on the niavety of the broad American have-nots with the dream of owning a home of their own. And so with some humor but much sadness are we lead through the byways of four different groups of bankers who saw the hoax for what it was and its impending implosion that would bring down the deck of cards of capitalism. And the took out bets on the market, by buying short. And they won big time! But the banks are still around, and the ratepayers footed the bailout, but at what cost! And we see this in the turmoil of the Republican party: for the discontent abroad in the US has thrown more than 25 percent of the population into poverty, loss of jobs, home, into heavy debt and no future for their children. And these banks have not reformed their ways...now they've come up with the same of gimmicks with a fancy name--something like beneficial financial tranche--as the play the same old mug's game. And like the Bourbons, t The cast is stellar--especially Christian Bale and Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling as well as the minor players. And like the Bourbons, in the words of Talleyrand, 'they learned nothing and forgot nothing', but the contempt they have for all of us. And to make the case stronger, the fools on the Supreme Court have strengthened the hands of big money and the oligopoly and the fat cats of Wall Street and the coupon clippers and the devil take the rest of us!
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9/10
Surprisingly fun ride!
JavanMc10 January 2016
This is one of the best films of the year, hands down. It was just incredible. This film takes a subject matter that could be considered boring by some, and totally draws you into it. It finds creative ways to break everything down for the audience, and makes it entertaining. I love how it's self aware, even at some points straight up going, "This isn't how it happened, but it's way more interesting this way." I love how it breaks the 4th wall, with celebrities who make cameos to explain complicated things to the audience. It's brilliant. I left this movie angry that this happened, it really gets you thinking.

Adam Mckay's script is fantastic. The characters are very well written, which every one being interesting and well developed. The film effortlessly blends comedy with drama, one minute making you laugh out loud, and and then it stops you right in it's tracks. There are some really heartbreaking moments here.

The acting is just phenomenal, and this is Steve Carell's best performance. It's just incredible. If he's not nominated an Oscar for this, it's robbery. It's easily better than his Foxcatcher performance. Christian Bale is great as well, playing the socially awkward Michael Burry. Brad Pitt with his limited screen time was great as well. Ryan Gosling is a scene stealer here, he's hilarious.

He's really the only character not struggling here, he's making money off all of it. This movie is extremely stylish, with brilliant editing that I hope wins it an Oscar. This film does everything it can to make everything fun, and it does a great job. This is as entertaining as it is thought provoking. Adam Mckay should tackle drama more often, as he did an extraordinary job with this. 9.5/10
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10/10
Best Film of the Year
GTinsdale21 January 2016
An absolutely brilliant adaptation of Michael Lewis' novel. I can't say enough about this film. I've watched it countless times and I still get something from it each time. The script, the cinematography, the casting - all brilliant. Steve Carell is superb as Mark Baum and Christian Bale is at the top of his game. He's never been better. Adam McKay has crafted a masterpiece for the ages. He clearly possesses a brilliant mind. What astonishes me is that he wastes his considerable talents on dreck like "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights" and "Step Brothers." Why? I mean, WHY?!?!?! It just don't add up! The man should stick to smart and insightful films like "The Big Short" and leave the juvenile, unfunny comedies to Kevin Smith and Seth Rogan.
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8/10
Good...but best to be watched with an economics professor.
MartinHafer21 September 2016
"The Big Short" is a good film but also a film that would be tough for the average viewer to enjoy and understand. This is because although the housing bubble's burst was a mess and destroyed a lot of peoples' lives, few folks really understand it. Sure, folks know that the banks were foolish as were home buyers (since they couldn't possibly afford these homes)....but that's about as far as their understanding goes. And, with the film tossing around all sorts of insider jargon, it's sure to confuse more than entertain.

What I would LOVE to see is a pop-up video version of the film with explanatory text appearing on the screen throughout the movie to further clarify what is happening. I've seen several Japanese import films like this--and they helped to explain cultural references that most non-Japanese viewers would miss.

The bottom line is that I am extremely well educated compared to the average person and yet I sometimes felt a bit lost. Enjoyable but best watched with an economics professor sitting in the room to explain it all in detail.
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9/10
Tough to watch... for all the right reasons
TheRenegadeTaoist2 January 2016
This film is tough to watch having lived through the housing crisis and unemployment meltdown of 2007 to present. It inspires righteous indignation and they are a lot of unlikable people that you encounter throughout the film. Don't get the wrong impression, this film is an absolute necessity on raw economics majors and even the fringe behavioral economists.

