The Big Short
Adam McKay's name has been attached to Will Farrell's Anchorman series, which McKay wrote and directed. Though the subject of his latest film is high finance, McKay's comedic sensibilities are not entirely benched for The Big Short, which is by turns delicious and disheartening. McKay's film is a treatment of Michael Lewis's bestselling chronicle of the chicanery that led to the implosion of the American housing market and the world economy in 2008. Because Lewis's book drilled deep into Wall Street's byzantine money-making mines, McKay stages hilarious and helpful explainers delivered either by one of the picture's primary characters (mainly Ryan Gosling) or guest presenters (among them chef Anthony Bourdain and singer Selena Gomez). This exhuberant movie has two settings -- simmering contempt and roiling outrage -- funneled through Christian Bale's Michael Burry and Steve Carell's Mark Baum, both independent financial investors who in 2006 detected the stench of corrupt mortgage lending practices and bet against the continued growth of the subprime housing market, convinced it would implode in a matter of months. Though all indications were that this was a certainty, it didn't come when expected, which revealed another layer of corruption -- complicity between Wall Street and "independent" ratings indexers who refused to downgrade the bundled subprime mortgages (as one character describes them "dog shit wrapped in cat shit"). As history has shown, the whole affair ended with bank failures and bailouts but no arrests of those who lied and cheated the American public, costing millions of people their livelihoods, homes and retirement funds. McKay's The Big Shot is smart, layered and, hopefully, instructive. But don't bet on that. Highly Recommended.