All the thrills of a downturn
Last night I watched The Big Short (2015)
What I like about The Big Short is that it simplifies the housing crisis through anecdotes and visuals. The problem I had was even after these things were explained, even if I understood the explanation there would be pieces of dialogue where I would mix up terms or transactions. I think the movie would have been served well to add one more touch of directing flashiness and include humorous subtitles to the characters to remind the viewer what the characters are talking about and maybe make comments about what was going on.
I really like the breaking of the 4th wall that breaks the film narative to explain what really went on and explain there was a little compression and exposition used in the storytelling, but that the real events and characters were slightly different. Based on the understanding I had of reading and listening to reports at the time and the great explanations from NPR's Planet Money, I think the film did a great job of explaining what happened in 2007 and 2008 and the events that lead up to the economic downturn.
The acting was great, especially Steve Carell and Christian Bale and it was fun to see some new faces that I had never seen before that acted at a level where they fit in with the big names. The directing is slick and cool and felt like Adam McKay had referenced the style of some 1970's movies through freeze frames and zooms. It is neat that he mixed pop culture figures with credit swaps, something in finance the finance guys at the time were too cocky to admit they had no understanding of, with the pop culture which is the embodiment of frivolous gossip everyone has a grasp of.
The one problem with this is that the movie is very guy heavy, and that is especially noticable because the women in the film are either on the fringes or are pop culture references, and the guys have very macho New York accents and mostly travel in packs. A lot of that is that Wall Street and the characters in this story really were guys and that the culture of Wall Street was like the mortgage lenders in Florida who didn't really understand what they were selling, but they gained their macho bonafides by making the deal and making money.
My takeaway from this movie was not that it is a tragedy, but that even as Wall Street complained about the bailout, it saved the industry and made money for the government. It made me hopeful that the lack of accountability in the financial sector was put in a movie that is falling into pop culture from its Oscar Nominations and the best selling Michael Lewis book it was based on that the public might have a palpable sense of how regulation can benefit the economy and protect the investor.
I liked the way music was used to set the mood of the movie although there were a couple of scenes that dragged ever so slightly and a little more score would have helped.