Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Big Short (2015)

IMDb plot summary: Four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed.
Directed by Adam McKay. Starring Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.

Well, sheesh. If you've ever wanted to see a movie that came away feeling like there was absolutely no hope for humanity left in America, here's one. It's an unusual departure for Adam McKay as mostly a fast-talking drama (with some comedic elements, but still all centered around a serious situation). I mean, who would expect the director of Anchorman to do a biopic explaining the 2008 economic crisis? It is absolutely engaging, however, and to someone like me who knows very, very little about financial or economic matters, it was able to tell its story in a way that kept me continually in the loop, even making fun of how deliberately complicated some of this stuff is. I walked out of this feeling... well, maybe not entertained (it's hard to be entertained by greed when it's had an impact on your life and the lives of those around you), but definitely with a stronger grasp of the facts of the matter.

The acting here is fantastic -- one of Steve Carell's best roles, and Christian Bale is a little over-the-top as always but definitely creates a compelling character. The script is also stupendous -- funny and clever and interesting all the way through. My biggest aesthetic grip comes down to the bizarre editing, specifically the tendency to insert into the narrative shots of random houses or flowers or groups of people. These shots lasts so briefly that I barely even had time to try and parse how they connected to anything being said. I'm sure McKay had a directorial reason for this, but it took me out of the story every single time and just seemed... awkward.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Big Short > The Fortune Cookie
The Big Short < Eat Pray Love
The Big Short > A Separation
The Big Short < The Green Mile
The Big Short > The Thin Man
The Big Short < How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)
The Big Short > The Return of the Living Dead
The Big Short > 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Big Short > Going My Way
The Big Short > Batman
Final spot: #790 out of 2405.

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