We now spend a tremendous amount of time discussing the poor leadership and lack of responsibility that we encountered during that time period but nothing of such gross negligence should escape unnoticed (according to the film maybe it didn't).

That it still shows that intelligent people will prosper even from the most ignorant, gross misconduct is somewhat painful to watch.

Generally speaking, these are the films that don't make a lot of headway on the road to the Oscars but the cast is very stellar and is undeniable in their efforts to bring the story life from a very real point of view. Not shocking to me, Steve Carell turns in a superb effort with a highly nuanced performance overall. I wish them all the best on the road to the Oscars.

Having lived through the time period, I never read the book but the last 6 to 10 minutes of the film make your stomach hurt long after the ending. If the point in cinema is to get a reaction or some sort of a dialogue started this movie is highly successful.

This movie may bore the poop out of kids through the mid- to late 20s... but it is a hot weapon against the machine for anybody who is beyond that age range. Historical economic movies don't usually do well at the box office but pick up a hellacious head of steam later on if they're on target and this movie is.

I recommend you catch it in theaters and have an interesting conversation on the way out to the parking lot and beyond.
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Informative and somehow interesting...
Dr_Sagan16 January 2016
First of all don't be fooled by other reviews. This movie is neither a crap nor a masterpiece.

It has a lot of technical terms and jargon from the world of economics and despite the obvious effort to explain things (including breaking the 4th wall (i.e. talking direct to the audience while looking into the camera), and cameo appearances from movies stars like Margot Robbie and Selina Gomez) you will probably fail to understand in depth the mechanics of what is happening.

The world of banks, funds, bonds, financing and the stock market will remain a mystery for most of the viewers.

Big names of Hollywood star in the Big Short including Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and others. They play real persons, who had an insight on the global economic crisis we probably still experiencing.

As a movie it has its own style. Something of a documentary, a comedy sometimes, but essentially a drama since the crisis cost 8 million people their job and their homes.

People who are impressed easily might tell you this is a "masterpiece". Believe me it isn't. But I recommend to see it. Even better at home where you can pause or rewind the movie to understand better. It is lengthy (130min) but you won't get bored. It needs some patience though especially in the beginning and not to be disappointed when terms like CDO, payouts etc. are starting to emerge.
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9/10
A fast-paced ride filled with fascinating personalities
howard.schumann3 January 2016
When everything in your life is looking rosy, there is always someone who will tell you that your happiness is on shaky ground. Though most of the time these nay-sayers will not profit from your misfortune, such is not the case in The Big Short, Adam McKay's ("Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues") hard-hitting comedy/drama about the collapse of the housing market in 2008. Based on the book "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine" (2010) by Michael Lewis with a screenplay by McKay and Charles Randolph ("Love and Other Drugs"), the film centers on a group of Wall Street functionaries who, despite the industry, government, and media telling them otherwise, discover that the market for bonds based on subprime mortgages is on shaky grounds and is doomed to collapse.

Supported by an outstanding ensemble cast that includes triple A-rated performers like Brad Pitt ("By the Sea") Christian Bale ("Knight of Cups"), Steve Carell ("Foxcatcher"), and Ryan Gosling ("Only God Forgives"), McKay takes highly complex material and molds it into an involving narrative that follows three sets of characters, each running on parallel paths, all intent with cashing in on the system at the expense of the average citizen. The film is narrated by Ryan Gosling who explains at the beginning that our picture of bankers as stolid and conservative citizens no longer fits the reality. They have gone, he says, "from the country club to the strip club." Like Michael Burry (Bale), they even go barefoot, sport a glass eye, listen to heavy metal music and are not the least concerned with what passes for social graces. Burry examines thousands of individual mortgages and realizes that a large number of subprime housing mortgages are "junk" and will collapse sooner rather than later. With no purpose in mind other than to benefit financially from the expected bursting of the housing bubble, Burry puts over a billion dollars of his company's money into what are known as "credit default swaps," an agreement insuring the buyer in the event of a loan default, in essence, betting against not only the housing market but the American economy.

