February 4, 2016

The Big Short (2015)

Steve Carrell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

Every once in awhile, a movie comes along that can actually make an impact on your life. A movie so insightful or meaningful you can't help but remember it, and feel like every single person you know should watch it. THIS IS THAT MOVIE.

A little background: Once upon a time, I taught high school Economics. My graduate thesis involved the very housing bubble this movie centers on, and the importance of financial literacy in graduating high school seniors. (It's thrilling stuff.) So I'm already a bit ahead of the curve on this stuff and have a pretty good grasp of exactly what caused the financial crisis and why it matters. I WAS STILL HORRIFIED WATCHING THIS MOVIE.

John Oliver once made a joke about a company's ability to hide anything sinister within a customer licensing agreement because people are too lazy to through boring documents. There's a lot of truth to that. How many people reading this post right now can tell me about the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act? Anyone? Exactly. And yet, it's policies like those that allowed banks to get - and I'm sure you'll recognize this catch phrase - "too big to fail." DO YOU REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT PHRASE MEANS? Do you understand how that affect YOU? YOU NEED TO.

This movie should outrage people. Mostly because the financial crisis and the unprecedented irresponsibility of companies (and the government) should outrage people, but they don't seem to fully understand what happened, or the fact that very little was done in the aftermath of the meltdown. SO THEY SHOULD WATCH THIS MOVIE.

Does this actually help people concentrate,
or detract them from doing so?
Let me convince you more fully: If you are afraid this movie will be boring, it's not. If you're afraid it will be too serious, well, get out of your action movie mindset, but also, it's not. If you're afraid this movie will use too much complicated lingo you won't understand, it won't. This is literally the most entertaining possible iteration of explaining what otherwise might be a complicated, boring, dense subject for most people. The story is broken down into digestable pieces by highlighting key players who predicted the crash and occasionally breaking the 4th wall to have random celebrities (like Margot Robbie in a bubble bath) explain the technical language. It's a bit sexist, but I can overlook it in the quest for the greater cause of getting people to pay attention to WTF IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD AROUND THEM. It's a very unorthodox movie in that it almost doesn't feel like a movie, but might be one of the most important films I've ever seen. If I still taught high school Economics, you'd better believe I'd make every single kid watch it.

As an aside, I know the Oscars have taken a lot of flak recently for being out of touch, but I do think they still serve an important purpose. Without the widespread recognition from several Oscar nominations, would this movie have ever gotten the exposure it did? I doubt it. So even though I still stand by my #OscarsSoWhite column regarding their history of diversity, I applaud the voters for highlighting this movie that EVERYONE SHOULD SEE.


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