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Hollywood and Wall Street: how the movie industry loves to hate big money

The star-studded The Big Short is the latest example of Hollywood's justifiable (if a tad hypocritical) distrust of the financial sector

Hollywood and Wall Street: how the movie industry loves to hate big money

Your pulse may or may not start racing at the prospect of an entire movie about mortgages, but upcoming film The Big Short, based on the book of the same name by eminent finance journalist Michael Lewis, could be one of the must-see films of this autumn.

Directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman & Anchorman 2), it tells the story of a small group of financial experts who recognised the mid-2000s US property boom to be a bubble, based as it was on the unstable market in subprime mortgages, and who managed to profit from the ensuing financial crisis in that they traded on the at-the-time outrageous assumption that the value of securities would plummet: the 'big short' of the title.

The subprime mortgage crisis is headache-inducingly complex, which is partly why it happened in the first place: people were trading in financial products that they didn't understand and couldn't control. The Big Short should bring some elucidation to the process, as well as throwing meaty dialogue in the direction of a seriously good cast, incuding Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Inverness's own Karen Gillan.

Check out the trailer, as well as the hairpieces, below …

Whether The Big Short will join the ranks of memorable films about money is too soon to say, but Hollywood does love to make films about financial double-dealing, and some of them have been pretty great:

Wall Street

More famous for Michael Douglas's gleeful performance as amoral corporate raider Gordon Gekko than for Charlie Sheen as the protagonist. Oliver Stone's fascination with flamboyant nastiness meant that Wall Street ended up like The Godfather, one of those films adopted by the people it professed to anatomise.

Too Big To Fail

Curtis Hanson's HBO film about the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing market panic is surprisingly pacey for a film so heavy on information. High point: a group of bankers, asked to forgo their bonuses as a sign of goodwill even while the economy is tottering, whining like spoiled eight-year-olds.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese took Jordan Belfort's unrepentant memoir at face value, turning it into a coke-fuelled rollercoaster ride instead of stepping back and looking at the big picture, but that was the nature of the material.

Margin Call

JC Chandor's highly praised movie shows a fictional bank dealing with the subprime crisis not by taking responsibility for its own actions, but by scapegoating a few senior employees and laying-off juniors by the bucketful, which was exactly what happened in real life.

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room

It's not actually a Hollywood movie, but Alex Gibney's brilliant indie doc (based on Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind's equally gripping book) charted the rise and fall of the Texas energy giant which, briefly, figured out a way to make bundles of cash by not delivering energy to people. High point: founder and CEO Ken Lay being asked during an on-camera staff meeting if he's on crack.

The Big Short is released in the UK on 22 Jan 2016.

The Big Short

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 130 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Adam McKay
  • Written by: Michael Lewis, Adam McKay, Charles Randolph
  • Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Karen Gillan, Brad Pitt
  • UK release: 22 January 2016

In the middle of the biggest property boom in American history, a group of financial experts bets that it's all about to collapse. A righteous, angry call to arms dolled up with satirical absurdity, irony, montage, knowing cinematic and pop culture references, snappy dialogue and smoking hot performances from an…


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