These investments, disparaged by the banks, come to the attention of Jared Vennett (Gosling), a subprime mortgage bond manager who goes into business with hedge-fund manager Mark Baum (Carell). Baum, still mourning the recent suicide of his brother is, in many ways, the film's most interesting character - abrasive and bullying, yet honest with a fine-tuned BS detector. The business also proves interesting to young investors Charles Geller (John Magaro, "Carol") and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock, "The Submarine Kid"), who recruit the knowledgeable ex-banker Ben Rickert (Pitt) to use his connections to help them work directly with the banks.

At one point, Baum's team investigate a housing subdivision in Florida where they find out that many homes are in foreclosure, that mortgages were bought using the name of the family dog, and a stripper owns five homes with variable rate mortgages. Baum shudders when some young brokers tell him how they have made millions by selling subprime mortgages to the poor and to unsuspecting immigrants. To add more spice to proceedings, McKay uses celebrities talking directly to the camera in order to explain the complicated terminology used by bankers to make sure the average person has no idea what's going on.

Provocatively sitting in a bubble bath and drinking champagne, actress Margot Robbie ("The Wolf of Wall Street") explains the ins-and-outs of mortgage-backed securities, while TV food personality Anthony Bourdain compares an unappetizing seafood stew with banks who market bad mortgages as a triple-A rated financial product. There is also a clever demonstration at a casino gambling table using actress Selena Gomez ("Behaving Badly") to show how Credit Default Obligations (CDOs), the bundling of bad mortgages, can lead to layers and layers of speculation. The three groups of characters cross paths at the American Securities Forum in Las Vegas where it soon becomes evident that the housing market is built on fraud and the banks are massively concealing the worthlessness of their holdings.

The Big Short is one of the best films of the year, a fast-paced ride filled with fascinating personalities that entertains even when it infuriates. The mood only turns dark when you realize that the stakes are bigger than winning a game of Monopoly, bigger than who was right and who was wrong. When the market collapses in 2008 sending the economy into a tailspin, it is Rickert who points out to anyone left who still cares that the consequences for real people are not the loss of stocks but the loss of their homes, their livelihood, and, in some cases, their lives. Not to worry, though, it's not personal, just business.
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10/10
There is no other way that I know of to clearly explain CDO's and MBS's (SLIGHT spoiler alert)
ronia14 January 2016
Both the CDO and the MBS are non-tangible, complex assets. How complex are they? Watch this movie to find out. These very "creatures" nearly took the stars and stripes off of Ol' Glory. Combine the greed of several thousand money-hungry loan officers, pile on bankers and bond traders that find out they cannot produce enough crappy debt (read: subprime mortgages) to keep the machine wheels spinning freely enough, and viola! You have a perfect storm. I am NOT a Brad Pitt fan, however, he puts in a solid performance. Steven Carrell (sp) is one of my favorites because he brings it. He brought it in The Office (TV), Brad Almighty, Foxcatcher, and now - The Big Short. He carried the movie well. As in all books that I have ever read, the movie is a bit clip of the book, however, it was 2 hours and 2 minutes WELL spent and there was nary an empty seat in the theatre on a Saturday over a holiday weekend. Very highly recommended.
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9/10
It almost has you rooting for the U.S. economy to fail!
Hellmant5 January 2016
'THE BIG SHORT': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Critically acclaimed comedy-drama flick; about the financial crisis, of 2007 to 2010, and the clever businessmen who were able to profit from it. The film was directed by Adam McKay (who's helmed such other comedy classics as 'ANCHORMAN', 'STEP BROTHERS' and 'THE OTHER GUYS'), and it was written by McKay and Charles Randolph. The movie stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Jeremy Strong, Hamish Linklater, Rafe Spall and Brad Pitt. Along with it being impressively critically rated, the film is also expected to be nominated for multiple Academy Awards (including Best Picture). I found it to be a very insightful, and highly entertaining, movie.

