The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
The Big Short (Paramount Pictures)
Directed by Adam McKay
There are no words. There are no words to describe how much I love this movie. I loved everything about it… everything but the plot. However that’s not the movie’s fault. The Big Short is about the housing crisis of 2008. More accurately it’s about the people who saw it coming. But not just saw it coming they bet on it happening and then made millions and billions and billions of billions while millions of people lost their homes and their jobs and their lives and their minds and their money. This is a movie about the real villains. Except with varying degrees of villainy, they are all evil. The Big Short deftly handles the amazing feat of making you root for the end of the world. Making you root for the bubble to burst. Making you root for the villains. We all know it happens. This movie makes you want it to happen. It made me feel sick to my stomach. I fucking love this movie.
Steve Carrell is astonishing in The Big Short and I had no idea he could act. This is the first movie I have ever seen him in that was good. Christian Bale from Batman Begins is his insanely great self. But he always does great work. And the movie includes beautiful cameos from some of my favorite TV actors like Karen Gillan from Doctor Who and Max Greenfield from New Girl. But each and every one of these people are dirt-bags. They play finance and real estate douches and assholes. All of them. There is this fantastic scene where they’re leaving Las Vegas and they all get into different types of cars. Into different sizes and kinds of transportation and it is amazing. You see the different levels of villainy. And then the celebrities who play themselves like Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez and I’m guessing some other people.
Adam McKay’s direction is phenomenal. The Big Short is fantastic. He handles several narrators from several different pods and throws in a paper-thin fourth wall that anyone can break through at any time. And they do. They all do. And it’s wonderful. He allows for far-in-the-weeds economic exposition by having different celebrities in strange situations describe the various banking and mortgage jargon and laws and stuff. And it’s amazing. This is a disaster movie. This is The Day After, Earthquake the movie, The Towering Inferno and it’s funny. Even though it’s not really funny at all. This stuff killed people and ruined lives but here it’s very fucking funny. And as it turns out nobody wants to hear about banking and real estate unless it’s got tits & ass and it’s making them laugh.
The Big Short is a great script based on a book by Michael Lewis. I love the metaphors and the language. The characters are bigger than life. And while sure they’re based on real people. These are all real people. But nobody talks that cool. Come on. This is like if Quentin Tarantino wrote about bankers. This is great dialogue. And I learned so much about credit swaps and sub-prime mortgages and CDO’s but that’s real banking. All this shit really happened. But again, and I need to keep saying this, while these guys are making a mint, many more people are losing their shirts… to Short, you see, means to bet on something to lose. To bet on people losing their jobs and their homes. This was the biggest crash since the big crash. There was a lot to lose… and a lot to gain from it.
In my opinion, there is a real devil here. And it’s money. The love of money and the love of making money. They say what we needed back then were better regulations. But more than that, what we needed was better mental health care and screening for bankers and hedge fund managers. We needed to weed out the psychopaths and sociopaths who, no matter what rules we create, would always find a way to game the system for their own advantage. Because when you lack compassion, then the things that others would deem unthinkable become ways to win. Schemes implemented that destroy people’s lives in order to make money are set into motion with a smile. And that’s not going to end people. We’re not going to regulate out the ability for the evil to rob the innocent. You don’t stop wolves with a fence. You stop the wolves by getting a dog. Something to spot those people and prevent them from getting anywhere near that much power. Just like psychopaths shouldn’t be allowed to have guns, they shouldn’t be allowed to have hedge funds and they shouldn’t be allowed to run banks either.
And we keep electing these same sociopaths to public office. Sociopaths and career politicians. You can say we need to reward honesty, except the truth is subjective. And language is used against us to justify all manner of abhorrent behavior. Remember when the first thing on a politician’s resume was how honest they were. These days we allow people to feign sincerity and promise the world. And again and again they prove themselves unworthy of the office we give them. Because those who are worthy don’t want it. Our nomination process is horrible at all levels. Wanting to be in office should be evidence enough that these people should not be. They can say anything as long as it sounds like something that we want or that we fear. When someone comes along and tells you the brutal truth, not some wish list of what the world would look like in your particular ideological fantasy but the brutal truth about what can be done and what can not be done, then that person, that unpopular truthful person, should be nominated for office. But it seems we’d rather be lied to. And we need to stop rewarding this behavior.
The Award Season
The Big Short is an important movie. It is an important lesson in a financial system run amok. But also a lesson in reality. There are laws and rules and regulations but because we have a system that is far and away a monster of our own creation, we have little hope of reining it in. The Big Short is a fun and funny movie about a financial disaster that actually happened and will happen again. But instead of pretending that there will be a way to control this monster. We should all stop feeding it. Divest completely. No matter what your financial planner tells you, he or she is lying or being lied to. No matter what a politician promises you, he or she knows that it’s not possible or they’re too naive to know. But either way, we need to starve the beast before it kills us all.
How do we do that you ask? I don’t know. I’m just a guy with a blog.
The Big Short is one of the best movies of the year. But it’s also an important film that everyone should see. If it wins the Academy Award then maybe more people will.
The Oscar race is heating up this year… at least in my house it is.