When Wall Street went to thewall
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.