The Big Short – Box Office Review

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The Big Short” might be one of the best written films I’ve ever seen. I can’t recall sitting through a movie that blatantly spells out how ignorant the audience watching the film is and then continues belittling their intelligence throughout. It’s incredible. They presume you’re an over commercialized fool who listens to celebrities over facts and then use celebrities to pander to your unintelligent existence. It’s truly a miracle. It’s remarkable to me that this movie is scoring so well on Rotten Tomatoes in viewer ratings. It is this reason that supports my belief on how well written this film is. It deserves an award. How do you insult an entire audience and then they give you rave reviews? Let’s explore…

First, this film is complicated because of how it deals with financial topics unfamiliar to many people. It addresses that fact nicely and provides the simplest explanation of concepts that led to the rise and fall of the housing market. The language in this film is complex, technical and crude. It’s also written so well that the simplest mind can grasp a new and challenging concept being described by simply using Jenga blocks. It caters to the lowest common denominator of intelligence and it’s done in such a way you might feel like you’re being educated. The fact is, you’re being talked down to because there’s a good chance you’re part of the problem that led to housing crisis in America. This isn’t education for improved learning. It’s education on how you (probably) helped ruin an entire economy by being unaware.

Second, and probably the most important, the movie ends by painting a picture of redistributed fault or blame. We don’t leave the theater feeling like the housing market had a bubble and it burst because we’re to blame. It ends by showing how the Federal Government is to blame. It details, nicely, how the United States Federal Government knew and did nothing to support change. In fact, the film closes with a poignant statement regarding why the banks didn’t care. Wall Street and banking is about money and this film informs you how far money goes and how little the people in charge care as long as there is money to go around.

“The Big Short” is in theaters now! I give this film all the bail out money it needs. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen all year. The actors are incredible, all of them. There’s no shortage of talent and you’d assume there might be. Star studded cast, supporting cast and ancillary characters are all well acted. The story is engaging and topical. I can’t wait to see this film again. It’s that good. If you fancy yourself an intellectual go see this. If you enjoy money and Wall Street, go see this. If you want a film that will open your eyes to an entirely new world that coexists with you, go see it. Incredibly well done and kudos all around.

One comment on “The Big Short – Box Office Review

  1. Yes, I would even say that it talks about financial topics that are not only unfamiliar to many but to most people. I’m certainly included. I agree with you when you say people are being talked down. It’s done stylishly, sarcastically and funnily. I liked it. I didn’t get offended for the simple fact that the director is right: I don’t know those things. I won’t deny that for the benefit of my self esteem/ego. Never admitting we are wrong is a sign of stupid rigidity. He’s simply right. You also said that “it’s done in such a way you might feel like you’re being educated. The fact is, you’re being talked down to because there’s a good chance you’re part of the problem that led to housing crisis in America.”
    You’re right too. I even remembered a very famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein that reads: “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former”. But I also think the fact that the viewers are part of the problem doesn’t mean they can’t ever be educated. Maybe not the majority of us. I’ll tell you something that’s happened to me and it may seem small but it can still be used as example: When I was 18 I was sent a credit card. The bank just mailed it to me and all I had to do was call a number to activate it. I automatically had a few hundreds of dollars as credit without having to prove that I had a source of income or anything like that. I was magically approved for a card I had never requested or applied for. That’s how it works where I come from and it is legal. My mother knows economy more than I do but it’s still very little. She taught me how credit cards worked and with the information she provided me I decided that I would never have a credit card in my life. I never did. And till today, I don’t have a credit card. Because I know how I am and I know it won’t work for me. Not having a credit card can be a little inconvenient sometimes but I know it’s a wiser decision – for me. It may sound like an insignificant illustration but my bank’s tried and I didn’t take the bait because I had information and it’s helped me not to be in debt. So I think I can be talked down, identify my mistake, pond why I made that mistake, see the irony, admit I was ignorant, naive and stupid and still be educated if I keep an open mind. Of course I won’t learn about a vast subject like economy from a movie, but it can warn me. It can plant a seed in my mind. So, yes, the movie was didactic. And didactic is an important word here. But there is a noble reason behind that. One of the intentions of the director was too alert us. Jared (Ryan Gosling) says in the very beginning of the movie: The system, the government, the banks, they want the jargons and the language to be boring. They want us to be bored and stupid. The movie talks us down but that message is very clear and its not hidden. He’s is alerting us. He’s telling us to be more well informed. He’s telling us not to fall for false promises, especially when they are too good to be true. He’s telling us we should learn from our mistakes as individuals and as a society. We all should try to acquire more knowledge so we don’t let the government and the system make a fool out of us – too much. The Big Short may seem a little instructive at times but as someone without specialized knowledge in finances and economy I appreciated the didactic tone. It was helpful to me. If we keep open to knowledge, become better listeners, get more informed, there’s a chance that we will be at least more suspicious next time we hear about an offer that is too good to be true – although – I admit, the very director of the movie doesn’t seem to have much hope LOL. He even shows this text in the end of the movie that reads (yes, I took a photo of the screen, I’m also a movie junkie and crazy. I have seen the movie twice on the same day, in a row. That’s how much I loved it.

