“The Big Short” is Big Entertainment

I don’t like a lot of movies a lot, but I’d say I love “The Big Short” were I not prone to understatement.

In case you don’t know, it is about the collapse of the housing market in 2008 and under most circumstances it would never have become a movie.  Michael Lewis, the author of the book didn’t believe anyone would want to make it into a movie, let a lone a good one, but he turned out to be doubly wrong.   I don’t think he minds.

For the uninitiated the story is about several guys who, unlike just about everyone else, could foresee that the giddy rise in housing prices was a bubble about to burst and then found ways to bet on that eventuality using Wall Street financial instruments they created.   What makes the movie great, er, very good, is that these guys are all curious characters with interesting back stories portrayed strikingly through an excellent script peppered with humor.

Periodically some character says something to temper our enjoyment, reminding us that millions of people lost their homes and jobs as a result, but those sobering thoughts do not suck enjoyment from the story itself.

What does irritate is a statistic given at the end of the movie that only one man went to  jail despite the palpable guilt of many.   What the Obama administration settled for instead was large fines to the various companies involved while allowing those companies to deny intentional wrong doing.   THE BIG LIE!

My guess is the Obama team thought pressing for convictions would add to the shakiness of the financial system which they spent many of their efforts to shore up.  But the crimes ignored were so obvious that the government response is demoralizing.

For those who want to read more about that Matt Taibbi has written an interesting piece for Rolling Stone about an executive at JP Morgan who had a bird’s eye view of the corruption and tried to fight it the best she could, but her voice was stifled first by the company and later by the Obama administration.  Linked here.

Also, as good as the movie was, if you agree with that assessment, I think you’d find the book adding to your enjoyment as no movie can capture all the good parts of a book.   And Michael Lewis, whose books Money Ball and The Blind Side were also turned into good movies, is great at telling a story.

 

 

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