Movie Notes: Margin Call

N and I watched a movie called Margin Call. About 60% in I figured out that it’s about the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. About 95% in I figured out it’s about Lehman Brothers.

OK, I didn’t really figure it out. N told me.

There’s a reason I’m not a movie critic. I need somebody to provide running commentary for me to get what a movie is about. And N has a sore throat, so he’s been keeping silent.

I really enjoyed the movie. Mostly it was because N was sitting right there, and I’d enjoy staring at a blank screen as long as he’s close by. But the movie is perfectly fine. Every actor is a celebrity, although they aren’t given too much to play. The drama of “OMG, I’ll lose my job after making millions of dollars a year” seems kind of thin. I wanted to reach through the screen and pat these drama queens on the head, saying, “It’s ok, it’s just a job.”

The symbolism is very heavy-handed. Like when the two evil capitalists talk over the head of a cleaning lady like she’s not there and that symbolizes how they never thought of the damage their Wall Street shenanigans would do to people like her. Or when the movie ends with one of the Lehman Brothers bosses digging a grave for his dead dog. “It’s a dog eat dog business, and now the dog is dead.”

Since I’m on the subject of movies, can anybody explain who the people watching All Quiet on the Western Front are? Are they lacking a TV set and have been banned from all social media? Have they gotten too little war footage in this past year that they want to watch more war in their free time?

By the way, Erich Maria Remarque, the author of All Quiet on the Western Front, was massively popular in the USSR. I find him soppy and tedious, so I never understood the Remarque craze.

Even more mysterious are the people who want to watch Women Talking. Whose life is so problem-free and happy-clappy that they need this utterly fake wallowing in non-existent misery? If your life is too saccharine sweet, instead of chasing reality by way of fake woke dramas, Google “what happened in Bucha” or ponder the fate of the over 100,000 Ukrainian children deported to Russia. That’s the kind of real-life horror that suffices to inspire a hundred more seasons of Law and Order: SVU.

One more thing about Margin Call, though. It’s not woke. I looked up the date. It was filmed in 2011. Twelve years, and what a difference in terms of wokeness.

Have you been watching anything good recently?


14 thoughts on “Movie Notes: Margin Call

  1. The last good movie I saw on TV was “The Green Slime,” but if you turn on the news channels right now, you’ll get some real-life comedy relief:

    The Communist Chinese have released several giant spy balloons into the upper atmosphere that they can somehow maneuver remotely, and earlier today one of them came across over Canada into U.S. airspace and so far has passed directly over several top-secret U.S. military bases capturing data while the Department of Defense advises Biden not to shoot it down because it “probably won’t find out any secrets that the Chinese don’t already know,” and it might fall on a cow or a barn in rural Colorado, and besides, shooting it down might just provoke the Chinese into trying something else. A second Chinese balloon is drifting up toward the U.S. southern border from South America, and Canada reports that a third balloon may now be crossing its territory.

    Today Secretary of State Blinken issued a mild rebuke to China that didn’t even mention the balloons. We’re punishing the Reds by delaying Blinken’s scheduled visit to Xi.

    Don’t worry, the spy balloons are probably “harmless,” and our government is keeping a close eye on them as they drift wherever they please over the U.S.



  2. “watching anything good recently?”

    I mostly watch tv series rather than movies anymore…

    Recently have seen:

    Somebody Somewhere – US comedy-drama about midwestern (more plains states) life including (non-catastrophic) dysfunction and dealing with grief. There is some woke stuff but ultimately it comes down on the side rooteness over fluidity (with even the wokest characters firmly rooted in place).

    Smiley – Spanish gay romantic comedy. Very good in places but structurally flawed. The two leads have great chemistry together but the story keeps them apart too long. So rather than see them interact, too much time is bogged down in other, less interesting, stories.