The story begins in 2005, when Michael Burry (Bale), a socially awkward hedge fund manager, predicts the upcoming financial crisis (due to the unstable housing market) and decides to bet against it. Burry creates a 'credit default swap market', much to the dismay of many of his investors. Multiple other businessmen catch wind of Burry's plan, and decide to pursue similar financial ventures. They include trader Jared Vennett (Gosling), hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Carell) and retired banker Ben Rickert (Pitt). The true story follows three different groups of people; as they follow their American dream, of becoming rich (while everyone else's dreams collapse).

The movie is very informative, about what caused the economy to fail (in 2007). It's also very detailed, and educational (in it's explanations), while trying to remain entertaining; at the same time. I still got lost, multiple times, but I also learned a lot too. Besides being politically fascinating, the movie is hilarious, and full of complex characters. It's a lot more insightful, than anything McKay has done before. What's really odd about the film, is that it almost has you rooting for the U.S. economy to fail; just to prove it's likable characters right (I especially like Bale's character, Michael Burry). The film is a must see!

Watch our movie review show 'MOVIE TALK' at: https://youtu.be/dWmLQGusjEk
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9/10
Well told true story
pamma095 January 2016
As a person who understands how this housing bubble burst (not affected personally) - this is a well told story. The acting is great - the inserts of a chef explaining things, and a pop star - very interesting tactic. The individual characters are all well acted and developed. Many people do not get that the banks play games with the average person - as it says at the end of the movie - they just use different words for their products. The main focus of the bank is to make money - not help the consumer and this was rampant in the 90's. People need a place to live - do not put down your income-or lack of. Leave some of the questions blank - no one will care by the time it gets passed off and passed off and passed off and approved. ARM's - to me an automatic money maker for the mortgage holder and not the homeowner - oh that is right the mortgage holder owns the home. This is a movie that more people should see - the acting is great - the story is told well and all need to watch what happens in the future.
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I'm not smart enough to fully understand it.
cricketbat26 December 2018
I appreciate that The Big Short tries to dumb down the housing crisis of 2008, but, apparently, I'm still not smart enough to fully understand it. A lot of this movie went over my head, but I grasped the generalities and it kept me entertained, so I applaud it for that. This film also featured some great performances by the cast, who lose themselves in their respective roles. This movie is a downer, but it's an educational downer.
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8/10
Betting against corruption
TheLittleSongbird17 September 2018
'The Big Short' fascinated me into seeing it without hesitation, had always wanted to see it but it took me a while to get a chance to do so. Have a lot of respect for any film that takes on complex serious subjects that absolutely should be portrayed and the talented cast. While the awards attention (particularly for the script) and critical acclaim (almost universal) interested me further. Plus it looked good.

Good 'The Big Short' indeed was. Very good in fact and while it was not quite perfect it is deserving of the acclaim it got and still gets. Not quite one of the best films of the year for me but very close, with the good things being many and being exceptional in quality. 'The Big Short' took on a subject that needed to be told and holds relevance today and found myself admiring how it approached it while also making something of very high quality as an overall film.

Structurally, 'The Big Short' can get a little complicated and not always easy to follow. Never incoherent as such, just sometimes not always as clear as it could have been.

It definitely would have benefitted from doing less than it did, perhaps not having as much going on and having less characters.

However, 'The Big Short' is well-made with mostly slick photography, despite the odd shakiness that distracts a little, and a fine eye for detail. Furthermore it is smartly directed, keeping things involving throughout the over two hour length, paced in a way that it doesn't feel that long and one is not feeling the seconds.

All the cast are terrific and embody their characters instead of just playing them. Christian Bale's confident quirky performance rightly garnered him an Oscar nomination and Ryan Gosling has one of the film's more challenging roles and essential to anchoring it and he is suitably despicable, not a side we see much from him and it was both interesting and slightly unsettling to watch. Steve Carrell plays it straight while still adopting a jokiness that doesn't feel out of place, he is fun to watch while showing an anger and torment that makes him moving. Brad Pitt does well too and the cameos don't jar or bog things down.

The script is one of the reasons why 'The Big Short' works as well as it does and deserved its Oscar win. It does a great job entertaining and informing and doing it in a way that's taut, smart and making one feel the right emotions. Even though there are issues with the structure, the story is still incredibly compelling, with the interconnecting subplots being involving and developing the compellingly real characters well, and have a lot of admiration for its handling of the subject. It's a very serious, brave subject and not an easy one to bring to film but a subject that's a relevant and important one to tell, 'The Big Short' does remarkably in this aspect. It's always engaging, and it is also funny and informative while also making me feel shocked, angry and emotional as the events unfolded.

