I haven’t time write a full-on review because of commitments to attend four schmooze parties today (brunches for Carol and Mr. Holmes‘ Ian McKellen at 11 am, a 3pm gathering for Beasts of No Nation and a soiree for the Spotlight gang at 5 pm), but my estimation of Adam McKay‘s The Big Short shot way up last night when I caught it for a second time. I still don’t get a good portion of the flim-flam jargon and I still find the financial milieu rank and appalling, but the second viewing was the charm. I honestly feel like a slightly wiser and better person for having seen it. Seriously…it expanded my horizons. Obviously not in a Bhagavad Gita sense but in a crusty, eye-rolling fashion. It’s not a rumor — we live in a country that is largely ruled by financial criminals and the people they’ve bought off.
The Big Short is a fascinating deep dive into a galaxy I’ve never really visited before, and after doing some research yesterday and skimming through the Michael Lewis book I suddenly awoke to the film, or somehow found that switch that allowed my brain to not only accept but savor what the movie is pushing.
Advice to HE readers: If you want to half-understand and therefore enjoy The Big Short, you need to do one of the following: (a) see it twice like I have — it really makes a difference, (b) acquire some personal experience in investments and/or the high-end financial markets, (c) arrange to be born into a wealthy, connected family that talks about financial crap at the breakfast table, or (d) be smarter than me, Scott Feinberg, Sasha Stone and other blogaroonies who had a little trouble with it the other night. But if you have more brain power, family wealth, some experience in the market and a willingness to see The Big Short a second time, the curtains will part and you’ll find a special arousal, a spark, a little bit of Tom Wolfe‘s “aha!” phenomenon.
The Big Short may not be the most conventionally “entertaining” film around. How could a frenetic half-farce, half-docudrama about crazy banking stupidity and credit-rating fraud that led up to the September 2008 meltdown…how could that “entertain”? But it kind of does if you can, you know, wonk out and run with it. It’s a very accomplished film, a clever-as-fuck film, a necessary film, a radical film and one that I’m very glad was made.
I just wasn’t smart enough to get it the first time…sorry. My brain cell count is my brain cell count, and I’ve never been a numbers guy. I’m a poet-samurai guy, a God guy, a motorcycle guy, a Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen guy, a Parisian at heart, a cat lover and a worshipper of 40something women but sod all that financial noise and those stupid games that Wall Street guys play and the institutional rot that is par for the course.
There are now two Bernie Sanders movies that everyone needs to see — Adam McKay’s film pus Michael Moore‘s Where To Invade Next, a docu-portrait of contentment and/or relative happiness among citizens of several European countries that believe more in a “we” approach than a celebration of “me”, which is the reigning U.S. theology.