    Ben Gri – Turkish thriller. A semi-celebrity lawyer’s smug existence is turned upside down when his daughter is sexually assaulted. Given a chance to exact extra-legal revenge he does… and finds himself in a surveillance/conspiracy trap. Pretty good with a satisfying reveal at the end.

    Loot – Mega rich divorcee decides to find meaning in her life through actually taking part in one of the many charities she funds. Maya Rudolph is not everbody’s cup of tea but she has some great moments. It’s a bit uneven with a preachy end, but I enjoyed it.

    Vadhandhi – Indian (Tamil) crime drama. In the opening scene the body of a young Anglo-Indian woman is found in a remote location. The lead detective becomes obsessed with the case and tries to establish the truth in a Rashomon-like layered story.

    Peacemaker – I actually remember the original comic character who has nothing in common with this version. Still, John Cena is actually funny and touching in turns (pro wrestling is about acting afterall). Obligatory woke stuff here and there but overall the best superhero series I’ve seen. The undisputed breakout character is the CGO eagle named…. eagly. Also has the most deliriously insane opening credit sequence ever. I never once was I tempted to fast foward thru it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The wokeness really began to ramp up in 2012 then went vertical Nov 2015 in tandem with trump derangement syndrome.


  4. “watching anything good”

    I don’t like driving (no me gusta conducir) – Great Spanish comedy about a sad sack misanthropic university profesor of literature (specialization: 15th century) who decides in his 40s to get his driver’s license. Low key character humor with a sense of resolution at the end.

    I didn’t add it before because I hadn’t finished and I was worried about what they might be doing with a couple of characters… but my fears were unfounded and as a bonus there’s a brief scene with a famous writer who’s an unbearable asshole (based on….. Javier Marias?)


  5. Just watched Fargo with my husband– after realizing we’d both seen bits of it, but never the whole movie. Perhaps we will track down the rest of the Coen Brothers canon that we’ve so far missed out on, next. Of the ones we’ve seen:

    O Brother Where Art Thou — enjoyed immensely. And not just because David Holt had a cameo.

    Hail, Caesar– Delightful.

    Ladykillers– meh. Remake of a movie that didn’t really need remaking.

    The Big Lebowski — is fun. But also a cultural icon at this point so everybody’s got to see it, right?

    True Grit– Weirdly, a great remake of a great movie. Dunno why it wanted remaking, but I’ll take it.

    The real reason I’ll watch most of these is, of course, because Frances McDormand is in so many of them, and I’m kind of in love with her. I also very much enjoyed Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, despite it being fairly vapid and overacted (by the younger characters), because Frances McDormand plays the lead. All else is forgivable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “the Coen Brothers canon”

      I remember seeing Blood Simple (their first? their breakthrough at any rate) and being so blown away that I went back and saw it again (and maybe again).
      It felt so different to anything else available: a bit like a weird European movie but extremely American at the same time (Les Diaboliques remade by the Marx Brothers).

      I saw it a few years ago on dvd (okay more than ‘a few’) and it really held up. It didn’t seem as innovative because the Coens have had so much influence.

      Weirdly, Raising Arizona (an even bigger breakthrough in terms of popular success) didn’t do much for me. Some good stuff here and there, but… m’kay…

      I couldn’t get past 20 or so minutes of the Hudsucker Proxy (the! way! they! TALKED! drove! me! CRAAAAZZZY!).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m a fellow fan of the great Frances McDormand. She’s crazy talented. I lo9ved her in Nomadland.

      I guess I need to watch Fargo but I heard it’s a comedy, and we all know I’m challenged in the humor department.


  6. “‘Fargo but I heard it’s a comedy”

    A very black comedy…. though McDormand doesn’t show up in the first half which is dominated by William Macy.
    Her character is best understood, I think, as a kind of Midwestern holy fool (not close to the right term but I can’t think of anything better)…. She’s in the world but not of it and her zoned out innocence protects her – at the end she stares into the face of evil and…. isn’t touched by it, only perplexed.

    Liked by 1 person

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