Tag Archives: Brad Pitt

43 of 366: The Big Short

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I’ve seen all of the best picture Oscar nominees now after watching  The Big Short today and my verdict is it’s definitely my least favorite of the bunch. I think the contest is really anybody’s game at this point while there certainly has been some back-and-forth between The Big Short and Spotlight taking the win. For the first time in a while, the big winner announced later this month could actually be a surprise to Academy Award viewers.

The Big Short at first felt like the focus of  writer Charles Randolph and director Adam McKay was to make the viewer feel like they were watching the making of a movie about a movie  depicting the housing and economic crash in 2008 rather than a drama about those events, the people who knew about them and those who were impacted.

The transition for Adam McKay from comedy to drama did not work so well in my opinion, but I did like the script and writing from Randolph based on a book by Michael Lewis.

The story is told by weaving the personal career paths and lives of Steve Carell (Mark Baum), Christian Bale (Michael Burry), Brad Pitt (Ben Rickert), and Ryan Gosling (Jared Vennett) as they work in the banking industry and in their own way discover the housing bubble and economy was set to crash as a result of selling bad mortgages and issuing loans to people who couldn’t afford them.

Michael Burry learns, through crunching numbers and studying mortgage patterns, what is going to happen and his discovery leads to other investors buying insurance on the mortgage bonds for when the market would ultimately crash. (I think.)

As is surely well-known, the film is supposed to explain what happened leading up to and in 2008 in simple terms (with some tongue-in-cheek scenes featuring Margot Robbie and Anthony Bourdain) while telling the stories of the four main banking characters and some in supporting roles who had a hand in the industry during that time.

The film is also a commentary on what happened by displaying that the general public in the U.S. was too consumed by other news and pop culture trends at the time and and those issuing loans and bad mortgages were covering it up, or lying to themselves.

There were just too many components to The Big Short in that regard and the style, I think, ultimately took away from what a film about that moment in history could be. Perhaps Michael Lewis’ book as the source material is to blame. I can’t say because I haven’t read it, but whatever creative liberties McKay and the rest of the film’s creators used fell flat for me.

 

I did like the performances overall, especially by Gosling and Pitt, but they didn’t redeem the film for me.

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“Se7en”

seven“This is beginning.”

I can’t really say what prompted me to revisit “Se7en” again (because it’s such a depressing story) but the film came up in the news recently due to its 20th anniversary and being recognized by its peers as one of Hollywood’s 100 Favorite Films of all time.

For the most part, it was just as I remember it and “Se7en” is a flawless film that stands the test of time.

It has been long enough since I watched the film that a few of the scenes presented their original fear factor for me. Spoiler alert – the sloth victim is not dead!

Also, according to ShortList’s 30 Facts about “Se7en,” he has three arms.

As the story plays out the first case for David Mills (Brad Pitt) at a fictional city homicide department and the last for William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) their dialogue is a reminder of how heartbreaking the ensuing events are for both characters.

Some of Mills’ one-liners provide a little comic relief  — “Ladies and gentleman, we have ourselves a homicide ” — but it’s no question David Fincher and his team were set on keeping the story as a dark, sad and suspenseful thriller.

Perhaps Somerset says it best with, “This isn’t going to have a happy ending.”

But Fincher, Pitt and Freeman wanted to keep it that way. The studio pushed for a different ending after some test screenings, to no avail, because Pitt and Freeman refused to promote the film if that happened.

I can’t imagine “Se7en” without Pitt and Freeman as the detective duo but that could have happened, too. William Hurt and Al Pacino were in line for Freeman’s role while Denzel Washington and Sylvester Stallone passed on the part of Mills.

I’ll stop with this wormhole of facts about “Se7en,” but what I learned just shows the amount of heart and work it takes to keep the creativity and purpose of a project intact in Hollywood — especially one everyone involved knows is going to be dark and hard to watch.

That is why “Se7en” holds up after 20 years and you should — brace yourself — and watch it again.