"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Margin Call

The Regular Son and I have made a habit of going to serious movies on weekends.   Generally I think it's good for kids to go to movies with their parents that are intended for adults, rather than simply wallow in youth culture.   We certainly did this when I was a kid... I remember seeing both The Graduate and The Godfather as a kid, and they made a huge impression on me.   And, of course, real movies played on TV on Saturdays and Sundays, and there weren't so many options of teenage pop culture silliness on Disney Channel.   So I watched John Wayne westerns and Bogart and Cagney gangster movies and... well, you get the picture.  

Anyway, yesterday we went to see Margin Call, a new movie starring Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany and Demi Moore as investment bankers who realize over the course of a single 24-hour period that their portfolio of mortgage-backed securites is a house of cards about to fall down.   It's based loosely on Lehman Brothers' collapse in 2008, and it's very very good, both about the seductions of money corrupting otherwise decent people and, more generally, about office politics and careerism at high levels of corporations.   It's also admirable in that it doesn't ham-handedly moralize about "the rich" or "corporations" or "greed" the way that so many Hollywood movies do (or the idiots at Occupy Wall Street).   There are no real good guys -- all of the most admirable characters end up compromising their principles in the end for money or promotions -- but no real bad guys either, only men and women who had already made their compromises long ago.  

Not sure whether the Regular Son understood the underlying economics -- try explaining collateralized debt obligations to a 14 year-old -- but even he thought it was an interesting, well-written and well-acted movied.

No comments:

Post a Comment