The Big Short

(2015)

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Title:
The Big Short
Release Date:
11th December 2015
Runtime:
130 min
MPAA Rating:
R
Genres:
Directors:
Adam McKay
Writers:
Adam McKay, Charles Randolph
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

Three separate but parallel stories of the U.S mortgage housing crisis of 2005 are told. Michael Burry, an eccentric ex-physician turned one-eyed Scion Capital hedge fund manager, has traded traditional office attire for shorts, bare feet and a Supercuts haircut. He believes that the US housing market is built on a bubble that will burst within the next few years. Autonomy within the company allows Burry to do largely as he pleases, so Burry proceeds to bet against the housing market with the banks, who are more than happy to accept his proposal for something that has never happened in American history. The banks believe that Burry is a crackpot and therefore are confident in that they will win the deal. Jared Vennett with Deutschebank gets wind of what Burry is doing and, as an investor believes he too can cash in on Burry's beliefs. An errant telephone call to FrontPoint Partners gets this information into the hands of Mark Baum, an idealist who is fed up with the corruption in the financial industry. Baum and his associates, who work at an arms length under Morgan Stanley, decide to join forces with Vennett despite not totally trusting him. In addition to Burry's information, they further believe that most of the mortgages are overrated by the bond agencies, with the banks collating all the sub-prime mortgages under AAA packages. Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley, who are minor players in a $30 million start-up garage company called Brownfield, get a hold of Vennett's prospectus on the matter. Wanting in on the action but not having the official clout to play, they decide to call an old "friend", retired investment banker Ben Rickert, to help out. All three of these groups work on the premise that the banks are stupid and don't know what's going on, while for them to win, the general economy has to lose, which means the suffering of the general investor who trusts the financial institutions. That latter aspect may not sit well with Baum. Some of these assumptions may be incorrect and may be far more manipulative than they could have ever imagined, which in turn may throw curves into the process.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 88%
IMDb Rating 7.8

Casts

Casey Groves as Fund Manager
Charlie Talbert as Lewis Bond Trader
Harold Gervais as Lewis Bond Trader
Rudy Eisenzopf as Lewis Ranieri
Ryan Gosling as Jared Vennett

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by texshelters 28th 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

Reviewed by Ray Ranger 20th November, 2015

The Best movie I've seen all year.

I will keep the review simple. Although some of the financial jargon went over my head, i would say Adam McKay is a genius, to make a movie about the financial crisis this much entertaining, funny and touching that's a feat only few filmmakers can pull off, and a lot of that has to do with the tremendous cast of this movie. The Big Short has a large ensemble cast but focuses on four major players who benefited in various ways from betting against the American economy. Steve Carell gives one of the best performance of his career, Christian bale portrays the awkward lonely genius with ease. Ryan gosling is slick over the top and funny in this movie he also makes the whole thing much more interesting. Brad Pitt is kind of a good guy and the moral center. This is a must see, and needs multiple viewings to truly appreciate.

Reviewed by Zuranthium (zuranthium@yahoo.com) 15th November, 2015

An unexpected and necessary masterpiece

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.

Reviewed by tkn10015 14th November, 2015

The rich get rich and the poor get evicted. Ain't we got Fun

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.

Reviewed by HollywoodGlee 13th November, 2015

Four

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.