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Review of ‘The Big Short’: Essential Viewing

“The Big Short,” a movie based on Michael Lewis’ book about the lead up to the financial crisis of 2007–2010, is rare and unique among Hollywood’s shit storm of depravity, and it’s one that’s essential to see and support. It follows the simultaneous trials and tribulations of three groups of people who discovered the breeding ground of fraud behind the home-lending mortgage backed security market.

I must say that I was initially skeptical about watching this movie because of the involvement of Brad Pitt as the producer as well as actor in a minor role. He portrayed the lead in the horrifically evil movie “Inglorious Basterds,” which I reviewed here. I had also read the book by Michael Lewis.

But on the issue of banksterism scams, Pitt and director Adam McKay seem to have had an epiphany. “The Big Short” movie is a tour de force of truth and revelation, one that is absolute must viewing for all. I was frankly surprised about this and kept looking for lies and misdirection throughout. With a J-Dar rating of 24.4, I watched it twice to make sure. There was “Brad and Janet” ethnic decoying but a least many of the key shyster corporations involved were identified.

The two main characters, Michael Burry (Christian Bale) and Mark Baum (Steve Carell), read like a morality play, which is why I praise the movie. Although the two are different personalities, I also greatly identified with them. The movie gives an excellent background of the fraudulent construct of the mortgage market in a way that any educated layperson can understand. Meet Mark Baum:

At first, the players thought they were shorting stupidity. But the climax of the movie arrived at 88:00 and 93:00 with scenes where Baum and Burry had the come-to-Jesus moment in which they realized the whole system was based on criminal fraud, rigging, and infestations, not just stupidity.  This totally transcends to the present to an nth degree. The scene in Las Vegas, when Baum is speaking with the Merill Lynch mole about conflicts of interest and open criminality, should be replayed and etched into the psyche of all truth seekers.

Even when the market broke, the too-big-to-fail banksters froze market pricing until they could unload on Aunt Millie. Burry realized his grueling wait was over when the crooks at Goldman Sachs finally called him to start offering a real market. This was done after the fact, with no discounting ahead of time. This lesson applies today more than ever.

At 112:00, Mark Baum gives a classic speech on systemic fraud saying ultimately it was the “small people who pay for this.” At 117:00, Micheal Burry’s message as he closed down his fund after big profits is also one for the ages.

Today, the message and morality of this movie resonant multiplied. At the end, the movie makes it clear that nothing has changed. The movie has garnered some Golden Globe and Oscar buzz, but there is no way that happens. It is a miracle the movie was even made in this form. Since it requires a minimum 105 IQ to comprehend, the box office was so-so, but that shouldn’t sway readers.

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  • Hapa

    Lots of friends were able to follow the gist of this movie, which was almost a surprise for me. Many people get it, but it’s as deep as most people go with it. They still don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the underpinnings of the financial system. It takes a lot of study to put together the bigger picture. Blogs like this help.