Thursday, November 3, 2011

Margin Call (Rhoades)

"Margin Call”
A little Too Real

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

We’ve all been impacted by the economic tsunami that hit Wall Street, a tidal wave of greed, duplicity, and financial manipulation. When I lived in New York, I knew traders who made high six-figure salaries, owned a Porsche 911, a house in the Hamptons, and a pretty trophy wife – but were afraid to leave their desk to pee for fear of missing a movement in stocks. Type A’s with twitches, ulcers, and no moral center. In many ways, they reminded me of my nerd friends playing a computer game, but here the money is real, not just goblin’s gold.
Or is it?
“Margin Call” – a new film at the Tropic – takes you inside a large investment bank (based on Lehman Brothers) during the financial crisis of 2007-2010. You’d think it was real.
This drama delivers an impressive cast for an indie production: Jeremy Irons (“Reversal of Fortune”) is head of the investment house, willing to burn his business partners to protect the firm. Kevin Spacey (“Casino Jack”) is head of trading, willing to go along with the scheme of selling off their toxic assets to unsuspecting counterparties. Simon Baker (TV’s “The Mentalist”) is a senior exec who’s in on the plan. And Demi Moore (“The Joneses”) is head of risk, soon to be offered up as a sacrificial lamb to the board. Senior trader Paul Bettany (“The Da Vinci Code”) watches as human resource teams move through the trading floor handing out pink slips. One of the casualties is Stanley Tucci (“The Devil Wears Prada”) who passes a USB drive with an unfinished project to junior exec Zachary Quinto (Spock in the “Star Trek” reboot), who discovers that the firm is overleveraged. A good trooper, Quinto calls this to his bosses’ attention.
But the nefarious CEO knew all along, his exit strategy being to sell off 93% of the worthless paper before the market can react. That means a lot of casualties, both inside and out the firm. But the CEO doesn’t care, noting that there’s “a lot of money to be made from the coming crisis.”
Hold onto your wallets.
Written and directed by newcomer J.C. Chandor, “Margin Call” was produced by Before The Door Pictures, Zachary Quinto’s production company. Yes, the same Zachary Quinto who plays the whistleblowing junior exec in this top-notch financial thriller.
 [from Solares Hill]

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