When Wall Street went to the­wall

The Tribune (NZ) - - MOVIES - PETER LAMPP

When next a bank teller tries to foist a loan on you that seems too good to be true, sug­gest tak­ing a trip to see Os­car nom­i­nee The Big Short.

It will alert you to be wary of ready money, and brings into fo­cus Auck­land’s su­per-in­flated hous­ing mar­ket, beg­ging the ques­tion just how long can it keep breath­ing when old dumps in Pon­sonby are sell­ing for mil­lions.

The Big Short is the true, com­plex fi­nan­cial tale of the Amer­i­can hous­ing crash of 2007-08, and the four groups of men who could see it com­ing and de­fied the es­tab­lish­ment.

While ev­ery­one else is in de­nial, in­clud­ing the gi­ant banks, jour­nal­ists, politi­cians and su­per­an­nu­a­tion fund man­agers, they hedge against what are known as hous­ing bonds, stand­ing to make bil­lions if it all goes teats up, as it does.

Di­rec­tor Adam McKay has laden the cast with stars, Chris­tian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, who nurse us through in al­most comic fash­ion un­til the in­evitable told-you-so mo­ment.

Bale is best. He plays an ec­cen­tric Dr Michael Burry who al­ways seems in an­other world and troops around his of­fice in his lawn-mow­ing clob­ber.

Pitt as re­tired banker Ben Rick­ert is an­other strange char­ac­ter in prob­a­bly the most low-key role of his life. There are fine fran­tic per­for­mances from traders Mark Baum (Carell) and Jared Ven­nett (Gosling), even with the usual ma­cho yan­kee di­a­logue.

McKay tells the story in an un­usual al­most spoofy fash­ion, hav­ing the key char­ac­ters ad­dress the (more than likely mort­gaged to the hilt) au­di­ence di­rectly from the screen.

The script is full of tech­ni­cal fi­nan­cial and in­vest­ment jar­gon, about which I didn’t have a clue.

Steve Carell, left, and Ryan Gosling in a scene from The Big Short, a film about the 2007-08 US hous­ing crash that had global reper­cus­sions.

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