Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day Twenty - Margin Call, or "The Choices We Make For Money"

When filmmakers take on Wall Street, it's usually either a cutthroat battle of wills between the entrenched establishment and an ambitious up-and-comer (to capitalize on the Bear vs. Bull dichotomy) or a surreal sort of feel-good comedy that really does the exact same thing.

To illustrate the point... think of, well, Wall Street and The Associate.

Or, perhaps, Boiler Room and Trading Places.

Here, with Margin Call, we are given a more human look at probably one of the worst financial disasters in near memory. It's not a stirring or comedic look at David vs. Goliath. It's just one long night and day where Goliath, as a conglomerate of flawed men and women under a single corporate banner, decides to throw the rest of the economy under the bus to save itself.

And it does so with a pretty stellar cast.

It's a pretty large ensemble and they are all quality people: Kevin Spacey, Simon Baker, Zachary Quinto, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Jeremy Irons, etc., etc..

The problem is, without all the Hollywood flourish and drama, it's really kind of boring at points.

I mean, I both love it and hate it for what it is... a harsh look at corporate mentality contrasted with very personal moments for all involved. It's really interesting to trace each individual as they wrestle with their woes.

This is particularly stirring when it comes to Kevin Spacey's character. Placed as he is, high up in the chain, but not directly responsible for the key decision, he is the voice of reason, the voice of humanity, in a board room where the juniors are too scared to make a stand and the seniors are all on deck with covering their asses. He is poignantly humanized early on when we learn about his own personal issues... and that point is hammered home in the denouement when we are given the double whammy of just how bad his life away from the office really is.

From the moment the shift occurs in the first to second act transition where the narrative goes from Paul Bettany and Zachary Quinto as the focus to Spacey, the film really picks up speed and we're treated to the kind of boardmeetings and backstabbing you expect from real life.

But... it's still pretty boring.

Still, it's definitely worth the watch. It has a few essential points to bring across about the economic crisis (that we're still trying to claw our way out of) and they're important ones... they're just not delivered in a manner that feeds the senses and inflames passions.

It's honest... disheartening... depressing... and necessary.

Just not award-winning.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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