Overall, very good with many wonderful things. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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8/10
Excellent, ultimately bleak
gsygsy14 December 2015
Accomplished and informative movie from Adam McKay and his team. Special kudos to Hank Corwin for his fast but never flashy editing.

Superbly acted, with a nice little part for co-producer Brad Pitt, who is always at his best in supporting roles.

Looking at some of the message board postings about this movie, it's evident that the blame game for the financial meltdown of 2007/8 continues, which kind of misses the point of the movie, which is that the whole thing has started up again. Neither governments, nor banks, nor the public seem to care enough about the damage of a cycle of boom and bust to really do anything about it. They – we – smell money.

Excellent film. Mostly funny. Ultimately bleak.
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9/10
Reconstruction of the 2008 banking meltdown.
maurice_yacowar30 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I can't think of another film like The Big Short. It explains the economic meltdown of 2008 with a rage at the fraudulent banking system and the government that coddles it. But this — in effect — lecture is presented as a satiric montage of cultural references woven through the stories of the five principals who bet on the mortgage bubble collapsing and taking the economy down with it. They bet their success on the economy's failure.

The five lead figures are variously outsiders who see past the industry's smugness and are disturbed by the banks' corruption and irresponsibility. Each has his own quirks and offbeat temperament — because only they can strike an outside perspective on the system.

Paradoxically, the first to see through that system is the one-eyed maverick, Michael Burry, an MD turned investment broker. We're not told what kind of doctor he is, but to through Wall Street like that he must be a proctologist. In the kingdom of the willfully blind the one-eyed man is king.

In contrast, the Standard and Poor exec who reluctantly admits the bond ratings are sham wears dark wraparound shades, that express her inscrutability and compromised vision.

At least three — Burry, Mark Baum and Ben Rickert — are idealists, with an earnest desire to see justice served on the corrupt banks. Charlie Geller and Jaimie Shipley are spirited young hustlers itching to crack the closed game.

Our interest in the five engaging men gives this economics lesson a real hook. The human drama brings the financial story to life. Adding to the film's humour and wild spirit, director Adam McKay tosses in comic inserts. In a bubble bath a sexy champagne-sipping blonde explains one matter of high finance, a famous chef another. To distance itself from its corrupt characters, sometimes a character admits to the camera that a scene didn't really happen the way it's being played. Sometimes for emphasis he tells us that an outrageous scene actually happened that way. This reminds us we're watching a story more truthful than the usual "based on…" fictionalization. This is our financial system and government at "work."

The montage of shots from the media, from a tent city, from activities across the American social spectrum, make a key point about this bursting of the mortgage bubble. The drama didn't happen in isolation, however detached the moneymen may be. As the retired Rickert reminds his two celebrating colleagues, the social collapse inherent in the short-sellers' success means thousands will lose their jobs, their homes, their pensions, their futures, their families and lives. The mortgage bubble didn't happen in a bubble but with wide-ranging and real, tragic consequences for thousands of innocents. The cultural references remind us that the cut-throat capitalism we see here is not a freakish exception but indeed an essential element of the capitalist culture.

Indeed the film packages the dense information and historic reconstruction as a very human story, primarily through our engagement with the characters, but also through the comic play in the additional material. The sombre subject matter closes with the ominous warning that the same corrupt practice continues, with no reform to the economic system and virtually no punishment for the fraudulent bankers whose greed almost destroyed the world economy. But the human stories, the jokes, the rich vein of visual material, make this tragedy feel almost comic. The film doesn't change the economic fraud or end the greed, but it makes the hard lesson not just palatable but a pleasure.

Perhaps the film's key justification is the quote from Mark Twain: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Now we know how wrong our trust was in our economic system, in our banks and our brokers, and in the government that's supposed to place the common weal ahead of its rich friends'.

