Movie Review: The Big Short (2015)


TitleThe Big Short
Release Date: 2015
Director: Adam McKay
Summary/Review:

I wouldn’t think that The Big Short by Michael Lewis, a book about the investors who saw through the complex shenanigans around financial instruments leading to the great collapse of 2008, would make a great movie.  But director McKay and his cast and crew do a great job of making a film that is funny, educational, and heartbreaking.  There are a lot of pomo kind of tricks like breaking the fourth wall to speak to audience and celebrity cameos that are reminiscent of 24 Hour Party People.  The movie is anchored by strong acting, including Steve Carell as the crotchety New Yorker from ” America’s angriest hedge fund,” and Christian Bale as the quirky genius who first thought to short the subprime mortgage market.

I don’t know if this was a common reaction, but as the film depicted the crash and all the suffering caused by Wall Street, I wept openly in the movie theater.  This is a terrific film that works on both the mind and the emotions and I think everyone should try to see it.  Well, unless your easily offended by foul language and strippers and those sort of things.

Most telling dialogue in the entire movie (regarding some douchey mortgage agents):

Mark Baum: I don’t get it. Why are they confessing?

Danny Moses: They’re not confessing.

Porter Collins: They’re bragging.

Rating: *****

Movie Review: Brooklyn (2015)


TitleBrooklyn
Release Date: 2015
DirectorJohn Crowley
Summary/Review:

I love immigration stories, and Irish immigration stories especially.  I’m sentimental that. But I really struggled reading the novel Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín.   It’s a beautifully written book that depicts the everyday challenges of a young woman alone in New York half a world away from her family, but I found it frustrating because Eilis seems to have no agency and allows other people to make every decision for her. So it was with some trepidation that I went to see the movie adaptation.

While following the same basic plot line, the film has more humor and allows Eilis to have much greater agency.  In fact, the through line of the film is Eilis developing her confidence and her decisions at the end of the film are much more definite than in the book.  So basically, the story was Hollywood-ized.

And I’m okay with that.  This is a rare occasion – perhaps the second time after The Natural – where I actually think the Hollywood ending makes the movie better than the book.  It helps considerably that Eilis is portrayed wonderfully by Saoirse Ronan who takes the challenge of portraying a character we mostly see from the interior in the book and making her thoughts and feelings clear through her expressions and few words.  There’s also beautiful cinematography and costuming that capture the look and feel of the Irish countryside and the bustle of 1950s Brooklyn and their people.
Rating: ****