    • In 2015, several large banks began selling billions in something called a “bespoke tranche opportunity”. Which, according to Bloomberg News is just another word for a CDO.

    This text has a sad, frustrating and depressing but true message, we usually don’t learn from our mistakes. People are still buying it. But this movie is so freaking great that it makes you laugh and it also makes you want to cry. In the end I just felt once again that humanity has failed.

    My favorite part of your review was this:

    “We don’t leave the theater feeling like the housing market had a bubble and it burst because we’re to blame. It ends by showing how the Federal Government is to blame. It details, nicely, how the United States Federal Government knew and did nothing to support change. In fact, the film closes with a poignant statement regarding why the banks didn’t care. Wall Street and banking is about money and this film informs you how far money goes and how little the people in charge care as long as there is money to go around.”

    At a point Mark sums up what happened saying it was Fraud + Stupidity.

    I also liked what Michael (Christian Bale) says about this business killing something inside you that has nothing to do with finances.

    But I love when art has that impact on me. Even when its depressing, it’s still so worth it.

    I admire actors from different decades: Clark Gable, Jack Lemmon, Michael Caine, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and in the newer generation I think Daniel Day Lewis, Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christian Bale are the best. Christian Bale is a tour de force. In this movie, even playing a low profile sort of character, he shines. This guy never overacts. He always knows the perfect tone. He’s acting is really impressive. He’s a freak of nature. And I agree with you, all the characters were well acted. Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell were great too.
    I laughed so loud when they showed Ludacris’ Money Maker video. I liked how dynamic the movie was. And it’s not the first time I see people talking to the camera in a movie, but the way it was done in The Big Short is still original and very ironic and smart. It suited the story. I also appreciated that the two characters who are kind of the moral centers of the story Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and Ben (Brad Pitt) are not mister goody two shoes and flawless. That was a relief.

    I have a Megadeth song tattooed on my back, I like thrash metal and it was nice to hear Metallica and Pantera played in a movie.

    When I left the theater I realized once again how much I enjoy learning from movies. I didn’t know anything about the Spanish Civil War until I watched the amazing and aesthetically stunning Pan’s Labyrinth (or Labyrinth of the Faun) directed by Mexican Guillermo Del Toro (who also directed Blade 2, Hellboy 1 and 2 and co-wrote The Hobbits), a drama/fantasy with a strong story, full of dazzling symbolisms that takes place in Spain a few years after their civil war. It was so well done that after I saw the movie I just had to read more about their history. When I watched Lars von Trier’s Dogville (with Nicole Kidman, Lauren Bacall, Paul Bettany, James Caan) an exceptional and raw portrait of how resilient a person can be but also how frivolous, petty, ignorant, hypocritical, bragging, judgmental, calculating, self-absorbed and deplorable we – as a society – are depending on the situation presented. He shows all that in his story. It’s realistic though, we can all relate. But that massage is not spoon fed by any means!!! Not at all. The way Lars von Trier orchestrates the chapters of the film to show us all the stages of those human facets is really brilliant. That film deserves to be seen more than once. One of the characters in Dogville teaches her children about the philosophy of Stoicism. They don’t get deep into it but her mention is important to the story. I didn’t know what that was back in 2004 so I had to do a little philosophy homework to at least get familiarized with the definition. Even the greatest professor, she/he won’t teach us everything. They might plant a little seed in our minds, they might give us useful, even estimable directions but it’s our work, our responsibility to go after more knowledge. Movies keep helping me learn things and whetting my curiosity. I like that. One may not agree with all the points The Big Short makes (I heard people saying: Oh, but they didn’t mention …….. In that space you may fill out with president from the political party of their preference, it doesn’t matter which aprty you pick, they just wanna blame what they consider the enemy and forget that the whole system is rotten and that we also have our responsibility. So like I was writing, one may not agree with all the points The Big Short makes but that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn a valuable lesson (or two) from Adam McKay and Michael Lewis. Well, at least they’ve tried.

    Liked by 1 person

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