From novelist Haruki Murakami comes the climactic resignation: "Everyone, deep in their hearts, is waiting for the end of the world to come." Bernie Sanders must love this film.
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8/10
Financial crisis.
Cinefill1-VanHerpeHugo30 December 2015
-The Big Short is a 2015 American biographical comedy-drama film directed and co-written by Adam McKay. It is based on the 2010 book of the same name by Michael Lewis, about the financial crisis of 2007–2010 brought on by the build-up of the housing market and credit bubble. The film stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. The film had a limited release in the US on December 11, 2015, by Paramount Pictures and a wide release on December 23, 2015.

--Critical response: -The Big Short has received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 87%, based on 156 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The website's consensus reads, "The Big Short approaches a serious, complicated subject with an impressive attention to detail – and manages to deliver a well-acted, scathingly funny indictment of its real-life villains in the bargain." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale. IGN gave the film a score of 8.6/10, praising its "energetic direction" and making "a complicated tale palpable for the layperson even as it triggers outrage at the fatcats who helped cause it." The New York Times's "UpShot" series claimed The Big Short offered the "strongest film explanation of the global financial crisis."
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10/10
Wall Street still won't take the blame; movie shows why the should
vsks5 January 2016
Five stars for this comedy-drama based on the best-selling Michael Lewis book about the 2008 financial crisis and the lonely voices in the wilderness calling, "Housing bubble," "Housing bubble," "This will end baaaadleeee." The idea that mortgage-backed securities could be anything other than rock solid so went against conventional wisdom that no one listened. But, as we know now, these securities had become more and more vulnerable as riskier loans were bundled into them, and the chaff soon outweighed the wheat. It takes a bit of understanding about how this financial market operated to grasp the significance of the action. Director Adam McKay, who wrote the screenplay with Lewis and Charles Randolph, cleverly provides the necessary background, having characters break the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience. For example, from her symbolic bubble bath and sipping champagne, actress Margot Robbie tells us what a financial bubble actually means. It's " a terrifically enjoyable movie that leaves you in a state of rage, nausea and despair," says A.O. Scott in his New York Times review, which includes a clip from McKay on some of the clever ways the film explains the financial goings-on. The cast does an exemplary job of embuing characters with strong personalities. Christian Bale plays Dr. Michael Burry, a loner physician-turned-hedge-fund-manager who figures out the problem early (and whose character confirms my aversion to heavy metal music). He takes the unprecedented step of actually looking at the individual mortgages bundled into the securities being offered and sees that many of them are weak and involve adjustable rate loans. When their interest rates go up, the homeowners will default. This, to him is an investment opportunity; he'll bet against the mortgage market. The banks are happy to back his scheme (involving credit default swaps), seeing it as a sure-fire winner for them. One of the banks he approaches has on staff a skeptical analyst, played by Ryan Gosling, who believes the good doctor may just be right. He convinces the unconventional trading firm led by Mark Baum (Steve Carell) to invest in the swaps, too. In one of the movie's funniest sequences, Baum sends staff to Florida to investigate some of these mortgages. They find unbuilt houses, a forest of "for sale" signs, and two beach-bum mortgage brokers (Max Greenfield and Billy Magnussen) , who don't hesitate to say they will insure basically anything. "Why are they confessing?" Baum whispers to his staffer. "They're not confessing. They're bragging," he replies. Similarly, Melissa Leo, as an official at an investment rating agency, is badgered into explaining how, if her firm rated investments accurately, the banks would just take their business down the street. In a Colorado garage, another pair of youthful investors (played by John Magaro and Finn Wittrock) wants to parlay $30 million into a bigger fortune. They set out to New York to figure out how. There they stumble onto the real estate problem and see the credit default swaps as their big chance, but they need connections, and they get help from their neighbor back home, a disenchanted former investment banker (Brad Pitt). It's telling that the few people who foresaw and took advantage of the inevitable crisis were all, one way or another, Wall Street outsiders. They weren't unaware that their gains were made on the backs of everyday Americans who lost billions in housing value, jobs and homes, pension fund value, and savings. Meanwhile, the many individuals and institutions whose carelessness, greed, or criminality created the bubble in the first place have not been called to account. No less an expert than Paul Krugman has written, "I think (the movie) does a terrific job of making Wall Street skulduggery entertaining, of exploiting the inherent black humor of how it went down." And, even more important, he says it "got the underlying economic, financial, and political story right." And it's still a story lots of people don't want Americans to hear.
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