Oscar Futures: Will Smith, Steve Carell Leap In

14 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Big Short’ premiere: Can the movie’s stars still use financial jargon?.

Cake, cake, cake! discussed his plans for his 35th birthday at the AFI Fest premiere, presented by Audi, at the premiere of his new film, The Big Short, on Thursday, Nov. 12. When something cataclysmic occurs in the world, especially in America, you can bet your money that Hollywood will eventually step in to revisit it on screen.

The tagline rings painfully true: the film, set to be released in January, is based on Michael Lewis’s non-fiction book of the same name, which focuses on the men and women who benefited financially from the 2008 global financial crisis. In the case of the 2008 financial crisis that crippled Wall Street and left millions in the US unemployed and without homes, studios already have churned out countless films that relay what led to the collapse, and its ensuing ramifications.

The smoldering star looked dapper as usual in a dark suit and blue tie, sporting tidy facial hair and occasionally throwing waves at fans while flashing his signature smile. While there is a certain undeniable fascination in watching the so-called experts go down while a few visionary mavericks escape on self-made lifeboats, you can never escape the thought that Paramount probably made this film only because of the success of The Wolf of Wall Street two years ago and then recall how much better made and more entertaining that was than what’s onscreen here. In the adaptation, Pitt, Gosling and co. will play four men from different walks of life who made large amounts of money by pre-empting the disastrous collapse of the US housing market.

And it was delivered in a way that’s not heavy handed — it’s very fun.” He also revealed that while filming in New Orleans, he and Carell, 53 — who also starred together in the 2011 film Crazy, Stupid, Love — hit the town and saw some jazz. “We did!” Gosling gushed. “But honestly, I really had to be prepared for this role so I didn’t do a lot of hanging out. Adam McKay, known for his work in comedies like Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, directed the film that features an A-list cast including Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Gosling. A top cast and the prospect of indulging in some deep-dish schadenfreude will prove a commercial draw up to a point, but mainstream fans drawn by the big four cast toppers — Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt — might not be so amused. I just sort of stayed home and crammed.” The Hollywood hottie was noticeably absent from his long-term partner, Eva Mendes — who was perhaps home taking care of the couple’s 14-month-old daughter, Esmeralda. JC Chandor went micro with Margin Call, focusing on a 36-hour window during which a large Wall Street investment bank slowly came to the realization that something very bad was about to happen.

Director and co-writer Adam McKay switches gears considerably from his Anchorman and Talladega Nights heyday with a film in which one hundred per cent of the dialog is about finance, of which 98.6 percent will go over the heads of the general public. Ryan Gosling told Variety: “The great quality of McKay is that he has this beautiful way of being outraged by something without losing his sense of humor about it.” The actor said that he learned a lot during the movie and feels that McKay made the movie informative without being condescending. “Especially in a film that could become very preachy, it is unique.

This is as much as admitted by an amusing conceit in which none other than Wolf co-star Margot Robbie is brought in fairly early on to take a bubble bath and drink champagne while jocularly explaining about sub-prime mortgages and other issues of relevance; Selena Gomez picks up the baton for similar purposes later on. Not that this, or anything else, does much good to clarify the financial shenanigans and buyer blindness that went into the calamity that hit seven years ago. Lewis’s book, like the film adaptation, spans the years leading up to the 2008 crash, following those who believed the bubble would burst, and the few who figured out how to profit from it. In a world of almost constant weirdness, perhaps the weirdest sight of all is Scion Capital executive Michael Burry (Bale), he of one glass eye who demonstrates that one eye is better than two in spotting a calamity that awaits some distance down the road. How he holds down this job is less certain, however, since the man is so ungainly and antisocial that one might be forgiven for imagining him the village idiot.

All of the male characters (Marisa Tomei is wasted in a few scenes as Carell’s worried wife) are clearly defined by bizarre traits that serve to show the types of brazen personalities that thrive in such a chaotic environment. Mark Baum (Steve Carell) is one of the rudest men alive, as he has an ill-advised habit of bursting into rooms, loudly imposing his opinions whether anyone’s interested or not and generally behaving like a boor. Totally lacking in social graces (he paces his office barefoot), Burry is prone to rocking out to heavy metal music to get his brain working at warp speed and also sports a glass eye. Accused of being unhappy, he replies that, “I am happy when I’m unhappy.” Ryan Gosling’s Jared Vennett is arrogantly self-assured in a more conventional manner, while Brad Pitt’s bookish Ben Rickert has already retired to Colorado when called upon to lend his expertise to the maverick view that nothing is too big to fail.

Gosling, as Jared Vennett, the film’s smug narrator, is a douchebag banker to the Nth degree: all spray tanned, and bursting at the seams with an inflated sense of self. With the action mostly set in New York offices and conference rooms, McKay serves up one scene after another in which the conventional wisdom of executives at various top-name financial institutions — some still in business, others merged or gone — is challenged by the outliers, whose gloom-and-doom prognostications are dismissed for years as anything from simply cracked to market “buzz-kill” to downright heretical. On their own, individual scenes are effective enough in semi-farcically portraying the ignorance, avoidance and/or downright denial by the practitioners of bad loans. Together, however, they are wearying in their repetitive nature (the mavericks uniformly prevail over the know-it-all establishment) and depressing given the awareness of how it all turned out. As the only voice of reason throughout the perplexing scenarios that McKay cooks up (one extended sequence involves Vennett making a grand case, using Jenga blocks, for why Baum should join him in the credit-default-swap business), Carell essentially serves as the heart of the otherwise cynical film.

In a manner that splits the difference between the jokey and the objectively serious, McKay tries to explain what all the arcane financial terms mean and ultimately comes down very hard on the selfish and larcenous executives who refused to confront the consequences of their practices before it was too late. The cast uniformly pull off the impressive feat of owning the financial lingo that constitutes much of McKay and Charles Randolph’s uncompromising script. But both the behavior of the characters and the viewer responses sought are so repetitive and unchanging that it all becomes wearisome well before the far overlong feature wraps up. Scene after scene, Carell and co fire off terms, like “synthetic collateralized debt obligation”, that only Wall Street types will be wholly familiar with. The cast is game, to be sure, with everyone seeming to take enthusiastic pleasure in disappearing into the roles of societal misfits of one kind or another.

To help unpack much of it, McKay breaks the fourth wall and uses Gosling and guest stars as his go-betweens with the audience and the jargon-using bankers. But his busy execution – bolstered by frantic cinematography that makes the whole endeavor unfortunately resemble an episode of The Office – feels labored.

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