The Big Short

January 4, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment
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There has been no shortage of films about the Great Recession: “Inside Job,” “Margin Call,” “The Company Men,” “Capitalism: A Love Story,” just to name the ones I have seen. None has done so effective a job of explaining the financial collapse as this film, nor have they done it in such an evocative and original way. With tongue in cheek and a blade to our necks, this movie is both deeply cutting and profoundly funny at the same time. It tells the true story of the random smattering of investors and analysts who discovered that the housing market was going to crash and took advantage of it to make a lot of money. This story could be very dry and its protagonists unlikeable but director Adam McKay (“Talladega Nights,” the “Anchorman” movies) manages to make it quite the opposite. I was continual delighted by the clever dialogue, swift pacing and innovative story telling; I don’t want to give anything away but it was a shear joy to see the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Selena Gomez explaining complex economics to the audience. It’s no surprise that a script this strong was able to get such a stellar cast, including Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Melissa Leo, Marisa Tomei, and Brad Pitt. Carell again shows his skill for complex roles, playing the seething and indignant Mark Baum in a way that makes him intimidating, funny and sympathetic at the same time. Gosling is also endless fun as the spray-tanned Jared Vennett and Bale’s performance as the glass-eyed Michael Burry is unnervingly good.  These are great performers who are clearly enjoying this job. The result is all great fun and laughter… until it isn’t. The film’s tone shifts suddenly and effectively at the end, reminding us of the cost of all this greed and ending with a somber gut punch that might seem heavy handed and preachy if the implications weren’t so clear. This is a story about tough stuff made as palatable and digestible as it could be. It’s also one of the best films of the year.

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