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November 26, 2015

Scene and Heard: The Big Short


Photo Credit: Alex J. Berliner

Editors' Notes

Ryan Gosling at the AFI Fest screening of The Big Short.

Photo Credit: Alex J. Berliner

Editors' Notes

Author Michael Lewis and director Adam McKay at the AFI Fest screening of The Big Short.

Photo Credit: Alex J. Berliner

Editors' Notes

Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell at the AFI Fest screening of The Big Short.

Can anyone around your dinner table explain credit default swaps in a remotely entertaining manner? Doubtful. That’s why director Adam McKay brought in a spray-tanned Ryan Gosling, playing banker Jared Vennett, to narrate the film version of Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book, The Big Short. The movie, which premiered at AFI Fest Presented by Audi on Thursday, November 12, explores the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis and the players who saw the crash coming and sought to profit from it, as chronicled by the Berkeley-based author. Rarely have bankers and hedge fund managers—played idiosyncratically by such actors as Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Gosling, and Steve Carell—seemed so interesting, albeit in a nerdy and slightly maniacal way. These guys are the smartest in the room and frequently the most obnoxious as well, and watching them uncover the rot in the country’s financial system is both devastating and surprisingly entertaining. McKay’s film has its editing challenges, but it explains enough of the main aspects of the economic meltdown to sober up even the most high-flying financial type. The central question of Lewis’ book and McKay’s movie, about whether any lessons were learned from failed bank bets and bailouts, makes the story relevant and the concepts therein rather terrifying.

By Elizabeth Varnell

Pictured: Ryan Gosling at the AFI Fest screening of The Big Short.
Photo by Alex J. Berliner

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Photo Credit: Alex J. Berliner
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