The Big Short is a socially (and financially) conscious movie about the Sub-Prime Lending crisis (betting on residential home mortgages) and the many white guys on Wall Street who benefited from the larceny of cheating the little (aka, Stupid Peons) people out of their homes and savings with the help of Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve and the Big Banks and Brokerage Houses (this is when Lehman Brothers rightfully fell to their demise on the hard concrete of Wall Street).
This video sort of explains what was happening---without the fraud involved in no one acknowledging that the bottom had fallen out of the mortgage betting game and allowing the mortgages to be highly rated by financial institutions that should have seen the rot and tried to stop the financial gains of the crooks who kept selling the Brooklyn Bridge and Florida Swampland to people who didn't know better and those that should have known better but were Greedy Greedy ::Lehman Brothers::cough::
I am still trying to figure out the ends and outs and cooking of the mortgage books that led to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. I am reading the book that the movie is based on, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. I think that it would be easier to try to make puff pastry for the first time.
The movie will enrage you, because although it is supposed to be following the few financial wizards who realized what was going on and had qualms about the fraud involved, none of their reservations stopped them from making a lot of money on a horrible disaster. What I realized about these people was that they were all addictive gamblers and that Das Capital is all about Gambling. No one is creating jobs or products or food or betterment of the human condition. These people are just beating and doping dead horses to fulfill their gambling sickness. Nothing is real, not the money or the people, it is all just some destructive high that vanishes and has to be replaced with more gambling highs that affect other people, not them.
The gator in the backyard pool isn't going to get them. It will eat the home owners. That is an image from the movie that is clever and memorable. The Steve Caroll character has been alerted to the SubPrime shennanigans by another trader on Wall Street and goes to Florida where a lot of the mortgages are located to check out an half-built and then forgotten housing development that is getting subprime mortgages from banks for any deadbeat investor with no money and no credit who wants to buy into the housing development. During the investigation, Caroll and his merry band of fraudsters are terrorized by an alligator who has taken up home in a swimming pool of one of the houses that the bank is going to foreclose on because the mortgage hasn't been paid for the last six months. The Bank or the Gator? It's like The Lady or the Tiger?
Because the subject matter---financial fraud---is not readily apparent to people who are not inclined to financial larceny and peculation, the movie allows its characters to face the fourth wall; we, the viewers, and explain things to us so that we can follow the story. But the story and the characters are people imprisoned (and that is the only prison that any of these crooks faced, as one of the nastier characters played by Ryan Gosling likes to inform us) by their desks and their computers. This movie is about characters who don't move; their imaginary money moves and dips and flies and crashes and and burns and kills, but not them, the money guys, not directly, they aren't responsible, they are just making that elusive delusion called Money. The first picture in this post shows the essential static nature of the movie. People sit around and talk about whether they should bet this horse or that horse based on the touts and the morning spreadsheets and their own addictions and sicknesses.
The movie has a messy subject matter that it tries to portray and explain in a messy manner (see a comment by dawnybee to a comment of mine*) and I don't find that it is very successful at that. But the viewer can follow enough of the mental and financial action to get mad about it.
No one is likeable in this movie, but all the actors give it a good try. Steve Caroll makes millions, but somehow that is fine because his brother committed suicide and Caroll is upset about it. Ryan Gosling should be nekkid in his gym scene because Margot Robie shows up in a spa tub and explains some financial shennanigans. What? Women aren't going to watch this movie and they shouldn't get some nice male skin to watch while he babbles about something or other? Finn Witrock leaves his Dandy behind (haha get it? I am breaking the fourth wall now) and plays another good looking, heartless exploiter of freaks and money. I didn't even recognize Brad Pitt until I was about two thirds through the movie, so I have to say that he did a good job.
This movie might be the reason why no People of Color were nominated for the acting categories by the Academy. All the good greedy crook roles were played by the white guys just like in real life.
*the Comment Conversation Made Simple:
Moi: I've got to do my write-up on The Big Short. This was a win for a currently important political and social film. The other films had better movie techniques.
DB: I think the thing that made people not truly embrace The Big Short was that while it was necessary to use different methods to disconstruct the lingo, it was really jumbled. It seems scattershot. I think they should've just kept the interstitials by Bourdain, et al but dropped the stock photos/music montages.