The Big Short shines through honest filmaking

By Josh Svetz  @Svetz17

Image courtesy of thepicturehouse.org

People will do anything to believe a movie is great—just ask any Star Wars fan after the release of The Phantom Menace. They say they like the action, it made them laugh and it had a heartwarming story. But, greatness in film comes down to one outcome: did it move you? At the film’s conclusion, did you sit in your chair just five seconds longer taking it all in? This feeling does not come after every film you see, however, when it happens, there’s nothing comparable; The Big Short accomplices this feat.

Director Adam McKay, the same man who brought us Anchorman, Step Brothers and many other Will Ferrell movies, decided to take on a serious matter, the housing crisis of 2007. To this day, people remain baffled by the event, but The Big Short clears up the ambiguity.

Every actor does a fantastic job including Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) who makes a comeback after being out of the limelight for a few years. Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Steve Carell all live up to expectations and give performances worthy of Oscar buzz, especially Carell.

The film begins in a Wolf of Wall Street fashion showing four characters, loosely connected to each other through the idea of betting against the supposedly “rock-solid” housing market, deal with the naysayers and realize the gold mine they have stumbled upon; however, that alone does not make the movie great. In one word, The Big Short’s greatest strength comes from honesty.

Honesty shines through whether through certain scenes where a character breaks the fourth-wall and tells you the real story behind the scene, or from the characters slowly realizing what their profit means for Americans who were clueless to the corruption of these banks.

Many times in films based on true stories, events seem exaggerated, or filmmakers take liberty with their source material. It’s likely that still occurs in this film, but it feels more genuine, as if McKay only took liberties when absolutely necessary. In fact, the fourth-wall breaking and the overall style of shots used in the film gives it a documentary touch.

The film also finds a way to breakdown the complicated mess of the housing crisis, and why the economy failed, in an entertaining and easy to understand way while maintaining realism and showing the pain and impact of the crisis.

In the end, The Big Short shows a global audience how the economy failed. It gives information to the masses and for that alone it’s a must-see. Add in great performances by A-list actors coupled with smart and witty dialogue that keeps you invested, and you get a legitimate candidate for best picture.

It gives the audience all the information possible, but instead of pandering and telling people how they can stop the corruption, it stays honest and realistic, offering no solution.

A sad note no doubt, but an honest one, and in a world where the truth constantly gets ignored, it’s nice to see something that keeps things real.

@AndrewBevevino reviews Out of the Furnace

Out of the Furnace: Lukewarm

By Andrew Bevevino 

Among the superstars to appear in the drama/thriller Out of the Furnace are Casey Affleck, Forrest Whitaker, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, and Zoe Saldana. Did I mention Christian Bale? Oh yeah, one of the producers is Leonardo DiCaprio.  All of this star-power should have churned out an epic movie, right? Well, not necessarily. It turns out that Out of the Furnace should have stayed in the furnace a little longer.

Set in the steel mill town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, the story unfolds around Russell Baze, a scruffy steel mill worker portrayed by Christian Bale. Russell works his days away at the local mill, trying to provide for his wife Lena, played by Zoe Saldana. Russell and Lena are happy, living in a small house in Braddock and even thinking about having kids.

The steel mill setting is, above all else, bleak. Rusty machinery and billows of smoke are always present, portraying a very raw, cold theme. Before nearly every scene is an establishing shot of the towering smoke stacks or the massive steel mills. Many shots are composed in dim lighting, and the appearance of the sun is scarce. If director Scott Cooper wanted to make a grim, dreary movie, then he did a damn good job.

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